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
A remarkable insight into life aboard this iconic ship where Royalty and the ship's company co-existed to enjoy life at sea. A first rate attraction with excellent audio guidance that enables visitors to view the ship in a very relaxed way. Linger and ponder what it must have been like for the Royal Family, Ambassadors, Presidents, and international dignitaries to be entertained aboard in such homely and unpretentious surroundings. There is nothing ostentatious about it. That can certainly be said about the rather basic crew quarters! The guides on board were friendly and well informed particularly the long chat with Tim O'Brien who it turns out has written a book about Britannia was very engaging. A glass of champagne and lunch in the Tea Room on the top deck is a must to finish off there visit.
Truly enjoyed the day. Booked an eight hour walking tour focusing on the historical aspects of Scotland, starting out at the Edinburgh Castle, walking the Royal Mile and the Palace, with other highlights pointed out and discussed. Enjoyed a great lunch with our Guide, Doug, as well as a end of tour cocktail. Most enjoyable way of touring, flexible, personal and most of all, informative. Was like touring with a member of the family, who was very knowledgeable about Scotland, Edinburgh and all the activities we visited. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Well Done.
Tour guide, David, was very knowledgeable about the area. Nice stopover in fishing village. Adequate time to visit St. Andrews. Not rushed. Plenty of time to see highlights and have leisurely lunch. Last stop at castle for 5 minutes was not worthwhile. Would have liked 30 - 45 minutes there.
Loved this walking tour. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and it was really interesting to see where J.K. Rowling drew her inspirations from characters, names, locations, and also where she was working on the books at the time. Highly recommend this tour to any partial or huge Harry Potter fans.
We weren’t able to book the evening tour because it interfered with another walking tour we had scheduled that day, so we went during the day. It was still very scary! Once you’re in there, you lose the sense of time. We were spooked but we really enjoyed the experience