Edinburgh
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Top attractions in Edinburgh

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Top 10 things to do 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?

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

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.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

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!

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

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!

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

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."

Royal Mile

Royal Mile

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!

Greyfriars Church

Greyfriars Church

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.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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!

HMY Britannia
Photo: Hugh Llewelyn @flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

HMY Britannia

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!

Rosslyn Chapel

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!

Our Dynamic Earth

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!

Planning Your Edinburgh Visit

Best time to visit?

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!

When is the Edinburgh Festival?

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.

How long to stay?

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!

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    British Pound (£)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+00:00)
  • Country Code
    +44
  • Best time to visit
    Spring for the mild weather, summer for the cultural events!

Things to Do in Edinburgh

Top Attractions in Edinburgh

Cities in United Kingdom

Other Sightseeing Options in Edinburgh

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What people are saying about Edinburgh

Well organised and professionally carried out ..

Jamie was amazing, very informative, good fun and a great driver .. such a great way to see such a beautiful part of Scotland ..

Excellent - tops the Edinburgh Dungeons with tangy historical flavour

A friend and I were working in Edinburgh over the weekend. Unlike myself, he isn't into crime, gruesome murders or history. I suggested the walking tour for our last night, having been so impressed with the Adam Lyall experience back in 2016. My friend was outstanded by the performance they gave us and I found it better than before. He also found the history interesting which was a bonus! The experience dates back to 1985, a role which has been passed down from student-to-student is still going strong. £10 per person isn't much for a walking tour in Edinburgh (including a book to take away), there are plenty in the city doing Harry Potter and other histories but none have as much entertainment value as this. It's both funny and scary in equal measure. Would strongly recommend if you're a tourist, sightseer or just looking for something different to the usual spiel. My aunt recommended this to me and now I'm making my recommendation to whoever's reading this.

Edinburgh Murder & Mystery Walking Tour Reviewed by Jordan, 06/11/2019

Absolutely fantastic experience I will never forget!

Our guide, Gregor, was just the best! He provided almost constant entertainment during the drives from stop to stop - from historical tid bits to relevant music to jokes - it was so much cooler and more exciting than I'd expected. I highly recommend this tour and if you get Gregor, you scored big! Each stop was incredible, the lochs of Scotland are breathtaking and inspiring. Staying the night in Inverness was wonderful - a nice smaller town and a welcomed change of pace from the hustle and bustle of London where we were the previous week. Plus Inverness is gorgeous. We stayed close to Ness Bank and the river at night and in the morning was so calm and peaceful. I will miss that place and can't wait to go back! And the food was amazing too! We ate at Johnny Foxes and the haggis stuffed chicken was one of the best things I'd eaten the entire vacation. Gregor also recited Robert Burns' Address to a Haggis on the way back to Edinburgh which was pretty cool!

Inverness and Highlands Small Group 2-Day Tour Reviewed by Jonathan, 06/11/2019

Excellent tour brings some life and excitement to the experience

The guide (Australian David) was terrific, engaging and brought the tour to life. Lots of great information and amusing antidotes. Well worth the cost.

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour Reviewed by Adam, 06/11/2019

Charming tour that we highly recommend, especially Harry Potter fans!

We went on a larger tour the day before and much prefer this tour. Large van, great driver, Allan, learned history, saw historical sites, and kids loved Alnwick! They had broom flying lessons and more:).