15 Best Things To Do In Edinburgh, Scotland

15 Best Things To Do In Edinburgh, Scotland

By will

As one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in the United Kingdom, Edinburgh, Scotland is a must-see destination for any traveler.

From its impressive architecture to its unique culture, there’s something for everyone to explore.

With so much to see and do, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. Luckily, I’ve compiled a list of the 15 best things to do in Edinburgh to help you make the most of your time in this amazing city.

From the iconic Edinburgh Castle to the breathtaking Arthur’s Seat, there’s something here for everyone. So grab your walking shoes and get ready to explore Edinburgh – you won’t regret it!

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Photo by Lauren

Visiting Edinburgh Castle is a must-do for any trip to Edinburgh – it’s a truly awe-inspiring experience!

Set atop a plug of volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle looms large over the city, making it a sight to behold.

It’s a historic fortress that dates back centuries, and has served as a royal residence, a military stronghold, and a prison.

The castle is home to a number of attractions, including St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Royal Palace, the Great Hall, the National War Museum, and the Crown Jewels.

The castle also boasts stunning views of the city, making it a great spot to snap some photos.

It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the castle and its many attractions.

Whether it’s taking a guided tour, admiring the architecture, or simply soaking up the history, a visit to Edinburgh Castle is sure to be a memorable experience.

Explore the Royal Mile

Royal Mile
Photo by Lauren

Taking a stroll down the Royal Mile will give you a glimpse into Edinburgh’s history and culture, so make sure to add it to your itinerary!

The Royal Mile is the historic heart of Edinburgh, stretching from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Along its winding path, you’ll find a number of attractions, shops, restaurants, and landmarks.

Highlights include St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Museum of Scotland, and the Canongate Kirk. At each of these sites, you can learn more about the history of Edinburgh and the United Kingdom. You can also take a break and enjoy a meal or do some shopping.

The Royal Mile also offers plenty of opportunities to take photographs of the city’s most iconic buildings. There are also plenty of hidden gems and stories to discover along the way.

Exploring the Royal Mile is a great way to experience the best of Edinburgh’s past and present.

Climb up Arthur’s Seat

Arthur's Seat
Photo by Richard Webb

Climb the rocky slopes of Arthur’s Seat and take in the spectacular views of Scotland’s capital city!

Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano that looms over Edinburgh, offering breathtaking views of the cityscape.

It is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, who come to enjoy the beauty of the area.

The hike up Arthur’s Seat is relatively easy, with the summit taking about an hour to reach.

Once at the top, visitors can take in the stunning views of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Firth of Forth, and the nearby hills.

On a clear day, the views from the top of Arthur’s Seat are simply breathtaking.

The summit also offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings, with many species of birds and other animals living in the area.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging climb, Arthur’s Seat is an excellent destination to explore the beauty of Edinburgh.

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Tour the National Museum of Scotland

Discover the fascinating history of Scotland at the National Museum of Scotland! Located in the heart of Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland offers visitors the unique opportunity to explore the nation’s rich past.

From the earliest artifacts of the prehistoric era to the most modern inventions, the museum provides visitors with a comprehensive look at Scotland’s history. With over 20 galleries and over 8,000 objects to explore, visitors can learn about everything from Scotland’s famous clans and the Jacobite Uprising to the country’s development of modern science and technology.

The museum also offers a variety of interactive activities, such as quizzes, tours, and workshops, to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the country’s culture and history.

Whether you’re an avid history buff or simply looking for a fun-filled day out, the National Museum of Scotland is sure to provide something for everyone.

Take a Hike in Holyrood Park

Explore the breathtaking views Holyrood Park has to offer by taking a hike! Situated in the heart of the city center, the park is a great place to spend an afternoon.

With its rolling hills, tranquil lochs, and lush green fields, it’s easy to forget you’re in the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. Hiking in the park is a great way to get away from the noise and enjoy the natural beauty of Scotland.

Holyrood Park also offers plenty of opportunities to explore its historical landmarks. The ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, dating back to the 12th century, are one of the park’s most popular attractions. There’s also the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, the ancient hunting palace of the Scottish kings.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not hike up to the top of Arthur’s Seat for some of the best views of the city? Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have an amazing time in this beautiful park.

Visit the Real Mary King’s Close

Uncover the mystery and uncover the secrets of the hidden alleyways of the Real Mary King’s Close.

Take a journey through time and explore Edinburgh’s past in this unique and fascinating subterranean world.

Built in the 17th century, Mary King’s Close is a series of alleyways located beneath the Royal Exchange in the heart of the city.

This fascinating underground labyrinth was once home to many of Edinburgh’s citizens, but over time it was forgotten and eventually closed off from the public.

Today, visitors can experience the history of this fascinating site on a guided tour.

Guides will share the stories of the people who lived and worked in the Close, as well as the events that gave rise to its unique atmosphere.

Tours also include a visit to the recreated 17th century home of a former inhabitant, complete with furniture and artifacts from the time.

After the tour, visitors can explore the many shops and attractions located in the area, such as the Camera Obscura and the Scotch Whisky Experience.

Experience the Real Mary King’s Close for yourself and explore a unique and intriguing part of Edinburgh’s history.

Enjoy a Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Experience the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and be mesmerized by world-renowned shows and performances from some of the brightest talents around the globe!

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a yearly celebration of art and entertainment, with hundreds of shows and performances from around the world. The festival began in 1947 and has grown to become the world’s largest arts festival, with over 3,500 performances every year.

During the festival, you can experience a range of shows from traditional theater, music, dance, comedy, cabaret, and more. There’s something for everyone, from family-friendly productions to late-night shows.

You can also check out the many booths, stands, and exhibitions that line the streets, showcasing the best of Scotland’s creative talent.

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A visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an unforgettable experience, filled with laughter, joy, and plenty of surprises. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to be dazzled by the best of Scotland’s performing arts.

Go Shopping on Princes Street

Take a stroll down Princes Street and explore the many shops, boutiques, and department stores it has to offer! Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, clothes, or just a unique shopping experience, Princes Street has it all.

For those looking for a more classical experience, there are plenty of department stores, such as Jenners, which has been around since 1838. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more modern, there are plenty of trendy shops and boutiques to explore.

You can also find plenty of unique local businesses on Princes Street. There are shops selling traditional Scottish products, as well as modern Scottish designers, and even independent stores selling handmade items.

No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something on Princes Street that you’ll love. So, get ready to do some exploring and shopping on this iconic street in Edinburgh!

Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia

After a day of shopping on Princes Street, why not take a break and explore the Royal Yacht Britannia?

This majestic yacht, which was once the floating home of the British royal family, is now moored in the port of Leith.

Step aboard and explore the five decks of this incredible vessel.

From the Royal Apartments to the engine room, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.

You’ll be guided by a knowledgeable member of the royal crew, who’ll tell you about the history of the yacht and what life was like onboard.

Admire the opulent furnishings and the gifts from world leaders that line the walls.

Don’t forget to take a peek at the Royal Deck Tea Room, where you can sample the delicate cakes that were served to the Royal Family.

You’ll be amazed by the attention to detail of this remarkable vessel.

Take a Ghost Tour

Immerse yourself in the spooky stories of Edinburgh’s past on a ghost tour. A great way to explore the city and hear tales of the paranormal, taking a ghost tour is a must for thrill seekers.

Embark on a haunted walk around Edinburgh’s historic streets and explore the city’s history and its ghosts. Hear the eerie stories of some of the haunted buildings, such as the South Bridge Vaults and the Tolbooth Tavern. Many of the tales feature real people from Edinburgh’s past, some of whom may still linger in the city today.

It’s easy to book a tour for yourself or join a group for the experience. Don’t forget to bring a camera – you never know what you might capture in a photograph.

A ghost tour of Edinburgh is a great way to get to know the city and its past, with a unique and spooky twist.

Visit the Royal Botanic Garden

Step into a world of natural beauty at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, where you can explore the lush gardens and marvel at the abundance of flora and fauna.

The Garden is a haven of peace and tranquility, and there’s plenty to do and see.

Take a stroll through the Garden’s four main areas, including the Chinese Hillside, the Rock Garden, and the Scottish Heath Garden.

You can also visit the glasshouses, which include the Temperate Palm House and the Tropical Palm House, and see exotic plants from all around the world.

The Royal Botanic Garden also has an impressive collection of rare and endangered plants, including the world’s rarest orchid and a national collection of Rhododendron.

The Garden is home to a number of educational programs, offering everything from guided walks to children’s activities.

You can also attend lectures and workshops, as well as explore the library and herbarium.

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If you’re looking for a relaxing day out, the Royal Botanic Garden is the perfect place to go.

Wander Through the Old Town

Wander the cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town and be transported back in time to the city’s medieval roots. The Old Town is one of Europe’s oldest neighborhoods, established in the 12th century. It is home to some of the city’s most iconic sights, such as the Royal Mile, St. Giles’ Cathedral, and the historic Grassmarket. Visitors can explore the city’s past and marvel at its grand architecture while taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the area.

A great way to experience the Old Town is by taking a guided walking tour. This tour will take you through the nooks and crannies of the district and bring its history to life. Along the way, there are plenty of cafes and shops to explore. So, make sure to take your time and take it all in!

Check Out the Camera Obscura

Discover the unique experience of Camera Obscura, a must-see attraction in Edinburgh’s Old Town!

Located within a five-story tower, Camera Obscura offers a mesmerizing view of the city. From the top, visitors can take in breathtaking views of Edinburgh’s old and new buildings, along with its historic monuments and cobblestone streets.

Inside the tower, visitors of all ages can explore the interactive exhibits. These include a camera obscura show, a hologram gallery, a mirror maze, and a rooftop terrace.

The camera obscura show allows visitors to observe a live panoramic view of the city, projected onto a white screen. The hologram gallery features a 3D holographic experience of Edinburgh.

The mirror maze allows visitors to explore a fascinating world of unmatched optical illusions. The roof terrace of Camera Obscura provides a stunning view of the city and the surrounding area. It’s the perfect place to take a few photos and capture the beauty of Edinburgh.

Visit the Scottish Parliament Building

Take a journey through Scotland’s history and visit the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh! This iconic building is located in the heart of Edinburgh’s ancient city center and is a must-see for any visitors.

Built with a style reminiscent of the 16th century Scottish Parliament, the building was opened in 2004, and is home to many of Scotland’s elected representatives. It is also home to the General Assembly Hall, where visitors can learn more about Scotland’s history and culture in a fascinating and interactive way.

The Scottish Parliament Building offers guided tours which give visitors the opportunity to explore the building’s many attractions. During the tour, visitors will get to experience an interactive multimedia exhibition detailing the history, culture, and politics of Scotland. Visitors can also take in the stunning views of Edinburgh from the building’s terrace and learn more about the many legislative decisions made there.

In addition, visitors can also enjoy a variety of events and activities, from political debates and lectures to musical performances and theatrical productions.

Enjoy Local Cuisine at a Pub or Restaurant

Enjoying the local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience Scotland’s culture, and Edinburgh is home to a variety of pubs and restaurants offering delicious dishes.

From traditional Scottish fare such as haggis, neeps, and tatties to modern takes on classic dishes, there’s something to satisfy all tastes.

Many pubs also offer a selection of local ales, beers, and ciders, making it a great place to try some of Scotland’s famous beverages.

For those looking for a more traditional dining experience, Edinburgh is home to a number of fine restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.

From contemporary Scottish dishes to international fare, there’s something to tantalize the taste buds of all types of food lovers.

Whatever your preference, you’re sure to find something to enjoy while dining in Edinburgh.

Conclusion

Visiting Edinburgh is an experience like no other. From exploring centuries-old historic sites to enjoying the local cuisine, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a longer stay, you won’t regret taking the time to explore this amazing city.

Edinburgh is full of surprises, and you’re sure to find something that you’ll love. So don’t hesitate – get out there and explore all that Edinburgh has to offer!

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.