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15 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland

15 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Cityscape Edinburgh Travel Guide

Nestled amid the rolling hills of Scotland, Edinburgh beckons with its timeless charm and captivating history. This enchanting capital city, known for its striking architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and breathtaking natural beauty, promises an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking a blend of tradition and modernity. Join us on a journey through the best that Edinburgh has to offer.

In This Travel Guide

15 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh

1. Edinburgh Castle

Perched on Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks. It boasts a fascinating history that spans centuries, including its use as a royal residence and military stronghold. Inside the castle, you can explore the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the Royal Palace, and the St. Margaret’s Chapel. The panoramic views of the city from the castle are simply breathtaking.

2. Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is a historic street that runs from the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It’s lined with charming shops, restaurants, and pubs. Along this route, you’ll find attractions like the Real Mary King’s Close, St. Giles’ Cathedral, and the Museum of Edinburgh.

3. Holyrood Palace

Also known as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, this is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Visitors can explore the State Apartments, the historic Holyrood Abbey ruins, and the beautiful Palace gardens. It’s a fascinating glimpse into royal history.

4. Arthur’s Seat

This ancient volcano, located in Holyrood Park, offers fantastic hiking opportunities. The main summit, Arthur’s Seat, provides panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists seeking outdoor adventure.

5. National Museum of Scotland

This museum showcases the history, culture, and natural world of Scotland. Highlights include the diverse collection of artifacts, from Scottish inventions to prehistoric relics. Don’t miss the famous Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal.

6. Scotch Whisky Experience

Discover the art of whisky-making in Scotland through a guided tour that takes you through the whisky production process. Enjoy a tasting session and learn about the various regions and types of Scotch whisky.

7. Calton Hill

A short climb up Calton Hill rewards you with stunning views of the city and several notable monuments. The National Monument is often called “Edinburgh’s Disgrace” because it was never completed, but it’s an interesting historical site. Nelson’s Monument is also a prominent feature.

8. The Royal Yacht Britannia

Step aboard the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II, which served the royal family for over 40 years. Explore the luxurious interiors, including the State Apartments, the Royal Bedrooms, and the elegant dining rooms. The yacht provides a unique glimpse into the lives of the British royals.

9. Edinburgh’s Festivals

Edinburgh is renowned for its festivals, and the most famous is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. This massive arts festival features thousands of performances across various genres, from theater and comedy to music and dance. The Edinburgh International Festival, also in August, showcases classical and contemporary arts.

10. Dynamic Earth

Located at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, Dynamic Earth is an interactive science museum that explores the Earth’s history and natural processes. Engaging exhibits and multimedia displays take you on a journey through time, from the Big Bang to the present day.

11. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Located just a short distance from the city center, the Royal Botanic Garden is a peaceful oasis with a vast collection of plants from around the world. Stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens, explore glasshouses filled with exotic plants, and enjoy a relaxing day surrounded by nature.

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12. The Real Mary King’s Close

Delve into Edinburgh’s underground history by taking a guided tour of the Real Mary King’s Close. This underground street and alleyway were buried beneath the Royal Mile for centuries and offer a unique glimpse into the city’s past, complete with stories of plague, ghosts, and daily life.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Scottish National Gallery, which houses a remarkable collection of European paintings, including works by famous artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, and Titian. The neoclassical building itself is a work of art.

14. Dean Village

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Dean Village, a picturesque and historic neighborhood located along the Water of Leith. The charming cobbled streets, quaint houses, and peaceful riverside setting make it a hidden gem in Edinburgh.

15. Edinburgh Zoo

If you’re traveling with family or have an interest in wildlife, Edinburgh Zoo is a great destination. It’s home to a wide variety of animals, including giant pandas, penguins, and big cats. The zoo is committed to conservation efforts and offers educational experiences for all ages.

Things to Know Before Travelling to Edinburgh

Traveling to Edinburgh is an exciting adventure, and there are a few important things to know before you go to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip:

  • Weather: Edinburgh’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to pack layers and be prepared for rain. Even in the summer, you might encounter cool and wet days. Check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
  • Currency: Scotland uses the British Pound Sterling (GBP). Make sure to have some cash on hand for small purchases, but credit and debit cards are widely accepted.
  • Electricity: The standard voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50Hz. The plugs and sockets are of type G, so if your devices use a different type of plug, you’ll need a plug adapter.
  • Language: English is the official language in Edinburgh, but you may also hear Scots Gaelic and various regional accents. Most signs, menus, and services are available in English.
  • Transportation: Edinburgh has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses and trams. Consider purchasing an “Edinburgh Travel Card” or “Ridacard” if you plan to use public transport frequently. Taxis are also readily available.
  • Walking: Edinburgh is a very walkable city, especially in the central areas. Bring comfortable walking shoes to explore the city’s historic streets and neighborhoods.

Edinburgh Vacation Travel Guide

Courtesy of Expedia

Conclusion

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is a destination that seamlessly combines its rich history with a vibrant present. From ancient castles and cobblestone streets to world-class festivals and culinary adventures, this city offers an array of experiences to satisfy every traveler’s palate. So, pack your bags, and let Edinburgh’s timeless allure weave its magic on you as you explore a world where history and culture coexist in perfect harmony.

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