Six city parks and attractions have been rated among the best in the UK, beating famous landmarks like the Tower of London and the British Museum,in a major survey by the TripAdvisor website.
With six entries in the Travellers’ Choice Attractions awards, Edinburgh boasts twice as many top-rated attractions as anywhere in the UK outside of London. The Capital is Scotland’s only representative in the awards which city business leaders say is likely to bring dividends for the tourism industry.
The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street is the big winner, being named the best museum in Britain – ahead of the British Museum – and the sixth best in Europe.
Two of Britain’s best parks are also from Edinburgh, with Princes Street Gardens rated second top – ahead of Hyde Park – and Holyrood Park coming in fourth.
Both local parks made Europe’s top 20 list.
Ruth McKay, Edinburgh chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, credited free entry and the multi-million revamp of the National Museum for the building’s high rating.
She said of the city’s overall success: “That’s the kind of good news that will really benefit the business community and hopefully attract more visitors. Hopefully this is a sign that we’ll have a very good summer.
“TripAdvisor is hugely influential and that is where ultimately customers go to get opinions about what they should be visiting.” Annual visitor figures to the National Museum soared from about 800,000 to almost two million last year.
Museum director Dr Gordon Rintoul said plans to reopen ten galleries in 2016 in a £13million project would only add to the building’s appeal. He said: “We wanted to put the museum on the world stage because we thought that here in Scotland we’ve got hugely internationally important collections and a wonderful building. We thought it deserved to be known better by more people.”
The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions exhibit, which offers 360 degree views across the Capital, meanwhile was a surprise entry at No 2 in a list of the UK’s top-ten landmarks – beating the likes of York Minster. Edinburgh Castle (fifth) and the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith (sixth) also made the landmarks list. London had just two attractions – the Tower of London and Houses of Parliament – inside the top ten.
Camera Obscura director Andrew Johnson credited listening to visitors and introducing measures such as all-day tickets for their success. Durham Cathedral was voted as Britain’s best landmark, with St James’ Park in London topping the parks category.
Edinburgh City Council leader Andrew Burns said: “I am delighted, but not surprised that so many of Edinburgh’s attractions have performed well in these awards. We have such an incredible breadth of things to see, do and enjoy here.”