Things to Do in Edinburgh: The 20 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
You plan to visit Edinburgh during your trip to Scotland?
Divided into two parts, the Old Town (medieval city) and the New Town, the city offers the possibility to dive into two completely different universes.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have created this guide of the 20 best things to do in Edinburgh, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.
In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit Edinburgh in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
And as always, this travel guide contains all my best tips to make the most of your stay.
So, what to do in Edinburgh? Let’s start with the best places to visit!
- Things to Do in Edinburgh: The 20 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
- Visit Edinburgh: All Must-See attractions
- The 6 Best places to visit around Edinburgh
- What to do in Edinburgh when it rains?
- Best things to do in Edinburgh with family
- Visiting Edinburgh on foot
- How many days to visit Edinburgh
- 1 day in Edinburgh
- 2 days in Edinburgh
- 3 days in Edinburgh
- 4 days in Edinburgh
- 5 days in Edinburgh
- Where to stay in Edinburgh
- Where to eat in Edinburgh
- What's the Best time to visit Edinburgh?
- Edinburgh Tourist Map
- You're traveling to Scotland? These articles will help you!
Visit Edinburgh: All Must-See attractions
1. Edinburgh Castle
Let’s start this guide of the best places to visit with Edinburgh Castle, the most emblematic monument of the city.
Built in the 12th century and considered as one of the most impressive castles in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city from the top of a volcanic rock.
Surrounded by an immense fortress, it served as a royal residence and military base before becoming a major historic museum. It’s nowadays the most visited tourist attraction in the country! Some even say the castle is haunted (like every other castle in Scotland 😜).
The castle is located in Old Town, at the top of the main street called “the Royal Mile”. It offers one of the most beautiful views over the city.
You can visit the interior (where many objects are exposed, including the famous crown jewels), the gardens, a small chapel and the war museum. The only downside? You have to endure at least 2 hours of queuing to be able to get in during high season…unless you plan your visit in advance!
My best advice in order to save you a painful wait, is to buy your skip the line tickets in advance here. This will allow you to get inside directly, without having to queue at the ticket office. You will save a lot of time!
2. The Palace of Holyroodhouse
Located opposite Edinburgh Castle, at the very bottom of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse once belonged to Mary Stuart and is now one of the Queen’s second homes. She comes to spend a few days there every year in July.
If you visit Edinburgh at this time, ask about the dates as the Palace is closed to visitors on these days.
This beautiful palace is clearly one of Edinburgh’s must-see attraction! The great thing is that the audio guide is included in the entrance fee: you will become an expert on the history of the castle.
In addition to the interiors and State apartments, the abbey ruins and gardens are also splendid. Don’t miss them during your visit!
Being as busy as the castle, you should get your ticket here in advance to avoid hours of waiting.
Otherwise, admission is also included in the Royal Edinburgh Ticket.
3. The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is the heart of Edinburgh Old Town.
It starts from Edinburgh Castle and goes until the Palace of Holyroodhouse, at the very bottom.
The Royal Mile is very long, featuring many monuments, museums and attractions to discover. The medieval architecture, cobbled streets and historical buildings are stunning!
As it’s the most touristic place in the city, you will also find lots of street artists, souvenir shops and restaurants.
While walking down this beautiful street, you should also explore the small perpendicular alleys to discover the Old Town of Edinburgh.
Here are the best places to see on the Royal Mile:
- Saint Gile’s Cathedral
- Canongate Kirk
- The Real Mary King’s Close
- Milne’s Court
- Dunbar’s Close Garden
- White Horse Close
- The Scottish Parliament House.
It’s the street you don’t want to miss during your stay in Edinburgh!
4. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is one of Edinburgh’s most popular and oldest tourist attractions.
Located at the top of the Royal Mile, close to the castle, this museum of optical illusions is really fun and well done. It’s a great visit if you’re visiting Edinburgh with your family!
The “camera obscura” is particularly impressive: it recreates a live miniature 360° animated panorama of the city thanks to a periscope through which the images are projected. It’s hard to understand it without seeing it with your own eyes, but I assure you that it’s really nice to watch!
And at the top of the building, don’t miss the superb view over the old town.
All information about access, prices and opening hours can be found on the official website.
To avoid waiting in line, you should really book your tickets in advance by clicking here!
5. Arthur’s Seat
During your stay in Edingburgh, you should definitely head to Arthur’s Seat Hill.
Located in front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a short 1h30 – 2h hike in the Scottish moors. It really seems like a small piece of the Highlands countryside was brought to the heart of the city.
A real breath of fresh air during your visit to Edinburgh!
It’s a bit steep, but reaching the top of this 250 meters tall ancient volcano will reward you with a superb panorama over the whole city.
You're going to Edinburgh?
You probably know it: the hardest part of planning your trip is to find an hotel offering a good value for money!
And that's even worse in big touristic cities like Edinburgh 😅.
The closer you get to your travel dates, the harder it will be to get a good deal. Lots of people will be visiting Edinburgh on the same dates as you, so you can be sure that the best deals are booked extremely quickly!
Hopefully, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem: do like me and book your hotel as early as possible!
So, my best advice is to take 5 minutes (now) to have a look at the list of travelers' favorite hotels in Edinburgh.
And if you see a good offer, book it!
Most hotels offer free cancellation, so it's quick, easy, and you will avoid the the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.
To check the current best deals for your hotel in Edinburgh, simply click on the green button below 😎:
Once you've booked your hotel, it will be time to continue reading this guide and find out more about the best things to do in Edinburgh!
During your visit to Edinburgh, you will pass by the magnificent St Giles' Cathedral.
Located on the Royal Mile, this medieval Gothic cathedral is the oldest religious building in Edinburgh. Built in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the 15th century following the fire that ravaged the city in 1385.
You can't miss it on your way down the Royal Mile, just a few hundreds meters from the castle. Take some time to have a look at the beautiful details of its facade, typical Scottish architecture and its strange bell tower.
As the entrance is free, you should really go inside to admire its superb stained glass windows and visit the small chapels that surround the nave.
Organ concerts are often held here for special events.
You can learn more about the Cathedral on the official website.[caption id="attachment_29727" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Edinburgh's St. Giles Cathedral[/caption]
You're looking for the best things to do in Edinburgh? Then you should visit the National Museum of Scotland!
This extremely rich museum has the advantage of being free, so there is no reason to deprive yourself of this interesting cultural break.
Located in the Old Town (more precisely on Chambers Street) in a nice building, the National Museum of Scotland is very large (6 floors) and you can easily spend a few hours there to see everything.
This modern, fun and interactive museum will appeal to adults and children alike!
During your visit, you will learn a lot about Scottish history and culture through Archaeology, fossils, fashion, science, art, or even technology exhibitions.
It is surely one of the most interesting museums in Edinburgh.
You can find all practical information to plan your visit on the National Museum of Scotland's official website.[caption id="attachment_29728" align="aligncenter" width="840"] The National Museum of Scotland[/caption]
This museum is dedicated to the history and fabrication of whisky, the national pride of Scotland.
It's located at the beginning of the Royal Mile, right next to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions museum.
The tour starts in a merry-go-round where you ride in a barrel through different rooms. You then arrive in a room where a film is shown, before moving on to a tasting session.
And finally, you will discover a huge collection of bottles in the "trophy room", the largest whisky collection in the world!
Even if you're not a whisky fan, you'll have a great time and learn interesting things. The tour takes about 1 hour.
However, whisky enthusiasts may prefer to visit a more authentic distillery. The Scotch Whisky Experience is more a museum for the uninitiated.
In the building, you can also enjoy the restaurant and a whisky bar with more than 400 whiskies, making it one of the 3 best whisky bars in Scotland.For more info and to book your tickets in advance here, you need to click here. And if you want to learn more about Whisky during a more personalized experience, you should really opt for this history of Whisky themed evening. The experience includes tasting of 4 whiskys and Stephanie, your guide, is amazing! [caption id="attachment_29729" align="aligncenter" width="840"] The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh[/caption] Grassmarket is one of the most lively areas of the city. Located close to the castle and featuring a vast cobbled square surrounded by pubs, restaurants and shops, it's the perfect place for dinner and/or to have a drink in a relaxed atmosphere.
In the past, in addition to being a market place, Grassmarket square was also the place where public execution took place. Hopefully nowadays, the atmosphere is a lot more joyful!
You will for sure enjoy to stroll around while enjoying the view over the castle, do a bit of shopping and drink a pint of beer on a café terrace.
There is also a lovely market every Saturdays (+ Sundays during the month of August).[caption id="attachment_29730" align="aligncenter" width="840"] The Grassmarket area[/caption]
Another popular tourist site for thrill and adrenaline seekers is the Greyfriars graveyard.
This picturesque Scottish cemetery is said to be the most haunted cemetery in the world... So go there at your own risks 😋 (preferably at night)!
Located in the Grassmarket area, on Candlemaker Row, Greyfriars cemetery will really give you shivers with its tombs dating back several centuries, its desecrated vaults, mausoleums and statues with threatening airs... Going there will feel like being trapped inside an horror movie!
If you love ghost stories, you should really take a guided tour. They are amazing!
It needs to be booked in advance by clicking here.[caption id="attachment_29731" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Greyfriars Cemetery[/caption]
Also located on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh, "The Real Mary King's Close" takes you on a tour to some of the city's streets and underground houses, where some of the population once lived.
This guided tour features costumed actors and combines historical facts, humor and ghost stories. The old streets and houses are still intact and give a real insight into the harsh living conditions of some of the Edinburghers during 17th century.
It's an amazing and very educational tour, you will love it!
As it's a very popular tourist attraction, you need to buy your tickets in advance here.[caption id="attachment_29732" align="aligncenter" width="840"] The Real Mary King Close[/caption]
You're looking for another way to learn more about the ghosts and mysteries of Edinburgh?
Then you should opt for a Ghost Tour!
Strongly imbued with the mysterious and ghostly atmosphere that legends have given it over the centuries, the Scottish capital also owes its charm to its ghost and crimes stories.
If you love these kinds of stories and are lucky enough to spend a few days in Edinburgh, it would be a shame to miss a nightly guided tour through the city's most creepy and haunted places.
You will for sure love this 1 hour tour in a double-decker bus, exploring the city's dark past with this unique comedy horror sightseeing show. You need to book your tickets right here!And if you prefer to do a Ghost tour on foot rather than by bus, Here are the 2 best ones, with exceptional guides! You should do a Ghost Tour in Edinburgh![/caption]
You've visited the whole Old Town part of Edinburgh?
So it's time for you to head to New Town, the more contemporary part of the city.
First, you will go to Princes Street, the street that marks the boundary between the two parts of the city.
To get there, you will only have to cross a bridge from Old Town and you will suddenly find yourself in a completely different world!
Located at the foot of the Castle's Hill, Princes Street is the main shopping street of Edinburgh.
On Princes Street don't miss:
- Princes Street Gardens, overlooking the castle
- The Scott Monument
- The Scottish National Gallery
The beautiful Charlotte Square is also located in New Town, just a few meters from Princes Street.
This square featuring a typical Georgian architecture was partially designed and built by Robert Adam, a famous architect, at the end of the 18th century.
It has remained intact since then and is a perfect example of elegance and refinement.
Don't miss the official residence of the Prime Minister (Bute House, No. 6) and Georgian House No. 7, a typical 18th century Georgian house you can visit.[caption id="attachment_13228" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Charlotte Square[/caption] Where to go in Edinburgh to enjoy a great view over the whole city? To Calton Hill!
You will be able to enjoy a spectacular view over the whole city and the sea from this lush green hill located in New Town.
The walk is rather pleasant and not too steep, you will reach the top in less than 10 minutes.
In addition to the breathtaking viewpoint up there, you will also discover several remarkable monuments including the Dugald Stewart Monument and the Nelson Monument.[caption id="attachment_29736" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Calton Hill[/caption]
Let's continue this Edinburgh travel guide with another museum: the National Gallery of Scotland.
If you're a classical art enthusiast, you should really visit it!
This free museum is located in a beautiful neoclassical building. The gallery exhibits many works by Scottish but also international artists, dating from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century.
A really pleasant 1 or 2 hours cultural break!You can find out more about the current exhibitions on the official website. [caption id="attachment_29737" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Scottish National Gallery[/caption]
Also in New Town, Dean Village is a former millers village built on the banks of the Water of Leith River.
You can go there on foot from the city centre in about 15-20 minutes
You will see, it's a very surprising place, contrasting greatly with the rest of Edinburgh. The village was home to millers for nearly 800 years and featured no less than 11 watermills.
Today, it's one of the most upscale neighborhood of the city. You can stroll along the footpath that runs along the river, in a bucolic and soothing atmosphere.[caption id="attachment_29738" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Dean Village[/caption] You're spending a few days in Edinburgh and you're looking for more things to do? Then you can visit the Royal Botanical Garden.
Known to be one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world, the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh is located in New Town.
As it's quite large (over 28 hectares), you will need at least 2 or 3 hours to visit it. There are beautiful greenhouses, an arboretum, a Chinese garden and even, in the summer months, the world's largest collection of rhododendron.
The Garden also offers beautiful views over the town and the castle.
It's a great way to relax and enjoy a bit of greenery during your stay in Edinburgh![caption id="attachment_29739" align="aligncenter" width="840"] The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh[/caption] Visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia is another great thing to do in Edinburgh!
Located north of the city center, on the coast, the Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the most famous ships in the world. This former British royal yacht was in service from 1953 to 1997 and is now open to visitors.
There, you will learn more about royal family, their travel and discover the luxurious interiors of the 5 decks of the ship.
You can even dine and have tea on the royal verandah...classy![su_box title="Voyage Tips - Advice" box_color="#ff6600" radius="2"]If you buy the Royal Edinburg Ticket, admission to the Royal Yacht Britannia is included. If you don't have it, you should really purchase your skip the line tickets to avoid waiting: Tickets for the Royal Yacht Britannia[/su_box] [caption id="attachment_29740" align="aligncenter" width="840"] The Royal Yacht Britannia[/caption]
20. Spend the evening in a pub
Visiting Edinburgh without going at least once to a pub is unimaginable!
As you may know, Scotland is also the land of pubs, so you should really experience the atmosphere of one or more pubs during one of your evenings in Edinburgh!
If you don't know which one to choose, I recommend you the Royal Oak, in Old Town. It's located on Infirmary Street, in the bustling Cowgate area (a street parallel to the Royal Mile).
The Royal Oak is a Scottish pub as you would imagine it to be: authentic, lively, with good live Scottish music and drinks, all in a friendly atmosphere that is suitable for evenings with friends and family.And if you want to discover the best of Edinburgh's nightlife with party lovers from all over the world, you should definitely do a Pub Crawl! That amazing experience needs to be booked here. You will see, it's a lot of fun! [caption id="attachment_28237" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Enjoy an evening at the pub[/caption]
BONUS: Attend a festival
There are festivals of all kinds and all year round in Edinburgh.
Science festival, jazz, tattoo festival, international film festival (every year in June), music or book festival... there is really something for everyone.
You can plan your trip to be in the city during the festival of your choice, or take advantage of the ones that takes place at the time of your visit.
You're looking for the most famous festival?
Then you should go to the Fringe Festival, which takes place every year in August and features amazing street performances.
The 6 Best places to visit around Edinburgh
If you spend a few days in Edinburgh, you will have the opportunity to visit the surroundings. Here are the best places to visit around Edinburgh:
- Pentland Hills National Park: located just outside the city, southwest of Edinburgh. This is is the perfect place for great walks in the hills and moors. In the winter you can even ski here! Don't miss the Rosslyn Chapel, a sumptuous church famous for being a filming location of the Da Vinci Code movie. It's a great place to hike around Edinburgh.
- Portobello beach: not really "in the surroundings", as the beach is actually part of the capital, but it's not very well known to tourists. Located on the city's eastern border in the Portobello district, this beautiful white sand beach attracts Edinburgh's residents during the weekends. A good idea for a family outing on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
- North Berwick: a small town facing the North Sea, less than 1 hour from Edinburgh. A walk on the beach, bird watching on the islets surrounding the bay, a boat trip or hiking to the top of North Berwick Law for a breathtaking view of the coastline, you won't lack of things to do!
- South Queensferry: yet another charming coastal village to spend a quiet afternoon. From here, you can admire the famous and imposing red metal bridge that connects Edinburgh to the Fife region (the Forth Bridge).
- Scone Palace: a bit less than 1 hour drive from Edinburgh, Scone Palace is a major historical site in Scotland. The Georgian Gothic castle built in 1808 is built on a huge estate. You can easily spend half a day visiting the castle and the beautiful gardens. One of the most popular places to visit around Edinburgh!
- Stirling: a beautiful city steeped in history, 1 hour from the capital. It was here that the bloody battle of 1297 between the Scots and the English took place. You can easily spend a whole day here and visit the city center, the beautiful castle or the cemetery.
From Edinburgh, you can also do a few guided tours to the Highlands and the Isle of Skye (click on the orange links for more information):
- From Edinburgh: 3 days in the Highlands and Isle of Skye - Enjoy a 3-day tour with transport, guide and accommodation included to discover Eilean Donan Castle, the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness.
- From Edinburgh: 3 days on the Isle of Skye in a small group - This tour from Edinburgh includes transport in a minibus (16 people maximum), a driver, a guide and accommodation. You will visit Stirling, Doune Castle, Glencoe, the Isle of Skye, the Loch Ness and more!
- Speyside Whiskey Trail from Edinburgh - A 3 days tour in Speyside region, famous for hosting the best whisky distilleries in Scotland! Accommodation with breakfast + transport + guide and driver are included in the price.
What to do in Edinburgh when it rains?
Let's face it...if you manage to spend a few days in Edinburgh without seeing the rain once, you should go play the lottery right away!
But don't worry, rain is an integral part of Scottish life and there is of course a lot to do in Edinburgh even when it rains.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Visit the museums of course! There are many, and most of them are free. So if it's raining heavily, take advantage it and learn lots of new things. And You have plenty of choice: National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One and Two, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Childhood, Museum of Writers...
- Discover Edinburgh Castle: the interior can be visited fairly quickly, but you can also take refuge in the National War Museum located inside the ramparts.
- The Palace of Holyroodhouse can also be visited on a rainy day.
- Royal Mile attractions such as the Camera Obscura, the Real Mary King's Close and the Scottish Whisky Experience will provide you a shelter and a good time.
- Go shopping in the city's largest shopping mall, the Ocean Terminal, in Leith. Inside, there is also a covered walkway to the Royal Yacht Britannia, another place to visit in Edinburgh when it rains!
- You can also go to a pub of course!
- And Visit a whisky distillery.
Best things to do in Edinburgh with family
Edinburgh is definitely the kind of city to visit with your children.
They will be charmed by the mysterious and magical atmosphere that reigns in Old Town, and adults will love the city's architecture and monuments.
Here are the best things to do in Edinburgh with your family:
- Walk down the Royal Mile to admire the medieval buildings and watch the street artists
- Stop at the Harry Potter shop
- Discover Edinburgh Castle with a treasure hunt: a special tour organized for children!
- Visit the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions: a great attraction to enjoy with your kids
- Walking and picnicking in Princes Street Garden and/or Calton Hill
- Visit the Greyfriars cemetery at night to get a thrill (for older children)
- If your kids love museums, the National Museum of Scotland is free and perfect for them because it's a lot of fun!
Visiting Edinburgh on foot
You want to explore Edinburgh on foot?
Here is a one-day itinerary that will allow you to see the main points of interest in Old Town and New Town.
If you are lucky enough to spend several days in Edinburgh, you can spread this itinerary over 2, 3, or 4 days. I will explain everything in detail a bit further on.
You will start your visit of Edinburgh by discovering Old Town. The best is to start your tour at the top of the Royal Mile, next to Edinburgh Castle. From there, walk down the Royal Mile while admiring the medieval architecture of the buildings around you.
At the very end of the Royal Mile, you will find the Palace of Holyroodhouse, located at the foot of Arthur's Seat, the hill that dominates the city.
You can of course go there and enjoy a magnificent view over Edinburgh, however, as the hike is a bit long (about 1h30-2h), it's not what I would recommend if you just have 1 day and want to get a glimpse of the whole city.
It's in my opinion a better choice to continue along Calton Road and climb to the top of Calton Hill (a lot faster, about 10 minutes only) to enjoy another great view of the city.
Now, you will head to New Town's main street: Princes Street.
Walk down this wide shopping street and stop at the Princes Street Gardens where you can relax, have a coffee, picnic and enjoy the view over the castle.
Walk up Georges Street and continue west up to Charlotte Square and its beautiful Georgian mansions.
You should then go to Dean Village for a pleasant stroll along the river.
End the day in Stockbridge (about 15-minute walk from Dean Village), where you'll find many bars and restaurants to spend the evening.[caption id="attachment_28224" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Edinburgh - Scotland[/caption]
How many days to visit Edinburgh
The Scottish capital is full of places to discover and things to do, but it's relatively small and therefore easy to visit on foot.
The different points of interest are quite close to each other, so you won't have to walk a lot!
If you're in a hurry, you can easily get a good overview of the city in 1 or 2 days. However, if you prefer to take your time and visit the interior of the monuments, 3 or even 4 days is the ideal duration to visit Edinburgh
In order to make the most of your stay, here are itineraries to visit Edinburgh in 1, 2, 3 or 4 days. And if you have more time, you can always go visit the surroundings of Edinburgh![su_box title="Voyage Tips - Advice" box_color="#ff6600" radius="2"]If you arrive in Edinburgh with a flight, the best and cheapest way to get to the city center is to book your aiport transfert in advance by clicking here. [/su_box]
1 day in Edinburgh
If you have only one day to visit Edinburgh, you should focus on Old Town, the historic centre. This will allow you to explore the district without hurrying and even have time to visit the most famous monuments!
Here is your 1 day Itinerary:
- Start with a visit to Edinburgh Castle
- Slowly walk down the Royal Mile
- Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse
- Hike to the top of Arthur's Seat and enjoy the view
- Dinner and evening Cowgate and Grassmarket area. You can also do a "Ghost Tour".
If you prefer to visit Old Town without going inside the monuments and have time to go through New Town as well, you can rather opt for the itinerary I suggested above in "visiting Edinburgh on foot".
And if you don't feel like walking, the best way to see all the sights of Edinburgh without getting tired is to take the Hop-on Hop-off tourist bus:
[su_button url="https://www.getyourguide.com/edinburgh-l44/24-hour-edinburgh-hop-on-hop-off-tour-t3205/?partner_id=BO84AWZ" target="blank" rel= "nofollow" style="flat" background="#5eca0c" size="10" center="yes" desc="I want to visit Edinburgh by sightseeing bus"]I book my Hop-on Hop-off tourist bus tour now! [/su_button]
2 days in Edinburgh
To visit Edinburgh in 2 days, the best is to do one day in Old Town and one day in New Town
So take the previous itinerary for your 1st day and add the following visits for your second day:
- Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia
- Hike to the top of Calton Hill
- Shopping on Princes Street
- Stroll in Princes Street Garden and climb to the top of the Scott Monument to admire the view
- Visit the Scottish National Gallery
- Head to Charlotte Square to admire the Georgian architecture.
That's the best way to make the most of your 2 days in Edinburgh![caption id="attachment_29742" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Panorama of Edinburgh[/caption]
3 days in EdinburghIf you have 3 days in Edinburgh, you should spend 2 days in Old Town and a third one in New Town. In addition to the 2 days described above, here are the places to visit for your 3rd day:
- The National Museum of Scotland
- The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
- The Scottish Whisky Experience
- The St Giles' Cathedral
- A guided tour by bus or on foot (Harry Potter tour or Edinburgh catacombs tour or The Real Mary King's Close for example!)
4 days in Edinburgh
You're planning to spend 4 days in Edinburgh?
You'll have time to spend 2 days in Old Town and 2 days in New Town. This will allow you to visit all the points of interest I talk about in this article!
Here is the program for your 4th day:
- Start with the Royal Botanical Garden
- Visit The Scottish national modern art gallery
- Take a walk in Dean Village
- Spend your evening in Stockbridge district.
And if you prefer to visit the surroundings of Edinburgh, you can have a look at my suggestions below, in "5 days in Edinburgh".
5 days in EdinburghIf you have 5 days in Edinburgh, on the last day you can visit the surroundings of the city. You can choose between:
- Hiking in the Pentland Hills National Park
- Relaxation at Portobello beach
- Visit the pretty seaside villages in North Berwick and South Queensferry
- Visit the Scone Palace or the Stirling Castle
And if you don't want to rent a car for the day, you should book one of the following day trips from Edinburgh.
They are very convenient, as the transportation from your hotel is included + you will benefit from the explanations of a guide for your visits!Here is my selection of the best day trips available from Edinburgh. Simply click on the orange links below for more information:
- From Edinburgh - Loch Ness, Glen Coe and Highlands: spend the day in the countryside to admire the scenery of Loch Ness and the Highlands. A Loch Ness cruise is also included!
- Edinburgh - Visit Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and Stirling Castle: Visit Stirling, pass by Doune Castle, walk through the Trossachs Park and finish the day with a cruise on Loch Lomond.
- From Edinburgh - 1 day tour of the Highlands, Stirling Castle and whisky: a day trip by minibus with a visit to Stirling, a tour of the Trossachs Park and a visit to a whisky distillery, including of course a whisky tasting. If you are not a whisky lover, you can choose to visit Doune Castle instead.
- Highlands tour with the Hogwarts Express train! - The best tour for Harry Potter fans 😉
- Excursion to discover the lakes and castles of Scotland: visit in small groups (maximum 16 persons) of Doune castle and Argyl castle, stop in front of Stirling and Kilchurn castle. You will also pass by Callander, Loch Luibnaig, Loch Fyne and Loch Lomond.
- From Edinburgh - St Andrew's and the fishing village of Fife: visit the historic and picturesque villages of the kingdom of Fife and the medieval town of St Andrews where Scotland's oldest university is located. Discover Falkland, one of the most beautiful villages in the country.
- From Edinburgh - Outlander-themed excursion: visit the filming locations of the Outlander TV show, adapted from the novels written by Diana Gabaldon.
- From Edinburgh: Rosslyn Chapel and Scottish Borders: day trip to discover the Rosslyn Chapel (a filming location of The Da Vinci Code movie) and the remarkable Melrose Abbey founded by the Cistercians.
Where to stay in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel: Youth hostel located only 800 meters from the train station and Princes Street. Bed in a dormitory from 30€ per night, breakfast at 6€. Strong points: cleanliness, great location, friendly staff.
- Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket: Located in the city centre, 10 minutes walk from the castle. Contemporary and elegant double room from 90€, breakfast included. Strong points: the very helpful staff, the spacious rooms, the very comfortable bed. It is my favorite for its amazing value for money!
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh: Located on the historic Royal Mile Street, 10 minutes from the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Chic and refined double room from 200€ per night, breakfast at 14€. Strong points: central location, spa, heated indoor swimming pool, gym, and the excellent breakfast!
- Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh: 5 star hotel located on the Royal Mile, 600 meters away from the castle. This luxury hotel offers comfortable and elegant double rooms starting at 300€ per night, breakfast at 18€. Strong points: located in the heart of Edinburgh's historic centre, the interior design, very helpful staff, absolute comfort. This is the best hotel for a luxury stay in Edinburgh!
Where to eat in Edinburgh
Even if Scotland is not necessarily famous for the delicacy of its cuisine, they are a few very good restaurants in Edinburgh. Indian, Italian, Asian cuisine, pizzerias, hamburgers, seafood or local cuisine...you will find everything!
I personally loved the David Bann restaurant located on Saint Mary's Street (Old Town) which serves healthy, refined and original cuisine with Indian, Asian and European influences. All this with a friendly and attentive staff in a simple and elegant setting.
You can also dine in the pubs, including the very good Royal Oak that I mentioned earlier.[su_box title="Voyage Tips - Advice" box_color="#ff6600" radius="2"]Here is a small tip for pub meals: you generally need to order your food and drinks at the bar. If you sit at a table and wait for someone to serve you, it will probably never happen! If you want to discover the local gastronomy, the best is for sure to opt for a food tour! Your journey through the food culture of Edinburgh starts here: [su_button url="https://www.getyourguide.com/edinburgh-l44/edinburgh-3-hour-secret-food-tour-t103652/?partner_id=BO84AWZ" target="blank" rel= "nofollow" style="flat" background="#5eca0c" size="10" center="yes" desc="I want to discover Edinburgh's best food"]I book my guided food tour now! [/su_button] [/su_box]
What's the Best time to visit Edinburgh?
Although Scotland is a land of legends, its cloudy and rainy weather is not one of them. The winter (December to February) is often very harsh and the summer (late June to September) is particularly rainy, even if beautiful days are also to be expected during this period.
The best season to visit Edinburgh in my opinion would be in spring, between April and June. You would enjoy long sunny days, as well as avoid the crowds of tourists that invade the Royal Mile, attractions and museums in July and August.
September is also a good time to visit the Scottish capital.Of course, if you don't have the choice, a trip to Edinburgh in summer is also amazing! Just be prepared to see a few other tourists 😜. But if you follow the tips I gave you in this article, you will at least skip the waiting lines!
Edinburgh Tourist Map
To help you visualize the city a bit better, I've made a tourist map of Edinburgh listing the places to visit I'm talking about in this article. You can display the map legend by clicking on the button in the top left corner with a small arrow.
Scotland travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet Scotland guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the DK Eyewitness Scotland guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk