This article was published on March 12th, 2017
Scotland may not exactly be on everyone’s top 10 holiday destinations, but the land of kilts and bagpipes is sexier than ever. Now is the perfect time to visit the land of the best whiskey on the planet. Edinburgh, its gorgeous capital, is in a category of its own with gorgeous scenery, stunning historic attractions, and a large, friendly gay scene in the heart of the city. Edinburgh is quickly becoming one of the hottest locations in the U.K. for history and fun seeking LGBT travellers.
Originally a fort, the city dates back to the 7th century when the English conquered this region of Scotland. The Scots reclaimed the land in the 10th century, and by the 12th century, a town had begun to grow around the fort. By the 14th century, Edinburgh had become known as the capital of Scotland. In 1603, King James VI ascended the throne and united the kingdoms of England and Scotland, and today Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom.
Rich in history, Edinburgh has plenty of attractions for everyone. A compact, but hilly city, the Scottish capital is a walkable city complete with its own tram system. Edinburgh Castle, which looms over the city, is virtually everyone’s first stop and is the most visited destination in all of Scotland. Home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Castle—built on Castle Rock—has museums, a palace, chapels, and is home to the famed Stone of Destiny.
The Royal Yacht Britannia, Queen Elizabeth’s floating royal residence, is Scotland’s best visitor attraction 11 years running and has been rated as the top three attractions in the UK for three years running. Used as a private yacht for over 40 years for Her Majesty the Queen and the monarchy, The Britannia is permanently docked in Edinburgh, functioning as a five-story museum. Follow in the footsteps of royalty and recount the history of a ship that also hosted such dignitaries as Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.
Other attractions include Holyrood House, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II when visiting Scotland, is open for tours daily. This 16th century palace was once the home of Mary Queen of Scots.
Stop in for some fresh ale or delicious scotch with some haggis at the Halfway House, the smallest pub in Scotland. If whiskey is really your thing, stop in at the Scotch Whiskey Experience. The Scottish National Gallery hosts numerous European and Scottish works and masterpieces. St. Giles’ Cathedral, a stunning medieval building and Presbyterian place of worship and is open for tours.
The Pink Triangle, as locals often refer it to, is the gay area of Edinburgh. Though smaller than London and Manchester, Edinburgh’s lgbtq scene is lively with a colorful sampling of bars, clubs, saunas, and hotels. CC Blooms is the big gay night club, while Infinity Nightclub is gay friendly, with a mixed crowd. Edinburgh is more focused on bar culture than club scene, so there are many gay bars including The Street, The Regent Bar, Habana, Planet Bar, Victoria Bar, and Café Nom de Plume. Steamworks is a 5000-square foot gay sauna open 7 days a week. The Ballantrae Hotel is as gay friendly as it gets. Gay Pride is held in the city every June.
Now you’re in the know about the capital of Scotland. But Edinburgh is only the beginning. Grab your passport, your kilt, and your bagpipes, hop on a plane and train, and visit Edinburgh soon. Don’t forget to pick up a signature Tartan cashmere scarf along the Royal Mile!
Start planning your trip to Edinburgh today! Visit Scotland has lots of fantastic travel suggestions including itineraries, travel ideas, and valuable information to plan your trip.
See the full gallery of HomoCulture photos of Edinburgh, Scotland on Facebook.