The capital city of Scotland is a place with a lot to offer visitors. Its imposing castle, iconic attractions, lively festivals and vibrant cultural events are just some of the reasons why it has become one of Europe’s most visited cities.
If you’re looking for an insight into the city’s history, check out the National Museum of Scotland. It’s free and packed with exhibits that tell of Edinburgh’s storied past.
Princes Street Gardens
Located between the Old and New Town, Princes Street Gardens is a popular spot for visitors to relax in. It links the castle and the shopping area around Princes Street and there are plenty of activities and attractions to see in its grounds.
This is one of the busiest parks in Edinburgh, especially during the summer when tour coaches line up to Waverley Bridge, but it’s still a great place to relax and people watch in the sunshine. With its wide open spaces, lush lawns, and spreading trees, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
The park has a wealth of monuments and memorials dating back to the 1840s, including the Scott Monument. It is surrounded by other important landmarks such as the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland, all overlooking Edinburgh Castle.
Located in one of Edinburgh's most popular tourist areas, Greyfriars Kirk is the perfect place for a spot of photo-taking and a little bit of history. Not only is it one of the oldest surviving buildings in Edinburgh's Old Town, but it also has an incredible story behind it.
The church was built on land formerly belonging to a Franciscan friary, and is the first in Scotland to be completed following the Reformation. In 1638, it was here that the National Covenant was signed by people pledging to uphold Presbyterian beliefs against the imposition of Episcopalism by Charles I.
The graveyard around the kirk is full of vaulted tombs and metal fenced cages called mort safes, which were put in place as a deterrent to grave robbers taking the bodies from their resting places for autopsy studies or scientific experiments. It's also the setting for the infamous Greyfriars Bobby statue which sits outside the main entrance to the kirkyard.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is the central hub of Edinburgh’s Old Town. It connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace and offers an array of attractions to see.
The world-famous Tolbooth Tavern is one of the most iconic attractions on this street. It’s also home to the People’s Story Museum which is dedicated to keeping alive the tales and culture of Scotland’s past residents.
St Giles Cathedral is another popular destination on the Royal Mile. It’s a free attraction and is well worth a visit.
Opposite the church you’ll find the Royal Mile’s most famous close, The Real Mary King’s Close, which is waiting to transport you back in time and give you an insight into how Edinburgh’s poorest people lived in utter poverty.
If you have a little more time, head up the hill and explore the Royal Mile’s many wynds (alleyways) and closes. These narrow, often dark alleyways are a key feature of this street’s medieval architecture.
Portobello is a popular seaside suburb in Edinburgh that offers a wide beach and a great promenade. The beach is a mile long and the promenade offers a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops.
- The beach is very popular throughout the year and there are plenty of activities to do, such as a beach volleyball match or a sunbath in the summer. You can also visit the Portobello Swim Centre if you are looking to relax in the water.
- This beautiful beach is dog friendly all year round and has 2 miles of coast to explore. It is also a good place to go to for a picnic, whether you have a dog or not!
- The beach is well-maintained with lines of groynes protecting the sand and has won lots of awards for cleanliness, water quality and visitor facilities. It is a popular destination for locals and is reachable by bus from Princes Street in about 10 minutes.