Edinburgh's city centre. Picture: Leyanne Baillie

There's no place like home and I'm lucky enough to have two. The first is the place I live, this glorious city of Perth, and the second, my place of birth, Edinburgh in Scotland.

And with Qatar's new link from Perth to Edinburgh via Doha, it's even easier to go from my first home to my second. The flight leaves five times a week and the 11.30pm departure time makes the 11-hour, 20-minute journey on the first leg a breeze. After a very enjoyable dinner and movie, I drift off to sleep, waking in time for breakfast, before arriving at the impressive and newly opened Hamad International Airport. The two-hour, 10-minute transit time is long enough that I'm not panicking about missing the connection and short enough that the straight- through journey doesn't feel endless.

The onward flight to Edinburgh takes seven hours and 15 minutes, and departs at 8am, Doha time, arriving in Edinburgh at 1.15pm. This gives me time to get settled into my hotel and take a leisurely stroll around the colourful city-centre oasis of Princes Street Gardens before dinner and an early night, waking fresh and ready to start the day.

It's a far cry from my last journey back to Edinburgh, which involved three flights and several hours layover in each airport.

This is definitely the way to travel. And with the newly installed tram system, which runs from Edinburgh Airport into the city centre in 30 minutes, it's even easier to reach your final destination.

I know I'm biased, but Edinburgh is a stunning city, with many historical places to explore, interesting and innovative restaurants to dine in, lush and verdant gardens to enjoy and an abundance of art galleries, museums and cultural experiences to appreciate.

The cream of the crop are on the Royal Mile, one of the most famous streets in Edinburgh. As its name suggests, it runs for a mile, with Edinburgh Castle - home of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and ancient kings and queens - at the top, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse - the Queen's official Scottish residence and former home to Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie - at the bottom.

And all the way in-between, fascinating museums and historical sites. While on the Mile, don't miss John Knox's House, the People's Story at the Canongate Tolbooth, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre or the Museum of Childhood.

I pop into Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, a mixture of old and new. Five floors of fun with mirrors, holograms, electricity, 19th-century optical toys and optical illusions. Look out for the mirror maze - a little bit disorientating but a lot of fun.

I climb to the top floor and marvel at the mechanics of a machine installed in the 1850s and yet still awe-inspiring today. The camera obscura is a cross between a giant pinhole camera and a periscope. At the top of the tower, a dark chamber with a mirror on top reflects light downwards, passing through three lenses before projecting an image of the city on to a large white table. Our entertaining guide takes us through the history of the city's medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town, and then proceeds to scatter pedestrians and hide moving vehicles on the table (no live humans were hurt in the writing of this piece).

Another regal favourite is the Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed in Ocean Terminal in Leith and recent winner of Britain's most popular tourist attraction. Leith is also well-known for the quality of its places to eat, including Michelin-starred restaurants run by chefs Martin Wishart, Tom Kitchin and Tony Borthwick.

My favourite haunt for brekkie is the King's Wark on the Shore, the best full Scottish breakfast I have ever tasted. You will find many of the city-centre restaurants offer fixed-price set menus, including some fine-dining spots. I decide on the Bonham, in the West End, which is not only a first-class eatery but a hotel as well. Its £22.50 ($41) Boozy Snoozy Thursday dinners are aimed at late-night shoppers. From 6-9.30pm you can have a three-course dinner plus a half-bottle of wine per person and the food is fabulous.

A starter of ham hock terrine, leek vinaigrette and toast is followed by asparagus and parmesan risotto, which is perfectly al dente. My raspberry creme brulee is luscious, yet light, with just the right amount of tang from the berries. My mum has a praline brownie and my dad a passionfruit cheesecake.

I stand my ground when they suggest we share - I'm not giving up this dish for anyone.

And while Edinburgh has an embarrassment of tourism riches, there's also plenty to see further afield.

EAST LOTHIAN

Start with Musselburgh, a historic fishing town 8km east of Edinburgh and contender for the title of Scotland's oldest town, settled by the Romans in 80AD. Visit S. Luca's ice-cream shop, a family-run business which has been filling cones with their delicious homemade recipes since 1908. If a day at the races is your thing, trot along to Musselburgh Racecourse, with a fixture list throughout the year. If you'd rather putt than watch the ponies, take a swing at the world's oldest golf course - there's a nine-hole course in the middle of the racetrack. Mary Queen of Scots played The Old Course (not to be confused with the more famous Old Course at St Andrews) in 1567, and today you can hire a set of hickory clubs to play the course as it was back then. East Lothian is famous for its links courses and, moving on from Musselburgh, take your pick from Aberlady, Longniddry, Gullane or last year's Open venue, Muirfield.

SCOTTISH BORDERS

A 40-minute drive south from Edinburgh city centre will take you to the pretty market town of Peebles, set on the banks of the River Tweed and surrounded by lush green hills and forests. The High Street is packed with independent retailers and foodies are spoilt for choice; try Osso, Coltmans, The Sunflower and Cocoa Black. Mountain-bikers head to Glentress for some of Britain's best trails. Further south, another scenic town, Melrose, is famous for the ruined abbey where Robert the Bruce's heart is interred. Visit The Townhouse for clever cooking and comfortable yet indulgent accommodation.

One of my favourite places in the Borders is Floors Castle in Kelso, an hour's drive from Edinburgh. The home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe is open to the public and has stunning examples of fine art, porcelain and newly restored tapestries to discover in the grand rooms, and the views are superb. The castle cafe serves the most delicious food, which is cooked by the Duke's chef. I try the homemade pie, crisp pastry and a generous filling of chicken and ham - yum.

FIFE

Head over the River Forth to visit the picturesque fishing villages in the East Neuk of Fife. All are famous for freshly caught seafood - try the Lobster Hut in Crail for shellfish straight from the sea. Literally a wooden hut on the harbour side, it doesn't get fresher than this. Elie, Pittenweem and Anstruther are just as charming and all are minutes apart by car, so it's easy to explore in a day. Pittenweem has a very successful arts festival during August. The event has been running since 1982 and more than 100 artists exhibit, give talks and hold workshops.

GO WEST

If you know the rivalry between Dockers and Eagles fans, you are a fraction of the way to understanding the competition between Edinburgh and Glasgow. And being a 'Burger, born and bred, it is with great reluctance that I grudgingly tell you that, yes, OK, the Weedge is a pretty fine place too. Especially this year, as it is hosting the Commonwealth Games. Just a 45-minute train ride will take you to Glasgow's Queen Street and from there you will find numerous museums.

If your interest in soccer has been ignited by the World Cup, then the Scottish Football Hall of Fame at Hampden Park (temporarily a Games athletics arena right now), is worth a visit to learn how much this small country has contributed to the world's biggest sport.

Take the children to The Riverside Museum and Glasgow Science Centre for a day's worth of entertainment. Or step back to the 30s and dine out in style at Rogano. In 1935, the restaurant was fitted out to resemble the great Cunard liner Queen Mary, which was built on the city's River Clyde. Art Deco styling and Scottish seafood make for an elegant dinner, perfect after a hard day's shopping in nearby Buchanan Street.

2014 is the year of Homecoming, a celebration of Scotland. With a year-long program of events, it's an opportunity for ex-pats, like me, to celebrate their roots, for those with links to Scotland to explore their heritage and for those without links to discover a wonderful country.

Come on, you'll be right at home.

FACT FILE

Qatar Airways' Doha-Edinburgh service will be flown by the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner - the only airline to offer a 787 scheduled service into Edinburgh. qatarairways.com.

For more about Scotland, go to visitscotland.com or visitbritain.com and click on the "Scotland travel guide", which has good planners and information in categories from Music & Nightlife to Food and Drink and Sport.

Leyanne Baillie was a guest of Visit Scotland, Visit Britain and Qatar Airways.

The West Australian

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