Top attractions in Edinburgh
Top 10 things to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is an effortlessly cohesive reflection of Scotland's breathtaking rural landscape, flaunting cultural vibrancy, historic charm, and scenic wonder. Even its New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, what are its top attractions?
1. Edinburgh Castle
The Edinburgh Castle was built at least as early as the 12th century. Looking over the city from Castle Rock, it's been at the heart of some of Scotland's bloodiest conflicts.
2. Stirling Castle
Having withstood multiple sieges, Stirling is one of Scotland's most important castles. Even if you're not a history buff, the scenery alone warrants a day trip from the capital!
3. Loch Lomond
What's a holiday to Scotland without visiting one of its picturesque lochs? Luckily, the largest and most breathtaking one in the country, the Loch Lomond, is just a short journey away!
4. Holyrood Palace
The Holyrood Abbey next to the Holyrood Palace is still in ruins after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Fun fact: Holyrood is Old English for "holy cross."
5. Royal Mile
The historic thoroughfare, called The Royal Mile, runs through Edinburgh's Old Town from the Castle to Holyrood for one Scots mile. That's longer than a regular mile, in case you were wondering!
6. Greyfriars Church
The birthplace of 17th-century Scottish Presbyterianism, this church is a landmark of the country's religious history. It still holds Sunday services in English and Scottish Gaelic.
7. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Dating back to 1670, when it was used to grow medicinal plants, this conservation project has bloomed into a leading tourist attraction. Today it houses over 13,000 plant species!
8. HMY Britannia
Built in 1953, this royal yacht is considered one of the UK's top attractions. You can even enjoy lunch or afternoon tea on the Royal Deck!
9. Rosslyn Chapel
Just south of Edinburgh lies the village of Roslin, where the spectacular Rosslyn Chapel was built 600 years ago as an object of curiosity and splendor. A truly unique example of religious architecture!
10. Our Dynamic Earth
The Holyrood area sits beneath a dormant volcano. The information center Our Dynamic Earth is the perfect place to learn about the natural processes that shaped our planet from the Big Bang to the present!
Planning Your Visit
Best time to visit?
Edinburgh is heaving with visitors throughout the summer, but for good reason – it's festival season! If you'd rather see the city significantly less hectic then you'll have to brave the Scottish winter. The good news is that few landscapes lend themselves so beautifully to cloud and drizzle as that of Scotland!
When is the Edinburgh Festival?
Edinburgh has several large festivals occupying its streets throughout summer, including their film, jazz, and book festivals. However, it's common to mistake the Edinburgh Fringe – the world's largest performing arts festival – as THE festival. It spans 25 days of August. This year's exact dates, and those for the other events too, can be found here.
How long to stay?
Book at least a week in Edinburgh if you can. Many of the city's most popular attractions require more time than you'll realise and there's already more than enough to do, especially during festival season. Plus, if you haven't ventured into Scotland's awe-inspiring countryside before, you should consider at least one day trip out of the city too!
Good to know
- British Pound (£)
- Time Zone
- UTC (+00:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- Spring for the mild weather, summer for the cultural events!
Other Sightseeing Options in Edinburgh
Want to discover all there is to do in Edinburgh? Click here for a full list.
What people are saying about Edinburgh
Had to swop to an evening tour at no extra charge which was fine with me and was communicated to me in quick succession via the tour guide and GYG. The tour taken by Anna was amazing she was very informative, friendly and answered all questions regarding the vaults, graveyards and the dark side of Edinburgh. As a smaller group I feel she went out her way to make it a great experience for us all just a shame I wasn't able to tip at the end as it was worth much more than what I paid for the tour. Definite must DO, if you come to Edinburgh. Thankyou
We went to the tour with James Douglas, who is a charismatic and funny guide. Both me and my friend sometime did not even know, where the story got fictional and what was the truth! Really enjoyable. The guide was also very knowledgeable about the city and provided extra tips for another sightseeing tour. Both me (George) and my friend Andrew recommend the tour, and don’t forget to bring a good mood!
Absolutely amazing! James was an incredible tour guide, he knew exactly what he was talking about and made for a very enjoyable night. Would recommend to anyone and everyone! If you can ask for James himself, you will not be disappointed.
Was an excellent walking tour. Our guide, Kristal, was lovely and was great with my Harry Potter daft little boy. She had lots of interesting facts about the book, the scenes in Edinburgh and J.K Rowling to share with him.
We had a guided tour by Anna, she was so factual & friendly & really went out her way to give us a great experience. Would definitely book another tour when next in Edinburgh with you! Thanks for the great experience.