Top 10 Things to Do in Edinburgh: What You Absolutely Can NOT Miss

Edinburgh is one of the neatest capital cities of Europe. The capital of Scotland has a long and illustrious tradition spanning over 600 years, which has preserved the a vibrant historic district.  But Edinburgh has kept up with the times leaving the city a beautiful mix of new and old. The city has undergone many periods of cultural advancement, and during the Enlightenment of the 18th century the city experienced an unprecedented wave of intellectual, scientific, and architectural accomplishments which bestowed upon the city the nickname of ‘Athens of the North.’ The city’s beautiful natural setting is also one of the qualities that sets it apart. Check out the top 10 things to do in Edinburgh!

A gorgeous royal castle from the 12th century until the Union of the Crowns in 1603.  The gigantic castle grounds could easily take you a day to roam and gaze upon it all. There are wide ranging periods of construction and reconstruction making up the castle, with a 12th century chapel marking it’s earliest known period. The castle houses several museums and galleries, as well as the Scottish Crown jewels.

Tip: Absolutely must see when visiting Edinburgh, spend at least a couple of hours roaming the complex.

2. Palace of the Holyrood House

Official royal residence of her majesty the Queen in Scotland, and royal residence for Scottish monarchs for generations. Mary Queen of Scots is the most famous visitor to the Palace during the mid-sixteen century. The palace, gardens, and adjacent ruined abbey are beautiful and an importance piece of Scottish history.

3. St. Giles Cathedral

The center of the Church of Scotland, this cathedral is a unique piece of Scottish architecture and definitely worth peeking inside for it’s intricate wood and stone carvings and colorful banners lining the old nave.


4. Arthur’s Seat

The main peak of hills in the center of the city formed from an ancient volcano. The peak’s name apparently has links to legends pertaining to King Arthur, and serves as one of Edinburgh’s most iconic and traversed sights. From the top you have excellent panoramic views of Edinburgh, as well as the sea and surrounding countryside. If you have more than a day or two this is a must do. If you’re even relatively fit you should be able to be up and down in less than two hours.

Tip: The best way to get up the hill is from the base near the Palace of Holyrood House (you’ll always see people walking up the path from there, if not just ask).


5. Calton Hill

Another large hill in the center of the city, giving one another great perspective of the city, particularly the castle and old town. The hill also houses some of Edinburgh’s iconic monuments such as:

  • National Monument
  • Nelson Monument
  • Robbie Burns Monument
  • City Observatory

6. Scott Monument

Dedicated to Sir Walter Scott this is a really neat Victorian Gothic structure adding to the already rich cityscape. The monument is right on Princess St in the middle of town, which offers more great views from the top.

7. Scottish Parliament

The general tour through the Scottish Parliament building guides provide information on the history, work and procedures of the Scottish Parliament and on the architecture of the award winning Scottish Parliament building.

Tip: You can enjoy a free guided tour or, if Parliament is in session, you can observe proceedings from the public gallery.

8. National Museum of Scotland

The superb National Museum of Scotland houses collections celebrating the nation’s culture, history and people. It’s a great way to explore Scottish history, from the primeval age right up to the modern era, and the 360 degree views of Edinburgh from the roof garden are spectacular.

9. Greyfriars Bobby

Directly across the road from the National Museum, you will find a small statue commemorating one of Edinburgh’s best loved residents, a little Skye terrier known as Greyfriars Bobby. Made famous by numerous books and a Disney film, Bobby faithfully guarded over his owners grave in the nearby Greyfriars Kirkyard for fourteen years after his owner had died.

10. Royal Botanic Garden

Just one mile from city center, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers visitors peace and tranquility amongst 72 acres of stunning scenery. Founded in 1670, the Garden is acknowledged to be one of the finest in the world where unusual and beautiful plants can be found.

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