According to new results, Edinburgh is Scotland’s most popular city with foreign visitors
It might be Scotland’s capital city, but it turns out Edinburgh is also Scotland’s most popular city, too. This won’t come as a surprise to those who know what a fantastic city Edinburgh is, but the figures themselves are very impressive.
A recent report by the Office for National Statistics lists Edinburgh as the second most popular city in the UK and the most popular in Scotland with overseas visitors. In fact, last year alone there was a 6% increase in the number of foreign visitors to the city. North America in particular saw a huge surge of people taking the time to explore Scotland’s capital. Altogether, these tourists have invested an extra £155 million during their visits, creating a 9% growth on the year before.
This popularity has helped turn Edinburgh into an even more thriving, cosmopolitan city flourishing with multiculturalism. The city is livelier and more exciting than it ever has been before, and this excitement shows in the words of those working to put Edinburgh on everybody’s radar — including Tourism Secretary, Fiona Hyslop.
Speaking of the results, Hyslop said they “underline Scotland’s appeal as a world-class tourism destination and are a credit to our tourism industry’s hard work to attract and welcome more than 2.7 million overseas visitors last year.”
Hyslop went on to say that Edinburgh has seen an “18 per cent increase in the number of visits from North America and welcomed 1.6 million visitors from across Europe, highlighting the strength of our connections with the US and our neighbours on the continent.
“Our overseas visitors spent £1.85 billion in 2016,” Hyslop continued, “a 9 per cent increase on the previous year and a welcome boost for our tourism and hospitality sectors and wider economy.”
But the Tourism Secretary was sure to encourage more work to make Edinburgh even more of a tourist destination, stating: “We are committed to working with VisitScotland and the tourism sector to build further on Scotland’s reputation as a must visit, must return destination.”
The Office for National Statistics report also found that there’s been an 8% increase in UK residents travelling outside of the UK compared to the previous year. Overall, the report aims to paint a clear picture of the UK’s travel and tourism industry, and it’s certainly made it clear just how popular Edinburgh is! So what is it that makes people fall in love with Scotland’s capital?
Edinburgh is full of fantastic things to see and do. Some of these sites are so beloved that they’ve become practically iconic, whilst others are hidden gems you have to try and seek out. Here are just some of the places that make Edinburgh so enrapturing . . . and they’re all within easy reach from Quartermile!
Edinburgh Castle is perhaps the most iconic site in all of Edinburgh. It’s so familiar from television, postcards and photographs that seeing it in person is an almost surreal experience for the millions of tourists that flock to the city. The castle is known all over the world, so it’s no wonder people flock to book tickets and see everything this famous structure has to offer, as well as enjoy the views from the courtyard outside.
From Edinburgh Castle all the way down to Scottish Parliament stretches arguably the most famous street in Scotland: the Royal Mile. There are so many things to see and do along this street that it’s impossible to list them all. It simply has to experienced yourself, which is why so many people come from everywhere to do just that. Hours can be sent simply meandering down this street and soaking in the multitude of sights and sounds.
Across the North Bridge from the Old Town is Princes Street, famous for servicing all your shopping needs. But when you need a break from retail therapy, Princes Street Gardens lies just over the road. From sitting and tucking into an ice cream to strolling amongst the plants and even enjoying regular live entertainment, people love relaxing in Edinburgh’s greenery — especially in summer.
Arthur’s Seat is famous for having the most fantastic view of Edinburgh. A short, steep walk to the peak will give you a panoramic view of the entire city. Robert Louis Stevenson described Arthur’s Seat best: “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design”.
The site where Greyfriar’s Bobby the Skye terrier rested loyally over his master’s grave for 14 years after his death holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Tourists come from all walks of life to see the headstones of both Bobby and his master John Gray, and the statue of Bobby outside has been included in many a selfie. Keep an eye out for the grave of Thomas Riddle too: the headstone which inspired JK Rowling when deciding on Lord Voldemort’s true name.
For forty years the Royal Yacht Britannia took to the seas on grand voyages, but since 1998 it’s been available for public viewing just outside of Edinburgh, in Leith. You can get a personal insight into the lives of both the royalty and the crewmen who spent time aboard the ship.
Beneath the streets of Edinburgh lies a shadowy world that’s almost been forgotten. But thanks to hugely popular historical and ghostly tours you can get the experience of what it’s like to roam in Edinburgh’s underground vaults. These tours have never waned in popularity thanks to the morbid fascination of tourists from all over the world.
There’s much more to Edinburgh than the Royal Mile and Princes Street, and Rose Street is a shining example of that. If you’re looking for the best bars and pubs to soak up the Edinburgh nightlife, look no further than Rose Street.
Located roughly halfway down the Royal Mile is the house rumoured to have been home to John Knox during the 16th century. The famous figure of religious Reformation led a controversial life, working closely with both King Edward VI of England and Mary, Queen of Scots. When it came to the time of Mary’s persecution, Knox openly called for her execution. His tumultuous life still fascinates history enthusiasts from all over the world today.
Located just south of South Bridge, Surgeon’s Hall is one of Edinburgh’s most fascinating sites and yet is often overlooked by those in a hurry to get into the Old Town. If you want history, then Surgeon’s Hall is the place for you. You can even find the death mask of William Burke here, who was one half of the bodysnatching, graverobbing, murderous duo – Burke and Hare.
Imagine a time when JK Rowling was first putting pen to paper and devising what would one day become the biggest literary phenomenon of a generation. Well, The Elephant Room is where the magic happened. Located just around the corner from Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, this tea room prides itself on being the spot where Rowling pondered the world of Harry Potter over coffee and cake.
By visiting these incredible places, you’ll only scratch the surface of all that Edinburgh has to offer, so it’s really no wonder the city is always proving so popular with visitors and residents alike.