Discover the best things to do in Edinburgh and make the most of your visit to this vibrant city. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, our comprehensive guide covers all the must-see attractions and activities. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or an adventure seeker, our curated list has something for everyone. Explore Edinburgh’s rich culture and immerse yourself in its unique charm. Plan your itinerary and uncover the “top things to do in Edinburgh” for an unforgettable experience.
Let’s know about the 12 best things to do in Edinburgh
Visit Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is an iconic attraction and one of Edinburgh’s most popular places to visit. The castle is situated on top of a hill and boasts stunning views of the city. The castle’s rich history dates back to the 12th century and is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels. The castle is also known for the One O’clock Gun, fired every day except Sunday. The castle is open year-round and offers guided tours, exhibitions, and events.
There are many things to do in Edinburgh Castle, including exploring the castle’s many rooms, towers, and courtyards. Visitors can walk around the castle and learn about its history and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the castle walls. The castle also offers tours of the underground vaults used as prisons during the 18th and 19th centuries.
In addition to the historical attractions, the castle hosts events throughout the year, such as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place during the Edinburgh Festival. The castle is also a popular location for weddings and other special events.
Overall, visiting Edinburgh Castle is a must-do for any trip to Edinburgh. It offers a fascinating insight into Scotland’s history and culture and is one of the top places to visit in Edinburgh.
Take a Walking Tour
One of the best ways to experience Edinburgh is on foot. Walking tours are available throughout the city, with knowledgeable guides taking you through the city’s history, architecture, and culture. Whether you’re interested in learning about Edinburgh‘s literary history or its darker side, there’s a tour for everyone.
During a walking tour, you’ll have the opportunity to explore hidden alleyways, admire stunning architecture, and take in the city’s beautiful sights. You’ll learn about the city’s fascinating history and hear tales of famous residents, from Robert Burns to Sir Walter Scott.
One of the most popular walking tours is the Royal Mile tour, which takes you through the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. You’ll stroll along the cobbled streets, taking in the beautiful buildings and landmarks such as St Giles’ Cathedral and the Canongate Kirk.
For a spookier experience, you can take a ghost tour, which explores the darker side of Edinburgh’s history. These tours take you through eerie alleyways and graveyards, and you’ll hear stories of ghosts and paranormal activity.
Actually, Walking tour is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh and you will surely enjoy an unforgettable experience in this beautiful city.
Visit the National Museum of Scotland
When it comes to finding best things to do in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland should be on your list. This impressive museum has many exhibits covering everything from natural history and science to art and design.
One of the great things about the National Museum of Scotland is that it’s completely free to visit, making it a great option if you’re on a tight budget. With a range of permanent exhibits and temporary displays, there’s always something new to see and do here.
One of the museum’s highlights is the incredible Natural World exhibit, which takes you on a journey through the natural history of Scotland and the wider world. From dinosaur skeletons to meteorites and everything in between, this exhibit is a fascinating insight into the incredible diversity of life on our planet.
Other highlights include the Scottish Galleries, which showcase the history and culture of Scotland from the earliest times to the present day, and the Art and Design galleries, which feature works from some of the most talented artists and designers in Scotland and beyond.
Overall, a visit to the National Museum of Scotland is a must-do when in Edinburgh, whether you’re a history buff, a science enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun day out with the family. With so many amazing exhibits to explore, you’re sure to leave feeling inspired and enriched.
See the Palace of Holyroodhouse
If you’re a fan of the Royal Family or want to see a stunning palace, visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Located at the end of the Royal Mile, this beautiful palace has been the residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 16th century.
You can take a guided tour of the palace, which includes the State Apartments, the Great Gallery, and the Throne Room. You’ll also have the opportunity to see the famous 16th-century tapestries that adorn the walls of the Queen’s Gallery.
But the Palace of Holyroodhouse is more than just a residence for the Royal Family – it’s also a place with a fascinating history. You can visit the ruins of the nearby Holyrood Abbey, where Scottish kings were crowned, and Mary Queen of Scots attended Mass.
Be sure to walk in the palace gardens, where you’ll find a beautiful fountain and amazing views of Arthur’s Seat. And remember to visit the gift shop, where you can pick up some unique souvenirs and gifts.
Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a beautiful place to explore, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is worth a visit. It’s a must-see on any Edinburgh itinerary!
Climb Arthur’s Seat
Climbing Arthur’s Seat is an unforgettable experience and one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is a dormant volcano that sits in the heart of Holyrood Park, towering over the city at 251 meters above sea level. The climb may be steep and challenging, but it’s well worth the effort once you reach the summit.
You’ll have a breathtaking view of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas from the top. On a clear day, you can see Fife‘s coast and beyond. Take a moment to catch your breath and admire the stunning city and countryside panorama.
Climbing Arthur’s Seat is a great way to explore Edinburgh’s natural beauty. Holyrood Park is a protected wildlife sanctuary and a haven for flora and fauna. The park is home to many species of birds, animals, and plants, making it an ideal place to connect with nature.
If you need to get up for the climb, there are plenty of easier walks and trails around Holyrood Park. You can take a stroll around St. Margaret’s Loch or follow the Queen’s Drive for stunning views of the park and the city.
Climbing Arthur’s Seat is one of the most popular things to do in Edinburgh, so expect crowds, especially on weekends. However, the view from the top is well worth it, and the sense of achievement you’ll feel once you reach the summit is unparalleled.
Visit the Museum Of Childhood
If you’re looking for some exciting things to do in Edinburgh, visiting the Museum of Childhood is a must! This fascinating museum showcases toys and games from the past, and it’s a great place to explore with the whole family. The collection here is diverse and intriguing, from Victorian dolls to retro video games.
Inside the Museum of Childhood, you’ll find exhibitions exploring childhood from different eras, highlighting the changing nature of play. There are also interactive exhibits that allow you to play with some of the toys on display, making it a great choice for kids and adults alike.
Some of the Museum of Childhood highlights include the extensive collection of dolls and dollhouses, which is sure to bring back fond memories for many visitors. Board games, train sets, and other toys from various eras are also on display.
Take advantage of the special exhibitions, which change throughout the year. Previous exhibitions have included everything from comic books to circus toys, making it a great choice for repeat visits.
A trip to the Museum of Childhood is a unique and interesting way to spend a few hours in Edinburgh. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something fun to do, this museum is well worth a visit!
Visit the Calton Hill
Calton Hill is a must-visit for anyone looking for beautiful views of Edinburgh. Located in the heart of the city, it is one of Edinburgh’s most popular places to visit. It offers stunning skyline views, including the iconic Edinburgh Castle and the famous Royal Mile.
Aside from the views, Calton Hill also offers a variety of things to do in Edinburgh. It is home to several important monuments and landmarks, including the National Monument and the Nelson Monument, which are worth checking out.
If you are interested in history and culture, Calton Hill is also a great place to visit in Edinburgh. It is the site of several important buildings, such as the Old Royal High School, which is now being repurposed as a home for Scotland’s new Parliament.
Aside from all of these things to do in Edinburgh, Calton Hill is also just a great place to relax and take in the city. Whether you want to go for a leisurely stroll or enjoy the views from one of the many benches, you will surely have a great time.
Overall, if you are looking for the best places to visit in Edinburgh, Calton Hill should be on your list for its stunning views, historical landmarks, and relaxing atmosphere.
See the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Located on Queen Street, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a beautiful and iconic building home to an extensive collection of portraits and photographs of Scottish historical figures. The gallery is divided into themed sections, such as “The Age of Improvement” and “Scottish Identity in Art,” allowing visitors to explore Scotland’s rich cultural history and identity.
As you enter the grand neoclassical building, you’ll be greeted by the breathtaking Great Hall, adorned with towering marble pillars and a beautiful ceiling. Inside the galleries, you’ll find a wealth of stunning paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works of art.
One of the highlights of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is the famous portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, painted by Allan Ramsay. The gallery also features portraits of Robert Burns, Mary Queen of Scots, and other notable figures from Scottish history.
Beyond the historical portraits, the gallery also features contemporary works, including photographs by Rankin and portrait paintings by Alison Watt. You’ll find something for everyone, from classical portraits to modern interpretations.
The beautiful architecture and incredible art make this gallery an unforgettable experience that is not to be missed.
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Visit the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
If you’re looking for something unique to add to your list of things to do in Edinburgh, consider visiting the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Located near the Royal Mile, this attraction offers a range of interactive exhibits and illusions that will leave you mesmerized.
The Camera Obscura is a Victorian invention that projects a live, moving image of the city onto a concave surface, giving visitors a panoramic view of Edinburgh from above. In addition to this unique experience, the World of Illusions offers a range of other exhibits, such as the vortex tunnel, mirror maze, and shrinking room.
You can easily spend a few hours exploring the different illusions and exhibits. The attraction is suitable for all ages, making it a great family-friendly activity in Edinburgh.
Overall, visiting the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a must-do on any Edinburgh itinerary. The combination of historical technology and modern illusions creates a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in the city. So be sure to add it to your list of things to do in Edinburgh!
Go on a Harry Potter Tour
Calling all Potterheads! If you’re a fan of the famous wizarding world, going on a Harry Potter Tour is one of the fascinating things to do in Edinburgh. This tour takes you on a journey through the streets of Edinburgh, showcasing all the famous landmarks that inspired J.K. Rowling to write her best-selling books.
Visit the Elephant House, the café where Rowling wrote many of the early Harry Potter novels, and Greyfriars Kirkyard. In this graveyard, she found inspiration for some of the character names.
The tour also includes a visit to the Museum of Edinburgh, which features an exhibition about the city’s history and its influence on the Harry Potter series. As you walk around the city, your tour guide will tell you stories about the inspiration behind the magical world of Harry Potter, making it a truly immersive experience.
If you’re a die-hard fan, you can also choose to add on a visit to Alnwick Castle, which was used as the filming location for Hogwarts in the first two movies. Overall, the Harry Potter Tour is an unforgettable experience and one of Edinburgh’s top things to do. Remember to wear your Hogwarts scarf!
Take a day trip to Loch Ness
If you’re looking for a memorable adventure outside of Edinburgh, taking a day trip to Loch Ness is a must. Located in the Highlands of Scotland, Loch Ness is known for its mysterious legend of the Loch Ness Monster, but there’s so much more to see and do in the area.
To get there, you can either drive or take a guided tour from Edinburgh, which will allow you to enjoy stunning views of the Scottish countryside on the way. Once you arrive at the Loch, you’ll be amazed by its natural beauty. The still water and surrounding mountains make for a breathtaking landscape.
There are many places to visit in Edinburgh. Still, a day trip to Loch Ness is a unique experience you will want to experience. Besides taking a boat tour to try and spot the famous monster, you can explore the nearby ruins of Urquhart Castle or take a scenic walk around the shoreline.
A day trip to Loch Ness is the best things to do in Edinburgh to immerse yourself in Scotland’s stunning countryside. It’s a unique experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
The Scott Monument is an iconic landmark in Edinburgh that should be on every visitor’s list of things to do in Edinburgh. Standing tall in the heart of Princes Street Gardens, this Gothic masterpiece is a tribute to Sir Walter Scott, a famous Scottish author and poet.
Climbing the Scott Monument is an exhilarating experience and offers breathtaking panoramic views of Edinburgh’s skyline. The monument stands at an impressive 200 feet, and the spiral staircase leads visitors to a series of viewing platforms. As you ascend, you’ll pass by fascinating exhibits that showcase Scott’s life and literary contributions.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled vistas of Edinburgh Castle, the historic Old Town, Arthur’s Seat, and the surrounding landscape. It’s a perfect spot to capture stunning photographs and truly appreciate the beauty of the city.
As you plan your trip to Edinburgh, include the Scott Monument on your itinerary. Take advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s heritage and enjoy the breathtaking vistas from the top of this remarkable structure.