10 things to do and see in Edimburgh

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Edimburgh in 1, 2 or 3 day

10 things to do and see in Edimburgh
10 things to do and see in Edimburgh

The castle  stands on an ancient volcanic mountain, while in the lower part of the city (the Old Town), medieval buildings and Gothic architectural structures, are characterized by a melancholy and romantic atmosphere: it’s a kind of  promise for those who want to discover this city with a mysterious and troubled past.

In the north however, the New Town with its network of parallel roads closed by a square at each end, the residential buildings and the gardens tells another era, the Georgian one. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh is a magical city placed in a stunning setting, one of those fairy tales of Tim Burton, sweet and dark at the same time. Here some famous writers have been inspired by some legendary characters like Sherlock Holmes, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Harry Potter. On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during your visit in Edimburgh.

If you are looking for a hotel in Edimburgh, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Edinburgh Castle

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It’s one of the most famous castles of Scotland, which offers one of the most beautiful views of the entire city. The historic fort is located on a volcanic hill (Castle Hill) and was built in many stages: the oldest part of the castle, St Margaret’s Chapel, dates back to the twelfth century, the Great Hall was built by James IV in 1510. The Battery Half Moon was built by Regent Morton in the late sixteenth century and the Scottish National War Memorial was erected after the First World War.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Crossing the drawbridge you’ll arrive into the Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels), among the older royal emblem of Europe, and the legendary Stone of Destiny, on which were crowned all the Royal Scots. If you’re here, on any day of the week except Sunday, at 1:00 o’clock, you’ll hear the echo of an explosion but no worries! This is the gun with blanks (One O ‘Clock Gun) that resonates from Mill’s Mount Battery. In the past, the coup served to inform the time to ships in the Strait of Forth, with time it has become a nice city tradition. The castle is the fantastic scenery of the spectacular military parade Military Tattoo, as well as the setting of one of the adventures of Harry Potter.

Where: Castle Hill
How to get there: 15 minutes walk from Waverley Station and Princes Street.
When -Hours: from April 1st to September 30th: 9:30 am  to 6:00 pm ; from 1 October to 31 March: 9:30 am  to 5:00 pm . Admission is allowed until one hour before closing.
Never: December 25
Tickets:
Adults: £ 16; over 60: £ 12.80; Children (aged 5 to 15 years): £ 9.60; Children under 5 years: free entrance

The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

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The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence in Scotland of Queen Elizabeth, is at the end of the medieval road all made of pebbles, called Royal Mile, or “real Kilometer.”

The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

The palace has inside dark and unmentionablesecrets: within its walls Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, pregnant of few months, witnessed the assassination of his Italian secretary David Rizzio, commissioned by her second husband, the jealous Lord Darnley. In the building you’ll find many personal belongings of the queen that date back to the period when she was imprisoned, before her sudden death. Currently the State apartments have abandoned their dark and gloomy aspect to regularly host the Queen and other members of the Royal Family for ceremonies and official receptions.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The Palace is a 15-minute walk from Waverley Station. Bus: lines 35 and 36 stop near the Palace
When – Hours: The palace is open daily. April 1 – October 31, 9:30 am  to 6:00 pm , November 1 – March 31, 9:30 am  4:30 pm . Never: 25 and 26 December and during royal visits.
Tickets: (Entrance  + audio guide) adult £ 11:00; over 60 and students £ 10.00, children under 17 £ 6.65, children under 5 free entrance

Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh

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Are you are Scotch lovers and do you want to know the story of the famous Scotch whiskey? In the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre you’ll enjoy 300 years of production history of this famous liquor through audiovisual paths and a taste of each type of whiskey.

Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh
Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh

In the distillery of the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre you’ll not only listen to all the secrets of the process liquor from the guides trained voice, but with the help of good whiskey connoisseurs you’ll learn to distinguish the Grain Whisky by Malt Whisky. After the tour at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre ” the water of life”, as they call whiskey around here, will have no secrets for you.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The Centre is located at the top of the Royal Mile, near the Castle.
When – Hours: Every day, from September to May from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm  (last tour at 5 pm ); from June to August from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm  (last tour at 6 pm)
Tickets: (Entrance  + audio guide) adult £ 11:00; over 60 and students £ 10.00, children under 17 £ 6.65, children under 5 free entrance

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

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After a period lasted almost 300 years, Scotland has finally regained its Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

The old parliament building was before the Palace of Justice, and so it was right to give a new and worthy seat to the first Scottish Parliament since 1707.  The parliament of Holyrood is located in a modern structure in steel, granite and oak that stands at the foot of the Royal Mile: the building has a very innovative design which refers to the rich cultural and natural heritage of Scotland. Inside the Scottish Parliament are discussed many important issues and are not absent the controversy, not only among politicians but also among the visitors who show some doubts about the real beauty of the building.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The parliament building is located just a short walk from the Royal Mile and close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Bus: 35 (Canongate stop) and 36 (stop Horse Wynd).
When -Hours: Monday, Friday, Saturday and public holidays 10:00 am  to 5:00 pm ; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 9.00 am – 6:30 pm . Free admission.
Never: Sunday
Tickets: free entrance

The Writers Museum and Makars Court in Edinburgh

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How could the City of literature, as well as UNESCO has called it,  don’t have  a museum dedicated to three of the most famous Scottish writers?

The Writers Museum and Makars Court in Edinburgh
The Writers Museum and Makars Court in Edinburgh

The Writers Museum in Edinburgh is home of manuscripts, personal portraits and memories of three great Scottish writers: Sir Walter Scott, the inventor of the modern historical novel, Robert Burns, one of the most famous figures in the history of Scottish literature, and Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the famous “The strange case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.” But the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to other important contemporary Scottish writers of the past. The beauty of the visit also continues outside the museum, specifically in the medieval courtyard Makars Court, where there are stone plates on which are written some of the quotes of the most famous Scottish authors from the fourteenth century to today: have fun to look  for the phrase that you prefer!

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The Museum is located in the Palace Lady Stairs Close a short walk from the Royal Mile
When – Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 pm  during the Edinburgh Festival; August 12:00 to 5:00 pm on Sundays.
Tickets: free entrance

The Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh

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If you love the masterpieces of European and international painters you can’t miss the National Gallery of Scotland which, in collaboration with the neighboring Royal Scottish Academy, has important collections of art of Titian, Monet, Gauguin and others.

The Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh
The Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh

Those who are interested in the last 500 years of Scottish history retraced through some beautiful portraits, will have to take a ride to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery: here you’ll find all the most significant personalities of Scotland, from Robert Burns to the legendary Sean Connery. If you like everything that is modern, you can visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where even the grass is a work of art, and the Dean Gallery, which is directly forehead.

Where Scottish galleries are situated close to Waverley Station.

How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Daily 10:00 am  to 5:00 pm . Never: 25 and 26 December
Tickets: free entrance

The St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh

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Gray, severe and rigorous. That’s how is the historical city Cathedral in the Gothic style, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh. The origins of St. Giles date back to the twelfth century but the present building dates back the fifteenth century as well as the beautiful crowned  spire of  its central tower.

The St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh
The St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh

Considered the cradle of Scottish Presbyterianism, the reputation of the church dedicated to the patron saint of the city is linked to the Calvinist reformer John Knox who was pastor between 1560 and 1572. Inside stand out the colorful stained glass windows and the Chapel of the Thistle (Thistle Chapel ) built with wood and refined stone in 1911 for the Knights of the ancient and most noble order of the Thistle.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: Lawnmarket, Royal Mile. Waverley Station; bus numbers 35, 23, 27, 28, 41 and 42.
When – Hours:
From May to September: Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ; Saturday 9:00 am  to 5:00 pm; 1:00 to 5:00 pm on Sundays. From October to April: Monday – Saturday 9:00 am  to 5:00 pm; 1:00 to 5:00 pm on Sundays
Closed: December 25 after the function of 11:30 am , 26 December, 1 and 2 January.
Tickets: Free. Visitors are welcome to make a donation of £ 3.00 per person.

Things to buy in Edimburgh

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For your crazy shopping you’ll have everything at your disposal in Edinburgh: many of the elegant shops of the city are at the center, very easy to reach. With its 100 different departments, including electrical appliances, clothing, electronic products and beauty and so much more, Jenners is one of the most crowded shops in the city since 1838. Near Jenners you can go buy a nice dress at Harvey Nichols shop, with its four floors of clothing and trendy accessories. To take a break and rest your legs, you can stop in a cafe of George Street, and then start shopping from the streets of the Royal Mile: Grassmarket and Victoria Street. These two famous streets of Edinburgh are rich not only of food shops, selling local cheeses and whiskeys, but also tailors and jewelers. Cockburn Street, however, has many trendy stores , extravagant craft shops and art galleries. The shops are usually open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am  to 5: 30/6:00  pm and Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 pm. On Thursday shops  in the city are also open in the evenings throughout the year.

Things to eat in Edimburgh

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If you want to understand the relationship between the Scots and the food, just think about that Edinburgh is the city with the highest number of restaurants in the whole Britain.

Things to eat in Edimburgh
Things to eat in Edimburgh

The restaurants are so widespread and of a particularly high quality, because the citizens of Edinburgh love to go out and spend the evening together, perhaps with a good traditional Scottish dish. The traditional Scottish cuisine is not limited to the course haggis, a tasty dish rich in spices and meat with potato, but it’s rich of many other culinary delights. Soups are widespread in Edinburgh and are  very useful to keep warm in the winter months. The city’s restaurants will offer you fresh fish or the delicious seafood, but if you love meat you can choose between the partridges, lamb, pheasant and beef steaks of the famous Aberdeen Angus species. You can finish your meal with a delicious dessert made of genuine and natural fruit grown in the lands of Scotland.

Where to sleep in Edimburgh

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Although it’s not very big, Edinburgh is a city full of accommodation where you can choose to spend your vacation.

Where to sleep in Edimburgh
Where to sleep in Edimburgh

Edinburgh will satisfy your needs: luxurious, stylish accommodation for those who love comfort, cozy and comfortable B&B’s close to the center. Nature’s lovers will find camping well-connected with the center by public transport. Hotels in 2 stars in the center, near Frederick Street and Princess Street, start from € 56 per person, up to the € 160 for a 4-star hotel. To be totally independent, in the center there are also available apartments to rent and hostels, where you can meet people from all over the world.

If you are looking for a hotel in Edimburgh, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com