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!
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What people are saying about Edinburgh
This is a lovely tour with the most breathtaking scenery.Our bus driver was very knowledgeable.However clients need to be aware that there is an extra cost involved if you want to travel on the ferry on the Lochness.This is not advertised.Please carry cash with you,I think it was £15 per adult & £9 per child.Also we were told by email that it would be a short 5 minute walk from our hotel which was The Double Tree Hilton to the pick up point which was the Marriott hotel.When I asked the concierge the night before the tour to direct us she laughed & said the tour operator was mistaken ,it was approximately 15 minutes by car. We hired a taxi.If you are staying around that area give yourself 15-20 minutes to get to the Marriott hotel depending on the traffic.Our bus driver was kind enough to drop us off at our hotel after the tour as it ends quite late
We had a superb tour last night with James who was kitted out with full make up and costume and fake arms hanging under his coat. He managed to engage every single one of us with his witty banter despite having a large number of non English speakers in the group. He was incredibly entertaining and informative and had us all in stitches, and even jumping out of our skin on a few occasions with his spooky tales. We’ve been laughing all day about some of his comments. The vaults and the cemetery were incredibly chilling and my 11 year old daughter loved it. The right balance between humour and grisly tales.
Dr Joseph Bell was a very clear and articulate guide. We didn't get as many scary stories as expected, but did get some good bits of history and context. We also missed a couple of specific locations in the graveyard because there was another tour there, which I think should be better coordinated in future as I believe one of them had been investigated by paranormal investigators who actually came up with stuff. We only know this because another person on the tour had been there before and told us about it.
Angus, our guide, was born in Scotland and has also lived in Australia. He is an actor with theater training and he gave his tour with enthusiasm and a theatrical flair which made it really great! He knew all about the castle and shared many fun details. Highly recommend!
Great tour, palace very interesting, Abbey & the garden section was amazing, shame left to ruin, headphones explain everything, nice staff, rooms are musty & old, maybe if they ventilate every now & again, I have enhanced smell/borderline asthma