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Edinburgh is a city where ancient castles pierce the sky; cobbled streets whisper tales of yore and vibrant cultural experiences beckon around every corner. 

Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or a nature enthusiast, this captivating Scottish capital has something to ignite your wanderlust. 

So, lace up your walking shoes, unfurl your map, and let’s embark on a journey through 10 unforgettable things to do in Edinburgh:

1. Time Travel at Edinburgh Castle

If you’re looking for a truly immersive historical experience, look no further than Edinburgh Castle. This iconic fortress towers over the city, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

But it’s not just the impressive view – the castle itself is steeped in history and boasts a rich tapestry of stories that have played out over the centuries. As you wander its mighty halls, you’ll be transported back in time with interactive exhibits that bring the past to life.

One of the must-see attractions at Edinburgh Castle is the Crown Jewels. These stunning artifacts testify to Scotland’s royal heritage and include the famous Stone of Destiny, which was once used to crown Scottish kings.

Another highlight of any visit to the castle is the daily firing of the One o’Clock Gun. 

This tradition dates back to 1861 when a time signal was needed for ships in the Firth of Forth. The gun’s firing has become an iconic event, and visitors can witness it for themselves every day at precisely 1 pm.

Edinburgh Castle is a fascinating place to explore, and there’s something for everyone here. Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of architecture, or simply looking for a fun day out, you won’t be disappointed. 

So why not ascend the domineering fortress and discover Scotland’s rich past for yourself?

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle stands on a hill overlooking the city.

2. Unravel Secrets on the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is truly a gem of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a historic street stretching from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, making it one of the world’s most iconic and famous streets. 

The Royal Mile is in the heart of Old Town, an area of Edinburgh that dates back to the Middle Ages. This area is known for its narrow winding streets, stunning architecture, and rich history. 

Walking down the Royal Mile is a must for anyone visiting Edinburgh. The street is lined with historic buildings home to some of the city’s best attractions, including museums, art galleries, and restaurants. 

The street is also home to many quirky shops selling souvenirs, tartan, and Scottish delicacies. You can easily spend hours exploring the Royal Mile and discovering hidden closes, which are narrow alleys that lead to courtyards and other hidden gems.

One of the things that makes the Royal Mile so unique is the street performers. Musicians, dancers, and other performers entertain crowds throughout the day. Their performances add to the energy and vibrancy of the street and create a unique atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere else.

The Royal Mile is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its cultural and historical significance. It is one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval city in the world, and it is home to many important landmarks, including St Giles’ Cathedral, the City Chambers, and the John Knox House.

In summary, the Royal Mile is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Edinburgh. It is a vibrant, historic, and beautiful street that offers something for everyone. 

The Royal Mile is the perfect place to explore the city’s rich history, shop for souvenirs, or simply soak up the unique atmosphere.

The Royal Mile Edinburgh
The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is lined with fashionable shops and stores.

3. Breathe in Fresh Air atop Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is an iconic hill in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and for a good reason. Standing at a height of 251 meters, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and beyond. 

The best way to explore Arthur’s Seat is by lacing up your hiking boots and taking a trek to the summit. The hike can be challenging, but the reward is worth the effort. Once you reach the top, you can witness stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and the Firth of Forth. 

Along the way, you’ll also come across the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel, a 15th-century religious site that offers a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history. The chapel’s ruins provide a picturesque backdrop for photographers and an excellent spot for a picnic amidst the lush greenery. 

Arthur’s Seat is open to visitors year-round, and it’s a great escape for nature lovers and photographers alike. Whether you want to stretch your legs and exercise or enjoy the stunning views, Arthur’s Seat is a must-visit destination in Edinburgh.

4. Journey Beneath the Surface

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city steeped in history and culture. While there are many things to see and do in the city, one of the most fascinating experiences is to explore its underground network of hidden streets and vaults.

Mary King’s Close is one such place, a preserved network of streets that dates back to the 17th century. 

Located just off the Royal Mile in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Mary King’s Close was once a thriving hub of activity, with merchants and traders selling their wares to the city’s people. 

However, as time passed, the Close became a place of poverty and disease, and it was eventually sealed off from the outside world.

Today, visitors can descend into the Close and explore its hidden secrets. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll hear tales of the Close’s former residents and the dark secrets that lie beneath the streets. You’ll see how they lived and worked and learn about the impact of disease and poverty on their lives.

Another fascinating underground experience in Edinburgh is the Blair Street Underground Vaults. These vaults were once used for storage and as workshops for tradespeople, but they also had a darker side. 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, they became a haven for criminal activity, including an illicit pub that operated in the vaults.

Today, visitors can tour the vaults and learn about their fascinating history. You’ll hear tales of the people who lived and worked in the vaults and how they survived such challenging conditions. 

You’ll also get a unique perspective on the city as you explore the underground network of streets and passages beneath its bustling streets.

So, if you’re looking for a unique and fascinating experience in Edinburgh, explore its underground secrets. Whether you visit Mary King’s Close or the Blair Street Underground Vaults, you will come away with a new appreciation for the city’s rich history and culture.

5. Immerse Yourself in Arts & Culture

Edinburgh is a city that genuinely pulsates with artistic energy. It is the country’s capital and second-largest city in the southeast of Scotland. Edinburgh is a vibrant, bustling metropolis home to some of the most spectacular cultural attractions in the world. 

One such attraction is the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, renowned for hosting world-class performances from various disciplines, including drama, opera, dance, and music. The theater is located in the heart of the city, making it easily accessible for visitors from all over the world.

Another cultural gem in Edinburgh is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which showcases an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art from Scottish and international artists. 

The gallery’s unique collection is housed in two separate buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, which offer visitors a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse world of contemporary art.

The National Museum of Scotland is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. This museum offers a fascinating insight into Scotland’s rich and varied history, from prehistoric to the present. 

The museum boasts an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits, including everything from ancient fossils and medieval armor to cutting-edge technology and space exploration.

Finally, it’s easier to talk about Edinburgh by mentioning its stunning beauty. 

The city is perched on seven hills, which means that wherever you go, you’re likely to be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. 

From the cobbled streets of the historic Old Town to the elegant Georgian architecture of the New Town, Edinburgh is a city that truly has something for everyone.

6. Find Zen in Princes Street Gardens

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, you need to check out Princes Street Gardens. This expansive park is right in the heart of Edinburgh, offering visitors a tranquil oasis where they can relax and recharge.

One of the park’s most iconic features is the Ross Bandstand, which has been the site of many famous concerts and events over the years. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a live performance while you’re there!

But even if there’s nothing scheduled at the bandstand, there’s still plenty to see and do in the gardens. 

You can stroll through the vibrant flower displays, sit on a bench and people-watch on a sunny afternoon, or simply find a quiet spot to read a book or meditate.

And if you’re hungry or thirsty, you’ll find plenty of options nearby. There are numerous cafes and restaurants just a stone’s throw from the park, offering everything from quick bites to full meals.

Overall, Princes Street Gardens is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for peace and tranquility in the heart of Edinburgh.

7. Raise a Glass on a Whisky Tour

If you are a whisky lover and want to learn more about Scotland’s national spirit, a whisky tour, and tasting is just the thing for you. 

Scotland is home to hundreds of big and small whisky distilleries, and you can choose from various tours and experiences to suit your interests.

One of the most famous whisky experiences is the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. 

Here, you can take a guided tour of a replica distillery, learn about the whisky-making process, and even taste some of the finest Scotch whiskies. The tour also includes a ride in a whisky barrel-shaped car and a visit to the world’s most extensive Scotch whisky collection.

For a truly unique experience, you can even join a whisky-themed ghost tour. In Edinburgh, for example, you can tour the city’s haunted vaults while sipping on some of Scotland’s finest whiskies.

A whisky tour and tasting is a must-do for any whisky lover visiting Scotland. So, why not raise a glass and say “Sláinte” to a memorable experience?

8. Follow the Water of Leith

Lace up your walking shoes and embark on a scenic journey along the Water of Leith Walkway. This 12-mile path winds through the city and its suburbs, offering picturesque views, diverse wildlife sightings, and charming neighborhoods. 

The Water of Leith Walkway is a hidden gem in Edinburgh that offers a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center. 

The walkway runs from Balerno to Leith, following the Water of Leith river course. Along the way, you’ll encounter lush greenery, tranquil waterfalls, and quaint bridges perfect for photo opportunities.

The path is well-maintained and accessible to everyone, whether you prefer to cycle, walk, or jog. You can start the walk from any point along the route, but the most popular starting point is at the Dean Village. 

From there, you can follow the path to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where you’ll see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

If you’re lucky, you might spot some local wildlife, including herons, kingfishers, and otters. The route also passes through several historic neighborhoods, such as Stockbridge and Colinton, where you can find plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to stop and refuel.

So, whether you’re a local looking for a new way to explore the city or a tourist looking to experience Edinburgh’s natural beauty, the Water of Leith Walkway is a must-visit attraction that will surely delight you.

Water of Leith Village in Edinburgh
Dean Village is also known as the Water of Leith Village is in Edinburgh.

9. Seek Thrills on a Ghost Tour

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is rich in history and culture. However, it is also known for its darker side and haunted past. If you love spine-tingling experiences, a ghost tour is a must-do activity in Edinburgh. 

A typical ghost tour will take you through the city’s most haunted locations. You will get to explore eerie graveyards like Greyfriars Kirkyard, which is said to be home to the infamous Mackenzie Poltergeist. You’ll also hear chilling tales of local legends like the ghost of Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal dog who guarded his owner’s grave for years. 

Experienced guides and local history and folklore experts lead the ghost tours in Edinburgh. They will take you through narrow alleys and dark corners, sharing spooky stories and legends along the way. Some tours even offer the chance to encounter a spectral presence or two. 

Overall, a ghost tour in Edinburgh is a unique and thrilling way to experience the city’s darker side. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, prepare for a spooky adventure that will send shivers down your spine!

10. Venture Beyond the City

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, Edinburgh has plenty of options for exploring the stunning natural beauty surrounding the town. 

For history buffs, a hike up to the dramatic ruins of Stirling Castle offers breathtaking views of the countryside and an opportunity to learn about Scotland’s past. Those interested in art and architecture will be in awe of the intricate carvings and symbolism found in Rosslyn Chapel.

If you’re up for an adventure, take a boat trip on the legendary Loch Ness and see if you can spot the mythical creature said to inhabit its depths. The surrounding areas are also rich in history and culture, with hidden gems and charming villages just a short trip from Edinburgh. 

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful escape or an exciting adventure, there’s something for everyone outside Edinburgh’s urban landscape.

Bonus Tip

Purchase the Edinburgh Pass for discounted entry to many attractions and free public transport, maximizing your sightseeing experience.


Edinburgh is a walkable city, but the efficient public transport system is readily available for longer distances. Pack comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, as the Scottish climate can be unpredictable. Embrace the friendly locals, and don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or directions.

With this guide, prepare to be enchanted by Edinburgh’s timeless charm, captivating history, and diverse cultural offerings. Let the adventure begin!

Shelu Abapo

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