National Museum of Scotland – Tracing the history of Scotland from geological beginnings to the 1990s; highlights include Animal World, featuring a full-size cast of a T rex – and the Kingdom of the Scots galleries, with the Monymusk Reliquary (a tiny 8th-century silver casket) and a sacred battle ensign of the Scottish army.
Scottish National Gallery – The octagonal rooms of this imposing classical building house impressive works of European art from the Renaissance to post-impressionism, including Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin. The basement galleries are dedicated to Scottish artists including Raeburn, Wilkie and MacTaggart.
National Gallery Of Modern Art – This gallery showcases art by post-impressionist Scottish Colourists such as Hunter and Peploe. In the main collection, Modern One, find the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Kirchner, Magritte, Miro, Mondrian and Giacometti; while Modern Two is home to works by Edinburgh-born Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
Museum Of Edinburgh – Inside the red and yellow ochre facade of Huntly House, this museum covers the city from its prehistory to the present. Exhibits include an original copy of the National Covenant of 1638 and the collar of Greyfriars Bobby, the city’s most famous dog.
The People’s Story – The Canongate Tolbooth, which in the 16th century served as a collection point for taxes, a council house, a courtroom and a jail, is now home to a fascinating museum. It covers the life, work and pastimes of ordinary Edinburgh folk from the 18th century to the present day, with highlights including a bookbinder’s workshop, wartime kitchen and prison cell.
Writers’ Museum – Lady Stair’s House (1622) is home to this museum dedicated to the lives and works of three of Scotland’s most famous writers: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. See manuscripts, rare books and memorabilia, including Burns’ writing desk, a plaster cast of his skull and Stevenson’s fishing rod and smoking pipe.
Henry’s Cellar – One of Edinburgh’s most eclectic and diverse live-music venues, Henry’s has something going on most nights of the week. You’ll find all sorts of bands huddled on the tiny corner stage, from rock and indie to ‘Balkan-inspired folk’, funk to hip-hop to hardcore; expect local groups and acts from around the world.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre – A beautifully restored Art Deco theatre with a modern glass frontage, the Festival is the city’s main venue for opera, dance and ballet, but also stages musicals, concerts, drama and children’s shows. Highlights in February include Northern Ballet’s Borneo & Juliet, One Man, Two Guvnors and Saturday Night Fever.
Traverse Theatre – The Traverse is the main focus for new Scottish writing-since 1963 it has been staging an adventurous programme of contemporary drama and dance. It also hosts numerous festivals focussing on dance and new writing, as well as Manipulate, an annual festival of innovative theatre, puppetry, animation and film in the first week of February.