Top 10 Things To See and Do in Edinburgh

  1. Edinburgh Castle – A significant monument in the history of Edinburgh as well as an iconic part of the Edinburgh skyline. Edinburgh_Castle2Edinburgh_Castle3The castle is a must see site while visiting the city. Edinburgh_Castle1It’s a great way to learn about the history of the city, the history of Scotland, and to take in beautiful views of Old Town, The Royal Mile, New Town, Arthur’s seat and the rest of Edinburgh. Edinburgh_Castle7Edinburgh_Castle6Edinburgh_Castle5(Tip: once you purchase a ticket, you have the option to take a free guided tour (leaving every 10 minutes during peak season or 30 mins during non-peak season) or you can purchase an audio guide to enrich your visit. The audio guide will definitely have a lot more information than the guided tour, but it is also an extra expense and the guided tour is a great option to learn about most important parts of the castle and see most of it in a shorter amount of time.) 
  2. The Royal Mile & Hidden Alleyways – The Royal Mile is the main part of Old Town Edinburgh and stretches from the Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace. Royal_Mile1Royal_Mile3Aside from just walking down the Royal Mile, duck in and out of the various alleyways and explore some of the nooks and crannies of the city. 
    Alleys2Lonely Planet has a nice walk in their Scotland book to start with, but it’s always more fun to head off the well-beaten path!
  3. Palace of the Holyroodhouse – Although it’s smaller than a lot of palaces in Europe, I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and it was one of the highlights of the city. Holyrood1Holyrood2The grounds, gardens, and the ruined abbey are beautiful to explore. A visit to the palace is also a nice introduction to Scottish history.
  4. Eat Your Way Through The City – There are delicious and diverse food options in every part of the city. Did you know that Edinburgh has more restaurants per person than any other city in the UK? And more Michelin Star restaurants than any city outside of London? You can find some incredibly delicious food throughout various parts of the city. Reservations are definitely recommended! A few of our favorites were Maison Bleue, The Grain StoreMother India’s Cafe, Oink, Henderson’s, and Dusit. Disclaimer: there are certainly many more amazing restaurants that we did not get a chance to try, but these are the ones we enjoyed during our time in Edinburgh (and they were within our budget).
  5. Royal Yacht Britannia – The Royal Family’s yacht that the Queen used to sail around the world during her visits to the various commonwealth countries. Yacht1 Yacht3It was also used by the Royal Family for family vacations, honeymoons, and romantic getaways. The exhibit is put together very nicely and it is an intimate look into the Royal Family’s more private life. The Yacht is located in Leith, which is a a walk about an hour walk from Old Town or an approximately 15 minute bus ride, as well as a great place to try some fresh and delicious seafood. Yacht4We thoroughly enjoyed are delicious lunch at The Ship on the Shore…the scallops melted in my mouth.Yacht5
  6. Calton Hill – At the opposite end of the city from the castle lies Calton Hill, a park with a couple of interesting sites, and fantastic panoramic views of the city and castle.Calton_Hill1 Calton_Hill3The Scottish National Monument, the Haratio S. Nelson Monument (with a small naval museum), an observatory, Dugald Stewart Monument, Governor’s House, and the old Calton Hill Jail are a few of the sites on the hill. Calton_Hill2
    Calton_Hill6The views are best from the top of the Horatio S. Nelson monument as have a 360 degree view of the city.Calton_Hill7
  7. Coffee – The famous Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling used to write) is often frequented by tourists, and might be worth a look if you’re a fan, but if you’re interested in really delicious, high quality coffee, there are many little amazing cafés to get a satisfying morning (or afternoon) fix. Coffee3Our favorites were Brew Lab and Artisan Roast. Coffee4You won’t be disappointed by the quality of coffee at either of these cafés.Coffee1
  8. National Museum of Scotland – A massive museum near the university that has very interesting exhibits on the William Wallace & Robert The Bruce eras, prehistoric history, the jacobite risings, famous works of art, and much much more. Its a great museum, and is worth a visit, but allow enough time to explore it…you could be there awhile. Also, it’s free!Arthurs_Seat12
  9. Hike Arthur’s Seat – Located in Holyrood Park, this short, but well worth the effort hike, offers panoramic views of Edinburgh and beyond. Arthurs_Seat10Even if you have been to Calton Hill, Arthur’s seat offers a view with a different perspective, as you can take in Calton Hill as well as the palace, the city, the sea, and the countryside.Arthurs_Seat09Arthurs_Seat07Arthurs_Seat11
  10. Local Pubs & Bars – Because what else is Scotland known for? Take time to explore the numerous cocktail bars, music venues, or cozy underground pubs sprinkled throughout the city. Drinks2You can even get a drink at The Last Drop, famous for where convicts used to have their last dram of whiskey before meeting the noose. Drinks1A couple of our favorites were Devil’s Advocate (also has fantastic food), Bramble, and Sandy Bell’s (for live music and friendly, knowledgeable bar tenders – especially if you’re into whiskey).

Although Edinburgh is an amazing city to visit, it certainly is not the only reason to visit Scotland! I will be writing more about this incredible country in the near future. Check back to the blog for these upcoming posts!

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