10 places worth your holiday in Edinburgh

by Alice

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a destination that seamlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone who enjoys vibrant city life, Edinburgh has something for everyone. Here are ten places in Edinburgh that are worth visiting on your holiday.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Perched atop Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that dominates the skyline of the city. This iconic landmark is not only one of the most visited attractions in Scotland but also a symbol of Scottish heritage.


History and Highlights

Edinburgh Castle has a rich history dating back to the 12th century. It has served as a royal residence, a military stronghold, and a symbol of Scottish independence. The castle houses the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, which have been used in the coronation of Scottish rulers.


What to See

Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny: These are among the most important historical artifacts in Scotland.


St. Margaret’s Chapel: The oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating back to the 12th century.

The Great Hall: Built by James IV in 1511, it features a spectacular hammerbeam roof.

Mons Meg: A massive cannon from the 15th century, one of the oldest in the world.

Visitor Information

Edinburgh Castle is open year-round, and guided tours are available. It’s advisable to book tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist season.

2. The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is a historic street that runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This bustling thoroughfare is lined with historic sites, shops, restaurants, and pubs.

Historic Sites

St Giles’ Cathedral: Known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, this medieval church has been a focal point of worship for nearly 900 years.

The Real Mary King’s Close: An underground warren of streets and homes that reveals Edinburgh’s hidden history.

John Knox House: The 16th-century home of the Protestant Reformer John Knox.

Shopping and Dining

The Royal Mile is also a hub for unique shops selling Scottish souvenirs, kilts, and whisky. Numerous pubs and restaurants offer traditional Scottish cuisine, making it a perfect spot for both sightseeing and dining.

Festivals and Events

During the summer, the Royal Mile becomes the epicenter of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival. Street performers, artists, and musicians fill the street, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.

3. Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park

Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano and the highest point in Holyrood Park, offering stunning panoramic views of the city. This natural landmark is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers.

Hiking and Trails

The hike to Arthur’s Seat is moderately challenging and takes about two hours round trip. There are several trails, each offering unique perspectives of the landscape. The most popular route starts at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and ascends via the Radical Road.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park is a 640-acre royal park that features a variety of terrains, including cliffs, lochs, and grasslands. It’s a haven for wildlife and a great place for picnics, jogging, and leisurely walks.

Historic Sites within the Park

St Anthony’s Chapel: Ruins of a 15th-century chapel offering picturesque views over St Margaret’s Loch.

Salisbury Crags: Impressive cliffs that form part of the geological landscape of the park.

4. The Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. It stands at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle.

Historical Significance

The palace has been a royal residence since the 16th century and has witnessed many significant historical events, including the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Visitor Experience

State Apartments: Lavishly decorated rooms used by the Queen for state ceremonies and official entertaining.

The Great Gallery: Houses portraits of Scottish monarchs, both legendary and historical.

Holyrood Abbey: The remains of a 12th-century Augustinian abbey, providing a serene and reflective space.

Gardens and Grounds

The palace grounds include beautiful gardens that are open to the public during the summer months. The gardens are meticulously maintained and provide a tranquil escape in the heart of the city.

5. The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibitions that span the breadth of Scottish history and culture, as well as natural history, science, and art from around the world.

Permanent Exhibitions

Scottish History and Archaeology: Covers Scottish history from prehistoric times to the present.

Natural World: Features a wide array of natural history specimens, including a life-sized Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

World Cultures: Exhibits showcasing artifacts from different cultures around the globe.

Interactive Displays

The museum is known for its interactive and engaging displays, making it an excellent destination for families and visitors of all ages.

Special Exhibitions and Events

In addition to its permanent collections, the museum hosts special exhibitions and events throughout the year. These range from art installations to scientific demonstrations.

Visitor Information

Admission to the National Museum of Scotland is free, although donations are welcome. The museum also has a café and gift shop, offering a complete visitor experience.

6. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a world-renowned scientific center for the study of plants and their diversity. It’s also a beautiful and serene place to explore.

Gardens and Collections

Rock Garden: Features alpine plants from mountainous regions around the world.

Glasshouses: Home to exotic plants from tropical and temperate climates, including a notable collection of orchids.

Woodland Garden: A tranquil area with a variety of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.

Educational Programs

The garden offers a variety of educational programs and workshops for all ages, focusing on plant science, horticulture, and environmental conservation.

Visitor Amenities

There are several cafes and restaurants within the garden, providing a perfect spot for a relaxing meal or snack. The garden also has a well-stocked gift shop with a range of plant-related merchandise.

7. Calton Hill

Calton Hill is another of Edinburgh’s prominent natural landmarks, offering panoramic views of the city. It is home to several iconic monuments and buildings.

Monuments and Attractions

National Monument of Scotland: An unfinished replica of the Parthenon in Athens, intended to commemorate Scottish soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars.

Nelson Monument: Erected to honor Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, it offers stunning views from its summit.

Dugald Stewart Monument: A memorial to the Scottish philosopher, it is one of the most photographed spots in Edinburgh.

Views and Photography

Calton Hill is a favorite spot for photographers, particularly at sunrise and sunset, when the light casts a magical glow over the city.

Cultural Significance

The hill has been a central point for many cultural events, including the Beltane Fire Festival, which celebrates the Gaelic May Day.

8. The Scotch Whisky Experience

For whisky enthusiasts, the Scotch Whisky Experience offers an in-depth journey into the world of Scotland’s most famous export. Located on the Royal Mile, this attraction is both educational and entertaining.

Tour Experiences

Silver Tour: Includes a guided tour and a tasting of a single malt or blended whisky.

Gold Tour: Offers a more comprehensive experience with a tasting of four single malt whiskies.

Platinum Tour: Includes a guided tour, a visit to the Whisky Collection, and a tasting of six whiskies paired with Scottish food.

Interactive Exhibits

The tour features interactive exhibits, including a barrel ride that takes visitors through the whisky-making process.

Gift Shop and Restaurant

The on-site shop offers a wide range of whiskies and related merchandise, and the restaurant provides a menu of traditional Scottish dishes, many of which are prepared with whisky.

9. The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia, now permanently docked in Leith, offers a glimpse into the royal life at sea. This former royal yacht was in service from 1954 to 1997 and has since been converted into a museum.

Onboard Tour

Visitors can explore the yacht’s five main decks, including:

State Apartments: Lavishly furnished rooms used by the royal family.

Crew’s Quarters: Living and working areas of the crew.

Engine Room: Immaculately preserved and often cited as the yacht’s highlight.

Exhibits and Memorabilia

The yacht is filled with exhibits and personal items from its time in service, providing insight into the daily life and official functions of the royal family while at sea.

Visitor Information

There is an audio tour available in multiple languages, providing detailed commentary on the history and significance of the yacht. The adjacent visitor center includes a café with stunning views of the harbor.

10. Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens, located in the heart of the city, are a beautiful public park that separates Edinburgh’s Old Town from the New Town. These gardens offer a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Features and Attractions

The Scott Monument: A Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, offering panoramic views from its upper levels.

Ross Fountain: A striking 19th-century cast iron fountain that has been recently restored.

Floral Clock: A unique clock made entirely of flowers, changing its design annually.

Events and Activities

The gardens host numerous events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and seasonal markets. During the winter, the gardens transform into a festive wonderland with the Edinburgh Christmas Market.

Gardens and Walks

The gardens are divided into East and West sections, each offering a variety of walking paths, sculptures, and seating areas. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

Visitor Information

The gardens are open year-round and are free to enter. They provide a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city, with stunning views of the surrounding architecture.


Edinburgh is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. From the ancient walls of Edinburgh Castle to the serene landscapes of Holyrood Park, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are exploring the historic Royal Mile, hiking up Arthur’s Seat, or savoring a dram of whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh offers a wealth of experiences that make it a must-visit destination.

With its blend of historic and modern attractions, Edinburgh invites you to discover its many treasures and create unforgettable memories. Whether you are a first-time visitor or returning to explore more, the city’s charm and hospitality will make your holiday truly special.



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