10 Best Things to See and Do in Edinburgh

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A lively, captivating city with cobblestone streets and a medieval backdrop, Edinburgh offers an extensive list of mind-opening experiences to incoming travellers. The city was originally established in the 12th century, and throughout the years has endured black plagues and destructive fires. Learn of the city’s rich past and the historical significance it continues to carry. Edinburgh holds a perfect blend of old-fashioned beauty and modernised civilisation waiting to be explored by fascinated travellers.

Here are 10 top things to see and do when visiting Edinburgh.

1. The Royal Mile

An interwoven knot of cobblestone streets, lined with lanky iron lamps and medieval structures, the Royal Mile is one of the must-see attractions when visiting Edinburgh. The streets contain a collection of souvenir stores, scotch-whiskey shops, charming pubs, cafes, markets and a gothic cathedral. Travel back in time and wander through these charming, medieval streets. The four streets comprising the Royal Mile include Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate, leading travellers towards gates of the Edinburgh Castle.

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The Royal Mile, Edinburgh - At night
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2. Edinburgh Castle

The majestic Edinburgh Castle towers over the city, perched upon an extinct volcano, providing open panoramic views of the city. Learn of the past Kings that ruled within the walls, ponder the tales of the castle and feel the emotional significance this structure holds. Fully guided audio tours navigate guests through the enormous castle whilst providing an in-depth knowledge of its past.

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Edinburgh Castle
Image by @mikecleggphoto

3. National Museum Of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is the perfect place to learn more about the country and gain a deeper appreciation. The facility is only an 8-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle and contains plenty of impressive collections relating to natural history, culture, science, and technology. Also, entry into the National Museum Of Scotland is free of charge, making it a great attraction for those visiting Scotland on a budget.

4. Arthur’s Seat

Marvel at Edinburgh’s sweeping cityscape from high above at Arthur’s Seat. An enjoyable hike through the lush terrain, grassy slopes and diverse natural structures will lead to the peak of a collection of hills, otherwise known as Arthur’s Seat. Spot iconic sites from the top such as Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill. The summit will offer ever-extending views of the city, sea and countryside of Scotland.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh
Image by @mikecleggphoto

5. Mary King’s Close

Beneath the buildings of the Royal Mile is a secret collection of underground interlaced streets that made up the old town of Edinburgh. Named after a former resident of the close, the street dates back to the 17th century. Learn of the story of Mary King, along with other residents. Journey below, in a fully guided tour to explore what remains and gain a deeper understanding of Edinburgh’s past and how society used to function. Visit…the-experience to learn more.

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6. Whisky Tasting Experiences

Home to a vast collection of distilleries, Scotland is known for its production of Scotch whisky. Tasting experiences are available to travellers to participate in the art that is whisky tasting. Learn of the different Scotch whisky production regions within Scotland, the process of how it is made, the effects of ageing whisky on taste and colour, and how to focus the senses in the process of tasting. Tasting experiences are available on the Royal Mile.

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Whiskey in Scotland - CC0 (Pixabay)
Image via Pixabay
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7. Calton Hill

A shorter hike than Arthur’s Seat and only a short walk from the Royal Mile; Calton Hill provides visitors with beautiful views of the Edinburgh skyline. This spot is a quieter location within the city, with an array of grassy slopes and benches to sit upon and enjoy the views. Perched on top of the hill is Edinburgh’s unfinished landmark. The monument was never completed due to issues with funds, but the structure is now an icon of Calton Hill, and guests enjoy climbing up its gigantic steps. The hill only takes about 5 minutes to walk up and is also extremely close to the main shopping hub, Princes Street.

Calton Hill, Edinburgh - CC0 (Pixabay)
Image via Pixabay

8. Princes Street

Conveniently located within walking distance to the Royal Mile and Calton Hill, Princes Street is the shopping hub of Edinburgh. The busy street is lined with a vast collection of big brands to shop. The street also provides travellers with clear, unique views of Edinburgh Castle and is home to the towering gothic structure – The Scott Monument. Wander over to the Princes Street Gardens for beautiful views of the cityscape. These gardens also host regular farmers markets and the iconic German Christmas markets in the later months of the year.

Princes Street, Edinburgh CC0 (Pixabay)
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9. Fringe Festival

Visit in the summer and you may get to enjoy the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This event spans for around a month and is one of the biggest arts festivals in the world with mind-blowing performances from some of the world’s most talented artists. Head to Quick Guide to Visiting Edinburgh for Fringe Festival to learn more.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Image by @mikecleggphoto

10. Palace Of Holyroodhouse

The Palace Of Holyroodhouse is a 15-minute walk from Calton Hill, located at the end of the Royal Mile. The palace is known as the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and is set amongst vibrant royal gardens. Some key features to admire include the 14 historic state apartments and the stunning ruins of Holyrood Abbey. Ticket prices start from £15 per adult.

Palace Of Holyroodhouse - exterior
Photo 111577235 © Tomas Marek |

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There is a countless array of things to see and do in Edinburgh. The city carries with it an energetic, captivating atmosphere that travellers can feel when visiting. A lot of the attractions within the city are also located close together, so travellers can save money on transport by simply walking. From beautiful medieval architecture to buzzing streets and charming restaurants, there are so many great experiences on offer in Edinburgh.

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Written by

Nicholas Hastie

Nicholas Hastie is a travel and health writer located in Brisbane, Australia. He is passionate about documenting his journeys through writing and photography. Nicholas enjoys sharing his travel stories online and encouraging others to travel and create unforgettable memories.

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