Start the day with a $5 bacon roll and coffee combo at Lime (25a Thistle Street), then get a fix of Da Vincis, Rembrandts and Raphaels at the somewhat maze-like Scottish National Gallery (www.nationalgalleries.org, free entry). Get a $10 Moroccan chickpea stew for lunch at Social Bite (www.social-bite.co.uk), where all profits go to charity. Spend the rest of the day on foot exploring the gloriously uniform Georgian architecture of the New Town. Queen Street is the most representative, while Charlotte Square is the prestigious high point where the Scottish First Minister lives. Save a little energy to hike up Calton Hill, which is full of absurd pseudo-Greek monuments and has top-drawer, 360-degree views of the city. Enjoy comfort food with quality ingredients, such as the $14 sausage and mash, at Mum's (www.monstermashcafe.co.uk). Then kip at Channings (www.channings.co.uk), an atmospheric clutch of townhouses, for from $98.
Take it easy
Fuel up for a day in the Old Town with scrambled eggs, toast and smoked salmon at the Edinburgh Larder (www.edinburghlarder.co.uk, $14). Spend the rest of the morning delving into Scottish history and culture at the National Museum of Scotland (www.nms.ac.uk), and enjoy a two-course seafood lunch for $34 at Ondine (www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk). Learn about Scotland's most important contribution to the world at the Scotch Whisky Experience (www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk, $28). Then take a guided, ghostly tour of Edinburgh's long-built over tenements at the Real Mary King's Close (www.realmarykingsclose.com, $28). This is a great insight into the Old Town's grimy, gritty underbelly. Spread dinner out over multiple venues on Eat Walk Edinburgh's foodie tour of under-rated eateries (www.eatwalkedinburgh.co.uk, $98), then get a good sleep at high-character luxury joint, Hotel Du Vin (www.hotelduvin.com, from $190). The building used to be a lunatic asylum.
Delve beyond the obvious Edinburgh on Context Travel's two-and-a-half hour walking tour around the Dean Village (www.contexttravel.com, $140), a collection of gorgeous buildings and oddities hidden in a highly picturesque gully. You'll finish in the New Town, where you can indulge in the $80 hot shellfish platter at Fishers In The City (www.fishersbistros.co.uk). Take a cab (www.citycabs.co.uk, around $13) down to the rejuvenated port suburb of Leith, where you can explore the Queen's former yacht. The Royal Yacht Britannia (www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk, $28) offers surprisingly honest insights into Royal life. Leith has become a fine-dining hub, with the local ingredients meets French techniques tasting menus at The Kitchin (www.thekitchin.co.uk, $150) leading the way. Take a taxi ($13) back to the one of the world's great railway hotels. A suite at the ostentatiously grand Balmoral Hotel (www.roccofortehotels.com) costs $1210 including breakfast.
The writer was a guest of Visit Scotland (www.visitscotland.com).