Edinburgh and Scotland - Things to see and do

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is home to around 500 000 people. It combines fascinating history and beautiful scenery with cosmopolitan lifestyles and lively, international festivals.

The city is full of things to see and do – here are some of the reasons for coming to this historical, exciting, safe and beautiful city...

Whatever you want from your visit to Edinburgh and Scotland, you won’t be disappointed....

Historical Monuments and Buildings
Edinburgh Castle

Visit Edinburgh Castle for crowns, jewels, swords and Edinburgh’s oldest building. See how the British monarchy live at Holyrood Palace, attend a concert at St. Giles Cathedral or walk down The Royal Mile and visit the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby. Climb the 287 steps of the Scott Monument or Calton Hill for beautiful views of the city.

Scary Stuff
The Vaults

Take a ghost tour in Europe’s most haunted city and learn about the ghosts and murderers of Edinburgh’s past, discover the underground city at Mary King’s Close, scream scream scream at Edinburgh Dungeons, learn about witches and grave robbers on the Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour or have a drink at the Jekyll and Hyde or Frankenstein’s Bar.

Scottish National Museum

Edinburgh is full of museums, mostly completely free. There is the Museum of Childhood, a Writer’s Museum, £1 million at the Money Museum, the gruesome Surgeons’ Hall Museum, traditional lives at Gladstone’s Land and finally the fantastic Scottish National Museum with its history of Scotland and international collections.

Something Different

Discover crazy illusions at Camera Obscura, take a free tour of the Scottish Parliament, find out how whisky is made (and drink some) at the Scottish Whisky Centre, try a lively walking tour of the city, see how the Queen travelled the world on the Royal Yacht Britannia, or have a coffee at the Elephant House cafe – the birthplace of Harry Potter.

National Gallery of Scotland

For traditional art, you can try the National Gallery of Scotland, the National Portrait Gallery or the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace and for modern art, spend some time at The Dean Galleries, the Fruitmarket Gallery or the City Art Centre.

Music and Dancing
Ceilidh (Scottish Dancing Party)

For live music, there is the Jazz Bar or for folk music, try the Royal Oak pub. If you want to dance late into the night, see the latest nightclub listings in The List magazine or have enormous fun at a Scottish dancing party, called a Ceilidh.

Parks and Gardens
Botanic Gardens

Edinburgh is a very green city. Try climbing Arthur’s Seat (250m) for views of the whole city, have a BBQ with friends in "the Meadows", take a walk through the Botanical Gardens and visit the glasshouses or just lie on the grass in Princes Street Gardens.

Edinburgh Bike Tours

If you want to be active in Edinburgh, try Edinburgh Bike Tours, Europe’s largest climbing arena (EICA), the Hillend artificial ski slope for skiing and tubing or play tennis like Andy Murray at the Meadows Tennis Courts. You can also try golf for free in a city centre park at Bruntsfield Links, watch football at Easter Road and Tynecastle or rugby at Murrayfield.

Restaurants and Food
A dessert

Think Scottish food is just fish and chips? Try some modern Scottish food like smoked salmon, mussels, Scottish beef or haggis at Angels with Bagpipes or Dubh Prais. Or taste delicious Scottish chocolate at The Chocolatarium, they even have Scots Pine and Haggis flavour. 

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

Try before you buy at The Whisky Shop on Victoria Street or try the Farmer’s Market under the castle for fresh local food. Head to Harvey Nichols and Mulberry Walk for designer wear and the Edinburgh Woolen Mill for a tartan scarf.

Festival Fireworks

Edinburgh hosts 12 festivals every year including a Science Festival, Film Festival, Art Festival and a Book Festival. The most famous is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, held every summer. In 2014, there were over 3000 different shows in nearly 300 venues – making it the largest arts festival in the world. Check dates on the Edinburgh Festivals website.

Edinburgh Day Trips
Roslyn Chapel

Beautiful places near Edinburgh include Roslyn Chapel, made famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Tantallon Castle near North Berwick. Within 1 hour of Edinburgh there is the Forth Rail Bridge, Crammond Island, hiking in the Pentland Hills, Melrose Abbey and the city of Glasgow, for great shopping and the Kelvingrove Museum.

Eilean Donan Castle

Just a few hours' from Edinburgh is Scotland’s stunning scenery and unspoilt wilderness. If you love the outdoors, there is camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and water sports. Try golf in St. Andrews, Stirling Castle and the William Wallace monument or enjoy a weekend tour to Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye and the Castle of Eilean Donan.