Boston Traveler: Edinburgh, Scotland

A new direct flight makes it easier than ever to see the kilts, hear the bagpipes, and taste the whiskey in Scotland’s capital city.

The breathtaking crags of Arthur’s Seat. / iStock


Beginning May 23, Delta will offer a nonstop flight between Logan and Edinburgh airports, but until then, most options have a layover at London’s Heathrow.


For more than a century, the Balmoral hotel’s majestic clock tower has been a guidepost for locals and tourists alike. About two years ago, the historical property underwent a multimillion-dollar makeover; now the 37 Edinburgh Castle–facing guest rooms evoke the Scottish countryside with floral wallpaper, handmade beds, and recessed window seats for soaking in those views.

A newly revamped room at the Balmoral hotel. / Photo by Janos Grapow


It’s time to get the lay of the land—but first, fuel from Fortitude, a specialty coffee shop in New Town. Once you’re sufficiently caffeinated, walk for about an hour along the famous Royal Mile, past bagpipe players and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, before arriving at the geological landmark Arthur’s Seat, a group of hills featuring easy walking trails with plentiful vistas. Then head back into Old Town to gaze at the Scottish National Galleries’ world-renowned collections. For a more contemporary art experience, check out the Fruitmarket Gallery: Originally built as a produce market in 1938, it became a space for showcasing Scottish and international artists during the ’70s. On view this month are the avant-garde sculptures of Senga Nengudi.


The afternoon calls for a change of scenery. In the nearby port town of Leith, enjoy a hearty lunch of North Sea hake with mussels and wild garlic at Michelin-starred the Kitchin before a stroll along the riverside Leith Walk, lined by thrift stores. Or bring home something brand new from 21st Century Kilts, where the traditional getups can be customized in anything from leather to denim. Dinner is back near the Balmoral at the Gardener’s Cottage, which serves up a seasonal menu in a charming cottage dating to 1836. Of course, you can’t tuck in for the night without tucking into scotch: Sample from the large selection at Bramble Bar, a speakeasy hidden beneath a shop on Queen Street. Don’t worry if you have one too many—the hotel’s clock tower will light the way home.