08 Mar 2021

10 Must-See Places to Visit in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Scotland’s capital and where the great outdoors and city life collides. Yes, that’s right whether you fancy taking a wee wander around a long (thankfully) extinct volcano also known as Arthur’s Seat or perhaps to enjoy its architectural delights through the elegant Georgian New Town, Edinburgh has plenty to offer and lots of places to visit.

Stuck on where to go first? Here is a helping hand and a spot of inspiration from us. So quick, get a pen and a piece of paper or why not even screenshot this, because whether you only have a day or have hours to kill, these are 10 must-see places to visit in Edinburgh you don’t want to miss!

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1. Arthur’s Seat

Three people on the top of Arthur's Seat overlooking the view of the city below.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Hold on to your hat (quite literally) because Arthur’s Seat has some great panoramic views of the city. This giant hill plonked in the heart of Edinburgh makes for a good hillside walk and great for getting those extra steps in! Why not challenge yourself to get all the way to the top? You got this!

Top Tip: Remember to bring some good walking/comfortable shoes! We don’t want you getting any blisters!

Find out more about Arthur’s Seat on our easyGuide Arthur’ Seat – A Sneak…Peak of the Views of Edinburgh post.

2. Palace of Holyroodhouse

Photograph of the front of Holyroodhouse Palace.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

Right next door to Arthur’s Seat is the Queen’s Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Step back in time and into the historic grounds home to none other than Mary, Queen of Scots and while you are at it, why not stop for a spot of tea or a classic scone at the Palace café. The only question is, do you put jam and then cream or cream and then jam on your scone? A big question, I know!

This is a great family-friendly attraction! You can also explore The Queen’s Gallery or take a stroll through the scenic Palace Gardens. Sounds good? Then travel on over to our easyGuide Edinburgh to book your Palace of Holyroodhouse and Queen’s Gallery tickets.

Opening Times:

9:30 am – 4:30 pm (1st November to 31st March)
9:30 am – 6:00 pm (1st April – 31st October)*
*Keep in mind this attraction is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For the latest opening times check the Palace of Holyroodhouse website.

3.The Royal Mile

Street-view photograph of the Royal Mile with St Giles' cathedral on the left.
The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Why not walk up the way from The Palace of Holyroodhouse and onto the Royal Mile? Looks a bit different from the New Town, ay? That’s because this is…Well part of the Old Town which you will probably see by things like the cobbled stones and the medieval-looking buildings on either side of you. Just mind your head when you’re walking, though if you hear someone shouting up above “gardy-loo”, duck out the way quickly. We don’t want to be having an outfit change this early on, but at least there are plenty of ‘Edinburgh’ Hoodies on hand from the souvenir shops nearby.

“Gardy-loo” was used back in the day when someone would be emptying…Well…Their chamber pots out the window.

Moving swiftly on, there are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way. Take note that the Royal Mile is one of the perfect places to visit in Edinburgh if you are hanging around for the Fringe (a famous 3-week long arts festival) as there are plenty of street performers about and prepare to get a flyer or two.

And hey, since you’re here why not join us and find a bit more about the hidden history of the Royal Mile on our easyGuide Treasures of the Old Town with Palace of Holyroodhouse Tour. We will meet you outside St Giles’.

4. St Giles’ Cathedral

Photograph of the blue vaulted ceiling at St Giles' Cathedral.
St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

What a lovely spot! With free entry why not take a break from all the walking, slow down, take a seat and rest awhile. Not only is St Giles’ Cathedral beautiful with its gothic style architecture on the outside, but its stained glass windows on its inner depicting the Gospels and the crucifixion and ascension of Christ are also well worth looking at.

As well as on occasion hosting choirs and musicians making for a lovely sound with the tall vaulted acoustics, you might also want to explore more of St Giles’ by joining the free guided tour or enjoy the views from the Cathedral on the rooftop tour (£6 per person).

Opening Times: Entry for visitors between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Saturday.

5. Camera Obscura

An exterior shot of the top of the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh with a spire on the right of it.
Camera Obscura, Edinburgh

Yep, that’s right, keep going, straight on. Not far from St Giles’ Cathedral, you will find Camera Obscura, one of Edinburgh’s most popular ticketed attractions.

Have fun with cool optical illusions and watch the live pictures of moving people below. Alongside 360 city views, get your camera ready because this attraction provides ample opportunity for funny pictures.

To find out the latest seasonal Camera Obscura opening times, click here.

Admission (Full Price*):
Adults – £18.00
Concessions (Including Students and Over 65s) – £16.00
Children aged between 5-15yrs – £14.00
Under 5s are free.

*For further information and the most current information on ticket pricing visit Camera Obscura’s website.

6. Edinburgh Castle

A shot of Edinburgh Castle from below.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

You made it at last to the top of Royal Mile, and here you have Edinburgh Castle. You might want to carve out a good amount of time for this one – much to see, much to do.

The castle is the backdrop for one of Edinburgh’s best well-known summer events, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Peel back the centuries and discover all the changes the castle has faced over the years. And if you are there around 1 pm, try not to jump. Why? Because the One O’clock Gun is fired every day at 1:00 pm except on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day.

To get skip-the-line access to Edinburgh Castle and join us on our very own Royal Mile walking tour.

Want to get clued up about Edinburgh Castle? Then take a look at our Everything You Need to Know About Edinburgh Castle blog post where you’ll discover a host of great information from fun facts to ticket prices and opening times.

7. National Museum of Scotland

An upward shot taken from the National Museum of Scotland's Grand Gallery which shows its glass ceiling.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Royal Mile is the epic National Museum of Scotland. Located on Chambers Street, it neighbours other interesting places to visit in Edinburgh, such as Greyfriars and the National Library of Scotland.

Have you ever heard of The Crystal Palace? Yes, I am referring to the building here. Well, the National Museum of Scotland’s Grand Gallery almost seems reminiscent of this impressive Victorian structure and marks the starting point for many things to enjoy and explore.

So, come on let’s adventure through the animal kingdom via the Natural World Galleries and watch centuries of history and innovation of textiles be weaved together in the Art, Design and Fashion Galleries. There is much to see and do here! Find out more about the exhibits at The National Museum of Scotland.

Top Tip: This attraction caters to many interests and is an excellent stop for families and even has a packed lunch area as well as a lovely café overlooking the Grand Gallery.

Opening Times: For up-to-date information on The National Museum of Scotland click here.

Admission: Entry is FREE to the museum, but donations are accepted. To find out the latest information on admissions and bookings here.

8. Princes Street & Gardens

A woman by a set of traffic lights on Princes Street, Edinburgh.
Princes Street, Edinburgh

Ready to hit the shops? I thought so! Princes Street is a great place to head to if you are planning on doing a bit of shopping or grabbing that souvenir you have been looking for before your trip back home. Here there are a wide variety of shops many of which are characteristic of the UK Highstreet as well as places to stop for a bite to eat.

Although, shopping is one way to experience one of Edinburgh’s notable streets, take notice of what else is around you. This is the place to capture the heart of the city.

Top Tip: Why not cross the road, pop over into Prince’s Street Gardens and enjoy a picnic lunch beneath Edinburgh Castle.

9. Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

An photograph of the Glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh and framed on the left by some palm trees.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

This a wee bit out of Edinburgh city centre, but is well worthwhile. Take a bus or wander down to the Royal Botanic Gardens and take a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city. With 72 acres you have plenty of room to explore the all-year-round colour and some picturesque views of the city’s awesome landscape.

Enjoy free admission and hey if you are around during Christmas and New Year time why not check out Christmas at the Botanics, a spectacular annual Winter event. So, go on and get a little festive, grab your hot chocolate, and walk through the illuminated garden.

For information on opening times as well as more details on entry to The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

10. The Royal Yacht Britannia

An image of a rope with a pale blue and blurred sea background.

Come aboard, it’s time to set sail to one of Edinburgh’s most popular and well-loved attractions the Royal Yacht Britannia. Not only has this attraction passed with flying colours claiming Which? Magazine’s Best UK Attraction of 2020, but interestingly is Her Majesty The Queen’s former ‘floating palace’.

Opening Times: For the latest information on opening times, click here.

Admission (including audio guide):
Adults – £17.00
Concessions (students and over 60s) – £15.00
Children aged between 5-17 years – £8.75
Under 5s – Free
Family ticket with 2 adults and up to 3 children – £47.00

So, clear the deck of your timetable and pencil in this place to visit, because it sure fits the bill. Wow, that was a lot of sailing references.

And there we have it folks the 10 Must-See Places to Visit in Edinburgh. With so much to see and do why not make a little break out of it and remember don’t forget to pack your toothbrush.

Planning a whole trip or a long weekend to Edinburgh? Looking for inspiration for how to structure your days? Then have a nosy at our 3-day itinerary of Edinburgh.

Thank You From easyGuide

We hope you found our guide to 10 Must-See Places to Visit in Edinburgh useful. Don’t forget you can find tickets to the top attractions, activities, experiences and tours in Edinburgh here.

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