Scotland is synonymous with lush green highlands, superb whisky, men wearing kilts and playing the bagpipes. Of course, there's also the mysterious Loch Ness Monster, who lives way up north where the sky is always menacing, and equally scary ancient castles with drawbridges. But when you actually visit Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital, you're in for quite a surprise.
Sure, there is plenty of ancient history just waiting to be discovered, and you will explore this side of the city when you walk along the legendary Royal Mile, the oldest and most noteworthy street in the city when it comes to history. For starters, this part of town, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has been inhabited for over 7 000 years. It's located on seven lush hills and connects two of Edinburgh's most famous sights, Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood.
The Royal Mile is in reality just over one mile long, and along this historic route you will explore a number of different streets and squares, including Grassmarket, Lawnmarket, High Street, Castlehill, Canongate and Abbey Strand.
Dividing the historic part of Edinburgh with its more contemporary sister is Princes Street, home to one of the city's busiest commercial centres. This is where you'll head for dining, shopping and people-watching, when you're not exploring the city's history. Because Edinburgh is so charmingly historic that you can't not get completely immersed in its past.
Some of the buildings you must explore while you're in town include Queen Mary's Bath House, a tiny turreted little place where Mary, Queen of Scots used to bathe herself in sweet wine. There's also the the 16th Century Palace of Holyrood, open to visitors when the Royal Family is not in town, with the ruins of the original Abbey on the site - it's original nave is still there.
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