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22 Best Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland

22 Best Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland


Are you on the lookout for issues to do in Edinburgh? We requested native author Karen Worral to share her insider suggestions and favourite Edinburgh sights to profit from your keep.

From the imposing Edinburgh Castle that appears over town to the well-known Royal Mile, Edinburgh is a kind of locations that may maintain you coming again. Edinburgh is a metropolis of historic tales, royal tales, gory tales, and ghost tales. It is a potent mix of previous and new at each flip.

top things to do in Edinburgh Scotland

The Top Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland

Having lived in Edinburgh all my life, it’s not shocking that I feel town is unbelievable. With an enormous quantity of historical past, thrilling nightlife, and epic locations to see, you possibly can simply turn into overwhelmed by all of the issues to do in Edinburgh. It isn’t solely an ideal place to go to however to reside as nicely.

Over the years I’ve been in a position to discover nearly all Edinburgh sights. That has given me the experience to share with you the entire finest issues to do in Edinburgh whether or not it is a first-time go to or your fifth time you’ll discover one thing that piques your curiosity.

If you might be visiting Edinburgh for the primary time it may be slightly intimidating. We needed to make issues slightly simpler for you by offering you with up-to-date details about the very best Edinburgh sights in addition to our suggestions for planning the right journey to this unbelievable metropolis.

Surprisingly, lots of Edinburgh sights are free! Below you’ll discover, in no specific order, what we think about the issues you shouldn’t miss in case you are visiting Edinburgh for the primary time.

1. Edinburgh Castle

things to do in Edinburgh Castle

Visiting Edinburgh Castle might be the primary factor to do in Edinburgh. It has been an important fortification concerned in navy and strategic endeavors because the twelfth century and has been constantly occupied in some type since then.

It proudly sits atop one of many metropolis’s extinct volcanos, Castle Rock, and homes many treasures like The Stone of Destiny and the oldest crown jewels within the UK. If you might be into Scottish historical past you should go to this Castle because it as soon as housed necessary figures equivalent to Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Don’t overlook to walk the grounds and be impressed by the huge cannons, The Great corridor, and naturally the Chapel that dates again to the twelfth Century.

If you’re a actual Royal fan get your self the Royal Edinburgh Ticket. It saves you cash on this and different sights equivalent to, Holyrood Palace, The Royal Yacht Britannia, and 48-hour entry to the HOHO Bus! Get Your Royal Edinburgh Ticket Here

things to do in edinburgh castle grounds

The fort has been dwelling to royalty, the chief seat of energy, and a navy base all through the years. The one o’clock gun goes off from the entrance of the fort day-after-day besides Sunday. It is one thing you don’t need to miss. The gun was applied to assist with delivery and to maintain time.

Insider Tip – This is likely one of the hottest sights within the metropolis and may get very busy, so attempt to go to within the morning for those who can. I like to recommend that you just guide your ticket prematurely and get one with quick observe entry which is able to permit you to skip the ticket traces, particularly in case you are visiting throughout the busy summer time season.

  • Hours: Summer (April 1-Sept 30) 9.30 am-6 pm (final entry at 5pm). Winter (Oct 1-Mar 31) 9.30 am-5 pm (final entry 4 pm).
  • Price to Enter: Right now you should guide a ticket prematurely on-line for entry. Adult £15.50 on-line, Concessions £12.40 on-line, Children 5-15 £9.30 on-line. Under 5s are free.

2. The Royal Mile

Things to do in Edinburgh The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the oldest a part of town and is one in all my favourite issues to do in Edinburgh. In transient, The Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle all the best way down the volcanic path that takes you to Holyrood Palace – a mile down.

This is Edinburgh’s Old Town and Old High Street. It is chock stuffed with historical past and tales worthy of its personal information. The Royal Mile space itself is definitely 5 separate streets and it’s value it to discover all of them. High Street is filled with sights and landmarks in addition to eating places and museums.

Even although the Royal Mile stroll itself will solely take you quarter-hour straight, I’d suggest spending just a few hours right here. Start on the fort and work your means down – it’s simpler strolling downhill! If you propose to go to in the summertime be certain that to plan across the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as you received’t be capable to transfer within the streets.

Is this your first time in Edinburgh? If so, take a look at our 3 Day Edinburgh Itinerary

3. Holyrood Palace

Best Things to do in Edinburgh Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace, which is positioned at one finish of the Royal Mile and proper throughout the road from the Scottish Parliament, is likely one of the most necessary palaces in Scotland. It is used as a museum for many of the yr and is the official dwelling to the Queen and the Royal household once they come to go to.

The Abbey was constructed earlier than the palace relationship again to 1128, by order of King David 1st of Scotland. In the fifteenth century, the abbey’s guesthouse was made right into a royal residence and has been utilized by British royalty ever since. It is a vital a part of Scottish historical past.

Make certain to not miss the Mary Queen of Scots chambers. They are fairly spectacular. One fast be aware. Photography isn’t allowed inside however you possibly can take images of the gardens, exterior, and the Abbey. If you have an interest in any respect within the Royal Family then it would be best to add this to your listing.

Admission to Holyrood Palace: They are solely taking timed entries in the mean time in order that they have to be booked prematurely. This tour presents a free audio information as nicely.

4. National Museum of Scotland

Visit National Museum of Scotland things to do in Edinburgh

If you’re a museum lover then this will probably be on the prime of your listing when on the lookout for issues to do in Edinburgh. The National Museum of Scotland is located on Chamber’s Street within the previous city and is a high-quality Victorian constructing that opened in 1866.

The National Museum is free and the in depth vary of subjects coated is improbable. Whether you’re taken with Scottish historical past, expertise, innovations, world cultures, music, pure historical past, royalty, gory historical past, historic civilizations, or pure disasters, it can have one thing for you.

You may positively spend lots of time within the National Museum, which welcomes over 2 million guests a yr, so be certain that to plan accordingly.

If the climate is good, be certain that to move as much as the rooftop terrace the place you possibly can absorb some unbelievable views of town and the encompassing space.

5. Scottish National Gallery

Top things to do in Edinburgh Scottish National Gallery

When visiting Edinburgh you should be certain that to make a journey to The Scottish National Gallery. This is a improbable Greek-columned complicated that’s artwork located proper in the midst of Princes Street within the very heart of Edinburgh.

It consists of two buildings; the principle National Gallery is the constructing on the again, with the one on the entrance being a part of the Royal Scottish Academy. The essential gallery holds everlasting collections and is all the time free to go to.

If you might be an artwork lover the Scottish National Gallery has you coated. With artwork from Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Gauguin to works from Scottish artists like Reverent Robert Walking and Henry Raeburn, the Scottish National Gallery has one of many premier collections within the UK. If you might be an artwork lover, like I’m, this will probably be among the best issues in Edinburgh that you’ll do.

  • Currently, you should guide a timed entry ticket on their website.
  • Scottish National Gallery Hours: 10 am-5 pm day by day (Thursdays prolonged till 7 pm).
  • Cost to Enter the Scottish National Gallery: Free for everlasting exhibitions, some at RSA have a price.

6. Climb Arthur’s Seat and stroll in Holyrood Park

what to do in Edinburgh Scotland Arthur's seat and Holyrood Park

If you might be on the lookout for the very best views of town then it would be best to climb as much as the highest of Arthur’s Seat for certain. Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags are the hills in Edinburgh’s metropolis heart and could be seen from nearly anyplace within the metropolis.

It is the location of a 350 million-year-old extinct volcano. The final eruption was greater than 100 million years in the past. Arthur’s Seat was once a royal park (you possibly can see from noting the crowns on the lamps on the best way in), however was gifted by the Queen to the folks, so is now a public park (Holyrood Park).

The best route as much as Arthur’s Seat is to take the grassy slope on the east facet from Dunsapie Loch on Queen’s Drive. It takes about half-hour to achieve the highest and is a comparatively simple hike (however a bit steep). Make certain to decorate for the climate as it might fairly windy on the prime.

We counsel heading as much as Artur’s Seat for Sunset. The views of town are magnificent and you might be solely quarter-hour from town heart. If you might be on the lookout for an alternate for sundown Calton Hill is a good various.

7. Princes Street Gardens

Things to do in Edinburgh princes street gardens

Princes Street Gardens is positioned in the midst of Edinburgh, on Princes Street proper beneath Edinburgh Castle. They was once the location of the Nor Loch – the North Loch which was drained when the New Town was constructed within the 1760s. The gardens have a beautiful view of the fort, and it’s a good spot to walk or cease for a picnic.

They are additionally dwelling to the Edinburgh Christmas market. If you might be visiting within the winter you need to be certain that to take this in.

8. Visit or Climb the Scott Monument

Scott Monument things to do in Edinburgh Scotland

The Scott Monument, positioned on the japanese finish of Princes Street Gardens, isn’t solely probably the most spectacular monuments within the metropolis, however it additionally presents some distinctive views of Edinburgh Castle and different Edinburgh sights.

Climbing up the slim staircase (287 steps) of the Scott Monument could also be one of many extra adventurous issues to do in Edinburgh however be certain that to cease on the primary stage and study slightly extra in regards to the revered Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

Built in 1832 to commemorate the demise of Sir Walter Scott, this gothic spire stands 200 toes excessive and is intricately embellished with beloved characters from his books. If you have an interest in literature and the writings of Sir Walter Scott in addition to Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and different Scottish writers we suggest visiting the Writers Museum close to the Royal Mile.

9. Climb Calton Hill

things to do in edinburgh Calton Hill at sunset

The prime of Calton Hill is likely one of the finest spots for a spectacular view of town, particularly at sundown. It is a a lot simpler climb than Arthur’s Seat, taking lower than ten minutes to achieve the highest from Regent Road.

The prime of Calton hill is dwelling to the Nelson Monument (that appears like a kind of upside-down telescope), the National Monument, which is designed equally to the Parthenon in Athens in Greece, and the City Observatory.

Even although the nationwide monument stays unfinished 200 years later, it’s nonetheless very fashionable amongst guests. Calton Hill can also be an ideal place to benefit from the fireworks above the fort throughout Hogmanay.

10. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

fun things to do in Edinburgh Scotland Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Garden is located outdoors town centre by the stunning village of Stockbridge and has been there because the Victorian period. It is one other good spot to get away from the crowds and revel in nature, however right here it’s cultivated nature, with many stunning flowerbeds. There are gardens and flora from many various nations together with China, Japan, France, Spain, and Australia.

  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Hours: Daily 10am-6pm.
  • Cost: Gardens free. Glasshouse £6.

11. Mary King’s Close

things to do in edinburgh The Real Mary King's Close

The Real Mary King’s Close is likely one of the coolest issues to do in Edinburgh, primarily as a result of it’s all beneath the streets of Old Town and the Royal Mile.

What was as soon as one of many busiest streets within the metropolis was coated by development again within the nineteenth century. But you will get a have a look at what life was like between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries with a tour of the Real Mary King’s shut.

You can solely discover the realm with a chosen information, so we advise reserving a guided tour to get essentially the most out of this nice Edinburgh attraction. FYI, there are not any images allowed on the tour.

12. Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

things to do in Edinburgh Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is by far probably the most enjoyable issues to do in Edinburgh, particularly in case you are visiting Edinburgh with youngsters. This attraction is made up of two completely different areas. The first is the World of Illusions, which is a number of flooring of magic shows, optical illusions, interactive reveals, and different enjoyable issues that everybody will take pleasure in. Make certain to strive the Vortex!

But the principle attraction is on the roof, which is the Camera Obscura. This is mainly an old school projection system, however the demonstration and the story behind are what make this the star attraction. If cameras and magic usually are not an excessive amount of of curiosity, the views from the rooftop over Edinburgh are positively value it as nicely. You can learn the critiques and guide your tickets right here.

13. St Giles Cathedral

Visit St Giles Cathedral interesting things to do in Edinburgh

There is not any scarcity of church buildings in Edinburgh and most are fairly spectacular. But for those who resolve to go to solely one in all them you must make it to this one. It is tough to overlook the crown-shaped steeple of St Giles Cathedral which dates again to the 14th century and is an icon of the Edinburgh skyline.

Located near Old Town and the Royal Mile, it’s spectacular from the skin however I discover the within to be actually stunning. Don’t miss the Thistle Chapel (be certain that to take a look at the ceiling) or the rooftop tour to profit from your time there. Admission is upon donation and you should purchase a pictures allow for two kilos on the data desk if you wish to take images inside, which I like to recommend.

14. Royal Yacht Britannia

Royal Yacht Britannia things to do in Edinburgh

You can’t go to Edinburgh and never go to The Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith. It is certainly probably the most widespread issues to do in Edinburgh.

This floating museum was Her Majesty the Queen’s ex-Royal Yacht. Built again in 1953 it served because the Royal Yacht till it was decommissioned in 1957. Several decks are open to the general public to view the varied staterooms and public rooms of the vessel.

You can take the audio tour to get all the within royal particulars or you possibly can have Afternoon Tea on the Royal Deck Tea Room for the complete expertise. Since it’s Scotland’s Best Attraction based on the tourism website, it would be best to guide your ticket prematurely to keep away from the crowds.

  • Hours: 9.30 am-4.30 pm.
  • Cost to go to the Royal Yacht Britannia: £17.00/15.00 concession, £8.75 for kids 5-17.

15. Georgian House Museum

The Georgian House is a museum in Charlotte Square, which showcases the life-style of the excessive Georgian society in Edinburgh’s New Town (George Street). Built in 1796, and positioned in New city, its first proprietor was John Lamont, who was the 18th clan chief of the clan Lamont.

He moved to town centre to seek out the very best training for his sons and the very best husbands for his daughters. People taken with Georgian occasions, structure, and existence would take pleasure in visiting the Georgian House at No. 7 Charlotte Square.

  • Note: They are closed in the mean time. Please verify their website for up-to-date hours.
  • Hours: Summer hours (April-October) 10 am-5 pm day by day. Winter hours (November-March) 10 am-4.15 pm day by day.

16. Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Visiting the Scottish National Portrait Gallery things to do in Edinburgh
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is one in all Edinburgh’s finest artwork galleries. If you’re a fan of portraiture, then this is likely one of the issues to do in Edinburgh that you just don’t need to miss. It holds tons of of work of distinguished Scots from royalty, lords, and girls, to artists, poets and writers.

The gallery has a mixture of mediums, from oil work to watercolors, to pictures. Also, there’s a statue of Robert Burns – Scotland’s bard – welcoming within the lobby.

17. Take a Ghost Tour

Taking a Ghost Tour best things to do in Edinburgh Scotland
Haunted Edinburgh Tour

Edinburgh is apparently probably the most haunted cities on this planet. One of the components that contribute to this consists of the tons of of plague victims who had been walled in, within the previous streets beneath the Royal Mile.

Another issue is all of the hangings that occurred within the Grassmarket, the place a number of the sad souls, and grieved harmless folks hanged hang-out town. This is my favourite Ghost tour in Edinburgh. Great guides and truly fairly scary.

18. Greyfriar’s Bobby

Greyfriar's Bobby best things to do in Edinburgh
Greyfriar’s Bobby

Greyfriar’s Bobby is the story of a wee canine from the Greyfriar’s space of Edinburgh. His is a story of friendship and devotion. A sort native policeman named Jock Grey adopted slightly Skye terrier and named him Bobby when he was simply a few weeks previous. The pair quickly grew to become the very best of associates, going all over the place, together with the native pub by Greyfriar’s Kirk (church), collectively.

Sadly after solely two years collectively, Jock handed away from tuberculosis, and Bobby was left master-less. The wee canine was broken-hearted, so spent each evening of the remainder of his life – one other 14 years – sleeping on Jock’s grave. He was taken in by the group and given a license by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and has been a kind of people hero since.

Many folks have taken to rubbing the statue of Bobby’s nostril for luck and taking a photograph with him, so don’t miss visiting town’s favourite canine.

19. The Grassmarket Gallows

Grassmarket Gallows in Edinburgh Scotland

The Grassmarket is a bustling a part of Edinburgh, which has nice nightlife and locations to eat, in addition to an intriguing previous. Situated within the shadow of Edinburgh Castle to the south, it’s named, because it was the market the place all animals that ate grass –in addition to the grasses to feed them – had been offered.

The bustling sq. hosts a meals and craft market on Sundays and has a plethora of nice previous character-filled pubs to go to and nice eating places to pattern Scottish or worldwide meals. Common criminals who had been sentenced to demise had been hanged right here on the spot, which now could be a raised platform with a cross on it.

Some notorious Edinburgh criminals equivalent to mass assassin William Burke and thief Deacon Brodie met their finish right here.

20. Harry Potter in Edinburgh

Things to do in Edinburgh Harry Potter

You can’t say you’ve gotten accomplished the very best issues to do in Edinburgh with out taking in a number of the Harry Potter sights. JK Rowling lived in Edinburgh when she began writing Harry Potter, and through most of her time writing the tomes, so there are many hyperlinks to the tales for these . If you’re a Harry Potter fan you’ll love Edinburgh.

The method to get the very best Harry Potter expertise is to take a tour. This Harry Potter Walking Tour is likely one of the finest within the metropolis and is actually inexpensive.

21. Tour the Harry Potter Locations in Edinburgh

Harry Potter Locations in Edinburgh

You don’t must take a guided tour to take pleasure in Harry Potter places in Edinburgh. You can go to many by your self. Here are just a few of my favorites.

The Elephant Café – On George Fourth Bridge. This is a café the place Rowling did lots of writing throughout her early phases of the books.

Greyfriar’s Kirk – The grave of Scottish poet McGonagall was the inspiration for the character Ms. McGonagall, as Rowling loved the irony of naming a really literate and intelligent character after somebody notorious for his horrible poems.

Hogwarts – The description of Hogwarts is alleged to be an amalgamation of inspiration from three non-public colleges in Edinburgh, Stuarts Melville, Fettes College, and George Heriots. All three colleges aren’t removed from town heart, with George Heriots located proper behind Greyfriar’s Kirkyard for those who go to there, so are simple to go to see.

The Boy Wizard Shops– Harry Potter retailers known as The Boy Wizard are popping up round Edinburgh for all of your Potter merchandise wants. There is at the moment one on South Bridge, The Royal Mile, contained in the Tartan Weaving Center proper subsequent to the Castle downstairs, and one simply opened in Edinburgh airport!

21. A Scotch Whisky Experience

Try scotch Whiskey Experience best things to do in Edinburgh Scotland

You can’t go to Scotland and never expertise Scotch. Well, that is what The Scotch Whiskey Experience is all about. Located throughout the road from Camera Obscura and The World of Illusions, this is likely one of the most enjoyable grownup issues to do in Edinburgh arms down. Especially for those who love whiskey.

Even for those who don’t you should have enjoyable studying in regards to the course of and why it’s so widespread on this a part of the world. For those that are on the lookout for only a style I like to recommend The Silver your which is their most inexpensive and in case you are extra of a connoisseur then take a look at the Platinum tour or the Masterclass. This place can get fairly busy so I counsel grabbing a Skip the Line Ticket particularly in case you are visiting throughout the summer time.

Edinburgh presents a ton of various whiskey excursions all through town and I’ve executed just a few. The one above is my favourite however if you wish to verify some extra of town do that History of Whiskey Tour.

22. The Edinburgh Dungeon

Edinburgh has an extended historical past and a tumultuous one. A go to to The Edinburgh Dungeon is a should for those who like exploring slightly of the macabre. This expertise is finished rather well with reside actors, particular results, and underground rides.

Walk the plagued roads of 1645, keep away from Burke and Hare and you can even face prosecution at trial. The Edinburgh Dungeon holds late-night occasions as nicely which might be adults solely. You are assured to have time.

How Much Time Should You Spend in Edinburgh?

Visiting Edinburgh Scotland

Like most locations, the period of time you want in a metropolis is solely depending on how a lot you need to see and do.

We suggest spending a minimum of 3 Days in Edinburgh, with the intention to take full benefit of visiting all the principle Edinburgh sights like Old Town, Arthur’s Seat, and Calton Hill in addition to a number of the extra distinctive issues like a ghost tour.

If you might be actually into Scottish historical past and Museums you may need to give your self slightly longer.

When is the very best time to go to Edinburgh?

The finest time to go to Edinburgh is in the summertime. There are lots of issues occurring and you will get the very best climate. August can also be the month when lots of festivals happen such because the Edinburgh worldwide pageant, so it would be best to issue that into your planning. The solely caveat is that it will likely be fairly busy.

If you need to go to when it’s a little much less crowded then the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall are for you. Accommodation costs are a bit decrease and the principle sights are much less busy.

Don’t write off winter although, particularly if you wish to go to the Edinburgh Christmas Market.

How to Get to Edinburgh

There are direct flights to Edinburgh from any of the UK’s main cities and round Europe.

Plus many main cities are linked to the Scottish capital by prepare. The essential prepare station is the Waverley Train Station however you can too take the prepare to Haymarket.

Buses additionally function between London and Edinburgh.

Getting Around Edinburgh

The fantastic thing about a compact metropolis like Edinburgh is which you can simply entry lots of the principle sights on foot. If you aren’t into doing a little strolling (and a few hill climbing) you possibly can entry the cities environment friendly bus and tram traces in addition to the well-run taxi service.

There can also be the HOHO Bust that’s provided free for 48 hours on the Edinburgh Pass, one other nice method to get round.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Edinburgh

And that’s my information to the very best issues to do in Edinburgh, Scotland. Visiting these Edinburgh sights ought to offer you an ideal start line when planning your journey to Edinburgh.

Regardless of whether or not you might be visiting for every week or a weekend, I’ve tried to incorporate issues which might be free to do in addition to lots of low-cost objects. I hope you take pleasure in visiting my metropolis as a lot as I do residing right here.

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