Head straight inside Edinburgh Castle to discover the delights of the city’s magnificent fortress, believed to date back as far as the Iron Age. Dominating Castle Rock, the castle’s prominent position meant that it quickly became an important stronghold, and countless bloody battles and sieges were fought over it.
As you walk around independently, read up on some of the more notable battles that Edinburgh Castle witnessed, such as the War of Independence between the Scots and the English in the 14th century. The castle was recaptured from the English in a daring raid under the cover of darkness by the nephew of the great Scot, Robert the Bruce.
Where you go inside the castle is up to you, but be sure to visit the beautifully decorated Royal Palace to see where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son. The Scottish Crown Jewels are also found in this part of the castle, along with the intriguing Stone of Destiny — a weathered rock upon which the early Scottish kings were enthroned. Take a walk through Crown Square to see the Great Hall of James IV, explore the prisons that held French and American prisoners during the War of Independence, and pass through St Margaret’s Chapel.
Use your ticket to enter the on-site National War Museum, where you can browse a staggering collection of artifacts that document some 400 years of Scottish military history. Highlights include a display of Highland swords and the 19th-century Thin Red Line painting by the acclaimed Scottish artist Robert Gibb.
You can spend as long as you want inside the castle, however many visitors find 2–3 hours to be ample. If you want to take a break from sightseeing, visit the Tea Rooms for traditional tea and baked snacks or the self-service Redcoat Café to eat and admire the views. Both are located on the castle grounds. All food and drinks are at your own expense.