Edinburgh sticks shockingly up-to-the-nanosecond dance clubs in 15th-century tenement buildings and body-stockinged firebreathers outside Georgian mansions: This is a city that knows how to blend modern and medieval. Its superb architecture ranges from ancient churches to monumental Victorian masterpieces - all dominated by a castle on a precipitous crag in the city's heart. And pick any street to stroll - you'll be wowed by sudden vistas of rugged summits, memorial-laden hills and erstwhile-outlying villages that inch ever closer to the vibrant city centre.
Edinburgh is, in some ways, the least Scottish of Scotland's cities. Tourism, its close proximity to England, and its multicultural, sophisticated population set it apart, and its vibrant pub and club scene, college population and small yet thriving gay scene, combined with its full-on festivals, make it a city ready to take on the world.
There is, of course, a flipside: the grim council housing estates, the serious drugs scene and the distressing AIDS problem. Wrap that up with the dubious weather, and you may question stopping by, but don't. Edinburgh is a mixed bag but struts an identity that extends much further than heroin addicts and the occasional display of kilts and bagpipes. In traditional Scottish fashion, it will leave you feeling whisky-warm inside.