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Scotland: A Travel Guide: Edinburgh

Where to go and what to do in Scotland

About Edinburgh

Edinburgh, Scotland via Britannica

Britannica is a world-renowned encyclopedia, providing accurate and relevant information on a variety of topics. Looking to learn a little about Edinburgh’s history and what there is to see in the city? Read Britannica’s entry on Edinburgh to learn about the landscape, climate, areas, and people of Edinburgh. Many places to explore are discussed, and this is a great page to start on as you think about where you want to visit while in the capital city.

Edinburgh Castle & The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is the most iconic site in Edinburgh, sitting at the end of the Royal Mile atop a volcanic hill in the city center and home to the oldest standing building in the city. Any trip to Edinburgh should include a visit to the Castle grounds. Edinburgh Castle’s official website includes information on purchasing tickets, Castle history, what to expect when visiting, and more.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

The official residence of Queen Elizabeth II when she is in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse sits at the other end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle. A visit to the Palace includes access to the grounds that look out to Holyrood Park as well as a look into the life of the Royal Family. Visit the official website to book tickets and learn about the Palace’s history. Consider booking a combined ticket to visit the current exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery as well.

Old Town vs. New Town

Old Town and New Town

Edinburgh Castle and the shops off the Royal Mile make up the majority of Edinburgh’s Old Town. However, there is much more to explore both in the Old Town and the New Town. Check out Visit Scotland’s page above that includes information on what to do and see in both the Old and New Towns. Included are suggested destinations and links to external sites for additional information and booking tickets.

Museums

Edinburgh Museums and Galleries

One of the best things about visiting Edinburgh is that all of its museums are free. Museums and Galleries Edinburgh is a collection of 13 venues across the city. Their website includes information on all museums and galleries as well as traveling exhibits and other things going on in the city. This is a great resource as you decide what museums and galleries you want to visit during your stay in Edinburgh, as you can search their website by specific venue, when you’re going to be there, or on a topic of interest.

Parks

Edinburgh City Council Park Directory

There are beautiful parks throughout Edinburgh, many of which are not often visited by tourists, and a walk through the park can be a great break from the busy streets of the city center. The Edinburgh City Council offers an A-Z directory of all their parks, which includes information on park history, available facilities, locations, wildlife that can be found in each area, and more. The downside to this website is that you need to know what you’re looking for, as you can browse by letter or search for a specific park but there is no map from which you can explore more generally.

The Meadows

The Meadows is one of the most beautiful of Edinburgh’s parks. If visiting in springtime, it is definitely worth a visit to see the cherry blossoms along the main path through the park. Hidden Scotland is a great website for learning more about the hidden parts of Scotland. They have a page on The Meadows, above, offering some historical information on the park. The site in general is a great tool for browsing for places to visit and things to do. Make sure to check out their Instagram as well (linked on the Additional Resources tab).

Arthur's Seat

Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat

When you’re looking for a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, head over to Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat for a bit of time with nature. Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano just south of the Palace of Holyrood House at the base of the Royal Mile. The highest point in the city, Arthur’s Seat offers 360 degree views of the city and out to the Firth of Forth beyond. Visit the park’s official website to plan your trip up the crags. View maps, opening times, information on how to get there and what to see, as well as learn a bit of history about the area.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill

The third of the volcanic outcroppings that marks Edinburgh’s landscape, Calton Hill is a must see for anyone exploring Edinburgh. Visit the Edinburgh World Heritage website to view information on Calton Hill’s history, the various monuments that adorn the hill, and more.

The World Heritage website also includes an interactive map from which you can explore various areas of Edinburgh, including Calton Hill, and plan out your travels as you walk around the city.

Royal Botanic Garden

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden is a must see for anyone interested in plants and botanic gardens. Visit the official website to book tickets, learn about the Garden, and view information on what to see when visiting during any season.