Did you know?

A few things you may not know about Edinburgh: key facts about the city, our history and culture.

Basics overview - did you know
Greyfriars Bobby

Key facts

  • Edinburgh is the top destination for overseas and UK visitors to Scotland.
  • Edinburgh was voted the UK’s best destination for young people in the British Youth Travel Awards.
  • The city's population is around 500,000, but that figure swells to well over 1 million during the Festival in August.
  • The Leith area of Edinburgh was named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Time Out magazine.
  • Edinburgh has 112 parks, as well as more trees per head of population than any other city in the UK.
  • Edinburgh is home to more FTSE 100 companies than any other UK city outside London.
  • Rainfall in Edinburgh is well below the Scottish average and less annually than in Rome, Frankfurt and New York.
  • Although part of the UK, Scotland has its own Parliament, which is situated in Edinburgh.


Edinburgh has 14 twinnings with cities across the world.

Twinned cities include Munich, Nice, Florence, Dunedin, Vancouver, San Diego, Xi'an, Kiev, Kathmandu, and Saint Petersburg.

Edinburgh's partner city is Kraków, Poland.

History and culture

  • Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site covers almost 2 square miles and over 75% of all the buildings are listed, giving it the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in the UK.
  • Edinburgh has the only train station in the world named after a novel: Waverley Station is named after the novels penned by Sir Walter Scott and published in the 1800s.
  • The first Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in Edinburgh.
  • Edinburgh has more than 60 libraries per 100,000 people - that's more libraries per capita than any other city in the world - and, in 2004, it became UNESCO's first City of Literature.
  • Anaesthetics were first used in Edinburgh: physician Sir James Young Simpson used chloroform on his patients in 1847 to relieve the pain of surgery.
  • Edinburgh Castle is Scotland's most visited attraction.
  • Edinburgh is the only city to have a dog on the list of citizens who have been given the prestigious Freedom of the City award. That dog is Greyfriars Bobby.
  • Some of the movies filmed in Edinburgh and the surrounding district include The Da Vinci Code, Chariots of Fire, The 39 Steps, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Trainspotting, Hallam Foe and One Day. The animated film The Illusionist was also set in 1950s Edinburgh.
  • Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire service.

See and do: culture and heritage

Scottish inventions

Scotland is home to some of the world’s most significant inventions, including:

  • the telephone
  • the television
  • the first cloned mammal (Dolly the Sheep)
  • penicillin
  • colour photography
  • fingerprinting
  • the pedal bicycle
  • MRI scanner
  • the modern steam engine
  • the adhesive stamp
  • the refrigerator
  • the toaster