Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a historic and picturesque destination that offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors. From exploring the city’s ancient castles and museums to shopping and dining in its bustling streets, there is no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, food, or nightlife, this vibrant and eclectic city has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the top things to do in Edinburgh, including historical sites, museums and galleries, shopping and dining, and nightlife. So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, get ready to discover the best of Edinburgh and all that this beautiful city has to offer.
From Castles to Nightlife: The Best Things to Do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is home to many historical sites that offer a glimpse into Scotland’s fascinating past. Here are some famous historical sites of Edinburgh.
- Edinburgh Castle: One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, Edinburgh Castle sits atop Castle Rock and has been a royal residence and military fortress for centuries. Visitors can tour the castle’s museums and exhibitions, including the Scottish Crown Jewels and the famous One O’Clock Gun.
- Royal Mile: A historic thoroughfare that stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mile is lined with medieval buildings and is a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s history. Highlights along the Royal Mile include St Giles’ Cathedral, the Museum of Edinburgh, and the Scottish Parliament Building.
- Palace of Holyroodhouse: The official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse dates back to the 16th century and has played a significant role in Scottish history. Visitors can tour the palace’s grand rooms and see artworks from the Royal Collection.
- National Museum of Scotland: Housed in a stunning modern building in the heart of Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland offers a fascinating look at the country’s history and culture. Exhibits range from prehistoric Scotland to modern times, and highlights include a display of Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.
- Greyfriars Kirkyard: This historic cemetery is the final resting place of many famous Scots, including poet Robert Burns and economist Adam Smith. The cemetery is also home to the Greyfriars Bobby statue, a tribute to a loyal Skye Terrier who famously guarded his master’s grave for 14 years.
- Scott Monument: Dedicated to the famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, this Gothic tower is the largest monument to a writer in the world. Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views of the city.
- Mary King’s Close: This underground street is a fascinating look at Edinburgh’s medieval past. Visitors can take a guided tour and learn about life in the city during the 17th century, when the close was inhabited by merchants and traders.
Museums and Galleries:
Edinburgh is also home to many museums and galleries that showcase Scotland’s rich culture and history. When you visit Edinburgh, you must visit these following Museums and Galleries to explore the culture of Scotland.
- National Museum of Scotland: As mentioned earlier, this museum offers a comprehensive look at Scottish history, culture, and natural wonders. The museum is housed in a stunning building that blends old and new architecture and offers a wide range of interactive exhibits that cater to visitors of all ages.
- Scottish National Gallery: This art museum features a vast collection of Scottish and international art, including works by famous artists such as Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh. The gallery is located in the heart of the city and offers free admission.
- Scottish National Portrait Gallery: This museum is dedicated to portraiture and features a collection of portraits of famous Scots throughout history, including Mary, Queen of Scots, and Robert Burns. The museum also hosts regular exhibitions and events that explore the art of portraiture.
- Scottish Parliament Building: Designed by architect Enric Miralles, this modern building houses the Scottish Parliament and offers tours of its striking interior, which includes a dramatic debating chamber and a public exhibition space.
- The Writers’ Museum: This small museum is dedicated to the lives and works of three famous Scottish writers – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The museum features manuscripts, personal belongings, and other artifacts that offer a glimpse into the lives of these literary icons.
- Surgeons’ Hall Museums: This museum complex is home to one of the largest collections of surgical pathology specimens in the world, as well as a range of exhibits that explore the history of medicine and surgery in Scotland.
- The Museum of Childhood: This museum offers a fascinating look at childhood and play throughout history, with exhibits ranging from antique toys to interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to play and learn.
Shopping and Dining:
Edinburgh offers a wide range of shopping and dining options, from high-end designer stores to local markets and independent cafes. Let’s have a look at them.
- Princes Street: This bustling shopping street is one of the most popular in Edinburgh and is lined with a range of high-street shops, department stores, and luxury brands. The street also offers stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens.
- Multrees Walk: This upscale shopping district is home to a range of luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Harvey Nichols, and Burberry. The area is also known for its stylish architecture and bustling atmosphere.
- Victoria Street: This charming street is known for its colorful buildings and independent shops, including bookstores, gift shops, and fashion boutiques. The street is also home to a range of restaurants and cafes.
- Grassmarket: This historic square is a popular destination for both shopping and dining. The area is home to a range of independent shops, including vintage clothing stores and record shops, as well as a range of restaurants and bars.
- The Royal Mile: As mentioned earlier, the Royal Mile is a historic thoroughfare that is lined with a range of shops and eateries. The street is particularly known for its selection of Scottish souvenirs, including tartan, kilts, and whisky.
- Edinburgh Farmers’ Market: This weekly market is held every Saturday in Castle Terrace and offers a range of fresh produce, artisanal products, and prepared foods. The market is a great place to sample local delicacies and to stock up on ingredients for a picnic or a home-cooked meal.
- Dining: Edinburgh is known for its vibrant food scene, with a range of restaurants and cafes offering everything from traditional Scottish fare to international cuisine. Some of the city’s most popular dining destinations include The Kitchin, a Michelin-starred restaurant that specializes in Scottish seafood, and Dishoom, a Bombay-inspired restaurant that serves up delicious Indian dishes.
Edinburgh is surrounded by natural beauty and offers many outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. We are talking about some outdoor activities of Edinburgh in this article.
- Hiking and Walking: Edinburgh is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, making it a popular destination for hikers and walkers. Some popular routes include Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano in Holyrood Park with panoramic views of the city, and the Water of Leith Walkway, a scenic path that runs for 12 miles along the river.
- Cycling: For those who prefer to explore on two wheels, Edinburgh has a range of cycling routes, including the Union Canal towpath, which runs for 32 miles from Edinburgh to Falkirk, and the Innocent Railway Path, which runs from Edinburgh to Dalkeith along a former railway line.
- Golf: Scotland is known as the birthplace of golf, and Edinburgh has a range of golf courses for both beginners and experienced players. Some popular courses include the Royal Burgess Golfing Society, the oldest golf club in the world, and the Braid Hills Golf Course, which offers stunning views of the city.
- Watersports: Edinburgh is also located near the coast, making it a popular destination for watersports enthusiasts. Some popular activities include surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding, with several schools and rental companies offering lessons and equipment hire.
- Wildlife Watching: Edinburgh is home to a range of wildlife, including red squirrels, otters, and seals, making it a great destination for nature lovers. The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick is a popular spot for birdwatching, while the Scottish Deer Centre in Cupar offers the chance to see deer up close.
- Parks and Gardens: Edinburgh has a range of parks and gardens that offer a peaceful escape from the city. Some popular options include Princes Street Gardens, which is located in the heart of the city and offers stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, and the Royal Botanic Garden, which features over 13,000 plant species from around the world.
Nightlife of Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a city that knows how to have fun, and the nightlife scene is no exception. The city is famous for these following night activities.
- Pubs and Bars: Edinburgh has a long and proud tradition of pub culture, and there are countless options to choose from across the city. Some of the most popular pubs and bars include the Jolly Judge, a cozy, traditional pub that’s tucked away in an alleyway off the Royal Mile, and the Bow Bar, which is known for its extensive selection of real ales and whisky.
- Cocktail Bars: Edinburgh is home to a range of stylish cocktail bars, many of which are housed in historic buildings and offer stunning views of the city. The Devil’s Advocate, for example, is located in an 18th-century building and offers a range of creative cocktails made with Scottish ingredients, while Panda & Sons is a speakeasy-style bar that’s hidden behind a barber shop facade.
- Nightclubs: While Edinburgh is known for its pub culture, it also has a vibrant nightclub scene that caters to a range of tastes. Some of the most popular nightclubs include the Liquid Room, which hosts a range of live music events and club nights, and the Hive, which is known for its lively atmosphere and cheap drinks.
- Comedy Clubs: Edinburgh is also known for its thriving comedy scene, with a range of comedy clubs offering shows throughout the week. The Stand Comedy Club is one of the most popular, hosting shows every night of the week and featuring both up-and-coming comedians and established acts.
- Live Music Venues: Edinburgh has a rich musical heritage, and there are a range of live music venues throughout the city that cater to a range of genres. Some of the most popular venues include Sneaky Pete’s, which is known for its indie and alternative music events, and the Usher Hall, which hosts a range of classical and contemporary music concerts.
- Festivals: Edinburgh is also known for its festivals, which attract visitors from around the world throughout the year. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August, while the Edinburgh International Festival features a range of cultural events, including music, theater, and dance performances.
In conclusion, Edinburgh is a beautiful and historic city that offers a wealth of activities and attractions for visitors. From exploring the city’s ancient castles and museums to enjoying its lively nightlife, there is no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, food, or outdoor activities, this vibrant and eclectic city has something for everyone. We’ve covered just a few of the many options available in this article, including historical sites, museums and galleries, shopping and dining, outdoor activities, and nightlife. So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, be sure to add Edinburgh to your list of must-see destinations and experience all the amazing things to do in this beautiful city.