18 Exciting Things To Do In Edinburgh

things to do in edinburgh
strelka on Shutterstock.Copyright 2022

Confused about what to do in Edinburgh and which destination to visit?

Don’t worry; read through this article to decide on things to do in Edinburgh. The vibrant and picturesque capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, is a textbook example of the heavens on earth.

Located in Central eastern Scotland, it is surrounded by majestic rocks, rustic buildings, and a constellation of ancient & medieval structures, as well as stone decorations.

The city is one of the most visited locations in the UK. The capital of Scotland also has a number of tourist attractions.

Scotland is a combination of antique and modern architecture, giving the city a unique character. The Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With year-round festivals, vibrant nightlife, and an exciting art scene, Edinburgh never fails to impress tourists. The first city to get the UNESCO designation as a city of literature designation is Edinburgh, which is proud of its distinction.

Filled with stunning geology, diverse landscape, volcanic Pentland hills in the south, and the seaside resort of Portobello all add to Edinburgh’s magnificence.

There are numerous splendid destinations around Scotland‘s marvelous capital. So if you plan to be in Edinburgh anytime, here are some of the most engaging things to do in Edinburgh.

By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo on Flickr; Copyright 2022

1. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland 

One of the most popular tourist locations in Britain is Edinburgh Castle, the well-known symbol of Scotland. It is a component of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, which includes both ancient and modern towns.

The castle still dominates the city skyline and is home to the Scottish National War Museum, the Stone of Destiny, and the Royal Crown Jewels. This Remarkable monument has a complicated construction history and serves as a formidable fortification and defender of the country.

Guided tours are available at this location provided by the castle stewards, which take you around the castle, explaining its history and architecture in Multilingual options. With so much to see here, how can this destination not be your priority in the list of things to do in Edinburgh.

By Gary Campbell-Hall on Flickr, copyright 2022

2. Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, Scotland

The formal house of the Queen in Edinburgh is Holyrood Palace, which played a key role in Scottish history. James V and Charles I was crowned here in 1679, and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ conducted court there in 1745.

Portraits of Scottish rulers, both mythical and historical, can be seen in the Grand Gallery. A number of exhibits from the Royal Collection are displayed in The Queen’s Gallery, which was inaugurated in 2002 as a portion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

If you are travelling with children to Holyrood Palace, be sure to let them enjoy the activities in the Family Room; and if you have time, stay for a while at a charming restaurant and enjoy a good afternoon tea.

Make sure to visit the chambers of Mary Queen of Scots‘, too. It is located in proximity to Arthur’s Seat.

By cattan2011 on Flickr, copyright 2022

3. Stroll the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Royal Mile refers to the roads connecting Edinburgh Castle with the Holyroodhouse Palace. It serves as the Old Town’s busy street.

With stunning city houses, churches, and historic landmarks, this magnificent trail is a great place to go for its shops (including kiltmakers), lodging, museums, cafes, and restaurants.

The Observation Tower, Camera Obscura, Tolbooth (St. John’s Highland Church), and the city’s largest church tower are among the most well-known sights atop Castle Hill, which is where the Royal Mile ends.

The Writer’s Museum is located in Lady Stair’s Close. You can view manuscripts, etchings, and other artifacts of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and poet Robert Burns in this exhibition.

For people who love taking long walks, this place is custom designed for you.

things to do in edinburgh
By Herbert Frank on Flickr‘ copyright 2022

4. Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland

Very distinct from the New Town (around George Street), you can expect a host of cobbled streets, historical structures, and beautiful little squares. As you travel down Victoria Street from the Royal Mile to Grass Market, take a look at some of the local eateries and gift shops.

So, anyone with a wish for fancy walking, don’t forget to add it to your list of things to do in Edinburgh.

things to do in edinburgh
By Mike McBey on Flickr; copyright 2022

5. Climb to Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh, Scotland

Arthur’s Seat is the highest point situated in the Holyrood Park, which encompasses a panoramic view of the entire Edinburgh city. The 151- foot cliffs of Salisbury Crags are an easy climb adjacent to Arthur’s Seat.

The ancient cultivation terraces in this park, which are some of the earliest evidence of traditional agricultural practices in Scotland, and the seductively sarcastic ruins of the medieval St. Anthony’s Church are other eye-catching features.

Out of the 7 hills in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat runs through the city and offers a variety of views. One can clearly see Edinburgh Castle, the Old City and the New City.

Enchanting beauty like this cannot be missed, so don’t wait and include it in your things to do in Edinburgh.

things to do in edinburgh
By Magnus Hagdorn on Flickr; copyright 2022

6. Glimpse into Scottish History at National Museum of Scotland

One of the best things to do in Scotland, its most famous attraction since its opening in 2011.

It hosts exhibitions on historical development, geology, art, science, and technology, as well as collections from some of Edinburgh’s oldest museums, and attracts more than 2 million visitors annually.

Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal in the world, along with a few of Elton John’s lavish stage costumes belong to the more than 8,000 artistic creations that are displayed in 16 galleries. The museum also features ancient Egyptian artifacts and the notorious Maiden, an early model of the guillotine.

Expect to explore for at least 4-5 hours because there is so much to see and do. There are two restaurants on-site, and guided tours are provided. Put this at the top of your list of Edinburgh activities.

things to do in edinburgh
By David Phan on Flickr; copyright 2022

7. Set Sail for Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh, Scotland

Over the years, the Queen has welcomed heads of state and world-renowned people to this magnificent ship. After more than 40 years working for the royal family, a 60-year-old boat was sent to Leith, a port in Edinburgh, as the main Britannia Visitor Center.

Once on board, you can tour the ship’s five main decks and gain insight into the past of this and previous royal ships.

Highlights include:

  • Royal Apartments and bedrooms.
  • A lovely resting place in the sun.
  • The Royal Deck Tea Room, where you can stand for tea and cakes.
By Mossy Carey on Flickr; copyright 2022

8. Watch the Flowers Bloom in Edinburgh, Scotland’s Royal Botanic Garden

Royal Botanic Garden, is the second-oldest garden in Britain, Edinburgh. It is enormous and contains 13,200 distinct plant species. On 70 acres of this, there is a herbarium with a variety of more than 3 million specimens, the largest palm house in the United Kingdom, and a tropical house with rare orchids.

A stunning Alpine residence, a tiered moorland garden, a heather garden, and a sizable arboretum with unusually tall trees from the Himalayas and North America are all included.

The aquatic house is another of its umpteen attractions, with colourful camellias and hydrangeas. A special festive treat visit during the Christmas holidays; you can also opt for an educational and learning experience here.

things to do in edinburgh
By jgenard on Flickr; copyright 2022

9. Walk the Length of Princes Street, Edinburgh 

The name Princes Street is related to Edinburgh, but its structure is often overlooked by city dwellers. In fact, most of the existing buildings are now listed, and among the modern stores are real treasures.

Princes Avenue in Edinburgh is one of the few locations worldwide where you can shop whole-heatedly as you enjoy a clear view of the historic castle.

It is unique as its stores are lined on one side of the street, leaving the opposite side of the green garden space giving customers an amazing view of the Old Town town.

When you are done with all that shopping and history, head to Princes Street Gardens, the oldest floral clock home in the world.

things to do in edinburgh
By Jorge Franganillo on Flickr; copyright 2022

George iv Bridge

George IV Bridge made Edinburgh’s southside accessible to the people and covered the gap that joins the Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile with Chamber Street in the south.

10. Edinburgh Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Edinburgh, Scotland

The centerpiece is a hole-in-the-wall camera that displays moving images of Edinburgh on a viewing table and is located in a Victorian upstairs room. Since 1853, people have been drawn to this vista. It was produced using a combination of optics and mirrors.

With a mirror hall, a vertigo-inducing rotating vortex, 3-D holographic visuals, and a long range of other visual encounters, some information will make you doubt your vision.

things to do in edinburgh
By Travelstockphotos on Flickr; copyright 2022

11. Take a Tour of the Scottish National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, a large neo-gothic castle made of red sandstone that dominates the city skyline, houses paintings of some of Scotland’s most notable historical personalities.

The gallery’s main draw is a sizable collection of displays honoring well-known Scottish characters like Robbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Sean Connery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Stuart, and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Scottish National Gallery was founded in 1859 and is now regarded as one of the best art museums in the world.

You must put visiting this site on your bucket list of things to do in Edinburgh if you enjoy old art or simply admire it.

things to do in edinburgh
By Fransico Anzola on Flickr; copyright 2022

12. Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

A must-see when in Edinburgh is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art also referred to as “Modern.” Modern One and Modern, the two buildings that make up the Scottish National Museum of Modern Art, are both housed in lovely galleries.

Works by Picasso, Matisse, Vuillard, and Dix are included in the collection. Together with the known collections of Surrealism and Duck, it also includes a wonderful collection of Scottish painters including Peploe, Fergusson, Douglas Gordon, and Steven Campbell.

The Stairwell Projectsignificant, ongoing 2009 Turner Award-winning Richard Wright project, is housed in Modern Two. 
Both of the contemporary art galleries are pleased to display magnificent examples of modern art. Involve it on your list of things to do in Edinburgh, so that you can experience the majesty of this location. 
things to do in edinburgh
By jgenard on Flickr; copyright 2022

13. St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland

The primary cathedral of the city is St. Giles Cathedral, sometimes referred to as the High Kirk of Edinburgh. It was dedicated in 1124. Also, it is a vital area of the city that draws many visitors all year long.

This 1300s building is notable for its architectural design, with eight arched buttresses generating a massive Crown-Steeple, beautiful stained glass windows, and a figure of John Knox.

The adjacent Thistle Church is well-known for its oak sculptures, heraldic insignia, and numerous other outstanding examples of modern Gothic architecture.

Joining a rooftop tour or immersing yourself in a midday choir live show are both enjoyable things to do while planning to visit the cathedral. Make time to visit this wonderful, and don’t forget to include it on your list of things to do in Edinburgh.

things to do in edinburgh
By gary campbell-hall on Flickr; copyright 2022

14. Spectacular Views of the Scottish National Monument and Calton Hill

Admire the views of Princes Street, Edinburgh castle, and the Old Town against Arthur’s Seat from Calton Hill. The Leith docks and the Firth of Forth are visible to the east and north, respectively. Sir Walter Scott attended the Royal High School, which is located at the base of the hill and dates to the Middle Ages.

The magnificent National Monument on Calton Hill, built to remember the victims of the Napoleonic Wars, is the most notable of Edinburgh’s numerous memorials. Henry Playfair was inspired by the Parthenon in Athens when creating the memorial.

There is a statue of the renowned Scottish poet Robert Burns opposite Calton Hill. Make sure to take a few pictures from this vantage point of the town at sunset to capture an unforgettable memory of your trip to Edinburgh.

Thus, selfie enthusiasts and eager photographers, take in the beauty and add it to your list of things to do in Edinburgh.

things to do in edinburgh
By itsnogame on Flickr; copyright 2022

15. Visit the Museum of Edinburgh to Learn About the City’s Past

The Museum of Edinburgh, built in the 1500s and located at the famous Canongate, is well worth a visit if you’re interested in learning more about Scottish local history.

The museum is run by the Edinburgh City Council and is housed in the late 16th-century Huntly Mansion in Canongate.

The museum also has an amazing collection of decorative artefacts featuring the rich history of Scottish art, ranging from intricately crafted silver from Edinburgh and Canongate, costumes, clocks, and Scottish pottery and Scottish porcelain from the 18th century.

16. Greyfriars Church and Greyfriars Bobby

The Scottish Church has a parish church in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Greyfriars Kirkyard surrounds it.

Near the southern end of Candlemakers’ Row are Greyfriars Church, the city’s oldest cemetery and the burial place of many well-known Scots, including poet Allan Ramsay.

One well-known name connected with the Church is Greyfriars Bobby. The Skye Terrier followed its owner John Gray’s coffin to the cemetery in 1858 and steadfastly refused to leave till Gray passed away 14 years later. In addition to the Bobby statue outside the church, a shelter was constructed for him.

A museum is located on-site. You can also take guided tours; they are available as well.
We’ve all heard this great tale of loyalty; the statue stands to commemorate the loyalty of Skye Terrier, so do have it in your things to do in Edinburgh.

things to do in edinburgh
By Rebecca Seigel on Flickr; copyright 2022

17. The Meadows, Edinburgh, Scotland

Meadows remain the most significant piece of Edinburgh’s social life for the city’s residents all around the year. Meadows is an expansive public park in Edinburgh, Scotland, south of the city centre.

It consists mainly of an open grassy area that crosses tree-lined paths but also has a children’s croquet, club playground, tennis courts and recreational sports fields.

Sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike are welcome here to indulge in the breathtaking beauty of nature, do have it in your things to do in Edinburgh.

things to do in edinburgh
By SimonP on Flickr; copyright 2022

18. Edinburgh Zoo

In the Corstorphine neighborhood of Edinburgh, Scotland, there is a non-profit wildlife park called the Edinburgh Zoo, formerly known as the Scottish National Zoological Park. The south side provides a wide perspective of the city as it faces the Corstorphine Hill slopes.

It was built in 1913, as well as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland looks after it. With even more than 600,000 tourists visiting each year, it is Scotland’s second-highest popular tourist attraction.


You have so many things to do in Edinburgh, Don’t wait any longer and plan your next trip to Edinburgh.

The City Center, especially the Old Town, Royal Mile, and New Town locations, is a perfect base if you are visiting Edinburgh for the initial time and want to explore all the top spots to visit in this lovely region of Scotland. And do not miss Princes Street’s elegant stores.

Another well-liked locale is the reasonably priced West End. These locations put you close to the historical landmarks of the city, including Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse Palace, and Holyrood Abbey, as well as galleries, restaurants, and museums.

Looking for a similar article? Read “7 Fun Things To Do In East London.”


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