Edinburgh: A fascinating city made for golfers

November 30, 2011
David Brice, Golf International, Inc.

David Brice, CEO of Golf International, reviews destinations on PGATOUR.COM that can be experienced by purchasing a package with Golf international, a leading provider of high-end international golf travel. For more information about this trip or any other of Golf International's destination trips, click here.

No golfer would ever dream of traveling to Scotland without experiencing at least a few of her world renowned golf courses, but neither should they visit Scotland without experiencing Edinburgh, one of Europe's most delectable capitals. Golf may be your passion, but get to know this thoroughly impressive and very charming city, and it's guaranteed you will have a new favorite European capital.

Edinburgh Castle dates from the 12th century and sits a short stroll from the city center.jpg
Edinburgh Castle dates from the 12th century and sits a short stroll from the city center.
Within 30 minutes of your Edinburgh hotel you could be playing Muirfield, one of the world's top ranked links.jpg
Within 30 minutes of your Edinburgh hotel you could be playing Muirfield, one of the world's top ranked links.
Taste a slice of Medieval Edinburgh, along the Royal Mile.jpg
Taste a slice of Medieval Edinburgh, along the Royal Mile.
Holyrood Palace, the Queen's abode when visiting Edinburgh.jpg
Holyrood Palace, the Queen's abode when visiting Edinburgh.
You'll never go thirsty in Edinburgh, where friendly pubs abound.jpg
You'll never go thirsty in Edinburgh, where friendly pubs abound.
North Berwick's West Links has inspired golf architects for centuries - and it's only 30 minutes from Edinburgh.jpg
North Berwick's West Links has inspired golf architects for centuries - and it's only 30 minutes from Edinburgh.
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Savoring the many attributes of Edinburgh or playing some of the world's most renowned golf courses, isn't a one or the other situation. A short, half hour's drive of the city center will place you in the heart of Edinburgh's Golf Coast, an appropriate title, bestowed upon the tiny county of East Lothian, a bastion of the Royal & Ancient Game, where much of golf's history has been written. The more than twenty courses making Edinburgh's Golf Coast home include some ranked in the world's Top 100 courses listing and among them, a couple of layouts that have garnered further fame as Open Championship venues.

From the oldest playing course in existence, to the most prestigious golf club on the planet, to hidden links gems where Mary Queen of Scots played golf back in the 15th century, golf history is everywhere. There are remarkable examples of modern day golf architecture and the 200 year-old links that set the standard for links design. East Lothian is a treasure trove of golfing excellence, with more than enough dazzling layouts to satisfy even the most jaded golf traveler and it's all so conveniently close to the big city attractions of Edinburgh.

It's this unique combination of exceptional, world-class golf, all located in close proximity to a stunning and thoroughly intriguing capital that adds so much to Edinburgh's intrinsic appeal to one and all. Golfer or not, this is an irresistible city for everyone.

Impressive as the city is, it somehow manages to maintain a genuine, very friendly, welcoming appeal that never overpowers. Compact and with very human proportions, it's a manageable city where from a central hotel location, most of the main points of historical and cultural interest, museums, galleries, fine dining, nightlife and shopping, will all be within walking distance, or only a short taxi or bus-ride away.

Neatly divided into two halves, the medieval Old Town containing many of Edinburgh's most intriguing sights is to the south. The New Town, dating from the 18th century and considered one of the world's finest examples of Georgian urban architectural development, is to the North. Separating the two is world-famous Prince's Street, the main shopping thoroughfare.

Top of the list of must see sights is Edinburgh Castle, the most famous and best preserved of all Scottish castles. Dating from the 12th century, the castle has served as a fortress, royal palace, seat of the Scottish parliament, military garrison and state prison. It contains a wealth of Scottish history and today houses the Stone of Destiny, a relic of ancient Scottish coronations and the Scottish crown jewels. Count on the best part of a half-day to discover all the magnificently preserved buildings and their history.

Linking the castle to Holyrood Palace is a stretch of four ancient streets, known as The Royal Mile, once the main thoroughfare of medieval Edinburgh. There are more historic buildings and monuments along its one-mile length than many other cities offer in their entirety.

A good starting place outside of the castle gates is the Scotch Whisky Center, where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about whisky, sampling a few drams along the way. One of Edinburgh's top restaurants is also located here, but best return for dinner to take full advantage of the excellent Scottish cuisine and an accompanying list of more than 400 whiskies, complete with a whisky consultant to assist in your selections.

Stop by at Gladstones Land, an extravagantly furnished, beautifully preserved 17th century merchant's house. Nearby, Lady Stair's House, another impressive 17th century building housing a museum of the lives and works of Scottish writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Parliament House, built in 1630 to house the Scottish Parliament, has served as the High Court since the early 18th century. The Great Hall here has some spectacular stained glass windows. Dating from the 15th century, St. Giles Cathedral was used by protestant preacher, John Knox, to direct the Scottish Reformation in the mid-16th century. The ornately carved royal pew is used for worship by Queen Elizabeth II when she stays in Edinburgh.

The house where John Knox spent his final days, dates from 1450 and contains a small museum of his life. Another museum of Edinburgh's social history is housed in the Canongate Tollbooth. Built in 1591, this used to be the local law courts, jail and burgh council meeting rooms.

If you are curious about the daily lives of Edinburgh's poor residents before the 18th century, take a tour of Mary King's Close, located under the City Chambers. Far beneath the Old Town's streets are the basements, cellars and dark alleyways, where without ventilation, daylight and a proper water supply, domestic life and industry thrived - until the plague killed the entire population around 1645.

Marking the end of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Palace, official residence of Queen Elizabeth when she visits Edinburgh. Open to the public when the Queen is not here, it's a wonderful opportunity to experience a real living palace, steeped in history, where a litany of devious deeds have taken place over the centuries. Mary Queen of Scots used to stay here, Bonnie Prince Charlie held court within these walls and Queen Victoria was a frequent resident.

But Edinburgh has much more to offer the visitor. This is a city of museums with the National Gallery of Scotland leading a host of others including The Museum of Scotland, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Museum.

There is the New Scottish Parliament Building, a stunning piece of contemporary design, attracting students of architecture from around the globe. If shopping is on your list of things to do, you are in the right place - outside of London, Edinburgh has the best shopping in all of Britain. From the best cashmere to Edinburgh crystal, antiques and fine art, the galleries and boutiques are in a class of their own.

There is the New Town to explore with its impressive squares, wide boulevards, elegant building facades and ornamental door arches. Many of the city's art galleries are to be found here as is a profusion of top class restaurants, which are well worth discovering. Edinburgh ranks second to only London for the quality and quantity of its restaurants, and Scottish cuisine has ascended to lofty levels where only the French, Italians and Spanish have trodden before.

Edinburgh has more than enough temptations to keep any visitor busy, whether golfer or not, for as long as they care to stay. Pleasing everyone is a difficult task for any city to accomplish, but Edinburgh achieves it with ease, elegance and a sense of style that has Scotland written all over it.

For more ideas on how best to include Edinburgh and some of Scotland's very best golf courses on your trip, call Golf International, the Scotland experts, at 1 800 833-1389 or click here.

©2011 David Brice / Golf International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Golf International -- Providers of quality golf travel arrangements since 1988.