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Things to do in Edinburgh

Things to do in  Edinburgh

Welcome to Edinburgh

Steeped in Celtic and medieval history—and fondly nicknamed Auld Reekie—Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage–listed city widely considered the prettiest in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle’s mighty fortifications dominate the skyline, while the Royal Mile sweeps through the old town to the city below. From the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to the Edinburgh Fringe, the city hosts a stellar selection of festivals and celebrations that draw crowds from all over. No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a taster of Scotch whisky, and if you’re looking for a change from the city streets, the soaring peaks of the Scottish Highlands are never far away.

Top 10 attractions in Edinburgh

#1
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

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Edinburgh Castle—with its fortress walls, cobbled promenades, and winding stone steps—has loomed over Scotland’s capital city for more than 1,000 years. Steeped in history, the former royal residence is now a museum, featuring detailed exhibits; period artifacts, such as the Scottish Crown Jewels; and dark dungeons that illuminate the castle’s storied past.More
#2
Royal Mile

Royal Mile

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The atmospheric Royal Mile thoroughfare cuts through the historic core of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, extending for slightly more than a mile from Edinburgh Castle all the way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Both sides of the partly pedestrianized street are bordered by historic granite buildings bearing shop display windows piled high with symbols of Scotland, from tartan to whisky to shortbread. In between the former tenements and taverns are darkened arm-width-wide alleyways, known locally as closes.More
#3
Grassmarket

Grassmarket

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Steeped in history, the Grassmarket is located directly below Edinburgh Castle and is just a minute’s walk from the famous Royal Mile and the National Museum of Scotland. A vibrant and historic area, here visitors can soak up the medieval atmosphere while marvelling at one of the most iconic views in the city, the mighty Edinburgh Castle.A stroll over the George IV Bridge leads to the Greyfriars Bobby statue and through some of Edinburgh’s oldest and most famous streets, including Candlemaker Row, Victoria Street, and West Port.The Grassmarket was traditionally a meeting point for market traders and cattle drovers, with temporary lodgings and taverns all around. It was also once a place of public execution, and a memorial near the site once occupied by the gibbet was created in 1937 to commemorate more than 100 people who died on the gallows in a period known as The Killing Time.Nowadays, the old market area is surrounded by pubs, clubs, shops, and two large hotels. Most buildings in the area are Victorian, with several modern buildings on the area’s south side.More
#4
Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

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The historic heart of Edinburgh, UNESCO-listed Old Town, is home to the city’s most visited sights. Its central artery is the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is lined with top attractions including St. Giles Cathedral, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and the Scottish Parliament Building.More
#5
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

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Perched above the city of Stirling on a chunk of volcanic rock, this mighty Scottish fortress has seen it all, from attacks by Robert the Bruce to the coronation of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the premiere of the movie “Braveheart” in 1993. In addition to the impeccably recreated Royal Palace interiors and the sheer amount of history held within its robust walls, the castle also offers superb views over Stirling and Scotland’s green hills and valleys.More
#6
Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge

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The iconic Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge that arches over the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Situated 14 kilometers from Edinburgh’s city center, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed by English engineers, John Fowler and Benjamin Baker. The bridge and its associated railway infrastructure is owned by Network Rail.The distinctive red bridge, which links the villages of South Queensferry and North Queensferry, was opened by the Prince of Wales in March 1890, although was only classified as a UNESCO site on its 125th anniversary in 2015. The bridge spans a total length of almost 2500 meters and is an iconic symbol of Scotland’s engineering and architectural prowess and ingenuity. It also transports approximately 200 local and intercity trains across the Forth every single day.More
#7
Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

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Set amid splendid gardens at the foot of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official Scottish residence of the British royals, who first decamped here from nearby Edinburgh Castle back in the 15th century. The complex grew from a 12th-century abbey, whose ruins can still be seen on the grounds, into a full-fledged Baroque palace complete with elaborate plasterwork, sumptuous furnishings, and a number of tapestries. The palace is perhaps most famous for having hosted to the rather unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, whose beloved secretary was slaughtered here by her jealous second husband.More
#8
St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

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The official church of the Church of Scotland, St. Giles Cathedral and its famous crown spire tower over the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. With a history stretching back over 900 years, St. Giles is renowned for its beautiful stained glass windows, ornate Thistle Chapel, and busy concert calendar.More
#9
Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat

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One of several peaks in the long-extinct volcanic ridge that towers behind Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers hill walking in the heart of the city. Set within the 640-acre (260-hectare) Holyrood Park, it’s also the site of a 2,000-year-old hill fort. On a clear day, the summit promises spectacular views of the cityscape.More
#10
Calton Hill

Calton Hill

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Looming over Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, Calton Hill is one of the seven hills that the Scottish capital is built on. Come here for 360-degree views that encompass Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and, on a clear day, the Firth of Forth.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Edinburgh

3-Day Isle of Skye and Highlands Tour from Edinburgh
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Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe and Ben Nevis from Edinburgh

Special Offer

Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

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The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
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Loch Ness Glencoe and The Highlands from Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
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The Chocolatarium Chocolate Tour Experience
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Fright Night Tour

Fright Night Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in Edinburgh

star-5
Must do tour
Stephanie_j, Dec 2021
The Mountebank Comedy Walk of Edinburgh
Great tour ,fantastic way to see and learn absolute sh*t# about the city , certainly a great alternative tour of Edinburgh .
star-5
Fun!!
Natalie_H, Nov 2021
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions Entrance Ticket
Lots to see and do and to top it off it had an amazing view of Edinburgh at the top!
star-5
Alovely afternoon out
Ann_M, Nov 2021
Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
A good way to visit Edinburghs famous landmarks.
star-4
Good tour
Clair_B, Nov 2021
Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh
Good to see Edinburgh at night.
star-5
A fantastic evening - highly recommend
SARA_W, Nov 2021
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
It is a great way to see a different side of the city that you wouldn’t see walking around by yourself.
star-5
Quirky Tour Guide Leads to Great Fun
Chelsea_W, Nov 2021
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
It was a really nice experience, especially if you are only in town for a short amount of time and really want to see a different side of the city.
star-5
Lovely city bus tour
henrieta28, Oct 2021
Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
Great experience and option to see the most popular attractions in lovely historical city such as Edinburgh.
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Historic Edinburgh
Anne_S, Oct 2021
Small Group Royal Mile Walking Tour with Optional Entry to Edinburgh Castle
We chose the tour option to see the castle, and enjoyed seeing how the the castle was set up.
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Sightseeing adventure
ELIZABETH_C, Oct 2021
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Getting to see all the sights of Edinburgh in one experience!
star-5
Fantastic Place to Experience
Xena_S, Oct 2021
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions Entrance Ticket
Loads of really cool things to see and have a laugh with whoever you are going with.
star-5
I recommend Hellish!
Gracie_E, Oct 2021
The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
Great tour guide, entertaining, fun and great way to see a different side of Edinburgh for a very reasonable price and not a huge time investment.
star-5
Spooky and enjoyable
Emma_D, Sep 2021
The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
The underground bit was really good and the best part of the tour - would recommend this - great way to see Edinburgh by night
star-5
Excellent way to visit...
Corinne_M, Sep 2021
Edinburgh Sky to Sea Bike Tour by Manual or E-Bike
Excellent way to visit Edinburgh and see so much.
star-5
Fun
Christine_N, Sep 2021
The Mountebank Comedy Walk of Edinburgh
It was a good way to see more of a lovely city.
star-5
Small Group Size with More Attention to You!
Matthew_T, Sep 2021
Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh
Stuart for sure helped me get a good bearing of where to visit at Edinburgh.
star-5
Great experience in Edinburgh
Kate_B, Sep 2021
Small Group Edinburgh Underground Vaults Historical Walk with Private Option
Well worth an visit to see another side of Edinburgh.
star-5
The Highlands and Loch Ness
Janet_C, Aug 2021
Full-Day Trip to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh
If you want to see the highlands of Scotland then Viator tours are reasonably priced and value for money.
star-5
Great price, great way to see our capital.
Frances_W, Aug 2021
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
A great way to be able to see Edinburgh from a different perspective.
star-5
Amazing Experiance
Aftaab_M, Aug 2021
Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
thank you viator for making it happen Loads to see in Edinburgh .
star-5
A must!
Katie_B, Aug 2021
Loch Ness Glencoe and The Highlands from Edinburgh
Highly recommended if you’re staying in Edinburgh and want to see the best Scotland sights but are time limited

A local’s pocket guide to Edinburgh

Will Thompson

Will lived and studied near Edinburgh during his university years. He also worked for the Fringe Festival during the summertime.

The first thing you should do in Edinburgh is...

download the Transport for Edinburgh app. Bus and tram are by far the easiest ways to cross the city.

A perfect Saturday in Edinburgh...

includes a trip to the Camera Obscura, lunch on the Royal Mile, and a walk around Holyrood Park or the Royal Botanical Gardens. Finish up with dinner and drinks in New Town.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a whole month of art and theatre. You never know what you might see, especially with the Street Events along the Royal Mile.

To discover the "real" Edinburgh...

head south of Princes Street and towards the Meadows where you can enjoy all the great Edinburgh architecture, as well as the city’s parks.

For the best view of the city...

you should hike to Arthur’s Seat at the top of Holyrood Park. If you want an easier walk, take a quick trip up to Edinburgh Castle instead.

One thing people get wrong...

is believing that fried Mars Bars are something locals actually eat. However, if you do want to try one, you’ll find them in some Edinburgh chip shops.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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