The city of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is renowned for its heritage, the culture, and the number of summer and winter festivals celebrated. It is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, and the supreme courts of Scotland. It is home to the monarch of Scotland, his official residence, the Palace of Holyrood House. Edinburgh is Scotland’s 2nd most populous city after Glasgow and the 7th most populous city in the United Kingdom. The city holds two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the medieval old town, and the Georgian new town. It’s a must-see for a first time visitor.
It is Europe’s one of the most beautiful cities, lined with rocky hills that overlook the North sea. The city is intertwined with its landscape, the heritage buildings and monuments resting atop cliffs. Each summer, the city celebrates some of the world’s biggest art festivals. Edinburgh was known as ‘Auld Reekie,’ a city of crowded pubs, all-night parties, sinful restaurants, and bawdy comedians.
Edinburgh is like a favorite book, wherein you will want to dip repeatedly, savoring a different experience each time. A coffee in a quirky café on a chill December morning, the firecrackers in the sky during a festival night, straying amid the Princess Street Gardens, people- watching on a Scottish summer afternoon at the Meadows, browsing through the vintage shops of Bruntsfield and Morningside, all usher you to want more!
Best Tourist Attractions in Edinburgh
The capital city also called as ‘The Athens of the North’ in the 18th century, has several tourist attractions that one can enjoy:
Edinburgh Castle, Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh
The Edinburgh Castle is a world-famous icon in Scotland and is a must-see destination. It has played an important role in Scottish history, acting as a royal residence for King Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret in the 11th century, as well as a military stronghold. The castle served as the main base to the British army in Scotland Until the 1920s.
The castle is located atop a volcanic hill, Castle rock, with the sharp cliffs, making it easy to defend the city of Edinburgh, should an attack arise.
Once inside the castle, one must visit the St. Margaret’s Chapel, which is the oldest part of the castle complex and presumably the oldest building in Edinburgh. The Great hall, the Half Moon Battery, and the Scottish National War memorial are all part of the ancient complex. The castle also houses the Stone of Destiny, the One O’clock Gun, the Honors of Scotland, and the National War Museum. One can enjoy magnificent views of the city skyline from the terrace and towers.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
On strolling down the city’s main highway, the Royal Mile, near the Edinburgh Castle, is the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. The Royal mile runs almost a mile and is a busy street with several tourist attractions, museums, cafés, restaurants, shops, etc. The World of Illusions consists of several floors featuring optical illusions, magic displays, light tricks, and fun old fashioned games that one can enjoy.
The main attraction is the Camera Obscura, located on the roof. A camera obscura, a 19th-century device, is an old projection system, which uses lenses and mirrors to direct the live image of the city onto a viewing surface within a darkened room. They have been a popular attraction during the Victorian times. Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura dates back from the 19th century, thus making it the oldest visitor attraction. Take the stairs leading to the Outlook Tower, which offers excellent views of the city.
Royal Botanic Garden, Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh
Getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Royal Botanic Garden. It consists of 70 acres of beautiful gardens with approximately 2, 73,000 plants. It also includes Victorian glasshouses, a famous rock garden, Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden, and Poppy Meadow.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Holyrood Palace, located at the opposite end of the Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile, is the official residence of the royal family in Scotland. The palace has been home to the British monarchs since the 16th century. The name comes from the 12th century ‘Augustinian Holyrood Abbey’ that was built here, the ruins of which can still be visited. The palace is more famous for having served as a home for the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary’s Bedchamber, home of the unfortunate queen, is the main highlight of the tour since her favorite secretary ‘David Rizzio’ was murdered here.
Scottish National Gallery (Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh, Scotland)
The Scottish National Gallery, a neoclassical building, designed by William Henry Playfair, is located on The Mound near the Princes Street Gardens and is one of the free museums in Edinburgh. The gallery, with its octagonal rooms well lit due to the skylight, has been refurbished to its original Victorian décor of dark red walls and deep green carpets. The Art gallery has a vast collection of European paintings and art dating back from the Renaissance period up to the post Impressionism era (early 20th century), representing Scottish as well as international artists. Some of the famous works at the gallery include works by Verrocchio (Leonardo da Vinci’s teacher), Monet, Constable, Pissarro, Holbein, etc.
One can head to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art if one is a modern and contemporary art lover.
Mary King’s Close, Scotland Tourist Places In Eidenburgh
A hidden part of Edinburgh is located under its current city’s streets called the Real Mary King’s close. It was previously the busiest streets in the 19th century, located just off the Royal Mile. It was named after a businesswoman named Mary King, who lived there in the 1630s. The tour provides us information on the life that existed between the 16th and 19th centuries in Edinburgh.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Tourist Places
Not far from Holyrood Palace, just outside the city center, lies the rocky peak of Arthur’s Seat, the remnants of an extinct volcano. The view from the summit (251m) is worth the steep hike up the hill. On a clear day, one can get a magnificent view across Edinburgh and the Lothians.
Calton Hill (Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh)
Address – Edinburgh EH7 5AA, UK
Calton hill, one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh is located at the east end of Princes Street. The hill closely resembles the Acropolis of Athens, while the summit (100m) reveals famous memorials from the first half of the 19th century. Atop the mountain, one may find a collection of various monuments and buildings such as the National Monument and Dugald Stewart Monument.
The famous Beltane Fire Festival takes place here in April. The City Observatory, the largest building, located on the Calton Hill, has now been converted to a contemporary art exhibition center and is open to the public. One can enjoy the panoramic skyline of Edinburgh from the viewing terrace of the Observatory and spot the Castle, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat, the New town, the Firth of Forth, and the full length of Princes street.
Princess Street Gardens, Edinburgh Tourist Places
Address -Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2HG, United Kingdom
The beautiful Princes Street gardens are formed as a result of Nor Loch being drained in the early 19th century. Nor Loch, an artificial lake, was used as a defensive barrier to the Edinburgh castle and for dumping trash and sewage. The gardens are split in the middle by a human-made hill, known as ‘The Mound,’ which was formed by quarrying the New town. The western part of the gardens, have a venue for open-air concerts which take place in the summers and the fireworks concert known as the ‘Ross Bandstand.’
Scottish Whiskey Experience (Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh, Scotland)
The Scotch Whiskey experience center is located on the Royal mile, just across the Camera Obscura. It is housed in a former school which explains the process of whiskey making, from barley to bottle, through demonstrations, presentations and talks. There are several different tours, which include a tasting experience with samples of Scottish cuisine, training sessions, or master classes that one can enjoy. The center is home to the world’s largest collection of malt whiskeys, about 3384 bottles!
Edinburgh Dungeon (Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh)
Address – 31 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DF, United Kingdom
Located close to Waverly train station, The Edinburgh Dungeon provides a quick tour of Scotland’s history, focusing on the horrid representation of torture and degradation performed by 11 live actors as visitors walkthrough. The attraction also has a ‘horror labyrinth,’ a creepy mirror maze, and two short underground rides (drop ride and boat ride). The use of spectacular special effects and some scare ploys are sure to give some chills.
Royal Yacht Britannia
Address – Ocean Dr, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, United Kingdom
The Royal Yacht Britannia, officially known as ‘Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia,’ has been home to The Queen and the Royal family for over 40 years. It was the British Royal Family’s holiday home. It has been in service from the time of her launch in 1954, until the time it was decommissioned in 1997, and has sailed over 1 million miles around the world.
The yacht is now permanently docked at the historic Port of Leith and is open to the public. One can experience the everyday life of the Royals and provides an exciting insight into the Queen’s private tastes. During a tour of the yacht, one can visit Queen Elizabeth II’s bedroom, the state Dining room, the Bridge, the room during Charles and Diana’s honeymoon in 1981, the drawing rooms, crew quarters, and workspaces. There is also the Royal Barge, a retired Rolls-Royce Phantom V state car, and a racing yacht called Bloodhound on display for the public. One can enjoy an afternoon tea or lunch at the Royal Deck Tea Room.
Edinburgh Zoo (Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh)
Edinburgh Zoo is one of the world’s leading conservation zoos, opened in the year of 1913. One can get up-close to over 1,000 animals, including Siberian tigers, lions, pygmy hippos, chimps, wallabies, squirrel monkeys, red panda, etc. Visitors can get to see two resident giant pandas and enjoy the penguin parade.
Ticket Price –
- Adult – Eur 19.75
- Child (3-15 yrs) – Eur 11.25
- Child (under 3) – Free
- Concession – Eur 17.95
Address – Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, United Kingdom
Apart from the popular tourist attractions, there are also a large number of things to enjoy for free (e.g., Royal Botanic gardens, Calton Hill, museums, etc.). A significant part of the city’s allure is merely strolling through the busy streets and soaking up the ancient and lively charm of the capital city. One can surely discover fascinating new things each time.
Best Tours In Edinburgh
- Historic Old Town Walking Tour – Check The Price & Reviews
- Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour – Check The Price & Reviews
- Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour from Edinburgh – Check The Price & Reviews
During your stay here, one must try some tasty traditional Scottish foods. The national dish of Scotland is Haggis and a must-try. It is traditionally made of sheep parts that are mixed with oatmeal, onion, and species, which are stuffed in sheep’s stomach. The traditional haggis is now a difficult find in most restaurants, but one can find several modern haggis versions to savor. It is typically served with ‘neeps and tatties,’ which are mashed turnips and potatoes, and sometimes a dash of whiskey sauce to go with it. There are also places which serve ‘vegetarian haggis’ and are as enjoyable.
There are several other Scottish dishes to try including the black pudding, local Scottish Salmon, Cullen skink, stovies, sausage, beef, and lamb dishes. A must-try is the Stornoway black pudding made of Scottish oatmeal, beef suet, onion, blood, salt, and pepper.
One can also try the mouth-watering sweets and desserts, which include Dundee cake, Cranachan, fried Mars Bars, and shortbread.
One can also enjoy food tours, which include stops for tasting and explain the history of many traditional Scottish foods and drinks.
For drinks, one can, of course, enjoy whiskey, but a large number of the population widely drink black tea. One must surely try the popular Irn Bru, which is an orange carbonated soda drink. Also try some Scottish gins like Pickering’s, Rock Rose and Edinburgh Gin) along with some local beers from Scottish breweries like Tennent’s, Cairngorm Brewing company, Stewart Brewing, etc.
Edinburgh is known as the World’s festival city, wherein it hosts about 11 major festivals throughout the year. One can enjoy celebrating art, film, theatre, music, science, books, Ney year’s eve, etc. The four most popular festivals celebrated are Hogmanay, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival, and the Royal Edinburgh military tattoo. In summers, mid-August, one can find over 1000 performances taking place all over the city in about 100 locations, each day. There are also some local festivals which take place during the year like the Edinburgh Food Festival, Burns Night, Edinburgh Mela, etc.