Edinburgh named one of the world's best places to visit - thanks to its culture, festivals and heritage

Edinburgh has been named one of the best places in the world to visit this year as international travel restrictions are eased – thanks to its culture, festivals and heritage.

Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 1:32 pm
Updated Friday, 4th February 2022, 9:04 am

The Scottish capital's summer and winter festivals, museums and galleries, and the Old and the New Towns were all cited by Tripadvisor in its annual awards for the best global destinations.

Edinburgh was named ahead of Bangkok, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Mumbai, Jaipur, Abu Dhabi, Las Vegas and Athens as it was rated the 12th best city in the world.

It was named the ninth best overall destination in Europe, ahead of Florence, Madrid, Corfu, Venice, Prague, Budapest, Dublin and Krakow, and in 17th place globally.

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TripAdvisor’s Travel Choice Awards are based on the favourite destinations of global travellers linked to the quality and quantity of positive reviews and ratings on the online platform.

Other recent plaudits for Edinburgh include being named the best urban destination for a holiday by National Geographic and the UK’s second best city, after London, by Conde Nast Traveller.

Edinburgh was named the seventh best city in Europe in the Tripadvisor’s Travelers' Choice Awards, alongside London, Rome, Istanbul, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid.

Other destinations named in the overall top 20 include Bali, Crete, Tenerife, Corsica, Istanbul, Singapore, Marrakesh and Cancun, in Mexico.

The Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill, in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards website states: “Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, renowned for its heritage, culture and festivals. Take a long walk around the centre to explore the World Heritage Sites of the Old Town and New Town, as well as all the area’s museums and galleries.

“Then stop for a delicious meal made from fresh Scottish produce before heading out to take in one of Edinburgh’s many events, including the famous summer festivals of culture, or the winter festivals of music, light and ceilidhs.”

Steven Paganelli, director of destinations at Tripadvisor, said: “As the world returns to travel, priorities are changing and people want more memorable experiences on their trips.

“There is a whole world out there to choose from, and we want to help guide travellers looking to take the best trips for them – whatever that perfect holiday destination may look like."

The Edinburgh International Festival will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022. Picture: Matt Beech

The results are a huge boost for efforts to revive Edinburgh’s city centre in the aftermath of almost two years of Covid restrictions and work-from-home guidance.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “It’s fantastic to see Edinburgh continue to be recognised and all our beautiful city has to offer.

"Considering the incredibly difficult couple of years our businesses, festivals and hospitality industry have faced, the listing of Edinburgh as one of the most popular destinations in the world is something we can all be incredibly proud of. And it’s our outstanding mix of restaurants, cafes and bars, green spaces, events and attractions, shops and hotels - and every single person who works in these industries- who we have to thank.

“We’ve been doing a huge amount of work to maintain Edinburgh’s resilience throughout the pandemic and support businesses with financial grants. So, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to look back on 2022 as the year our city bounced back. Edinburgh’s city centre remains one of the most resilient, compact - and let’s be honest, good looking - in all of the UK.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society believes this year will see a 'renaissance' of the event. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

"Which are all attributes that set it apart from others and are being harnessed to build our local economy back better with our Forever Edinburgh campaign.”

Edinburgh’s festivals will be celebrating their 75th anniversary in 2022, while others to promote the city centre are also expected to focus on the new St James Quarter and Johnnie Walker visitor centre on Princes Street, as well as the forthcoming opening of a Gleneagles hotel on St Andrew Square.

Paula Ward, regional leadership director at national tourism agency VisitScotland, said: “It’s wonderful to see Edinburgh rank so highly in both the World and European awards for 2022.

"These awards are based on the reviews and ratings of Tripadvisor users and show that, despite the challenges faced by the industry during the pandemic, Edinburgh remains a much-loved destination.

"The last 12 months have seen major openings like Johnnie Walker Princes Street and the St James Quarter providing inspiration for visitors at a time when tourism needed it most.

"The results of the Travellers’ Choice Awards offer a further encouraging sign for the city’s tourism sector in the year ahead.”

Depute council leader Cammy Day said: “We worked with our festivals to bring forward new ‘hybrid’ programmes which were fantastic, and we are continuing to do all that we can to see them return in full when they are able to.

"But it’s also important that everyone who visits, from near or far, can fully enjoy their stay.

"So as Edinburgh begins to welcome the rest of the world back, we’ll continue to strike a balance and help people spend quality time in the centre whether they live here or are visiting.”

Edinburgh’s tourism industry was estimated to be worth more than £2 billion for the economy and was said to be supporting more than 34,000 jobs before the pandemic struck.

Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “As we recover from the pandemic, the return of international visitors to the city is key for our hospitality, tourist and retail industries and all the local suppliers to these businesses.

"These newly-released rankings again show how popular, well regarded and important our beautiful city is to visitors looking for either short breaks or longer stays.

“As a city, we must work collaboratively to promote ourselves to all these potential visitors, ensuring that Edinburgh continues to be a must see draw for visitors from around the world. International travel will return and we need to support this return with even more positive city messaging.

“With new attractions opening in the last couple of years such as Johnnie Walker and the St James Quarter, imminent openings of new high-quality restaurants and hotels and the forthcoming Van Gogh Alive immersive experience, the city continues to provide new opportunities for visitors.

"Coupled with our historic long standing attractions and cultural offering, the future is positive and we look forward to welcoming visitors back.’’

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “This is very welcome news indeed and a huge boost for the sector, coming at a time when we very much hope thoughts of travel to Scotland are on the minds of our European neighbours and those from more distant shores.

"Scotland clearly remains a top choice of today’s traveller and it is therefore more important than ever that we continue to ensure that we are globally competitive, not just in terms of our assets and experiences, but on cost and value for money.

"Our tourism strategy vision remains, Scotland will be the leader in 21st-century tourism and after two unbearably difficult crisis years for our tourism industry, it feels like our efforts and focus are naturally returning to delivering this approach which puts our communities, our people, our visitors, our businesses and our environment at the heart of everything we do.”