Top attractions in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is an effortlessly cohesive reflection of Scotland's breathtaking rural landscape, flaunting cultural vibrancy, historic charm, and scenic wonder. Even its New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, what are its top attractions?
The Edinburgh Castle was built at least as early as the 12th century. Looking over the city from Castle Rock, it's been at the heart of some of Scotland's bloodiest conflicts.
Having withstood multiple sieges, Stirling is one of Scotland's most important castles. Even if you're not a history buff, the scenery alone warrants a day trip from the capital!
What's a holiday to Scotland without visiting one of its picturesque lochs? Luckily, the largest and most breathtaking one in the country, the Loch Lomond, is just a short journey away!
The Holyrood Abbey next to the Holyrood Palace is still in ruins after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Fun fact: Holyrood is Old English for "holy cross."
The historic thoroughfare, called The Royal Mile, runs through Edinburgh's Old Town from the Castle to Holyrood for one Scots mile. That's longer than a regular mile, in case you were wondering!
The birthplace of 17th-century Scottish Presbyterianism, this church is a landmark of the country's religious history. It still holds Sunday services in English and Scottish Gaelic.
Dating back to 1670, when it was used to grow medicinal plants, this conservation project has bloomed into a leading tourist attraction. Today it houses over 13,000 plant species!
Built in 1953, this royal yacht is considered one of the UK's top attractions. You can even enjoy lunch or afternoon tea on the Royal Deck!
Just south of Edinburgh lies the village of Roslin, where the spectacular Rosslyn Chapel was built 600 years ago as an object of curiosity and splendor. A truly unique example of religious architecture!
The Holyrood area sits beneath a dormant volcano. The information center Our Dynamic Earth is the perfect place to learn about the natural processes that shaped our planet from the Big Bang to the present!
Edinburgh is heaving with visitors throughout the summer, but for good reason – it's festival season! If you'd rather see the city significantly less hectic then you'll have to brave the Scottish winter. The good news is that few landscapes lend themselves so beautifully to cloud and drizzle as that of Scotland!
Edinburgh has several large festivals occupying its streets throughout summer, including their film, jazz, and book festivals. However, it's common to mistake the Edinburgh Fringe – the world's largest performing arts festival – as THE festival. It spans 25 days of August. This year's exact dates, and those for the other events too, can be found here.
Book at least a week in Edinburgh if you can. Many of the city's most popular attractions require more time than you'll realise and there's already more than enough to do, especially during festival season. Plus, if you haven't ventured into Scotland's awe-inspiring countryside before, you should consider at least one day trip out of the city too!
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- Best time to visit
- Spring for the mild weather, summer for the cultural events!
Things to Do in Edinburgh
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What people are saying about Edinburgh
We wanted to go on a tour a little remote of the overcrowded "ususal suspects" like Loch Ness. And we are happy, that we chose this awesome tour to the Highlands with Blair Castle, Queens View and Falls of Dochart. Our group was small (only four travellers; thank you Timberbush, that you didn't cancel the tour!), so the experience was quite private. Next to breathtaking views in the Highlands the visit to Blair Castle was an outstanding highlight. And our very friendly and knowledgable driver/guide Hamish showed us many other beautiful places along the road. We took the tour on a Sunday, so the traffic was quite low. We can highly recommend this tour for people who love nature and don't like it so busy.
My tour guide was exceptional! He was very engaging and made sure our money was well spent. It only cost us £10 more to get the tour guide than a self-guided tour of a castle and it was the best £10 I have ever spent! I would recommend this tour to anyone who wants to see Edinburgh’s must-see castle and have a better understanding of its historical context. The stories told regarding everything in the castle were very entertaining, interesting, and mind-boggling. You must know the history of the castle to get the full experience and understand its architecture. Definitely worth it!
Very informative tours of all the sights of Edinburgh. My third trip using this service and it has improved so much. An excellent service for anyone with walking difficulties as the hilly terrain could be taxing. Enjoyed it immensely but would have liked more than 24 hours to see the sights. We were stuck in traffic due to the Royal Garden Party so missed seeing the gallery. We would have no hesitation in recommending this trip to other visitors.
Our host John was waiting at the designated area long before announced time. He proved to be a great host, with really good storytelling skills, he is witty and humorous and has a clear knowledge of Scotch too. The venue was nice in itself, although the tiny/low benches with fixed low tables were not comfortable for anyone with long legs. I really loved the stories of ancient Edi and I had a great time listening to John telling them.
Our guide, Jen, was great. Informative, funny, and seemed to be enjoying her work. I was less than happy with starting the walk to the castle so far away and at a pace that my wife and I had trouble keeping up with. According to the description of the tour, the walk was supposed to offer an opportunity for the guide to present background on the castle and the tour but it just turned out to be a speed walk to the castle.