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Things to do in Edinburgh

Things to do in  Edinburgh

Welcome to Edinburgh

Steeped in Celtic and medieval history—and fondly nicknamed Auld Reekie—Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage–listed city widely considered the prettiest in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle’s mighty fortifications dominate the skyline, while the Royal Mile sweeps through the old town to the city below. From the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to the Edinburgh Fringe, the city hosts a stellar selection of festivals and celebrations that draw crowds from all over. No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a taster of Scotch whisky, and if you’re looking for a change from the city streets, the soaring peaks of the Scottish Highlands are never far away.

Top 10 attractions in Edinburgh

#1
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

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Edinburgh Castle—with its fortress walls, cobbled promenades, and winding stone steps—has loomed over Scotland’s capital city for more than 1,000 years. Steeped in history, the former royal residence is now a museum, featuring detailed exhibits; period artifacts, such as the Scottish Crown Jewels; and dark dungeons that illuminate the castle’s storied past.More
#2
Royal Mile

Royal Mile

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The atmospheric Royal Mile thoroughfare cuts through the historic core of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, extending for slightly more than a mile from Edinburgh Castle all the way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Both sides of the partly pedestrianized street are bordered by historic granite buildings bearing shop display windows piled high with symbols of Scotland, from tartan to whisky to shortbread. In between the former tenements and taverns are darkened arm-width-wide alleyways, known locally as closes.More
#3
Grassmarket

Grassmarket

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Steeped in history, the Grassmarket is located directly below Edinburgh Castle and is just a minute’s walk from the famous Royal Mile and the National Museum of Scotland. A vibrant and historic area, here visitors can soak up the medieval atmosphere while marvelling at one of the most iconic views in the city, the mighty Edinburgh Castle.A stroll over the George IV Bridge leads to the Greyfriars Bobby statue and through some of Edinburgh’s oldest and most famous streets, including Candlemaker Row, Victoria Street, and West Port.The Grassmarket was traditionally a meeting point for market traders and cattle drovers, with temporary lodgings and taverns all around. It was also once a place of public execution, and a memorial near the site once occupied by the gibbet was created in 1937 to commemorate more than 100 people who died on the gallows in a period known as The Killing Time.Nowadays, the old market area is surrounded by pubs, clubs, shops, and two large hotels. Most buildings in the area are Victorian, with several modern buildings on the area’s south side.More
#4
Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

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The historic heart of Edinburgh, UNESCO-listed Old Town, is home to the city’s most visited sights. Its central artery is the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is lined with top attractions including St. Giles Cathedral, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and the Scottish Parliament Building.More
#5
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

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Perched above the city of Stirling on a chunk of volcanic rock, this mighty Scottish fortress has seen it all, from attacks by Robert the Bruce to the coronation of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the premiere of the movie “Braveheart” in 1993. In addition to the impeccably recreated Royal Palace interiors and the sheer amount of history held within its robust walls, the castle also offers superb views over Stirling and Scotland’s green hills and valleys.More
#6
Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

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Set amid splendid gardens at the foot of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official Scottish residence of the British royals, who first decamped here from nearby Edinburgh Castle back in the 15th century. The complex grew from a 12th-century abbey, whose ruins can still be seen on the grounds, into a full-fledged Baroque palace complete with elaborate plasterwork, sumptuous furnishings, and a number of tapestries. The palace is perhaps most famous for having hosted to the rather unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, whose beloved secretary was slaughtered here by her jealous second husband.More
#7
St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

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The official church of the Church of Scotland, St. Giles Cathedral and its famous crown spire tower over the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. With a history stretching back over 900 years, St. Giles is renowned for its beautiful stained glass windows, ornate Thistle Chapel, and busy concert calendar.More
#8
Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat

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One of several peaks in the long-extinct volcanic ridge that towers behind Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers hill walking in the heart of the city. Set within the 640-acre (260-hectare) Holyrood Park, it’s also the site of a 2,000-year-old hill fort. On a clear day, the summit promises spectacular views of the cityscape.More
#9
Calton Hill

Calton Hill

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Looming over Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, Calton Hill is one of the seven hills that the Scottish capital is built on. Come here for 360-degree views that encompass Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and, on a clear day, the Firth of Forth.More
#10
Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

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Straddling both the Scottish Highlands and the Lowlands, this island-studded loch boasts the largest surface area of any of Scotland’s lakes. It’s also one of its most famous, thanks in no small part to a well-known Scottish folk song that speaks of its “bonnie banks.” The lake’s mirror-clear waters reflect the crags and peaks that rear up around it, most notably the 3,195-foot (974-meter) Ben Lomond on its eastern shore, whose summit offers views of both Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Edinburgh

Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
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The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
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3-Day Isle of Skye and Highlands Tour from Edinburgh
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Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle and the Kelpies from Edinburgh
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Isle of Skye, The Highlands and Loch Ness- 3 Day Group Tour from Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
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Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience

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5-Day Best of Scotland Experience from Edinburgh
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3-Day Isle of Skye Inverness Highlands and Glenfinnan Viaduct Tour from Edinburgh
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Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh

Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh

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Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands Day Trip from Edinburgh
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Outlander Adventure Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
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Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh
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Recent reviews from experiences in Edinburgh

star-5
An enjoyable cycle around Edinburgh and beyond
pbmclaughlin27, May 2022
Edinburgh Sky to Sea Bike Tour by Manual or E-Bike
He took us around a well planned route to see parts of Edinburgh that would be difficult for you to find on your own.
star-5
Such Fun!
Roxann_H, May 2022
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
Not only did we hear about the darker side of Edinburgh, we also got to see some beautiful and important monuments that we probably would have missed our own.
star-5
See Edinburgh in style with a scone!
Liz_T, May 2022
Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
A great way to see Edinburgh whilst enjoying afternoon tea.
star-4
Great
Michele_L, May 2022
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
It was a good way to see Edinburgh.
star-5
Relaxing way to see Edinburgh
Jason_H, Apr 2022
Private Walk: Edinburgh Old Town and New Town
The pace of the tour was not rushed and able to see many unique places in Edinburgh.
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Trip to the underground off Edinburgh
Simon_K, Apr 2022
Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh
I would totally recommend the tour to my friends who would like to visit Edinburgh.
star-4
Excellent overview
Kimberly_Z, Apr 2022
Walking Tour of Edinburgh's Old Town - History and Tales
You don’t quite see the entire Royal Mile but certainly enough to get an idea of the history and to help you decide where to visit while you are in town.
star-5
Great experience in Edinburgh!
Angela_D, Apr 2022
Rosslyn Chapel, Dunfermline Abbey and Stirling Castle Day Tour from Edinburgh
History, great views, and an opportunity to see some interesting places in Edinburgh and surrounding area!
star-5
Informative, fun, tailored to us!
Kristine_B, Apr 2022
Private Walk: Edinburgh Old Town and New Town
He made a perfect route that took us to all the places we wanted to see and shared the history of Edinburgh mixed with some of the fun stuff - Harry Potter inspirations and an Outlander filming spot.
star-5
Wonderful Edinburgh
NARENDER_M, Apr 2022
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
We really all the major tourist attractions like Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Grass Market, Arthur Seat, Carlton Hill and many more
star-5
Funny, engaging, packed with historical facts
Colin_T, Apr 2022
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
I highly recommend this tour and hope to see Angus on stage one day soon, great guy, thank you!
star-5
Fun Tour
Lauren_B, Mar 2022
Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh
We were very entertained and got to see some places of Edinburgh we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
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It is definitely worth...
Natasha_B, Mar 2022
The Mountebank Comedy Walk of Edinburgh
This was a great way to see the different places in Edinburgh.
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Lovely afternoon
Laura_S, Mar 2022
Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
It was lovely to see around Edinburgh.
star-5
Easy to use and comes...
Lauren_P, Feb 2022
Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
Great way to see Edinburgh.
star-5
Top experience in Edinburgh
Noel_L, Feb 2022
The Chocolatarium Chocolate Tour Experience in Edinburgh
Me and my partner did a lot of different activities whilst in the city of Edinburgh and this was definitely one of the top.
star-5
See the old town and learn lots of HP fun!
Roisin_M, Feb 2022
Potter About Edinburgh - with quizzes
very engaging and super friendly- was such a good tour for potter fans and anyone wanting to see lots of edinburgh old town.
star-5
Great walking tour to learn about the history of Edinburgh
Tracy_H, Jan 2022
Old Town Historical and Underground Tour
We went to the underground rooms too which was good to see and walked down the golden mile.
star-5
The tour guide was very...
Tracy_S, Dec 2021
The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
I would definitely recommend this to anyone I knew was going to visit Edinburgh.
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Incredible Look into the Highlands
Bella_J, Dec 2021
Loch Ness Glencoe and The Highlands from Edinburgh
I couldn’t believe the views we got to see and all in one day!

A local’s pocket guide to Edinburgh

Will Thompson

Will lived and studied near Edinburgh during his university years. He also worked for the Fringe Festival during the summertime.

The first thing you should do in Edinburgh is...

download the Transport for Edinburgh app. Bus and tram are by far the easiest ways to cross the city.

A perfect Saturday in Edinburgh...

includes a trip to the Camera Obscura, lunch on the Royal Mile, and a walk around Holyrood Park or the Royal Botanical Gardens. Finish up with dinner and drinks in New Town.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a whole month of art and theatre. You never know what you might see, especially with the Street Events along the Royal Mile.

To discover the "real" Edinburgh...

head south of Princes Street and towards the Meadows where you can enjoy all the great Edinburgh architecture, as well as the city’s parks.

For the best view of the city...

you should hike to Arthur’s Seat at the top of Holyrood Park. If you want an easier walk, take a quick trip up to Edinburgh Castle instead.

One thing people get wrong...

is believing that fried Mars Bars are something locals actually eat. However, if you do want to try one, you’ll find them in some Edinburgh chip shops.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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