Travel: O Flower of Scotland

The Scottish capital is far from the grim city that it’s portrayed as in Trainspotting, writes Steven Balbirnie

As the home of my ancestors, my advice for anyone planning on visiting Scotland is that if there’s only one place you can see in this beautiful country, make sure that it’s Edinburgh.

Flights from Dublin are cheap and take less than an hour; once there, public transport can get you to the heart of the city very quickly. The people of Edinburgh are very friendly and welcoming and just like the Irish they’re fond of a good drink. If you ever get lost, you’re sure to find someone more than happy to set you in the right direction.

Anyone interested in shopping should head for Princes Street and its adjoining side streets; there are a wide variety of shops in the area and with very reasonable prices on most products, you’ll find yourself picking up more than you’d originally planned. The nearby Princes Street Gardens are a great place to take some time out to relax and the surrounding area boasts a multitude of cafés, serving decent coffee.

No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the area’s most famous castle, which offers the most incredible views of the city and its surroundings such as Arthur’s Seat and the Firth of Forth. When visiting the castle you should always make sure to do so at one o’clock, so you can enjoy the spectacle of the ceremonial gun being fired to mark the hour.

Edinburgh Castle also houses the National War Museum, which is a fascinating place to visit, as its exhibits detail the entire history of Scotland’s armed forces from the 17th century to the modern day.

Other attractions at the castle include the Honours of Scotland, which are the oldest crown jewels in Britain or Ireland; and Mons Meg, a six-tonne medieval siege gun that it takes one hundred men to move.

Only a short walk from the castle along the Royal Mile is another must-see attraction: Camera Obscura. Camera Obscura has existed in Edinburgh for over 150 years, amusing, amazing and baffling generations of visitors with its optical illusions and Victorian technology. Shaking hands with your own ghost is one of the many odd experiences it offers.

Edinburgh is such an incredible city with so many things to see and do that no matter how many times I visit there, I always find myself wanting to go back again.