You certainly won’t be short of things to do in a city as exciting and historic as Edinburgh!
Edinburgh’s many attractions stretch from the centuries-old cobbled streets and wynds of the compact Old Town to the graceful Georgian squares and wide, sandstone house-lined streets of New Town, from the crag of Arthur’s Seat to the port of Leith.
Please see our list of must-visit attractions in Edinburgh!
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. With a long, rich history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress, it is alive with many exciting tales. When you climb Castle Hill, you will walk in the footsteps of soldiers, kings and queens – and even the odd pirate or two.
Though parts of it remain in military use, the castle is now a world-famous visitor attraction. It’s also an iconic part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site.
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
1 April to 30 September
9.30 am – 6pm (last entry 5pm)
1 October to 31 March
9.30am – 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Adult (16-54yrs) £18 (buy ticket online)
Child (5-16yrs) £11 (buy ticket online
Concession (65yrs+ and unemployed) £14.50
Family (1 adult, 2 children) £35.50
Family (2 adults, 2 children) £52.00
Family (2 adults, 3 children) £61.50
2. The Scotch Whisky Experience
Attraction tells the tale of Scotland’s national drink with high-tech exhibits and a barrel ride.
Experience for yourself regional whiskies, and whether you like fruity, sweet or smoky flavours, experts will help you select your perfect dram. Enter the vault containing the world’s most extensive collection of Scotch Whiskies and enjoy a special tutored nosing and tasting.
Address: The Royal Mile, 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE
Monday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
Price: £19-£42 – (Please see website for details)
3. The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is one of Scotland’s jewels of classical architecture, with an impressive array of baroque decorations in its interior.
Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, also known as Holyrood Palace, is the Queen and Royal Family’s official residence in Scotland. The building itself is an architectural gem with impressive Baroque decoration.
Address: Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX
Monday – Sunday 9:30 am – 6 pm
September – June
Young Person (18-24) £11.50
Child (5-17) £10.00
Under 5 Free
July – August
Young Person (18-24) £12.00
Child (5-17) £10.50
Under 5 Free
4. National Museum of Scotland
Since opening in 2011, the National Museum has become one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and one of the best things to do for free in Edinburgh. Welcoming over 2 million visitors each year. It incorporates collections from several of Edinburgh’s older museums with highlights, including national archaeological collections of medieval artefacts and displays focusing on natural history, geology, art, sciences and technology.
Address: Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
Monday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
5. Royal Yacht Britannia
One of Britain’s most popular attractions associated with the monarchy. Over the years, the Queen has welcomed heads of state and famous people from around the world to this luxurious vessel. After more than 40 years serving the royal family, the 60 years old yacht was sent to Leith to Edinburgh’s port area as a centerpiece of Britannia visitor center.
Address: Ocean Dr, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
Monday – Sunday 9:30 am – 4 pm
Family £49.00 (2 adults and up to 3 children)
Child£ 9.00 (Aged 5-17)
Child (Under 5) Free
Buses: Ocean Drive: 11, 34, 35, 36
6. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
A combination of Edinburgh History – City Views from the new perspective and experience with optical illusions.
The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is an attraction that certainly appeals to all ages. The centrepiece set in Vicotria’s rooftop room is a pinhole camera that projects live moving images of Edinburgh onto a view of the viewing table.
Address: The Royal Mile, 549 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND
Monday –Sunday 8 am – 10 pm
Senior (65+) £17.95
Child (5-15 years) £14.95
Under 5s Free
7. Our Dynamic Earth
It is located in the Holyrood area, beside the Scottish Parliament building and at the foot of Salisbury Crags. It is a registered charity under Scottish law owned by The Dynamic Earth Charitable Trust. Queen Elizabeth II opened the centre in 1999.
Our Dynamic Earth offers its visitors the chance to journey through time to discover the planet Earth’s past, present and future thanks to various exhibitions.
The museum, shaped like a huge white armadillo, tells the story of the planet Earth’s past 4.500 million years to show how life has evolved. Like the creation of the Universe, the exhibition starts with the Big Bang theory. In this first room, visitors will “feel” how the Earth was created and discover its evolution.
In the museum, you can find yourself face to face with an extinct dinosaur in the middle of an earthquake, feel the humid heat of a tropical forest, and fly over Scotland’s prehistoric glacier.
Location: 112-116 Holyrood Rd.
23 March – October:
Open daily: 10 am – 5:30 pm
July and August:
Open daily: 10 am – 6 pm
November – 22 March:
Wednesday – Sunday: 10 am – 5:30 pm
Adults: £ 14
Children (ages 4 – 15): £ 8.80
Concession: £ 12.20
Buses: Scotsman Office, 35 and 6.
8. Royal Mile & Grassmarket
The Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s most famous street. It connects Edinburgh Castle (to the west) with the Palace of Holyroodhouse (to the east).
Its length, which measures 1.81 km, is approximately one Scots mile long.
Along the thoroughfare, numerous passageways (closes) and courts are worth visiting to glimpse the city’s Medieval architecture.
Peppered with superb attractions such as The Real Mary King’s Close or the Scottish Storytelling Centre, historic sites including St Giles’ Cathedral and some of the best eating and drinking spots in the city, the Royal Mile offers much to see and do. For a glimpse of recent history, visit the ultra-modern Scottish Parliament, a striking building boasting a cutting-edge design.
The Grassmarket meets the Cowgate, a street running parallel to the Royal Mile and connected by numerous steep closes, lined with exciting bars and restaurants popular with students and festivalgoers, with venues tucked away into the city’s ancient vaults, hosting club nights and monthly parties.
9. New Town Edinburgh
While Old Town Edinburgh has plenty to offer history buffs, New Town blends the old and the new to create a historic, chic city experience.
There’s a lot to explore in Edinburgh’s New Town, and a good place to start is the New Town calling card, the Princes Street Gardens, created when Edinburgh’s largest loch, North Loch, was drained in the construction of the New Town.
Take a relaxing stroll through this haven amid the city; visitors can see The Mound, the Princes’ flower clock, and Ross Fountain.
Through the Princes Street Gardens, anyone can access the Scott Monument, a Gothic tower built-in 1846 as a monument in honour of writer Sir Walter Scott. At 61 meters in height, the Scott Monument is the largest in the world dedicated to a writer. (Entry £6-8)
Just off Princes Street, on The Mound, is the Scottish National Gallery, a national art gallery featuring many classical artworks from local and international artists.
New Town in Edinburgh is also home to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which features a vast collection of paintings and portraits of the most important and prominent figures in Scottish history.
10. Calton Hill
The historic neighborhood is lined with monuments dating back to the Enlightenment.
The panoramic views from Calton Hill have astonished and inspired visitors for centuries. From a bird’s eye view, there are major landmarks: Arthur’s Seat with the Crags behind Holyrood Palace and the Parliament, Leith and the Firth of Forth, Princes Street in its New Town grid and the Royal Mile climbing up towards the Castle.
Calton Hill is also famous for its collection of historical monuments, which form some of the city’s most important landmarks. One of the most striking is the National Monument, inspired by the Parthenon in Athens.
11. Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (founded in 1670) is one of the finest botanic gardens in the world. Offers visitors peace and tranquility amongst 72 acres of stunning scenery. The botanical garden is divided into various areas, each dedicated to a variety of vegetation. The highlights are the Chinese Hillside, the Queen Mother’s memorial garden, the Rock Garden and the Woodland Garden.
The garden’s glasshouses are the only part of the Royal Botanic Garden that are not free to visit. Despite not being free, they are worthwhile exploring. The buildings house over 2.400 plants from various countries, creating a surprising and sensational experience.
Visitors will discover all types of landscapes, including the Indonesian mountains, Australian forests, Arabian deserts and the Amazon rainforest.
Location: 20 Inverleith Row.
November to January: 10 am – 4 pm
February and October: 10 am – 5 pm
March to September: 10 am – 6 pm
November to January: 10 am – 3 pm
February and October: 10 am – 4 pm
March to September: 10 am – 5 pm
Price: Free entry to the Gardens
Adults: £ 5.50
Concession: £ 4.50
Children (up to 15 years old): Free
Buses: Inverleith Row 8, 23 or 27
12. Dean Village.
Walking through Dean Village is like entering a picturesque postcard. Though quiet and calm, despite being only a short distance from the bustling Edinburgh city centre, Dean Village is the perfect place to sightsee without rush, listening to the river running under Dean Bridge and admiring the swiss reminiscent architecture. Plenty of cosy coffee shops, bakeries, and charity shops.
13. Edinburgh ZOO
Set in 82 acres of sloping parkland, Edinburgh Zoo is Scotland’s wildest visitor attraction. Just a 10-minute journey out of the city centre by bus or car, it is home to over 1,000 rare and beautiful animals, including the UK’s only giant pandas, giraffes and koalas.
Location: 134 Corstorphine Rd, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 6TS
Monday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
If you pre book online:
Child (3-15 yrs) £12.50
Child (under 3) Free
Buses: Edinburgh ZOO stop: 12, 26, 31, 100, X18