A majestic place, Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of the biggest cities in the entire United Kingdom. With more than 15 kilometres of coastline, Edinburgh has a definite seaside influence. Edinburgh offers a wide range of activities as well as many stunning tourist sights and will provide a perfect holiday for most any type of holidaymaker. With lots of shopping, attractions, historical architecture, exciting annual events, and world-class performing arts, including music, comedy, and dance performances, travellers will never be stuck for something to do. There are many museums well worth a visit for art lovers, while the wide variety of pubs, clubs, and bars offer a great number of options for nightlife. Many top restaurants can be found in the area, offering a perfect start to the evening, and guided tours can be arranged to experience the city in full.
Top Things to do and see in Edinburgh
Edinburgh offers tourists lots to see and do, and a large number of fascinating attractions. While you're near the water, take a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia - a magnificent vessel that the British Royal Family used for more than 40 years. If you're into luxury, this yacht is a must-see!
If you want to spend some time away from the water, head to the Royal Botanic Garden. With countless kinds of plants and trees, the Garden offers a great setting for an afternoon walk.
If you want to combine elegance with history, head to Edinburgh Castle. Standing atop high volcanic rock so that it overlooks the entire city, Edinburgh Castle is one of the world's most imposing sights. Inside, you'll find military exhibits and even Scotland's crown jewels. The Castle is so big that you can easily spend an entire day there or look for one of the many Edinburgh Castle hotels that offer a view of it. However, the better the view you want, the more you likely will have to pay.
Craigmillar Castle is a medieval building that was once home to Mary Queen of Scots and features a beautiful tower house, stunning gardens, and a courtyard providing amazing views over the city and surrounding areas. Lauriston Castle, Crichton Castle, Blackness Castle, and Tantallon Castle are also great places in the area to visit.
Arts and Entertainment
The many museums in the city offer a fun and educational experience for young and old alike, and provide many insights into the area. The National Museum of Scotland has more than 20,000 exhibits and 36 galleries covering everything from Charles Darwin to dinosaurs and the ancient Egyptians. The Museum of Childhood is also situated in Edinburgh, and offers unique educational exhibits of toys and games dating from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The Writers' Museum, Dynamic Earth, and the National Museum of Flight are also well worth a visit when in Edinburgh.
Shopping in the city centre is a great way to spend a day, and there are a wide range of shops to visit. Princes Street, George Street, and Multrees Walk are all well worth exploring.
Edinburgh is home to many annual events which take place throughout the year, and there's no better time of year to visit than the festival season in August, when the city plays host to a collection of events including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The city's population doubles during this month but the air of friendliness never falters.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is particularly special, with its buzzing vibe and performances by dancers, pipers, drummers, and military bands from all over the globe. For a hands-on experience, Ceilidh Culture is an annual event which offers art, storytelling, and dance workshops and is suitable for the whole family. Horse lovers can enjoy the Royal Highland Show in Ingliston, which attracts thousands of people each year and is a big part of the Edinburgh area festival calendar. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a world famous event featuring comedians, musicians, and other performers from all over the globe. It is the biggest arts festival in the world, and offers an enjoyable experience for all.
There are also a number of events held during the winter, one of the most popular of which is the Edinburgh Sparkles Treasure Hunt. The city has been dubbed the best place in the country to spend Christmas due to its various festivities and celebrations complete with fairground rides, ice skating, a German Christmas market, and tens of thousands of sparkling lights.
With restaurants offering Scottish fare, international cuisine eateries, Michelin star fine dining restaurants, famers markets, and a large selection of tearooms, Edinburgh has a lot to offer on the food and drink front. Travellers can visit a simple, traditional pub such as The Sheep Heid Inn to sample the local fare, or opt for an international beverage experience at Le Monde, which offers drinks from all over the world. The West End is home to the Candy Kitchen and Bar, another trendy place which offers some of the best cocktails in town. Tigerlily offers a stunning interior, and is great for a unique night out.
If you prefer something more upmarket, Edinburgh has an assortment of Michelin Star restaurants from which to choose. Restaurant Martin Wishart offers stunning views over the water, as well as an assortment of fabulous seafood dishes. The Balmoral Hotel has its own Michelin star restaurant called Number One, which offers some of the finest dining in the city and a warm and inviting ambiance. Castle Terrace and The Kitchin are other highly recommended Edinburgh restaurants.
There are a number of different sports and outdoor activities one can take part in during a stay in Edinburgh. Bicycle riding is an excellent way of exploring the city, and there are many biking trails running through the city's parks. A coastal walk may be ideal if you fancy finding some of the hidden beaches the area has to offer, while adrenalin junkies can take on the indoor climbing wall at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, or Alien Rock. Winter sport enthusiasts can go skiing at the Midlothian Snowsports Centre or ice skating at the Murrayfield Ice Rink. If you visit during Christmas time, it is well worth visiting the biggest outdoor ice rink in the UK at the Princes Street Gardens, close to Edinburgh Castle.
Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Edinburgh, and Murrayfield Stadium is home to many of the most exciting matches, with international matches and Six Nations events being the highlights of the Edinburgh rugby calendar.
There are many stunning golf courses in the Edinburgh area where enthusiasts can enjoy a relaxing round, including a number of courses in nearby East Lothian, and the world famous Muirfield Golf Course. Many of the golf courses feature historic buildings onsite, which adds a unique something extra to the golfing experience.
Parks and the Great Outdoors
For those that love the great outdoors, getting some fresh air by taking a walk in one of the many beautiful parks Edinburgh has to offer is a great option. Carlton Hill is located in the city centre making it very convenient for walkers and hikers, and features an amazing Athenian acropolis and one of the best views available in the city. The West Princes Street Gardens and East Princes Street Gardens are both well worth a visit, and run along either side of Princes Street in the city centre. They offer a nice and relaxing place to walk after a spot of lunch, shopping, or sightseeing. The Edinburgh Castle Gardens are open to the public, and are ideal for walking around in after a visit to the Castle itself.
Many of the hotels in Edinburgh offer spectacular views of the coast. When you stay at one of them, you can take in beautiful views from your room and on a leisurely stroll. And, as an added benefit, most of the coastal areas are only a few miles from the city centre.
With a wide range of accommodation on offer to travellers, there is something for every visitor, regardless of budget or preference. For a bit of luxury, you can opt for one of the five-star hotels in the area, many of which are located near the city centre. On the other hand, if money is tight, there are a number of warm and inviting bed and breakfast guesthouses to stay at, as well as a number of hostels located throughout the city. There are also a number of self-catering options to be found throughout the city, including apartments available for short term rental.