Edinburgh is famous for its festivals, but its museums and galleries are open all-year round, and the biggest and best of them are free.
? Museum of Scotland Chambers Street (0131 247 4422; www.nms.ac.uk).
Scotland’s story, from geology to sociology, is told in a fresh and lively style in a bold new building in the romantic Old Town. Above is The Tower (0131 225 3003), one of Edinburgh’s best new restaurants, with breathtaking views and two-course lunches for Â£10. The menu is modern Scots with an international twist, like the museum beneath it. It is owned by James Thomson, who also owns Prestonfield and The Witchery hotels. Museum open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (Tues until 8pm), Sun noon-Spm
? Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 75 Belford Road (0131 624 6200; www.national-galleries.org). The work of many major names in 20th-century painting, from German Expressionism to American Pop Art, plus an impressive collection of Scottish Colourists are housed here. The wholesome cafe in the basement
is a popular place for lunch. Gallery open Fri-Wed 10am-5pm, Thurs until 7pm
? Dean Gallery, 73 Belford Road (0131 624 6200; www.national-galleries.org). This former orphanage only became a gallery five years ago, but it already feels as established
as the modern art museum across the road. Treats include a permanent tribute to Edinburgh-born sculptor Eduardo
Paolozzi and a super collection of Dada and Surrealist art. If you have an hour or so to spare, why not walk back into town along the footpath that follows the Water of Leith, a winding river that runs through wooded valleys to the leafy village of Stockbridge. The redundant weirs en route are remnants of Edinburgh’s industrial past.
? Scottish National Portrait Gallery
1 Queen Street (0131 624 6200; www.national-galleries.org). The men and women who helped shape Scotland, from Bonnie Prince Charlie to Sean Connery, painted by modernists such as Oskar Kokoschka and old masters such as Van Dyck. The statue of James Watt used to stand in Westminster Abbey. A memorial to a British hero has become a memorial to a Scottish one. Open Fri-Wed 10am-5pm, Thurs 10am-7pm
? National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound (0131 624 6200; www. nationalgalleries.org). European painting from the Renaissance to post-impressionism, plus important Scottish artists, in a classical gallery that’s a work