|Edinburgh is full of cultural attractions, including the brand new Weston Link in the heart of the city. (GolfPublisher.com)|
EDINBURGH, Scotland - So your golf vacation to Scotland has led you to the East Lothians, and maybe you've just played historic Musselburgh or you were able to get on the exclusive Muirfield down the road. Maybe you hoofed it on the hilly and value-driven muni Braid Hills or were west of Edinburgh at North Berwick and saw the famous Bass Rock just off the shores of the famous links course.
Whatever the case, you're pooped. If you look at another sweeping links course or find your ball in another pot bunker, you just might lose it. It's the perfect time to be a tourist - not golfer - and Scotland has plenty to see, do and, of course, drink.
If you've got the energy for a day of sightseeing between golf, there isn't a better urban center in the country to do it than Edinburgh, capital of the country and also the most tourist-friendly, compared to neighboring metropolis Glasgow. Many bus lines also give daily tours, so if you're looking to see it all without walking to it all, that might be a better option for you.
Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile: The Royal Mile encompasses most of what you want to see in Edinburgh's Old Town. The popular way to go is start at the foot of the mile where the new Queen's Gallery sits, then slowly stroll up, weaving in between kilt stories, workshops, cathedrals and museums. There's something on just about every block that will slow you up, but take your time. The hill is steep enough you'll need the breather, especially if you've been walking golf courses the whole week. One of the great things about the Royal Mile is its not as heavily populated with tourists. Compared to other European hotspots such as Prague's Charles Bridge, Barcelona's Las Ramblas and Venice's St. Mark's Square where you're virtually shoulder-to-shoulder, the Royal Mile isn't so intrusive. On a cold fall or winter night the mile can be especially enchanting.
Once at the castle, you'll see such famous artifacts as the "Stone of destiny", 15th century cannon Mon Meg, the One o'clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
Calton Hill: Once you've walked up the Royal Mile and finished at the castle, go ahead and cross the North Bridge (a popular hub for most bus lines as well) and head to Calton Hill. You'll pass the beautiful Princes Street Gardens on the way and consider a quick detour if you've got the time. Then make the trek up Calton Hill. It's a quick walk and easy to find, just look up and you'll see old ruins. It was originally dubbed, "Edinburgh's great shame" because construction was soon halted due to lack of funds shortly after it began in 1822. But the result is an eerie-quiet park with acropolis-style ruins providing panoramic views of the city. If you're willing to make the short hike to the top, you practically have the hill to yourself. If you're with the lady, consider packing a picnic or bringing some lunch up there and eating while looking over the skyline.
Ghost Tours: Edinburgh's Old Town has a haunted reputation, and many tour operators now offer spooky tours of the city's haunted past. Trek into hidden underground vaults and discover Edinburgh's dark side.
National Galleries of Scotland: Edinburgh has five national galleries on display in Edinburgh alone. Art collections from the 14th century to modern art add to a very eclectic mix. The new Weston Link is a new £30 million complex located in the heart of the Princes Gardens and hosts seasonal international exhibitions.
Royal Oak: The Royal Oak, located just off the Royal Mile is a small pub with a friendly atmosphere and live music. This is your authentic Scottish pub and is usually packed and rowdy. Order up a Tennant's lager and sing along.
The Hebrides: a small friendly local pub with scheduled music on some nights, and unscheduled music from locals on others, who happen to stroll in with a guitar and a thirst for sing-a-longs. Plenty of local flair and a good place to get the lowdown on Edinburgh.
Allison House Hotel: The Allison House Hotel is a very affordable bed & breakfast that is just a couple bus stops from the Royal Mile. It's also very conveniently located and easy to get back to the main roads and dual carraigeways. (011 +44 800 328 9003)
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October 25, 2006
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Dublin is Ireland's largest and most tourist-friendly city, with marquee attractions from the Book of Kells to the Guinness brewery, But Ireland's best known golf courses are almost all on the west coast, in the northwest or in Northern Ireland. Because of this, many golfers on wish-list trips never set foot in the capital. That's a shame, because a trip to Dublin can combine the charms of all things urban and Irish with exceptional -- and inexpensive -- links and parkland golf.
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