An American’s Guide to Edinburgh

If you’re visiting from America, we know you’ll want the full Scottish experience. Explore our ancient ruins, discover centuries of history and heritage and try some of the nation’s finest delicacies. There’s lots to cover off, so we’ve put together ‘An American’s Guide to Edinburgh’ to make sure you don’t miss a thing.  

Explore Edinburgh’s Old Town

Edinburgh Castle is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the capital city. Steeped in history, the site itself, Castle Rock, is estimated to have been inhabited for over two thousand years – that’s four times older than the oldest building in North America. You can easily spend an afternoon getting lost within the walls of this majestic building, visiting the dungeons and taking in the views across the city and beyond. Find out which other Old Town attractions are worth visiting.

Explore the New Town

Edinburgh’s New Town is every bit as fascinating as the Old Town, and considered a masterpiece in city planning. In the late 17th century, overcrowding in the Old Town forced King James VII to consider planning the New Town. A competition was launched to find an inspiring young architect and 26 year old James Craig’s simple, yet effective, grid system won the prize. The success of his town planning can be seen in cities all over the world, including the grid systems in New York and Washington. The New Town streets are home to stunning Georgian architecture as well as plenty modern shops, cafes and restaurant to explore.

Make your own tartan at the Tartan Weaving Mill

Image credit: Tartan Weaving Mill

Clans have had many purposes over the centuries, but they originally acted as a kinship amongst the Scottish people, helping to mark out territories and shape families. If you’ve got Scottish roots you can trace your clan and discover your tartan – a colourful print used to identify each clan. The Tartan Weaving Mill on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh is stretched across five floors and the mill exhibit demonstrates the full process of tartan production. Get a glimpse into the old machinery and intricate work used, and even create your own tartan.

Find your favourite dram

Image credit: Whiski Rooms

You won’t be short of opportunities to try the nation’s favourite dram whilst you’re here. The first thing you need to know – we call it whisky, not whiskey like Jack Daniels. With over 500 distilleries up and down the country, there are hundreds of whiskies to choose from. We recommend heading to The Whiski Rooms and booking a tasting where you can find out more about the water of life and the various regions where it is distilled.

Try a few of our favourite foods

On 25 January each year, Scots celebrate a famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. The celebrations centre around one of his most famous poems, ‘Address to the Haggis’. Haggis is a savoury pudding made from sheep’s pluck, onions, oats and spices, and is traditionally served on Burns Night with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes).

Over the past decade it’s regained popularity and is often served in restaurants as crispy croquettes, known as haggis bon bons, with a sweet chilli or brown sauce dip. For a bigger twist, head to Metro Bar and Basserie at Apex Grassmarket and try them with peppercorn mayo.

You may have heard rumblings about the deep-fried Mars Bar… and we’re here to tell you it’s a dish worth seeking out. Café Piccante on Broughton Street in the New Town are well known for it, we recommend sharing one for dessert (£2 per bar).


Image credit: The Hanging Bat

If you know your American Pale from your Steam Beer then you’re in luck. Edinburgh has a great craft beer scene and a huge selection of bars and microbreweries to show for it. Top of everyone’s list to visit should be The Hanging Bat with around 30 daily changing draught craft beers to choose from as well as a wide selection of American comfort food to help line the stomach and ease homesickness.

Discover Edinburgh’s speakeasy cocktail scene

Image credit: Panda & Sons

Edinburgh is fast becoming home to some of the best cocktail bars in Scotland. Taking inspiration from America’s prohibition era, you can now enjoy a cocktail in a barbershop of all places. You’d walk right past Panda & Sons on Queen Street if you didn’t know that some of the most exciting and innovative cocktails lie downstairs in a secret basement room.

Plan your Edinburgh Festival itinerary

If you visit in August, planning your Edinburgh Festival Fringe itinerary is key to a successful trip. Our Edinburgh Festival Offer includes a £10 voucher towards a show, and a £10 food and drink voucher to use at any of our hotels. Whilst you’re here, we recommend you make the most of Apex Hotels’ free Wi-Fi and download the EdFringe app. You can use it to buy tickets and find out what shows are on and when. Don’t forget about the Free Fringe either, it’s a great opportunity to see free shows and support those performers doing it for the love of the game.

If you’ve got more than one day to explore, check out our blog on 48 hours in Edinburgh. All that’s left is to book your Edinburgh trip today.