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25 Best Things To Do In Edinburgh


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Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. It is a lively city with culture, history and beautiful landscapes. Since ancient times, Edinburgh has been a major city with a strong focus on education and arts. It is home to over 500,000 people today, and hosts a variety of cultural events such as the Edinburgh Fringe or Edinburgh Festival. It has a relaxed, but vibrant vibe with something new every week. Edinburgh serves as a gateway to Scotland and Scottish culture. These are the top things to do in this peaceful, active city.

Let’s take a look at the top things to do in Edinburgh and things to do in Edinburgh city centre.

1. Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is an important part of the city’s skyline. It is visible from many areas of the city because it sits on top of a high rock. Because of its excellent defensive position, the site has been in use since the 2nd Century. The castle was viewed as the “key to the city” for centuries. Controlling the castle meant control over Edinburgh.

It has been home to many important figures in Scottish history including Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and others. To get a glimpse into the history of Edinburgh Castle, pay a visit. The Stone of Destiny, which has been used in coronation of British monarchs since centuries, and the crown jewels of Scotland are on display. Keep an eye out for the One O’clock Gun being fired, which is fired every day except Sundays, since 1861.

2. Princes Street

Princes Street, Edinburgh

The historic Princes Street is one of the first places that you’ll visit upon arriving in Edinburgh. This central thoroughfare, which has been the heartbeat of Edinburgh since 1770 is still a popular shopping area. For a bit of shopping, visit Princes Street – all the major high street shops can be found along this road. Princes Street has many historic landmarks, making it a great place to explore history. You will find stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, galleries, and Scott Monument. This area is ideal for photography. Take a break after shopping or snapping in the Princes Street Gardens. They feature a beautiful floral clock and a war memorial. The gardens also have lovely green lawns, perfect for picnics.



3. Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace, the Scottish residence of British monarchy is located near Edinburgh Castle. Built in 1678, the palace has been home to generations of monarchs and kings. Much of the palace’s historic architecture has been preserved to show the royal life in 17th-century England. Visit Mary Queen of Scots’ chambers, which include a room in which her secretary was killed by her husband in 1566. The State Apartments, which are filled with fine art and still used by the British Royal Family today, offer a glimpse into royal responsibilities and art. Enjoy an afternoon tea at the palace cafe, a traditional afternoon tea served in a luxurious setting.

4. Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura, Edinburgh’s oldest tourist attraction, was opened in 1835. This gallery focuses on visual illusions and offers a variety of hands-on experiences. You will find a mirror maze and an Ames room that will shrink around you. A vortex tunnel will create a feeling of imbalance, even though you’re perfectly stable. To see the city, climb to the top. There are telescopes for close-up viewing. Camera Obscura is a family-friendly way of spending a day. It tricks your brain and gives you unique sensations.



5. Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is an absolute must-see for outdoor enthusiasts. Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano at the top of Edinburgh’s highest point, is worth a visit. For stunning views of Edinburgh and wild nature, hike to the top. You will also find a hillfort here, which dates back to around 600 A.D. but there are still traces of older structures that were built nearby in 2 A.D. Arthur’s Seat, a mythological location, is believed to have been the site of Camelot, King Arthur’s legendary castle. Arthur’s Seat is a historic and dramatic place that makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the hills surrounding Holyrood Park.


6. Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close is a part of Edinburgh’s Old Town. It was made up of many narrow and winding alleyways known as ‘closes’. Mary King’s Close, which was partially destroyed centuries ago, is now a maze of underground passages, streets, and alleyways. To learn more about the fascinating history of this bustling street in Edinburgh, book a tour with The Real Mary King’s Close. Find out about the lives of closes as well as the gristly murders and rumors that have sprung up since the closing. It is well preserved so that the history of the close can be seen in every corner of every street. To provide an engaging and informative experience, tour guides are dressed in costume. This is a wonderful way to learn more about the life in Old Edinburgh.



7. Cathedral of St. Giles

St Giles’ Cathedral

The principal church of Edinburgh, St Giles Cathedral, is a prominent feature of Edinburgh’s skyline. It was built in 14th-century and features distinctive gothic architecture, which is common in Edinburgh. There are many memorials to notable Scottish citizens in the cathedral, as well beautiful stained-glass windows. Original bells from the 15th century are preserved in the church, along with the King’s Pillar. The Pillar displays the medieval shields and coats of arms of British kings. The Thistle Chapel, which honors the Order of the Thistle (17th-century knights who protected Scotland), is a must-see. It boasts stunning architecture and gorgeous archways. The cathedral is the heart of Edinburgh and offers a great place to explore its history and ancient culture.

8. Scottish National Gallery

Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery, Scotland’s national gallery of art, is a must-see attraction for Edinburgh visitors. It was built in 1859. The beautiful neoclassical architecture makes it the ideal setting for the extensive collection of fine art that is housed inside. The National Gallery is located in the heart the city and features works by Van Dyck Gainsborough, Rubens, and others. The collection of Scottish artists’ pieces is a highlight. It features stunning landscapes, portraits, and scenes from everyday life by artists like Sir David Wilkie, Peter Graham, and Sir Henry Raeburn. Enjoy a cup of tea and a snack at the Scottish Cafe and restaurant, which offers stunning views over the Princes Street Gardens. This is a great place to get a taste of Scottish culture.



9. Scott Monument

Scott Monument, Edinburgh

The Scott Monument, located on Princes Street, is a well-known landmark in Edinburgh. The Scott Monument, which features distinctive gothic-style architecture was built in 1844 to honor Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish author. It stands at 61 metres tall and is the largest monument in the world to a writer. It is adorned by 68 statues that depict a variety of notable Scottish poets, writers, and people of interest, including Mary Queen of Scots (Robert Burns) and Lord Byron. To enjoy stunning views of the city, and the Princes Street Gardens nearby, climb the steps to the top.

10. Royal Botanic Garden

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh was established in 1670 for scientific research and medicinal purposes. The garden is a popular tourist attraction and it is still used for research and conservation. The current building, which includes the Temperate Palm House that was built in 1858, was acquired in the early 19th Century. Even today, the palm house is still the tallest building in Britain. The garden is home to around 275,000 plants, spread over 70 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. Each area of the garden offers something new, thanks to the diversity of the plants. Inverleith House is an 18th-century mansion which is now used for an art gallery. This gallery showcases contemporary art, with a special focus on Scottish artists. The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is a wonderful place to enjoy a sunny day among flowers, plants, and culture.



11. Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirk is a landmark in Edinburgh’s heart since 1620. It is a place of worship that has been popular for centuries. It also plays an important role in the city’s past. You can book a tour to learn more about the history of this church, including its significance for the Scottish Covenanters as well its role as a barrack during the 17th century invasion by Cromwell. You can still attend Sunday services or visit the Kirk during concerts. The church can also be used for music and performance. You will find culture and entertainment in this unique location with a variety of events. Stop by Greyfriars Museum and Shop for a copy of the original 1638 National Covenant.


12. Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

In the heart of Glasgow is the iconic Gothic-style building that houses the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The building was built in 1889 and is the first ever purpose-built portrait gallery. It has large open galleries and smaller intimate spaces. It houses a large collection of portraits that depict Scotland’s history through its people. You can see portraits of Mary Queen Of Scots, Robert Burns, and other works by artists like Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn and William Brodie. The National Portrait Gallery has many temporary exhibits that explore important aspects of Scottish culture, history, and people. Enjoy delicious food in the cafe, including gluten- and dairy-free options. It is a stunning setting that will make your trip memorable.



13. Gladstone’s Land

Gladstone’s Land

Gladstone’s Land can be found in Edinburgh’s Old Town. It is a 17th century tenement house with six stories that rise above the street. It has been restored and preserved to give visitors a glimpse into the life of Edinburgh in 1600. You will find narrow staircases and historic rooms that once housed people. Gladstone’s Land is decorated with period pieces that show a variety of lifestyles, from the merchant to the wealthy resident to the cramped living conditions of the poor. It is an immersive and fascinating glimpse into life in Old Town and a great way to learn about Scottish culture. You can find listings for the gallery on the second floor. This is where local artists often showcase their work in an attractive, eye-catching setting.

14. National War Museum

National War Museum, Edinburgh

The National War Museum is located within Edinburgh Castle and explores Scotland’s war history. These collections include military artifacts and wartime material, including medals, uniforms banners and posters. The museum explores Scotland’s role in war, from the Highland-Lowland Battles of the 17th and 18th century to today’s military presence. See how the recruitment material has evolved over time and learn about the experiences of soldiers in Scotland. Regular events are also held at the museum, as well as temporary exhibitions that offer a fascinating insight into war’s effects throughout history.



15. Holyrood Abbey

Holyrood Abbey

Holyrood Abbey, a ruined abbey that was built in 1128. Later, the abbey served as a royal residence and as a site for the Scottish Parliament between the 13th and the 15th centuries. The abbey witnessed a lot of Scottish politics, history and culture, including ending the First War of Scottish Independence and the coronation of kings. Many writers and artists have been inspired by the original beauty and architecture that remains. To learn more about the history and see the stunning Arthur’s Seat, book a guided tour.

16. Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle is a beautiful castle in Scotland that has been preserved well. It’s a must-see. It has been inhabited since 15th-century and was home to royals like Mary Queen of Scots. A pair of yew trees, once used to provide wood for weapons, stands at the castle’s entrance. The castle boasts magnificent stone architecture, grand halls, and spacious living rooms. For stunning views of Edinburgh, climb the castle tower. Queen Mary’s Room is also available. Craigmillar Castle offers a wonderful place to learn more about Scottish culture and history, as well as to enjoy a day in beautiful surroundings.



17. The Georgian House

The Georgian House, Edinburgh

The Georgian House, a landmark in Edinburgh’s bustling centre, is a reminder of the 18th-century spirit. The Georgian House, built in 1796, is an excellent example of the trendy buildings that make up Edinburgh’s New Town. The New Town was created to offer more comfortable living spaces than the Old Town. To give a glimpse into life in Edinburgh’s elite, the House has been beautifully decorated with period pieces. You will find exquisite furniture, beautiful silverware and fine art. You can explore the museum on your own, or join a costumed tour that features guides who recreate a day in the life a noble family.

18. Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh

The Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh, was the first of its type in the world. It continues to display toys and games from 18th century to today. It offers a fascinating look at how childhood has changed over time and how toy trends have changed over time. This attraction is great for children and adults. It explores the history of “fun” as well as inducing nostalgia in the grown-ups. You can stop by the shop to pick up toys and retro merchandise that you want to bring home.



19. Heart of Midlothian

Heart of Midlothian

For a unique piece of Scottish history, look for the Heart of Midlothian in the city center. The Heart of Midlothian, made from coloured granite blocks in the form of a cross and heart, is located on the Royal Mile. This landmark marks the location of the Old Tolbooth, the town’s 15th century heart. Although the building is no longer in use, it was once used as a prison and execution site. This was the source of the local tradition of spitting on your Heart. This act was originally done to discredit the former prison on this spot. Today, it is believed that it brings good luck. If you don’t pay attention, the Heart of Midlothian can be easily overlooked. However, locals will be spitting as they pass it by and give away its exact location.

20. Museum of Edinburgh

Museum of Edinburgh

The Museum of Edinburgh is the best place to learn about Edinburgh’s history through the ages. The museum offers information about the city’s history, its founding, and its people and trade. The National Covenant, original city plans, and lots of Edinburgh decorative arts are all on display. It features many immersive exhibits that educate visitors in a fun and engaging manner about the history and development of the city. The hidden courtyard behind the museum is home to centuries-old engravings, stonework and more.



21. Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo

The 82-acre Edinburgh Zoo is home to exotic animals. The Edinburgh Zoo offers a memorable day out for the whole family with stunning views of the city. It was the first zoo to have penguins in the world, and it is the only British zoo with giant pandas and koalas. You can watch adorable animals in their enclosures or book a keeper experience for a closer look and to learn more about what it is like to be a Zookeeper. Daily talks are available, as well as a variety of events every week, including film screenings, feeding shows, photography workshops, and feeding shows. The Edinburgh Zoo is a wonderful place for animal lovers and offers a glimpse into exotic Edinburgh nature.

22. Edinburgh Vaults

Edinburgh Vaults

The Edinburgh Vaults are a place where you can travel underground to see the city’s dark side. There are many chambers made from the arches of South Bridge’s South Bridge, which was built in 1788. The vaults were originally used by traders and unmarried people. The vaults became increasingly popular among the poor and criminals. They were excavated in 1990, revealing a wealth of historical and archaeological artifacts. You can now book a guided tour and explore the vaults. Ghost tours are also available if you feel brave. Rumours abound that the vaults have been haunted by torturers and murderers. This is an interesting – and scary – glimpse into Edinburgh’s past.


23. National Monument of Scotland

National Monument of Scotland

Calton Hill overlooks the city and is home to the National Monument of Scotland. This monument was built to honor the sacrifices of Scottish soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars. It was never completed. It has been a tourist attraction since 1829. The monument is still unfinished, which has mixed reactions from locals. The monument is a stunning example of architecture with breathtaking views across the city and the surrounding countryside. For stunning views of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags, hike up to the top of this hill.

24. Usher Hall

Usher Hall

The Edinburgh’s most popular concert venue, Usher Hall, is a must-see for lovers of culture and entertainment. Built in 1914, the hall features stunning architecture. It also has panels featuring famous figures like Sir Walter Scott or Mozart. It has been used for many events over the years, including concerts and political events as well as sporting events. The hall is well-known for its classical music performances and high-quality acoustics. You can visit Usher Hall to enjoy one of its many concerts and experience modern culture in historical surroundings.


25. Dean Village

Dean Village

Dean Village, just outside of Edinburgh, is one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems. It’s located near the charming Water of Leith. Dean Village was an important player in Edinburgh’s milling business. You can still see evidence of this heritage today. You can find stone advertisements for bakeries and millstones in the village. Well Court is a 19th-century house that has been meticulously restored to its original appearance. St Bernards Well is located nearby, which was used to draw water from the river. The water was thought to be extremely healthy and attracted tourists from all parts of the country. Beautiful architecture can be found at the well, including a statue depicting Hygeia, a Greek goddess. You should also cross the Dean Bridge to link the city and the village. Dean Village is an exceptional and well-preserved spot that allows you to experience Scottish history firsthand.


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