Edinburgh Guide of Things To See and Do.

I hope you find this Edinburgh guide helpful. Any of the blue text contains links to further information. I will be posting more guides so keep an eye out.

 

EDINBURGH BROCHURE  This is the link for the Edinburgh Brochure which includes city maps, Transport, Attractions, Tours, Specialty shops, Eating and Drinking, Museums & Galleries, and Nightlife. I've added this as it's a condensed version of my page and something you may want to print out as it includes maps of the city.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The first list are places I have personally visited and enjoyed and the next list are on my bucket list to do in future visits. I've included prices which are subject to change of course but it will give an idea of cost. 

  • The Royal Mile
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Palace of Holyrood House
  • The Real Mary King's Close
  • Blair Street Underground Vault Tour
  • St Giles Cathedral
  • The Heart of Midlothian
  • Cannongate Kirkyard
  • The Grassmarket
  • Greyfriars Bobby Statue
  • Victoria Street
  • Dean Village
  • Gladstone's Land
  • Deacon Brodie's Tavern
  • The National Gallery
  • The National Gallery of Modern Art
  • The Scottish National Portrait Gallery
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • Edinburgh Tattoo
  • Hop on Hop off Buses
  • John Knox House
  • The Writers Museum
  • The Edinburgh Dungeon
  • Camera Obscura
  • The Museum of Childhood
  • Dynamic Earth
  • Edinburgh Zoo
  • The Scottish Parliament
  • Royal Botanic Garden
  • The Scotch Whisky Experienc
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia
  • The Elephant House Cafe
  • Hike to Arthurs Seat
  • Tour Rosslyn Chapel
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Take a Free Walking Tour
  • The Scott Monument
  • Princes Street Gardens
  • Celebrate Hogmanay
  • Take a Harry Potter Tour
edinburgh castle, castle, edinburgh-5067471.jpg

THE ROYAL MILE

Located in the Old Town, which is the oldest part of the city dating back to the 1100s, and named so as it extends from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Explore the closes, get your photo taken with a traditional bagpiper, and check out some Outlander filming sites like the Print Shop Steps. There are lots of interesting shops and sites on route but the Royal Mile can be more expensive than other places so do your homework. It's a long walk from the castle to Holyrood Palace and back so you might want to consider walking down and catching an Uber, cab, or bus back to the top. It's actually more than a mile, it's 1.81 km and quite a steep incline if you are heading up, so I would suggest you start at the top and work your way down. 

 

EDINBURGH CASTLE

The Esplanade, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh Castle edinburgh castle

It was the first place I visited in Edinburgh and on my first trip the only place. I took the train from Glasgow, got out at Waverley station and walked to the castle, and traveled back to Glasgow late afternoon. It does take a few hours to see the whole castle and all the exhibitions. You can hire an audio tour headset, wait for a free tour to start, hire a private tour or just go it alone. 

The headset is the option I chose although I did listen in on a few of the guided tours when we came upon them.

The castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile and if you have walking issues unless you are near the top I would recommend a taxi or uber as the Royal Mile is a bit of an uphill hike especially if you are coming from the Holyrood Palace end. The castle approach or esplanade is approximately 110m long and slightly uphill. I think if you have mobility or access issues cars can drive into the esplanade but I would check that to be sure. Allow at least 2 hours but to see everything and really take your time at least half a day.
I would recommend booking your tickets online (use this link), as there can be a bit of a lineup and there are limits on the number of visitors now with the covid issues. If you are a
Historic Scotland Member it's free entry but you still need to book. ( see more Historic Scotland info below)

WHAT IS INSIDE THE CASTLE?

There is so much to see there. The Scottish treasures - The Crown Jewels and The Stone of Destiny. The Royal Apartments where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI and a display of exquisite replicas of embroideries Mary created during her exile.

The Great Hall completed in 1511 has amazing weapons and armor displays.

If you are there at 1 o’clock you will see and hear the Big Gun. Check out the display of cannons and St Margarets Chapel, built by King David 1 around 1130 is open to the public. (although the day we were there it was closed for a wedding. In the Prisoners of War Vaults, you will see how the Pirates and war prisoners were once held captive. There is a National War Museum too, which was opened in 1933 and which has a great weapons display.  

There are souvenir and gift shops and cafes.

Check out my Edinburgh Castle Blog for details on each display, tickets, transport, etc.

 

 PALACE OF HOLYROOD HOUSE 

Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX

Palace of Holyrood House

Holyrood Palace is situated at the very bottom of the Royal mile and is the official residence in Scotland for The Queen. It was the main residence of Mary Queen of Scots too. A lot of the Palace is open to the public and the tour allows you to walk through and take a look. Most rooms have sections roped off but you can see everything ok. You can look at the Throne Room and the Morning Drawing Room used by the Queen for private audiences. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh still stay here at different times of the year. You can view the Chambers of Mary Queen of Scots which is set up as it was in 1561. The Queens Gallery has changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection so check out what the latest is if you intend to visit. The gardens and Abbey ruins are worth a walk and my favorite part of the tour.  Holyrood Abbey was once one of the grandest medieval abbeys in Scotland. Legend has it that in 1127, while King David I was hunting in the forests to the east of Edinburgh during the Feast of the Cross, he was thrown from his horse after it had been startled. The king was saved from being gored by the charging animal when it was startled either by the miraculous appearance of a holy cross descending from the skies or by sunlight reflected from a crucifix that suddenly appeared between the stag's antlers while the king attempted to grasp them in self-defense. As an act of thanksgiving for his escape, David I founded Holyrood Abbey on the site in 1128. 

In 1326 Robert the Bruce held a parliament here, and there is evidence that Holyrood was being used as a royal residence by 1329.

Holyrood Abbey was the site of the coronations of James II in 1437, Margaret Tudor in 1504, Mary of Guise in 1540, Anne of Denmark in 1590, and Charles I in 1633. It was used as the parish church until the 17th century however sadly has been ruined since the 18th century. There are guided tours of the Abbey daily.  The Palace gardens are stunning, with 4 hectares of meticulously manicured lawns and garden beds full of color. You can access both the Abbey and the gardens with a standard admission ticket.  There is a souvenir shop and a lovely cafe - Cafe at the Palace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TICKETS

  • Adult  £16.50                       
  • Over 60  and Students £14.90.
  • Under 17/Disabled £9.50
  • Under 5 Free
  • Family (2 adults and 3 under 17's)£42.50
  • You can purchase a combined ticket which includes admission to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the current exhibition for about £5.00 extra.                                                                                                        

OPENING TIMES  -The Palace of Holyroodhouse is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

  • Opening times vary depending on the time of the year.     
  • 1 November - 31 March  -open 09:30   - last admission 15:00   close 16:30
  • 1 April - 31 October -open 09:30         - last admission   16:30  close 18:00                                       
  • Palace closures As the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a working royal palace, sometimes closures can happen at short notice.      

 GETTING THERE -

  • ON FOOT It's at the very bottom of the Royal Mile.
  • CAR - There is a public car park adjacent to the Palace at Broad Pavement. Please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website for more details. Accessible parking spaces are located on Horse Wynd, just outside the Palace, on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • TRAIN Edinburgh Waverley. The Palace is a 15-minute walk from the station. Visit National Rail Enquiries for times and fares.
  • TRAM -The nearest tram stop is York Place. The Palace is a 20 min walk from the station. Visit Edinburgh Trams for times and fares.
  • COACH/BUS - Bus numbers 6 and 35 stop near the Palace. Open-top tour buses stop nearby. Limited free coach parking is available adjacent to the Palace. Alternatively, pay-and-display coach parking is available on nearby Regent Road.

To read more about Holyroodhouse click here.

 

THE REAL MARY KING’S CLOSE 

2 Warriston's Close, High St, Edinburgh EH1 1PG  

A  great tour with lots of history told in a fun and entertaining way. On the tour, you will meet the maid, the merchant, the foul clinger, the poet, or Mary King's daughter and they will entertain you with stories of the past. There are over 400 years of history to learn about and get of taste of how they lived back then and the issues they had to deal with. Find out why the Close became an underground close and who the royal visitor was. See for yourself if the haunting rumors are true, hear stories about the Witch Prickers who were part of the notorious Scotland witch hunts and trials held between 1590 and 1662. Witch pricking was based on the belief that if a witch was pricked on their witch's mark they would feel no pain.  It's an easy walking tour but there is some uneven ground and sloped paths and some steps.

TICKETS To guarantee entry on the date and at the time of your choice, and to enable us to comply with government guidelines, we ask that you buy your tickets online in advance.

  • Adults, Seniors, and Students from £18.95,
  • Child (5 – 15 years) from £12.45
  • Family Ticket (2 adults & 2 children)  £54.00 Only available online

 

BLAIR STREET UNDERGROUND VAULTS

MERCAT TOURS  - Tel: 0131 225 5445  

Our 2017 Spirit of Outlander tour took part in a walking tour under the city. It was great fun and very interested. The young Lass that was our guide was really knowledgeable and entertaining and made the tour really fun. We met the guide at Mercat Cross outside St Giles Cathedral in the evening and headed down one of the closes to the back streets of Edinburgh and then accessed the underground vaults. Our guide took us through all the various rooms/vaults telling tales and stories in each one. It was a great tour. Edinburgh has a spooky history and there are a number of tours that take you around to graveyards and underground tunnels to illuminate the city’s eerie past. Even if you don't believe in ghosts, you get to see a different side of Edinburgh and learn some interesting history. We did the tour of the vaults which are the underground tunnels below the city but there are bus tours as well.

 

ST GILES CATHEDRAL  

High Street Edinburgh EH1 1RE

The Gothic structure St Giles Cathedral is the High Kirk of Edinburgh, founded by King David I in 1124, it pre-dates most of the Old Town, the architect was William Hay. When David I later founded the Abbey of Holyrood, he gave the abbot permission to build houses up to the ridge towards St Giles establishing the Canongate Burgh and forming the Royal Mile.  In 1700 the Bells were installed in the Crown Spire.  The arrival of Bonny Prince Charlie in 1745 was announced at St Giles and supporters lined the Royal Mile to see in on his way to set up a Jacobite Court at Holyrood Palace. In 1872 St Giles was retired by William Chambers. In 1911 The Thistle Chapel was constructed and became home to the Knights of the Thistle, an order of chivalry in Scotland that dates back to 1687. The order still exists today and the members meet annually around St Andrew’s Day. St Andrew is the order's patron saint.

The Chapel is decorated with intricate wood carvings of angels, flowers, and animals. The architect was Robert Larimer. In 1985 the Robert Burns Memorial Window was installed. A stunning stained glass window above the entranceway. In addition to the beautiful and austere interior, the cathedral is home to some noteworthy monuments, including one to famed Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Admission is free, though this is a place of worship so dress respectfully. Some famous burials include John Knox and Jenny Geddes. There are guided tours of St Giles for groups of 5 or more or you can explore it yourself. Entry to the Cathedral and Chapel is free but there is a suggested donation to the Cathedra of 5 GBP  you can grab a walk-around leaflet for 1 GBP. There are volunteer guides if you have any questions.

There is a timeline of history on display too if you are interested. You are welcome to attend any of the services or just sit and contemplate in the peace and quiet. This is a place of worship so dress and act respectfully. If you are feeling energetic you can climb the tower its 6 GBP  and there is also a gift shop  For more information about tours etc email

 

THE HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN.

Situated near the Duke of Buccleuch Statue, on the cobbled footpath of High Street, outside  St Giles Cathedral, there is an interesting mosaic section on the footpath and you may notice locals spitting on it. (although this may have stopped since covid for obvious reasons)  It marks the location of the entrance to Edinburgh's formidable prison The Old Tollbooth which was demolished in 1817. There are mixed stories about spitting upon the heart, it is said to bring good luck but there is also a story of it marking the disgust and contempt of the locals for the executions and public tax collection on the site. There is a brass marker showing where the building sat.  The prison dates back to the 14th Century and was notorious for the damp, brutal dark conditions and the torture and horrific conditions the prisoners were subjected to.  If you would like to know more there is a novel by a famous Scotts author Sir Walter Scott called The Heart of Midlothian which was published in 1818 available on Amazon. There is also a TV movie with the same name made 

Check out this old footage of the locals discussing the heart.

 

THE CANONGATE KIRKYARD

The entry is easy to spot as there is a statue of Robert Ferguson at the front. If you love wandering old cemeteries as I do then this one is interesting as there are a number of famous Scotts buried here. Robert Fergusson was a young poet who was admired greatly by another famous author Robert Stevenson. Robert Burns erected a tombstone in Ferguson's honor and Robert Stevenson had planned to renovate the tombstone with an inscription but died before he could do it.  The Saltire Society placed a commemorating plaque with the words “This stone originally erected by Robert Burns has been repaired at the charges of Robert Louis Stevenson and is by him re-dedicated to the memory of Robert Fergusson as the gift of one Edinburgh lad to another” commemorating the 3 Roberts.

Another link to Robert Burns is the grave of Agnes Maclehose - Clarinda who was the inspiration for one of Burns's poems you may have heard “Ae Fond Kiss, and then we sever; Ae Farewell that lasts forever”. Below are links to more info and a map of the kirkyard and points of interest.

 

THE GRASSMARKET

Once the site of public executions, a cattle, and horse market was bombed in 1916, it has an interesting history. Not that you would know it now. It's a great place to grab something to eat and drink and visit the markets and independent merchants, designers, and artisans. Well known for having some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh. The Grassmarket meets Cowgate, a street running parallel to the Royal Mile.

 

GREYFRIARS KIRKYARD

JK Rowling sought her inspiration for the Harry Potter characters here. If you are brave go in the evening and see if you find any spooky residents. Grey Friars Bobby’s resting place is in the Kirkyard. Not far from the Kirkyard is the Elephant Cafe where JK Rowling is said to have penned the Harry Potter books. I haven’t eaten there myself but it is always full which is a good sign.  

 

GREYFRIARS BOBBY STATUE

 Located at the top of Candlemaker Row. Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself on 14 January 1872. The story continues to be well known in Scotland, through several books and films. Please don't rub his nose as many have, it's damaging the statue.

 

VICTORIA STREET

This street is rumored to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and a popular spot with photographers understandably as it is so picturesque. Built between 1829 and 1834 in the Old Town. A curved street with cobblestones and an eclectic mix of colored and stone buildings it's one of the most photographed streets in Edinburgh.

DEAN VILLAGE  

This stunningly scenic leafy quiet hidden spot is quite the oasis and it’s only a short work from the city center. The village is bursting with charm and gorgeous architecture built on either side of Leith Canal and spanned by Dean Bridge. . The village was originally where milling of water mills took place. Hidden in the village there are stone plaques decorated with baked bread and pies.  Wells Court is the most iconic building in the village and was built in the 1800s to house mill workers.  It's definitely worth the visit for a great photo opportunity or just to enjoy the walk.  Not too far away are Dean Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

 

GLADSTONE’S LAND

If you love old architecture keep an eye out for the Golden Hawk which marks out Gladstone’s Land. It's an example of an Old Town Tenement. It was opened in 1617 and bought by Thomas Gladstone, a wealthy local cloth merchant, who extended it in 1620. He let out different parts of the 6 story building to people from different social classes of the time. ie the higher you were the higher your social standing. The building was saved from demolition in 1934 and following restoration can now be visited as national trust property.

DEACON BRODIE’S TAVERN

Deacon Brodie’s Tavern is close by to where the story started in Brodie’s Close. A pub with an interesting history. William Brodie was a cabinet maker and a Deacon Councillor of the City of Edinburgh in 1781. He appeared to be a respectable citizen and pillar of society but in reality, he was a thief, gambler, heavy drinker, and ladies' man. To support his lavish lifestyle he copied the keys of his wealthy clients and return to rob them. He was hanged on the 1st October 1788 from the city's new gallows at the Tolbooth, which ironically he had a hand in designing.  It is said there was a crowd of over 25,00 spectators.

Deacon Brodie didn't give up easily though, the story goes he bribed the hangman to ignore the metal collar he was wearing and that he had inserted a flexible tube into his throat in an attempt to prevent the hanging from killing him. He had arranged that immediately after the execution his body would be taken to a French surgeon in the hope that he might be revived.  Depending on which story you believe - one that he did indeed die after being hanged or the rumors that later circulated of him being seen alive and well living in Europe.  It is said his story may have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Steven’s story “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

 

THE NATIONAL GALLERIES OF SCOTLAND

Open 10 am to 5 pm daily. 

Edinburgh is home to three of the National Galleries of Scotland: the National Gallery on the Mound, the Portrait Gallery on Queen Street, and the Gallery of Modern Art on Belford Road.

The National Gallery is for anyone who can appreciate the great artists of our time — Monet, Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer. Opened in 1859, the gallery was designed to look like an ancient Greek temple. The gallery is free to enter (although some of the temp exhibits have an entrance fee).

National Gallery of Modern Art is at 75 Belford Road Edinburgh and is home to Scotland's outstanding collection of modern and contemporary art. It has 2 galleries. Entry is free however some exhibits have an entrance fee.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery is at 1 Queen Street Edinburgh and is home to portraits of people who shaped Scotland's past and present. Admission is free. 

 

EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL.

Held in August, this festival brings in performers and entertainers of all kinds — actors, musicians, buskers, and more! The festival lasts three weeks and is the biggest festival of its kind in the world. There is so much going on and the streets are full so accommodation prices increase and you need to either book in advance or do like we did and travel up from Glasgow. We spend a few hours at the festival and then headed to the Edinburgh Tattoo and then caught our bus back to Glasgow.

EDINBURGH TATTOO

We attended the 2019 Edinburgh Tattoo and I can tell you it is definitely spectacular. Just the light show on the Castle alone is worth the ticket price let alone the Tattoo performers. The Tattoo takes place during the month of August. You can buy tickets online or through an outlet.  As you can imagine with the Festival and the Tattoo at the same time Edinburgh gets inundated with people so accommodation is scarce and expensive so book early. We have a Pre Tour that goes before our 16-day Spirit of Outlander Tour starts and we take a bus from Glasgow to attend the festival and then the Tattoo and bus back to Glasgow. The theme of the Tattoo changes each time, in 2019 it was ‘Kaleidoscope’, and there were performers from lots of different countries. My favorite is the pipe bands though. 

THE HOP ON HOP OFF BUSES

These are always great to do if you have time. There are usually a few different routes depending on what you want to see and you can get on and off at any stop until your ticket runs out. It's a great way to get your bearings around a new city and check out what sites there are that you would like to visit. I always do at least one trip every time I go somewhere new.

These are some more places I would love to explore more but haven't had the opportunity yet: 

JOHN KNOX HOUSE

Scottish Storytelling Centre, High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

 

Puritan reformer’s home dating from 1470 now hosting storytelling tours and historic exhibitions

 

 

THE WRITERS MUSEUM 

Lawn market, Lady Stair’s Close Edinburgh

Originally built in 1522 and bought by Lady Stair in 1719 (hence the name of the close). The building now houses the writer's museum dedicated to the work of 3 famous Scottish writers - Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott. Manuscripts and personal effects of Burns, Scott, and Stevenson, are exhibited in a 17th Century house. 

THE EDINBURGH DUNGEON

31 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DF

Standard Adult ticket from 17 GBP. I've been to the one at York and it was great so I assume this one is as good. The Edinburgh Dungeon is the ultimate underground journey through Edinburgh's darkest history, using live actors, theatrical sets, and thrilling rides. Full-on immersive 360 sets, state-of-the-art theming, and special effects say fun for all. Open 11 am to 5 pm daily. Best to pre-book online.

 

CAMERA OBSCURA

Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND

Founded in 1835, Camera Obscura is a fun and educational interactive museum. It is home to over 100 exhibits that use light, mirrors, and technology to create stunning optical illusions. It’s located right in the heart of the Old Town near Edinburgh Castle making it easily accessible for anyone traveling with kids or if you just want to have a bit of fun. It’s part science, part illusion, but all fun. Admission is 16 GBP. 

 

THE MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD

42 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TG

Its the first museum in the world to specialize in the history of childhood

 DYNAMIC EARTH 

Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS

Takes you from the Big Bang to modern-day

EDINBURGH ZOO  

Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS Book your tickets here

THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

Horse Wynd, Edinburgh EH99 1SP

ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN EDINBURGH

The Royal Botanic Garden is a national treasure and this living collection is over 350 years old. Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape and just one mile north of the city center. Highlights include a rock garden, alpine houses, woodland garden, pond, arboretum or tree collection, the Chinese hillside, Rhododendron collection, and the Scottish National Plants collection in the Heath Garden. There is a cafe, and shops and there is wheelchair accessibility. Entry is Free and it's Open Daily -                           

  • March to September 10 am to 6 pm.
  • October and February 10 am to 5
  • November to January 10 am to 4 pm.
  • In extreme weather, it may be closed call to check on 0131 248 2909
  • The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has 2 entrances - the West Gate on Arboretum Place (EH3 5NZ) and the East Gate on Inverleith Row (EH3 5LP)

TRANSPORT

  • BUS-The West Gate - John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre on Arboretum Place is served by Lothian Buses 29, 42, and 24 via Stockbridge and the Majestic Bus Tour -0131 220 0770.
  • The East Gate entrance on Inverleith Row is served by bus routes 8, 23, and 27 from the city center.

THE SCOTCH WHISKY EXPERIENCE

354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE

A 5-star visitor attraction at the top of the Royal Mile. It's been running for over 30 years, take a tour and learn how whisky is made. It’s part museum, part interactive attraction (there’s even a barrel ride where you sit in a fake barrel and learn about the whiskey-making process). There are also some fun interactive exhibits to show you the history of Scotland’s famous drink and how it came to hold such a revered place in the culture. Visit the shop and take home some supplies, have a bite to eat in the restaurant, or just enjoy a tour and tasting. Prices vary depending on what type of tour you want but they begin at 15 GBP. 

 

THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA

 Ocean Terminal, Leith EH6 6JJ

Her Majesty The Queen's former floating palace for over 40 years. Book in advance online 

 

THE ELEPHANT HOUSE CAFE

21 George IV Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1EN.

JK Rowling wrote the Potter books over coffee and cake in this cute cafe, it's a popular spot just off the Royal Mile. 

HIKE TO ARTHUR’S SEAT 

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano on the outskirts of Edinburgh. With a height of 251m, it provides hikers with a picturesque panorama of the city. The hike takes an hour each way. If the weather is nice, bring a picnic and spend an afternoon looking out over the city and taking in the view. There is a self-guided walk in the link above

 

TOUR ROSSLYN CHAPEL

This historic chapel near Edinburgh was made famous in The Da Vinci Code. The chapel is ripe with intricate artwork and symbolism that has spawned many conspiracy theories. Located just an hour from Edinburgh, admission costs 9 GBP and includes a free tour. You need to book in advance. 

TRANSPORT

  • BUS -There is a local bus that will take you there and back from Edinburgh -Lothian Service 37 - check it says ‘Penicuik/Deanburn’ at the front or ask the driver. It's about a 45 to 60 journey.
  • CAR - it's 7 miles south of Edinburgh city center, there are directions on the website link above. 

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND

National Museum of Scotland-Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm daily. Admission is Free. The museum is located in Huntly House (a 16th-century building) and offers insight into the city, its past, and the myths and legends that surround it. The museum is home to the National Covenant (an important Scottish Presbyterian document from 1638) as well as some original city plans and a miniature of the Old Town that is several centuries old. The museum is free and makes for an educational follow-up to a walking tour. 

TAKE A FREE WALKING TOUR.

It's good to have a local expert point out the main sites and answer any questions. Always be polite and tip.

 

TAKE A WALK TO THE TOP OF CALTON HILL.  

There is a park-like setting and the Memorial to the Soldiers who fought in the Napoleonic wars is there - the National Monument of Scotland as well as the Horatio Nelson Monument.

 

THE SCOTT MONUMENT

East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ 

The monument is a Victorian Gothic and was built in 1846 which commemorates the life of Sir Walter Scott, a man who helped put Scotland back on the cultural map. It's the 2nd largest monument to a writer in the world. The architect was George Meilke Kemp. It stands in Princes Street Gardens opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near Waverley Railway Station. The station is named after Scotts Waverley novels.

Scott is the author of such famous novels as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy (the latter of which became an award-winning film starring Liam Neeson). You can admire it from below or you can climb 60m to the top to enjoy fantastic views of the Old Town. Admission is 8 GBP. 

 

PRINCES STREET GARDENS

Two adjacent public parks in the center of Edinburgh, lie in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The gardens were first designed in the 1770s but were inaugurated in 1820. The gardens separate the Old Town from the New Town and span over 37 acres. The mound - an artificial hill that connects the old and new town divides the gardens and houses the Scottish National Gallery. The Gardens were created when Edinburgh's larger loch, the Nor Loch was drained. Every year at Christmas part of the gardens is transformed into a “winter wonderland” with a Christmas market and ice rink and other fun attractions. The garden is home to the massive Edinburgh Eye/Wheel, which offers great views of the Old Town and the Castle. It's open from July to September and costs 9.50 GBP. 

CELEBRATE HOGMANAY

Hogmanay is one of the world’s biggest and most famous New Year’s Eve celebrations. Tens of thousands of people gather in the city streets to celebrate with torchlight processions, concerts, and fireworks. Prepare yourself for lots of drinking, holiday festivities, live music, and huge crowds. Book far in advance as tens of thousands of people attend the festival so accommodation prices will increase and be scarce.

TAKE A HARRY POTTER TOUR

If you’re a fan of J.K Rowling’s epic fantasy series be sure to book a spot on The Potter Trail, Edinburgh’s original Harry Potter tour. Tours are held daily and cover all the main sites in the city that relate to the books, including where Rowling wrote some of her early novels and where she found inspiration in the city. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is accessible for both casual enthusiasts as well as die-hard fans. The tour is free, though you’ll want to make sure you tip your guides as well.

SEE MORE GUIDES ON EDINBURGH HERE 

Seagull buskers
The things you see on the Royal Mile

 

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