Scotland’s capital and cultural center is the UK’s northernmost hub. Hosting the world’s greatest fringe festival, harboring a historic castle and yacht, and a medieval old town, Edinburgh is brimming with things to see and do. Check out our one-stop travel guide to making the most of your time in the Highlands:
Edinburgh Sightseeing Tips
Get to the top – Edinburgh is a very hilly city so make sure you climb its peaks. The city has a volcano, monument, tower and a mountain you can climb. Climbing to the top of Scott’s Monument costs just £4 ($6) so don’t miss out on the views across the city!
Tourist Passes – A two-day Royal Edinburgh Ticket gives you access to Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Yacht Britannia. It also includes Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tours throughout the city for two consecutive days.
Historic Scotland Explorer – A Historic Scotland Explorer gives you access to the 78 properties in Scotland, including Edinburgh Castle and Craigmillar Castle. The pass usually lasts for three days and offers different rates on children and concessions.
Attractions in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a great place to keep busy. The city is a historic maze filled with medieval buildings, castles, and royal yachts! Not only this, but the city has been built across seven hills and so the historic hub has a stunning natural beauty. Climbing mountains, exploring yachts and learning about the ghosts of Edinburgh Castle can all happen in just one day in the city of Edinburgh.
Be sure to check out these must-see sights during your time in Edinburgh:
The stunning historic Edinburgh Castle dominates the Edinburgh skyline. You can see it from almost every part of the city because it was built on top of a rock – Castle Rock. Climb up to the top and be sure to take a tour.
Arthur’s Seat is Edinburgh’s main peak and is famed for both its beautiful appearance and its place in some of the world’s best writer’s hearts, including Robert Lewis Stevenson. Take a rocky hill walk through the mountain for spectacular views of the city and the endless countryside that surrounds it.
Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia, also known as Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, was a yacht of Queen Elizabeth II from 1954 right up until 1997. One of the most popular attractions in the city, the yacht has seen reams of famous people upon its decks, and offers a five-deck audio tour to reveal its maritime secrets.
The Real Mary King’s Close
Get beneath the city, literally, on a tour of the hidden underground world beneath the city’s famous Royal Mile. Real Mary King’s Close is actually a series of underground streets and spaces that were originally home to some of the city’s most vibrant street life. Over 400 years later the streets were rediscovered and have since been the subject of great intrigue, including some haunting tales.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Every year for a whole month Edinburgh is home to the largest arts festival in the world – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The 25-day-long festival takes place every August when the city sees over 50,000 performances and over 3,000 shows take place. It’s an exciting time to be in Edinburgh and is an entirely unique event to the city.
Shopping in Edinburgh, Scotland
As one of the UK’s most hip and happening cities, Edinburgh is the ideal place to splash the cash, and even find a few bargains. With a wealth of high-end designer boutiques, as well as local markets and so much more, the city has everything for every kind of shopper.
If you want to eat, drink, and shop like a local then head to Stockbridge Market. Open on Sundays, the market is located next to the scenic bridge that crosses the Water of Leith. The area is small and bustling and you will usually find plenty of organic food as well as locally-made jewelry.
If you like a blast from the past or are looking to find some antique or vintage gems, then Armstrongs Vintage Emporium is most definitely for you. The Armstrongs chain is a local institution that was established back in 1840, when it began selling pre-owned or vintage clothing and accessories. You cannot leave Edinburgh without checking out Armstrongs.
For a unique shopping experience head to the one-of-a-kind Wonderland Models. Dedicated entirely to collectors items of toys and models, the store has a 40-year-long history as the city’s premier toy shop and is certainly something to behold even if you are not a collector.
Princes Street is probably the busiest and most popular shopping street in the whole city. The street features many recognizable international and national brands, including high street stores, as well as some local Scottish shops. From here you can also enjoy lovely views of the castle!
If you are looking for designer luxury and impressive shop windows, then this is where you will find it. George Street is the shopping street that oozes glamor and style. Shop high-end designer brands and luxury stores, as well as lavish department stores all year round.
Edinburgh is a top destination for dining. Not only can you find the well-established hearty Scottish fare on the menu at local pubs and restaurants, but you can also find fine dining in beautiful establishments that wouldn’t be out of place in continental Europe. The city is a hub for cuisine whether you want goods that are thoroughly upmarket or more everyday and common.
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The Sheep Heid Inn
Serving Edinburgh’s finest clientele for over 600 years, the Sheep Heid Inn is a fine old pub that has been beautifully renovated and now serves up seasonal food and local brews. The cozy pub was once a popular drinking spot for monarchs and poets, and you can see the history oozing out of its old walls.
The Witchery by the Castle
If you are looking for a place to really celebrate then you will find the Witchery by the Castle just a few steps from the Royal Mile. Spot the beautiful leathers, oak, and tapestries – a re-imagining of what dining was like for the aristocracy back in 19th century Scotland. Expect a very Scottish cuisine with a fine edge to it and, above all else, a great atmosphere.
The Gardeners Cottage
Set in a building that was literally once a cottage for a gardener back in the 19th century, the Gardeners Cottage is truly a local restaurant. Serving only the freshest local food, often grown in their very own gardens, the restaurant serves simple and effective cuisine in an elbow-to-elbow setting, a refreshing spot to find in Edinburgh. Be sure to head for lunch here and get to know the city’s fellow foodies.
If you want to be on the cutting-edge and dine at the coolest eatery in town then head to Timberyard. This artisan restaurant serves up only the most local ingredients and is set close to the historic stature of Edinburgh Castle. The family-run restaurant has a heart that can be felt in its farm-to-table menu and cozy atmosphere, ideal for a cold Edinburgh evening.
Set in a 17th century manor house, Rhubarb offers high-end fine dining with excellent service and local food. Every inch of this opulent room is made for a fantastic dining experience, with enormous chandeliers and silk wall coverings. The menu is creative and refreshing, ideal for a “last night in Edinburgh” meal.
Hotels in Edinburgh, Scotland
Staying a night or two in Edinburgh is a pleasure – the city has a number of boutique and high-quality hotels to make your stay in the historic city a true joy. Relax in the comfort of your own private space in one of these magical hotels.
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The boutique Georgian Royal Terrace Hotel is located on one of the most prestigious streets in Edinburgh overlooking the city. Walking distance from the city center, the hotel offers unique and private landscaped gardens, as well as outstanding cuisine and a spa.
To really stay in the heart of Edinburgh you have to stay on the Royal Mile, and enjoy the ultimate luxury throughout your stay at the Carlton Hotel. This modern hotel is housed in a stunning Victorian building overlooking the busy street, with a leisure center, suana, squash courts, and meeting/event spaces.
Located in the former Scotsman Newspaper building that dates back to 1905, The Scotsman Hotel is a boutique hotel in a central location. Enjoy five-star luxury and views of Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, and the Firth of Forth. The hotel also has an award-winning restaurant and a private cinema.
If you want an affordable hotel in a great location opt for the Mecure. Located on the famous shopping street, Princes Street, the hotel offers great value rooms within walking distance of the city’s best attractions.
Just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town, Jurys Inn offers comfortable and superior rooms for all budgets. All of the rooms have in-suite bathrooms with complimentary products and hair dryers, as well as free Wi-Fi.
Want More Edinburgh?
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