Best Things To Do In Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland is a marvel to one’s eyes. Embedded with castles, magnificent landscapes, jewels and affluence, I have to say the almighty was in his best, when he created this beautiful land. Nicknamed by the scenic lovers as ‘Auld Reekie’, ‘Edina’ and ‘Athens of the North’ the city has a tradition dating back to the 15th century. Unfolding so many grandmom stories and histories, Edinburgh in the north of Scotland, is the best holiday spot for those, who have never experienced the medieval grandeurs in their life. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has made this alluring land even more famous.
How to travel to Edinburgh from London
There are several superfast trains from London to Edinburgh with an overall journey amounting to 4.5 hours. The bus services from different cities of the UK, would take even longer to reach here. The train fares to Edinburgh are higher than the bus fares. You can drive down, but keep in mind that most of the hotels in Edinburgh, do not provide a free car parking service.
Best time to visit Edinburgh
Christmas in Edinburgh is the most visited time of the country. Plenty of tourists have been wanting to explore the most talked about Christmas time in the English land. The Edinburgh city is the busiest during this time and it gets very expensive too. If you are ok to splurge and take home some lively experiences then go for it.
Apart from Christmas, New year is also celebrated in full throttle in Edinburgh, Scotland. The new year celebration in Edinburgh is called Hogmanay, which is a Scottish word for New year’s eve. Not attending Edinburgh during the months of festivals, may not be a miss, since the land of castles, always have the best to offer throughout the year. The weather in Edinburgh keeps on changing frequently, therefore you have to pack your bags with proper clothing that can keep you warm every time. It’s chilly always, yet you can definitely plan May to July, if you are looking for slightly warmer weather. But Edinburgh weather can flip a coin anytime, so you may never know!
Tourist Attractions In Edinburgh
Be awestruck in Edinburgh Castle
Out of numerous castles in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Castle is the most visited and the best landmark in Edinburgh city. Located atop a volcanic rock, the castle is a beauty that blends well with the landscape. It has the ‘Scottish crown jewels’ (a crown, sceptre and sword) in its possession, which is also known as the Honours of Scotland. The Edinburgh castle is a great witness to many historical events of Edinburgh and lived by many people of great importance, including the Queen of Scots, Mary.
Many weapons used during the times of war, artefacts and clothing are also found inside the castle. There is St Margaret’s Chapel within, which is the oldest structure in the Edinburgh castle.
Planning a hike up to the Edinburgh Castle?
Then make sure to wear comfortable footwear and dress up in layers, since the top of Edinburgh Castle can get really cold after ascending the stairs through the Princess Street Gardens. The scenery from Edinburgh Castle is breathtaking, especially from the castle terrace and towers. It leaves you wondering on how the land might have looked with the Kings, Queens and their courtiers in the 15th century and you reiterate once again in your mind, that no wonder Edinburgh Castle is considered as one of the most famous castles of Scotland.
Gunfire happens every day at 1 pm as part of the tradition in this Scottish Castle. To witness it make sure to reach there early and get a seat, since the Edinburgh Castle is really flooded with tourists every day.
The castle is the location where the National War Museum is located in Edinburgh. The war museum gives you insights on Scotland at war. It displays several war artefacts and war treasures. The war museum is considered a part of National Museums Scotland. You get the ticket for the National War Museum at the beginning of Edinburgh castle.
Visit the residence of British Monarch, Holyrood Palace
Yes, Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland. It is also known as the Palace of Holyrood House. Located at the end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle, it is still a functioning government building. So many historical figures have resided here and so did Mary, Queen of Scotts. You get to see the private royal Holyroodhouse here and also the tower of the 16th century.
Since the Queen resides here while she is in Scotland, it has been nicknamed as the Queen’s Palace. The Holyrood palace in Edinburgh got its name from Augustinian Holyrood Palace which was built here. However, the ruins of it are still visited by people and it still remains as another tourist attraction in Edinburgh called Holyrood Abbey.
Photography of the legendary interiors of Holyrood Palace is strictly prohibited, but you may take several pictures of the exteriors of Holyrood Palace. Don’t forget to visit the queen’s gallery that is also located in front of Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.
Some fun at Camera Obscura & The world of illusions
A complete fun centre with optical illusions, games, light dupes and magic tricks. You might wonder how this can be the oldest Edinburgh attractions of the city with its state of the art facilities, that make people glued to it even now. Dating back to almost 150 years, this place is still the most wandered and most sought after by tourists for its mischievous sense of imbalance, an Ames room that shrinks around you and much more.
The Camera Obscura is placed on the rooftop. It is a projector that directs light to the viewing centres in a dark room. This was a mystery to many in the Victorian days and people used to storm here to see the wonder. You get spectacular views from the rooftop of Camera Obscura of the Edinburgh city.
It takes about two hours to completely stroll around and understand the technicalities. But am sure it leaves you happy, reminiscing about how child-like you felt inside Camera Obscura and The World of Illusions of Edinburgh.
Visit the end number of Museums at your disposal
The locals of Edinburgh normally say that you don’t know when the weather changes here, so if its a very rainy day and you are upset that you aren’t able to do anything, do not fret! Edinburgh has plenty of museums and you can know more about this Scottish land by paying a visit here.
The major art galleries of Edinburgh are The Scottish National Art gallery, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The entrance fees for all the Edinburgh museums are free.
Admire the beauty of St Giles Cathedral
St Giles church is famous as the prime place of worship in Edinburgh, Scotland and has its history dated back to the 14th century.
A chapel is situated inside St Giles Cathedral layout, known as Thistle Chapel, built in 1911. This chapel is very small, with an absolutely stunning ceiling and sixteen stalls, one representing each Knight of the order in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photography is strictly prohibited inside. If you are very keen on getting the interiors clicked, pay an extra fee at the information desk.
Hike up to the Arthur’s seat
Arthur’s seat is the remnant of an extinct volcano in Edinburgh. This place is surrounded by green gardens, and Arthur’s seat got its name from the tales of the legendary King Arthur. This is a mountain, located at the heart of the city, which makes it even more appealing to ascend.
Arthur’s seat is the highest point in Holyrood Park and is a must visit if you have trekking in your mind. The climb to Arthur’s seat in Edinburgh gives a great view of the entire city from the top. Beware of the steep pathway that takes you to the top of the mountain. If you aren’t much of an adventurer, then you can even take short hikes to the summit.
Navigate inside Royal Yacht Britannia
The term yacht is an understatement to this gigantic vessel, because it has the elegance of a magnificent cruise.
The Queen and the royal army went around the world, between 1954 and 1997 in Royal Yacht Britannia, (the Britannia ship). It was the very same Royal yacht Britannia, that took Princess Diana and Charles for their honeymoon. After a final tour in 1997, the cruise was abandoned and moved to Leith Scotland, Edinburgh’s main port.
Tourists can get a tour inside and see the Britannia yacht interiors in Edinburgh. They can visit the five main decks and visit Queen’s bedroom that’s completely protected with a mirror. This is the only bedroom of a living monarch that is open to the public. When you navigate through the corridors and living rooms you understand that the Queen had a close connection with this ship, since she had done the yacht’s interiors.
Visit Mary King’s Close
Would you be surprised when you know that there was life once underneath Edinburgh street?
Named after Mary King, a business lady who lived in the 15th century, this was once upon a time, the busiest Edinburgh streets of the medieval Edinburgh city. It is located under the buildings of Royal Mile. The majority of this Edinburgh old town was demolished, but people continued living there and consequently, the last resident was forcefully pulled out from here.
Once you are here in the Real Mary King’s Close, there is a costumed guide’s tour, that gives insights into how life was once in this underground street. Don’t get worried when you hear about the black death doctor, bubonic plague, murders and hauntings Mary King’s Close had been adhered to. Try to take in only the history of this old town and move ahead holding the good memories of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Climb up to the Calton Hill
If you don’t have enough stamina to climb up to Edinburgh’s Arthur’s seat, then you can hike up to the Calton Hill in Edinburgh. It has very little stairs when compared to the steep stairs of Arthur’s seat.
Once you reach the top, the breathtaking view you witness during sunrise and sunset of Scotland is a mind-blowing experience. The architecturally old Edinburgh monuments and Edinburgh buildings, sprawled at length, is a scene to cherish forever. Most of the people land here to see the astounding Edinburgh sunset.
There is a City Observatory at Calton Hill, which is now known as an art exhibition centre for tourists. Edinburgh, always popular as the land of festivals, has one of the major festivals, the Beltane Fire Festival conducted in Calton Hill during April.
See the mighty Scott Monument
The literature lover in you might be yearning to see the famous Scott Monument, which is built after the Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott. His poems and plays are an inseparable part of literature.
Edinburgh’s main train station is named after his famous novel Waverly. People were so fond of his work, that they built a majestic monument after him in Edinburgh, which now has the record for being the largest monument to a writer in the world.
A close view of this Edinburgh monument gives you miniature figures from his novels. Climb the narrow spiral staircase around the monument to get another view of the beautiful Edinburgh. They have managed to build a small museum, which gives more information on the writer and his brilliant work.
Relax at Princess Street Gardens
After the tedious climb to the top of the Scott Monument, you can relax at the garden, just below the monument, popularly known as Princess Street Gardens or Green Street Gardens. It is divided into Princess Street Garden East and Princess Street Garden West. To identify both, there is a man-made hill built in between them known as ‘The Mound’.
This place is swarmed by visitors to sit and relax after a tiring day or to just enjoy the scenic greenery that makes Edinburgh a wonder to our eyes.
Wave at the animals in Edinburgh Zoo
If you are in Edinburgh with children, then Edinburgh Zoo is going to be an inevitable part of your journey.
The most famous attraction in the Edinburgh zoo is the Penguin walks and the giant-sized Pandas. The tourists have not been that lucky in spotting Panda’s since they are mostly inside the compound or sleeping. Apart from Panda’s and Penguins, the zoo is also home to a variety of squirrels, monkeys, tigers, lions and much more.
See Craigmillar Castle in the land of Castles
Edinburgh Castle is an enchanting piece of history in the castles of Scotland. But, the Scottish castle fascination doesn’t get over here. Try to sneak peek in Craigmillar Castle of Edinburgh and understand how well preserved and proudly it stands amidst the lush greenery. The beautiful Craigmillar castle is a standout, in the castles of Scotland. It had been stayed by Mary, Queen of Scotts and many other royals.
The castle interiors are a marvel to everyone. Projected with finely and very accurately done artwork, the Craigmillar castle is a must visit if you are in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is an inevitable part in the umpteen Scotland castle tours, found in and around Edinburgh.
The inside of Craigmillar castle is stunning with grand chambers and splendid living rooms. The castle is another Scotland landmark and the pride of Edinburgh.
A soothing experience at the Royal Botanic Garden
Apart from being a top tourist attraction, the Botanic garden is well preserved for conservation and study of different plants. The garden is huge and expansive, sprawling densely in 70 acres of land in Edinburgh.
This garden was created in 1670 to enhance the study of medicinal plants. A palm house which was built later after the garden is the tallest tower in Britain till date.
If you want to spend a wonderful day with scented flowers and plants in the midst of greenery, this is the right place in Edinburgh to be in.
Visit the most talked about Greyfriars Bobby
A statue of Bobby next to Bobby’s bar is a hot spot for tourists, from all over the world to know more about the story and to strike a pose with the statue. If you haven’t heard about the heartwarming tale of Greyfriar’s Bobby, here it is.
In the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, lived an old man named Gary (Aul Jock), who died of tuberculosis. Bobby, a wee Skye Terrier, worked for Edinburgh City police, belonged to the old man for two years.
Bobby was an integral part of his master’s funeral and refused to leave the graveside in Edinburgh. The caretaker of the kirkyard tried to send away Bobby, but he didn’t leave. This touched everybody including the family of Auld Jock. For fourteen years, Bobby stayed by the grave, leaving only for his food. Bobby was also buried in Greyfriars kirkyard.
Over the years many Greyfriar Bobby movies have been made, including a Disney dog movie.
Find your way through Heart of Midlothian
The Heart of Midlothian can be found in the pavement on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh. It is made of colourful granite blocks and formed in the shape of a heart.
You will miss this heart if you are busy walking through the pavement in the hustle bustle of the Edinburgh city. But, if you find people spitting on the heart, you have not missed it, because this was part of an age-old ritual where the locals used to express their contempt for the prison that was once on the site. Now they believe by spitting on the heart, it brings good luck in their lives.
Get the ultimate Scotch-whisky experience
Craving for some shots of whiskey and also wanting to know more about the history of the Scottish whiskey? You can get these training sessions, master classes and also enjoy plenty of sumptuous food from the numerous restaurants in Edinburgh.
The restaurant across Camera Obscure, The Scotch Whiskey experience, provide you with a self-guided tour that gives you information on the history and origin of Scottish whiskey. Thus, they have heaps of whiskey collection which leaves you awestruck. Their best whiskey would be the hot chocolate with whiskey, which churns your tastebuds and wanting to ask for more.
But, if you are specifically looking only for Scottish Whisky in Edinburgh, then don’t forget to hop into Scotch Malt Whisky Society and The Balmoral Whisky Bar, that take you through their 500 different collections of Scottish whiskeys, representing every region of Scotland.
Above all, whiskey tours are in abundance around Edinburgh, you can spend an entire day or more just exploring these Scottish whiskey places.