1. The Royal Mile
So called ‘The Royal Mile’ because it was a processional route for kings and queens for the last 500 years connecting Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse..
Set in Edinburgh Old Town, The Royal Mile is peppered with superb attractions such as the Scottish Storytelling Centre, historical sites such as St Giles’ Cathedral and some of the best eating and drinking spots in the city it offers lots to see and do.
The Grassmarket area, which is a short walk away from The Royal Mile, is one of the city’s most loved areas and enjoyed by all walks of life. With its medieval architecture and stunning castle views, Grassmarket is bursting with some of the best shopping, eating and drinking establishments that Edinburgh has to offer.
It will come as no surprise to you that it’s name derived from its use from the 14th century as a market, with cattle, horse and corn being bought and sold in this wide open space. This also made it suitable for public executions which thankfully ceased in 1784.
Some of the areas traditional pubs such as The Last Drop and Maggie Dickson’s keep alive the some of the tales from a chequered past. Many of these establishments offer live music on most nights of the week.
3. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is alive with exciting tales of its time as a military fortress, royal residence, and prison of war. Walk in the footsteps of soldiers, kings, and queens and even the odd pirate or two.
Learn about some of the characters who make up Edinburgh Castle’s history dating back to 1093 and incorporating the likes of Oliver Cromwell & Sir Walter Scott.
There are many ways you can experience Edinburgh Castle. You can follow an itinerary, follow an audio guide, or simply enjoy dining in one of the castles eateries, either way a trip to the castle is sure to be a great day out.
4. Arthurs Seat
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Arthurs Seat was some sort of monumental chair of some kind when in fact it is an ancient volcano and the main peak of a group of Edinburgh hills.
It was once described by Robert Louis Stevenson as a ‘hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design’ and according to legend, Arthur’s Seat was of course named after King Arthur.
Some claim that it was the site of mythical Camelot whilst others say it was named after King Arthur after he and his knights won a series of legendary battles in Scotland and Northern England.
Climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat and back will take about two hours.
5. Scottish National Gallery
The Scottish National Gallery is one of Scotland’s top free visitor attractions housing Scotland’s national collection of fine art from the early Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century.
Alongside artworks, you can visit an interactive IT gallery, take a tour and even take part in a life drawing class. There are activities to suit all ages.
6. Scottish Parliament Building
The Scottish Parliament Building is the home of the Scottish Parliament in central Edinburgh. It was built in 1999 and the first parliamentary debate was held in 2004.
Despite the controversy surrounding the delay to the construction of the building, The Parliament Building has won numerous awards and is open for guided tours allowing visitors to explore its architecture, art and history.
7. Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the world’s leading botanic gardens. Visitors can discover a history dating back nearly 350 years, learn about its plantings and walk around 70 acres of beautiful landscape. A pleasure for all the family, the Garden also offers a fantastic view of Edinburgh’s skyline.
8. Palace of Holyroodhouse
Holyroodhouse has served as the principle royal residence in Scotland since the 16th Century. Queen Elizabeth II spends one week there at the beginning of each summer where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies.
Visitors to the house can explore the 14 majestic state apartments, the Holyrood Abbey and royal gardens. Check the website for updates on special events that may be happening during your visit.
9. National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland contains many delights from the age of dinosaurs to technology of the future. The various galleries contain lots of treasures from around the world.
There are a variety of self-guided museum trails to follow incorporating wildlife, community, architecture and lifestyle and visitors can explore exhibitions that have been held at the museum for the past year.
10. Edinburgh Zoo
Set in 82 acres of parkland, Edinburgh Zoo is just three miles out of Edinburgh city centre. As one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions, it is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, and apart from getting close to over 1,000 rare and endangered animals, you can have a fantastic family day out.
There are a range of events and experiences that take place at the zoo, from keeper experiences to photography workshops and more and their wide range of animals include birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates.
The Zoo is always looking for donations to the park to help them care for some of the animals and protect endangered species in the wild, a cause that is close to their heart.