You’re spoilt for choice in Edinburgh with so many things to do throughout the year. To get you started, here’s a little about some of the city’s most popular attractions. Now you just have to work out how to fit it all in!
The Edinburgh Castle is the most visited attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland. Over a million visitors a year make Edinburgh Castle Scotland’s top paid attraction. It’s easy to see why. Famous the world over as the backdrop to the Edinburgh Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle has plenty of interest on the inside, too. The Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of the Kingdom’, are on show here, alongside the historic Stone of Destiny. Suits of armour, historic chambers, the National War Museum, National War Memorial and St Margaret’s Chapel add even more to a visit. It’s worth the cobbled climb just for the views over the rest of Edinburgh, as nothing is allowed to be built higher than the castle. The Opening times for the Edinburgh Castel are as follows:
9.30am – 6.00pm, 7 days a week 9.30am – 5.00pm, 7 days a week
1 April – 30 September 1 October – 31 March
Palace of Holyrood House
The Palace of Holyrood House is most strongly associated with the tragic yet romantic story of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was here that a pregnant Mary witnessed the murder of her Italian secretary, David Rizzio. A tour also allows you a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of royal life today as the palace is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. And afterwards you can always pop across the road to check out the new Scottish Parliament.
Royal Yacht Britannia
After touring the world and welcoming the titled and privileged aboard, the Royal Yacht Britannia has now settled into its permanent home in the port of Leith. From the State Dining Room and private royal bedchambers to the interpretation centre in Ocean Terminal, this truly is a five-star attraction. It is only a 10 minute walk to the Royal Yacht Britannia from our guest house.
National Gallery of Scotland
The National Gallery Complex connects the National Gallery and the adjacent Royal Scottish Academy to create Edinburgh’s second most-visited attraction after the castle. Inside you will discover Scotland’s permanent collections of fine art from the early Renaissance right up to the end of the 19th century. Scottish works take their rightful place alongside the likes of Monet and Van Gogh. Look out, too, for regular major touring exhibitions and annual shows. Even better, admission to the permanent collections is free!
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Discover Scotland’s history in portraiture, from Mary, Queen of Scots and Robert Burns to Sean Connery and Nick Nairn. The building itself is a wonderful piece of architecture, inspired by a Venetian palace. A free shuttle bus connects this gallery with the other National Galleries in Edinburgh.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Joining forces with the adjacent Dean Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is the place for those who like art with a cutting edge. Works by Warhol, Paolozzi, Picasso and Matisse are all here. Even the lawn in front of the Gallery of Modern Art is a sculptural masterpiece to a design by Charles Jencks. Both galleries are also local favourites for coffee or lunch in their cafés.
National Museum of Scotland
You’ll need a day to do real justice to this one attraction! A whole wing is dedicated to the story of Scotland, from prehistoric times to the present day. You can then explore the world of nature to art, science to culture all under one roof! Interactive exhibits and hands-on displays spark kids’ imaginations. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also regular blockbuster exhibitions that draw crowds in their thousands. As with Edinburgh’s national galleries, admission is free to the permanent collections.
The Edinburgh Dungeon
A city as old as Edinburgh is bound to have its fair share of ghosts and secrets. Many of the city’s darker tales are recounted by characters from the past at the Edinburgh Dungeon. Vampires, clan wars, cannibals and ghosts all feature. Not for the faint-hearted!
Scotch Whisky Experience
You don’t have to be a whisky drinker to enjoy this tour at the top of the Royal Mile. It’s a fascinating and fun introduction to how Scotland’s national drink is made. Find out how whisky progresses from the barley to the barrel to the bottle with a tutored tasting, barrel ride and encounter with a ghostly Master Blender thrown in for good measure. Great family fun!