If you’re spending summer vacationing this year, the Scottish city of Edinburgh is an excellent option. There are some unmissable things you need to tick off your list, from the best coffee in town, to where to get your culture fix – not to mention the lowdown on the legendary Fringe. Keep our check list close to hand as you head off to explore.

Timberyard

An authentic brick warehouse with a south-facing yard, Timberyard dates back to the 19th Century and offers a rustic dining experience. With an in-house butchery and smokehouse, private dining in The Shed, and ingredients supplied by local artisan growers and foragers, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxed but excellent lunch or dinner. It’s a great venue all year round thanks to the outdoor seating and wood burning stove (for those inevitably cold Scottish evenings).

National Museum of Scotland

There are currently 10 new galleries showcasing the very best of the National Museum of Scotland’s important collections in decorative art, design, fashion, science and technology. Visitors can make like Gisele at Rio 2016 and walk their own catwalk, before scouting out gems by Vivienne Westwood, Zhandra Rhodes, Jean Muir and Pringle of Scotland. The best bit of all, it’s completely free.

Cairngorm Coffee

A small coffee shop in the centre of town, Cairngorm coffee on Frederick Street is just a stone’s throw from the famous George Street, so it’s perfect for re-energising on-the-go with a flat white post shopping spree. The interior has a real Highland feel, with suspended skis reminiscent of past trips on the slopes of the Cairngorms. With the first San Remo Opera Espresso Machine in use in Scotland, Cairngorm Coffee takes pride in their precise and scientific extraction, mirrored by the pre-dosed coffee and tea in test tubes on the walls. Worth a visit for the interiors alone.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

There’s always plenty to see at the Fringe but this year one of the most popular themes is the female experience. Playwright Alice Birch examines the language, behaviour and forces that shape women in the 21st Century in In Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., while 82-year old cabaret star D’yan Forest makes her Fringe debut with A Broad Abroad! In need of a good laugh? Get tickets to any of the stand-up sets from some of the finest female comedians. Whichever show you choose, make sure you grab a refreshment at the pop-up Gin Garden in St Andrews Square beforehand.

Harvey Nichols Edinburgh

It’s always a good idea to pay a visit to Scotland’s only designer department store. Harvey Nichols Edinburgh has just launched the first Scottish Dermalogica retail spa and the Fourth Floor Brasserie, where you can enjoy the stunning views over St Andrews Square from the terrace cocktail in hand, is a must-see.

Local Heroes local

Situated in Edinburgh Airport’s new plaza, the Local Heroes pop-up exhibition and shop features nine commissions from Scottish product, fashion, graphic, and textile designers. As part of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, the designers were asked to reimagine the souvenir and produce a unique travel-themed design. Orkney-based designer Hilary Grant’s piece Archipelago (pictured) is a lambswool travel blanket inspired by rhythm, mirroring and the knitting traditions of Scotland, and would make a great souvenir for family (or just to take home as a reminder of your trip). The Local Heroes collection is available to buy throughout August 2016.

Lucky Liquor

Lucky Liquor is a bar unlike any other – there are only 13 spirits behind the bar and 13 drinks on the menu at any time, all of which change every three months. The bartenders are encouraged to use their imaginations to create unique cocktails – such as the Bottled Aged Brooklyn – which they supplement with Lucky Liquor’s own homemade liqueurs, syrups and bitters. We love the all-vinyl soundtrack and intimate patio.

Summerhall

Summerhall, just off Edinburgh’s large public park The Meadows, is the University of Edinburgh’s old vet school. It’s a stunning Georgian building now used as a year-round arts venue, but one that really comes into its own during the Edinburgh Fringe. This year’s programme at Summerhall includes Turner prize-winning artists, some of the biggest bands in the world, and internationally renowned theatre companies performing new works.

The Balmoral

Part of the Rocco Forte collection, The Balmoral is the stuff of travel dreams – so much so, that past guests include Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul McCartney and JK Rowling (who completed the last Harry Potter book at the hotel and has a suite named in her honour). Special events this summer include a whisky masterclass, an exhibition by Edinburgh artist Alison McGill, and a summer cocktail menu featuring seasonal ingredients.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Facing the World: Self-Portraits Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei July 16 to October 16 2016.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s new show is a series of self-portraits by artists including Andy Warhol, David Wilkie, Tracey Emin, Oskar Kokoschka and Robert Mapplethorpe. The exhibition showcases the artists’ talents, political statements, and what the gallery describes as a “conscious projection of their best self”.