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About Edinburgh Area Guide > Old Town

The very centre and the oldest part of Edinburgh, and there is no shortage of things to see and do here.

Bruntsfield is a well-heeled suburb twenty minutes walk or a short bus ride from Edinburgh city centre. It is well-known for being home to James Gillespie's High School, the inspiration for Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but this attractive area has much else to recommend it.  

Golf fans can visit Bruntsfield Links short hole course and play a round for free. A short walk from the Links will bring you to the famous Cameo cinema, which shows a variety of independent films and The King's Theatre, a popular venue for contemporary and historical theatre.

Sports enthusiasts will also enjoy the Warrender Swim Centre - a traditional Victorian baths in Bruntsfield. The centre has a modern pool, gym and sauna but also maintains many of its original and charming 19th century features.

The Old Town is the very centre and the oldest part of Edinburgh, and there is no shortage of things to see and do here.

From the very top of the Royal Mile, take in the stunning views of the city from Edinburgh Castle. Then stroll down and visit The Scotch Whisky Experience where you can learn all about Scotland's national drink and maybe even buy a few bottles. Visit Gladstone's Land - a traditional tenement building and discover the Writer's Museum. Stop off for an underground tour at Mary King's Close, part of the original Old Town which was built upon after the Great Plague. Or if you are feeling really brave, do one of the many ghost tours available. On the Royal Mile you will also find the grandeur of St. Giles Cathedral, The Scottish Storytelling Centre and John Knox House - the only original medieval building surviving on the Royal Mile. If you are feeling nostalgic you can relive your past at the Museum of Childhood.

There are plenty of eating and drinking options on the Royal Mile. Keep a keen eye out for all the little side streets, known as "closes", many of which are home to hidden bars and restaurants.

At the foot of the Royal Mile sits the iconic Scottish Parliament building which opened in 2004 and offers free guided tours six days a week. Visitors can attend parliament debates free of charge.

Just beyond the parliament lies The Palace of Holyrood House. Dating back to 1503 and once a residence of Mary Queen of Scots, the palace is the Queen's residence at the end of June each year. Prince Charles also resides here one week of the year. Outside of these times the palace is open to visitors.

Beyond the palace is Holyrood Park, an expansive public park from which you can climb Arthur's Seat or Salisbury Crags and enjoy unparalleled views across the city.

From the Royal Mile you can also walk down to the Grassmarket - an historic marketplace with an equal amount of history and current culture to absorb you for hours.

Also within short walking distance of the Royal Mile is Greyfriars Bobby, The National Museum of Scotland and countless other bars and restaurants including The Elephant House, where J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter.

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