What to See & Do in Edinburgh

Whether. Once you’ve decided where to eat in Edinburgh, you’ll want to plan your day to take in the city’s attractions. The historical city of Edinburgh is a unique combination of rich architecture, but also incredible access to green spaces with mountains and beautiful botanic gardens, meaning there’s plenty to offer for everyone. Check out our list of recommendations for just a few of the best things to do in Edinburgh.

Walk the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle from Prince Street Gardens

The Royal Mile is probably already top of your list, but if not, we definitely recommend adding it to your trip. Start down at Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh, at the base of Arthur’s seat by the Scottish Parliament and walk all the way up to Edinburgh castle. The walk highlights how Edinburgh has blended the past with the present - as you’ll begin the walk with history behind you and the new, impressive Parliament in front, before finally coming out into the huge courtyard by the castle. For the best views of Edinburgh castle, drop down to Princes Street Gardens, or if you want to see inside the walls there are tours available.

Climb Calton Hill

Calton Hill- Edinburgh

If you’re not feeling intrepid enough to climb Arthur’s seat, (more on that later) but you still want to get some excellent views over the city, then Calton Hill is your best bet, and can be found at the other end of Princes Street. With a watchtower, folly and restaurant at the top, you’ll be able to see across to Leith, over the Forth estuary, back over Edinburgh’s historical skyline and unobstructed views of Arthur’s Seat. It’s well worth the short climb for the view.

Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens

Situated on the other side of Edinburgh’s ‘New’ town - so called because it’s just a little newer than the ‘Old’ town - you’ll find the expansive Royal Botanic Gardens. The outdoor landscaped gardens are entirely free to enter. These beautiful gardens offer a great escape from the hustle and bustle of central Edinburgh. Tickets to the greenhouses can be purchased at one of the main entrances to the outdoor gardens, and are well worth the small fee. Over several greenhouses you can take in tropical palms, cacti, succulents and water features.

Hike up Arthur’s Seat

View from Arthur's Seat- Edinburgh

If you’ve got a little more time, the weather is good and you’re feeling active, then climbing Arthur’s Seat is a must. On clear days it gets busy, but make sure you wear sensible shoes and pack a good amount of water, as there’s no shade on the climb either. Once you’re at the top, you’ll find unparalleled views over the city and surrounding area.

Enter a World of Illusions at Camera Obscura

This attraction is worth checking out as you essentially get two experiences for the price of one. Camera Obscura contains five floors jam-packed with interactive hands-on exhibits with the ‘world of illusion’ but also offers views over the city from the top end of the Royal Mile. Whether you’re entertaining kids, or just looking to try something a little different and unusual, this is a great option to visit.

Explore the Haunted Streets

Edinburgh is widely renowned as one of the most haunted places in Britain. There are numerous ghost tours available of the city, some of which go into the dark underbelly of the city. The old bridges that straddle the valleys in the old town had their arches filled in with buildings many years ago, and these days you’ll find lots of spooky tours into these mysterious places available.

Visit a Museum or Gallery

National Museum of Scotland

Both the Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street and the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street offer free entry. The Scottish National Gallery first opened to the public in 1859, right in the heart of the city. It holds a huge array of classical art pieces from a selection of famous artists, including Botticelli, Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin among others. It also displays an extensive collection that shows off Scottish art history.

The National Museum offers a mixture of science, art and history, both ancient and modern. It contains pieces of cultural significance from all over the world as well as Scotland.  There’s a number of other museums and galleries in Edinburgh, like the Scottish National Portrait Gallery or the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art that are also well worth checking out.

In Summary

These recommendations for things to see and do in Edinburgh barely scratch the surface of the city’s rich cultural attractions. interest why not come and book in at our Edinburgh hotel to give yourself time to see everything on your list. We also have a number of special deals at local attractions through our A-List program, where our local partners treat our guests as their own, offering you unique discounts and special offers.

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