17 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a charming and vibrant destination that offers a plethora of exciting experiences for visitors. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or simply enjoying the local ambiance, Edinburgh has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the 17 best things to do in Edinburgh, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this captivating city.

1. Introduction

Before we dive into the details, let’s set the stage for our Edinburgh adventure. Nestled between hills and surrounded by stunning landscapes, Edinburgh is renowned for its medieval and Georgian architecture, cobblestone streets, and rich history. This city seamlessly combines its ancient heritage with a thriving contemporary arts scene, creating a unique atmosphere that enchants visitors from all over the world.

2. Explore Edinburgh Castle

No visit to Edinburgh is complete without exploring its iconic castle. Perched on top of Castle Rock, this majestic fortress offers breathtaking views of the city. Step inside and delve into Scotland’s history as you discover the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, and the historic Great Hall. Immerse yourself in the captivating tales of the castle and witness the firing of the famous One O’Clock Gun.

3. Wander through the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile, a historic street that stretches from the castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, is a must-visit for any traveler in Edinburgh. Lose yourself in its narrow alleys and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Explore the charming shops, traditional pubs, and visit landmarks like St Giles’ Cathedral and the Real Mary King’s Close, where you can explore the hidden streets beneath the city.

Art enthusiasts will be delighted by the Scottish National Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of European paintings and sculptures. From Renaissance masterpieces to works by renowned artists such as Van Gogh and Botticelli, the gallery showcases a diverse range of artistic styles. Take your time to appreciate the stunning art and immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Scotland.

5. Experience the Royal Yacht Britannia

Step aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former floating residence of the British Royal Family. Explore the luxurious interiors and learn about the fascinating history of this royal vessel. From the State Apartments to the Royal Bedrooms, you’ll get a glimpse into the life of the royals as you stroll through the meticulously preserved rooms. Don’t forget to visit the tearoom and enjoy a cup of tea with stunning views of the harbor.

6. Discover the Edinburgh Zoo

Animal lovers shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Edinburgh Zoo, home to a wide array of fascinating species. Marvel at the playful penguins, observe the majestic lions, and meet the adorable giant pandas. The zoo’s commitment to conservation and education makes it an ideal destination for families and nature enthusiasts alike. Don’t forget to catch the daily penguin parade, a delightful experience that brings joy to visitors of all ages.

7. Enjoy the Edinburgh Festival

If you’re visiting Edinburgh during August, you’re in for a treat. The city comes alive with the world-famous Edinburgh Festival, a month-long celebration of arts and culture. From theater and dance performances to comedy shows and live music, there’s an event for every taste. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, wander through the bustling streets, and embrace the creative energy that permeates the city during this extraordinary time.

8. Take a stroll in Holyrood Park

Nature lovers will find solace in Holyrood Park, a vast green expanse located next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Take a leisurely stroll around Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano, and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Admire the serene St Margaret’s Loch and keep an eye out for the park’s resident swans and other wildlife. This tranquil oasis is the perfect place to relax and recharge amidst Edinburgh’s bustling urban landscape.

9. Tour the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Discover the opulent State Apartments, where kings and queens once held grand banquets and entertained guests. Visit the historic ruins of Holyrood Abbey, a site steeped in medieval history. As you walk in the footsteps of royalty, you’ll gain insight into the fascinating lives of those who once called this palace home.

10. Sample Scotch Whisky

No visit to Scotland would be complete without indulging in the country’s famous whisky. Edinburgh boasts a multitude of whisky bars and distilleries where you can sample a wide variety of single malts and blends. Take a whisky tasting tour and learn about the intricate process of whisky production, from malting and mashing to fermentation and distillation. Immerse yourself in the rich flavors and aromas of this beloved Scottish spirit.

11. Explore the Real Mary King’s Close

Step back in time and discover the hidden streets of the Real Mary King’s Close, a series of underground passages beneath the city’s bustling streets. Learn about Edinburgh’s intriguing past as you explore the preserved homes, shops, and streets that once thrived during the 17th century. Engaging guides will regale you with tales of the close’s former residents and the fascinating stories that unfolded within these underground passages.

12. Visit the National Museum of Scotland

For a comprehensive journey through Scotland’s history, art, and culture, head to the National Museum of Scotland. From ancient artifacts and archaeological finds to interactive exhibits and modern art installations, the museum offers a captivating exploration of the country’s past and present. Delve into the realms of science, technology, and natural history as you embark on a memorable educational experience.

13. Climb Arthur’s Seat

For panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, embark on a hike up Arthur’s Seat. This dormant volcano is located within Holyrood Park and offers a rewarding adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. Lace up your hiking boots, follow the well-marked trails, and ascend to the summit. Once there, marvel at the breathtaking vistas of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth, and the sprawling countryside.

14. Take a ghost tour

Edinburgh’s dark and mysterious past provides the perfect backdrop for ghost tours that will send shivers down your spine. Join a guided tour through the city’s haunted alleys and underground chambers as storytellers regale you with chilling tales of restless spirits and supernatural occurrences. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these tours offer a unique and spine-tingling perspective on Edinburgh’s history.

15. Shop at the Grassmarket

For a dose of retail therapy, head to the vibrant Grassmarket area. This bustling market square is brimming with boutique shops, vintage stores, and charming cafes. Explore the eclectic mix of independent retailers, browse unique souvenirs, and uncover hidden gems. After shopping, relax with a cup of coffee and soak up the lively atmosphere of this popular gathering place.

16. Visit the Dynamic Earth

Embark on an interactive journey through the history of our planet at Dynamic Earth. This fascinating science center offers immersive exhibits and multimedia presentations that explore the story of Earth, from its formation to present-day. Walk through time, witness volcanic eruptions, and experience the thrill of virtual reality adventures. Dynamic Earth provides a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

17. Conclusion

Edinburgh, Scotland’s enchanting capital, beckons travelers with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. From exploring its iconic castle and wandering the historic Royal Mile to immersing yourself in art and nature, the city offers an abundance of experiences to captivate and delight visitors. Whether you’re a history buff, art lover, nature enthusiast, or simply seeking an unforgettable adventure, Edinburgh has something for everyone.

Don’t miss the opportunity to uncover the hidden gems and soak up the unique atmosphere of this remarkable city. Plan your visit, pack your bags, and embark on an Edinburgh journey filled with wonder and discovery.


1. How many days should I spend in Edinburgh? It is recommended to spend at least three to four days in Edinburgh to fully explore the city and its top attractions.

2. Are there any free attractions in Edinburgh? Yes, there are several free attractions in Edinburgh, such as the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, and exploring the Royal Mile.

3. Can I visit Edinburgh Castle at night? While the castle is not open for visitors during the night, you can enjoy a stunning view of it illuminated from various viewpoints in the city.

4. Is it possible to climb Arthur’s Seat with kids? Yes, Arthur’s Seat can be climbed with kids, but it’s important to choose a suitable route and ensure their safety during the hike.

5. When is the best time to visit Edinburgh? The best time to visit Edinburgh is during the summer months, especially in August when the Edinburgh Festival takes place. However, the city’s charm can be enjoyed year-round, with each season offering a unique experience.

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Upendra Yadav is a seasoned Data Analyst with a passion for exploring new places and immersing himself in different cultures. With a curious mind and an eye for detail, Upendra delves deep into the history, people, and cuisine of the places he visits, and brings his experiences to life through his writing.. His work has been featured in various travel blogs, where he shares his insights and recommendations for fellow explorers. Through his writing, Upendra aims to inspire others to venture beyond their comfort zones and discover the hidden gems of the world. When he's not analyzing data or traveling to new destinations, Upendra can be found indulging in his other hobbies, such as photography and trying out new recipes. He is currently working on his next travelogue, where he hopes to take his readers on a journey to even more exciting and lesser-known destinations.