17 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland

by Alexander Harris

Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in Britain, is located in a picturesque area, looking out over the sea, and has a unique, enchanting atmosphere. Although Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is full of historical sites and cultural treasures, it also offers many beautiful parks and exciting activities for visitors.

The city has earned the nickname “Athens of the North” for producing so many prominent figures in the disciplines of philosophy, science, and the arts.

In addition to its rich history and beautiful buildings and streets, Edinburgh also has a vibrant arts scene, great restaurants, and an exciting nightlife.

17. Scottish Parliament Building

The Scottish Parliament stands in stark contrast to the city’s stately Georgian structures and Gothic churches with its contemporary, abstract style. When it was finished in 2004, the building’s unique appearance, high price tag, and position at the base of Arthur’s Seat sparked much debate.

The building’s unique angles and curves were designed to symbolize the harmony between Scotland’s natural beauty and the pride of its people and culture. Tours of the building take guests from the gloom of the Main Hall to the dazzling splendor of the Debating Chamber, where the building’s many metaphors and hidden meanings can be revealed.

16. The Real Mary King’s Close

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – MARCH 12TH 2016: Sign above the entrance for the popular tourist attraction – The Real Mary Kings Close in the historic City of Edinburgh, on 12th March 2016.

When in Edinburgh, it’s a must to explore the maze of tunnels and underground corridors that run under the city’s main drag. Hidden down under the Royal Mile, The Real Mary King’s Close is a fascinating look at seventeenth-century Edinburgh.

After being locked off and forgotten for centuries, a once-desolate street and its buildings have become a famous tourist destination thanks to the efforts of costumed actors. Myths, folklore, and ghost stories have always circulated about the Close; you could hear them all while exploring a plague-ridden home and a dilapidated tenement block.

15. Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is located just off the Royal Mile and has an impressive collection of artworks. Located on Queen Street in the New Town, the museum has been open since 1889 and is notable for its stunning red sandstone Neo-Gothic architecture and extensive collection.

Countless drawings, prints, and photographs are also on display in addition to the more than three thousand works of art that make up the permanent collection. Famous Scots like Mary, Queen of Scots, and Robert Burns, the National Poet of Scotland, are often depicted in paintings by Scottish painters.

14. Edinburgh Gin Distillery

The Edinburgh Gin Distillery, located in the West End, has been turning out gold medal-winning gins since 2010. Even though it hasn’t been open very long, their wonderful facility provides a fascinating glimpse into the city’s lengthy history of gin imports, exports, and production.

In addition to trying some excellent beverages, guests can see the distillation process utilizing hand-crafted copper stills. Edinburgh has a rich history of gin production that stretches back to the 1700s. Swing by their store to learn more about this fascinating topic and pick up some souvenirs and potent liqueurs.

13. Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, held in August, is the city’s second-most significant yearly event besides The Fringe, the biggest arts festival in the world. On the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, a large number of military marching bands put on a stunning spectacle.

The tattoo is an exciting event when hundreds of pipers, marching bands, dancers, acrobats, and cheerleaders all dress in traditional Scottish garb and perform stirring interpretations of classic Scottish melodies and military tunes. The stunning backdrop of a lighted Edinburgh Castle and the dazzling display of fireworks only add to the spectacle.

12. The Scotch Whisky Experience

Scotch whisky has been a source of national pride for the country for quite some time, with the first evidence of distillation dating back to 1494. Whiskey lovers will enjoy The Scotch Whisky Experience for more than just the chance to imbibe in the spirit; the venue also has informative displays and guided tours that delve into the fascinating history of whisky production.

With the biggest collection of malt whiskies in the world, it has been a tourist hotspot since opening in 1988. The attraction is situated near the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and has a store, whiskey bar, and restaurant.

11. Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery, one of the largest and most prestigious museums in Scotland, can be found on The Mound in the heart of Edinburgh. It is a large Neoclassical building that houses several galleries, including priceless artwork and masterpieces.

The museum started in 1857, and since then it has amassed a large collection that includes everything from Scottish artwork to Impressionist paintings to Renaissance masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, and Titian. The structure itself is as beautiful as the collection of portraits, landscapes, and settings within. This is due to the combination of the building’s ionic porticoes and robust columns with its attractively designed apartments and bright, open hallways.

10. St Giles Cathedral

The majestic St. Giles Cathedral, located not far from the Scottish National Gallery, is one of the city’s most impressive and imposing structures. The crown spire atop the tower is one of Edinburgh’s most recognizable symbols, and the building itself displays beautiful Gothic design.

There are graves and monuments of prominent Scotspeople strewn over the inside, as well as spectacular vaulted ceilings and intricately carved transepts and pulpits. Since medieval times, the cathedral has hosted nationally significant events and services, making it a major draw for visitors.

9. Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia is now docked in Edinburgh’s port, which is a short bus ride north of the city. It was formerly the floating vacation house of Queen Elizabeth II and her family, and today it’s a famous tourist destination where visitors can learn everything about the royal family’s life.

For 43 years, the Britannia proudly transported the Queen and other members of the royal family, as well as state officials, to important events and locations across the world. She was decommissioned in 1997. Visitors can witness where the royal family and staff slept, ate, and entertained themselves while onboard this enormous and sumptuous ship by taking a tour of the rooms and decks.

8. Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is situated at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, at the other end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle. It has been the official Scottish royal palace since the sixteenth century, and visits are offered year-round when it is not being utilized for state business.

The palace is most well-known as the residence of Mary, Queen of Scots, but its stunning architecture, grounds, and state rooms are also noteworthy. You can learn about her tragic life at the palace by seeing her original apartment on tours of the palace’s many art-adorned corridors, suites, and galleries.

7. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

The fascinating Camera Obscura, located just outside Edinburgh Castle’s main gate, has been entrancing visitors since it was opened to the public in 1835. Many generations have been thrilled by the unique and fascinating technology from the nineteenth century that provides such breathtaking views of Edinburgh.

Over a hundred hands-on exhibits have been added since the park’s inception, the most impressive of which is the World of Illusions, which will take you on a fantastical tour of dazzling colors and optical tricks. Educational and fun activities await you at every bend in the vortex tunnel, which has holograms, puzzles, and a mirror maze.

6. National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland, which holds a large and varied collection of artifacts, artworks, and archaeological finds, is located only a short distance from the Camera Obscura. The store, which first opened in 1866, presently occupies two pleasantly dissimilar structures, one of which is contemporary and the other of which is Victorian.

Several chapters examine the people, landscapes, and history of Scotland, while others examine the ornamental arts of ancient Egypt and the Islamic world. Over 20,000 pieces are spread among its several galleries, showcasing everything from fashion and design to science and technology.

5. Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden, about fifteen minutes’ walk north of New Town, is one of the city’s most tranquil and beautiful spots. Extending across a vast region, it has a maze-like network of beautiful walking routes lined with a rainbow of flowers, plants, and trees.

As one of the oldest gardens of its sort in the country, it was first established in 1670 as a physic garden. It has grown greatly since it relocated to its present site in 1823. The area around the John Hope Gateway, which has displays on biodiversity, has been upgraded with lush grass and exotic plant-filled glasshouses.

4. Calton Hill

Calton Hill, a prominent hill on the eastern outskirts of the city, provides stunning panoramas of Edinburgh. Majestic monuments dot its vertiginous slopes, while significant structures like the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace rest at its base.

Protected as a park since 1724, the hilltop has long been one of the city’s most recognizable features and perspectives. Besides enjoying vistas of the castle and Arthur’s Seat, as well as Holyrood and New Town, tourists can explore its walkways and open areas. The National Monument, a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, is a must-see.

3. Arthur’s Seat

A long-extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat, towers above the city together with Calton Hill and Castle Rock. Visiting the summit of the massive hill and taking in the breathtaking panorama is a must for every visitor to Edinburgh.

The real story of the name Arthur’s Seat is unclear; however, some have speculated that it honors the famous King Arthur. There are wonderful hiking routes and open areas to explore, in addition to the breathtaking vistas of Edinburgh and the North Sea in the distance.

2. Royal Mile

The Royal Mile, which runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace, is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions. This fitting name was initially used in 1901 to describe the string of picturesque streets that spans about a mile and links the two royal residences.

The Royal Mile, which runs through the heart of the Old Town, is a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll due to its abundance of old buildings, landmarks, and thriving shops. Although crowded with sightseers, the popular street is well worth a visit for its fascinating buildings and exciting atmosphere.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, one of the city’s most recognizable symbols and landmarks, is perched on a rocky outcrop in the heart of Edinburgh. Even though the majority of the existing castle was built in the eleventh century, archaeologists think the strategic location had been inhabited as early as the second century.

Numerous wars and sieges took place there throughout the years, since the fortress was one of Scotland’s most significant strongholds. Yet, in the modern day, it has become one of Edinburgh’s top tourist destinations, drawing in millions of visitors annually. In addition to the military structures, the Royal Palace, and St. Margaret’s Chapel, tourists can climb to the top of the fort’s towers and take in magnificent views of the city below.

You may also like

Leave a Comment


At OnTravelX, we’re passionate about travel and helping people explore the world. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, informative, and inspiring travel content to our readers. From destination guides and travel tips to the latest trends in travel and tourism, we strive to cover every aspect of the travel experience.

Contact us: contact@ontravelx.com

@2023 – OnTravlex. All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by OnTravlex