7 Unmissable Things to Do in Edinburgh
If you don’t mind the potential for rain, Edinburgh is the perfect travel destination for a European long weekend. It is a city that combines a rich history and culture with fine dining, shopping and a buzzing night scene.
The heart of Edinburgh is undoubtedly the Royal Mile, which stretches from the impenetrable and imposing Edinburgh Castle to the elegant Holyrood Palace. The Royal Mile and Castle are situated on a volcanic rock which is why it has the deep dips on either side.
On the right side of the castle is the old town and trendy streets like CowGate and Grassmarket. Here you can find plenty of bars and the famous Sneaky Pete’s nightclub. On the other side of the royal mile is Prince’s Gardens and the new town. Here you can find fabulous shopping and vegan eateries for brunch.
If you are planning a break to Edinburgh for the first time here are some essential places to visit and things you must do to make your trip memorable:
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic places in the city and can be seen from almost everywhere. Tickets for entry range from £10.50 - £18.50 and give you access to extra attractions like the prisoner of war and one o’clock gun exhibits. You can also see the beautiful Scottish crown jewels and the iconic stone of destiny that was used in Scottish coronations for hundreds of years. This is definatly one of the best places to see in Scotland.
2. Holyrood House
Most famous for being the residency of Mary Queen of Scots, this beautiful palace offers a free audio guide to take you through the history of the place. You can even visit the very spot that Mary Stuart’s private secretary David Rizzio was murdered, which set in motion the events leading to her abdication and then death. Ticket prices range from £8.70 to £15.00.
3. Arthurs Seat
If you would like to escape the city for an afternoon, Arthur’s Seat is the perfect place to do so. It is located at the end of the Royal Mile in Holyrood Park. It is the largest of a set of peaks in the park and offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas. It rises to 822ft and is popular with hill walkers. It is also rumoured to be the location of the Camelot of Arthurian folklore. This is one of the best free things to see in Edinburgh.
4. Blair Street Underground Vault Tour
This 75-minute tour takes you into the underground vaults where families lived and where criminal gangs operated from. One of the vaults you visit is where body snatchers stored their grisly wares! Mercat Tours are the only operators of this attraction and ticket prices are between £8.00 and £13.00.
5. Night-time Ghost Tour
This is perfect for fans of the supernatural. Edinburgh is a city steeped with dramatic history, murder and mystery and what better way to learn about this but at night-time! There are lots of different tours offering slightly different itineraries so make sure to research before booking.
6. The Real Mary King’s Close
This popular attraction is part of the mysterious hidden history of Edinburgh. It is a perfectly preserved warren of streets located underneath the Royal Mile. It can only be accessed with a tour guide, who skilfully bring the stories to life of plague doctors, ghosts and even Mary Queen of Scots’ last night in Edinburgh. Prices range from £9.50 to £15.50.
7. Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Edinburgh’s oldest purpose-built tourist attraction, this is a mind-bendingly fun afternoon for all ages. There five floors are packed full of tricks, illusions and attractions. However, the main draw is definitely the Victorian Camera Obscura which projects live images from the city using only daylight.
By Erin Harris
Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Do you have any tips or recommendations for places to check out not included in the list above? Leave feedback in the comments section below.