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Edinburgh hosts 12 major cultural events each year including The Fringe (the world’s biggest arts festival) and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (one of the biggest street parties in the world). Edinburgh is also a UNESCO City of Literature and its city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Find out exactly what to do, where to go and what to see in Edinburgh in this ultimate guide.

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The best things to do in Edinburgh

There are a huge number of things to do in Edinburgh that offer locals and visitors alike a great time, whether it’s climbing to the top of an extinct volcano, wandering down the atmospheric medieval streets that join The Royal Mile or exploring the grandest castle in Europe, all in a compact city that’s easy to navigate and oozes culture and history from every nook and cranny.

In fact, Edinburgh has so many attractions it can get a bit overwhelming trying to decide which ones to visit – a task that’s made a thousand times more difficult for visitors who only have a day or two to explore this utterly unique Scottish metropolis.

It’s not so bad if you live in the area because you can always come back another day, but how do you decide on the best way to spend your precious time if you’re a visiting tourist?

It’s a question I get frequently asked and in this article I hope to give potential visitors to Edinburgh the definitive guide for suggestions on where to go and what to do while they’re here.

The majority of the attractions in the list below are historic in nature – something that’s unavoidable when coming to a city with over a thousand years of history – but I’ve also included some modern attractions as well as a few in the great outdoors to balance things out a little bit.

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Map of attractions in Edinburgh

Outdoor places to visit in Edinburgh

The Water of Leith

Address: Visitor Centre –  24 Lanark Rd, Edinburgh, EH14 1TQ
Website: The Water of Leith

The Water of Leith winds 22 miles from the Colzium Springs in the Pentland Hills to Leith, and over the course of its journey it passes many famous Edinburgh landmarks.

Visitors to Edinburgh might not be aware of the river, but if you have a few days to explore the city you’ll be well-rewarded by a walk on the miles of quiet pathways that run alongside it.

One of the most popular entry points is at Stockbridge, well-known amongst Edinburgh locals for its cute gift shops and delicious bistros, and there’s a myriad of well-signposted paths that lead onto the riverside.

The Water of Leith walkway extends for 12 miles so if you want to do the entire route you might consider hiring a bike, although walking on foot is probably the best way to enjoy it as there are several sections that are broken by steps and gates.

Other popular entry points are Dean village where you can see the remains of Edinburgh’s watermills, and Bonnington which is another interesting site for the city’s old industrial heritage.

Top-tip: A good idea to plan your journey is to pick up a Water of Leith route map from any of the information centres in the city centre, but the visitor centre at the Slateford Aqueduct in south-west Edinburgh is preferred because it allows you to get a map and a coffee before heading onto the river footpath.


Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park
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Address: Queen’s Drive, Edinburgh, EH8 8HG
Website: Holyrood Park

Situated about a mile to the East of Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park is an outstanding area of natural beauty that offers tourists and locals alike a haven of tranquillity in the midst of Scotland’s capital city. Although the park is located centrally inside Edinburgh it has an array of natural wonders to explore over its 650-acre wilderness.

Wild meadows, peaceful lochs, mountain-like ridges and swathes of gorse take visitors on a cross-country journey all within a few minutes walk from Holyrood Palace. On a quiet day when there are few tourists around it’s easy to forget you’re in a busy city and instead imagine that you’re way up in the Scottish Highlands.

The most accessible route onto the paths that lead into the park is to walk down The Royal Mile towards the Scottish Parliament Building where you can’t fail to miss the towering Salisbury Crags looming overhead.

You can walk around the perimeter of the park or you can follow the road that winds its way across it, but if you really want to experience the beauty of the place it’s a good idea to just follow the well-maintained pathway that runs through the centre.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can climb up to the 800-foot-high summit of Arthur’s Seat – the highest point in Edinburgh – to take in breath-taking views of the city. Be aware that although the path to the top is well-used it’s also a hard climb so anyone with a medical complaint might want to consider giving it a miss.


The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens
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Address: Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ
Website: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

One of the best botanic gardens in the UK is located in Edinburgh and a short bus ride from the city centre will allow you to explore over 13,000 different plant species in the most beautifully landscaped and manicured grounds you’re ever likely to see.

For tourists, the facilities at the RBGE easily match those found at any other Edinburgh attraction with cafés, a restaurant, snack stations, a gift shop and an information centre catering to the needs of visitors of all ages.

Due to their immense size the gardens can be entered via several different gatehouses so you’d be wise to pick up a map at the visitor centre to get your bearings at the start of your visit.

Although the gardens are free to enter it’s well worth paying the entrance fee to get into the premier attraction of the RBGE which is the incredible tropical jungle that lives inside the enormous glasshouses.

These glasshouses contain some of the oldest plants in the entire collection as well as some of the largest, which makes for a fascinating walk around the 3,000 exotic plants that have been sourced from all over the world.

Other highlights include a woodland garden, an enormous tree collection, a Rhododendron collection, alpine houses, and a botanic cottage (which is used for education and community sessions), while the visitor centre houses exhibitions that change on a regular basis.


The Royal Mile

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Address: Edinburgh, EH1 2PB
Website: The Royal Mile

There aren’t many streets in the world that are a tourist attraction in their own right but Edinburgh’s Royal Mile easily takes the title on account of its fascinating mix of architecture and history.

Threading its way through the heart of the Old Town, the Royal Mile is a one-mile cobbled and paved road that links Edinburgh Castle at its top and Holyrood Palace at its bottom.

Not only will you pass St. Giles Cathedral, Gladstones Land and John Knox House as you meander up the gently sloped street, you’ll also pass many locations that will give you a glimpse into Edinburgh hundreds of years ago.

Top-tip: Keep an eye open for Makars Court, a quiet courtyard set back from the hustle and bustle of the main thoroughfare that’s home to The Writers Museum. Here you’ll find exhibitions and works from some of Scotland’s most famous writers including Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.

For the ultimate Royal Mile experience I’d suggest you sign up for a guided tour offered by one of the guides found hanging around the rear of St. Giles Cathedral near the Mercat Cross.

These tours are reasonably priced and professional, with each guide being an expert in the history of the murder and crimes that were part and parcel of the Old Town in years gone by.

The Royal Mile is also a tourist hub for its souvenir shops, pubs, and restaurants, all selling the best produce that Scotland has to offer. If you want to purchase genuine Harris Tweed goods, drink Scottish-brewed beer or buy a bottle of premium Scotch whisky, The Royal Mile will have something to offer you.

Historic buildings in Edinburgh

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace
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Address: Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX
Website: Holyrood Palace

The palace of Holyrood House (as it’s officially known), is the main residence of the British monarchy in Scotland, located at the opposite end of The Royal Mile from Edinburgh castle. The palace has a long history dating back to the 12th-century and it’s still used to host state occasions to this day.

Holyrood Palace offers lots of activities for visitors including viewing the official staterooms of Mary Queen of Scots and the Throne Room, as well as exploring the ruins of Holyrood Abbey and the beautiful palace gardens.

The route through the interior rooms will take you on a tour of the history of the building including the 17th-century king’s apartments, the Great Gallery, and the 16th-century apartments where Mary Queen of Scots lived.

After visiting the inside of the palace the ruins of Holyrood Abbey are usually the last area to be explored which is an extremely atmospheric place and very photogenic.

Finally, no visit to an attraction like this would be complete without a visit to the café which is, of course, top-notch. The quality of the food on offer is amazing, and although it’s a little pricey it’s well worth the expense.


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
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Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG
Website: Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is everything that’s great about the best Scottish attractions. It’s awe-inspiring, very old, in a stunning location and has more things to see and do than you’ll be able to fit into one visit.

There are ancient buildings to walk through, lots of interesting artefacts to look at, some excellent museums to wander around and a superb collection of exhibitions, gift shops, and cafés.

You can reach the castle entrance by following The Royal Mile to the very end of its northernmost point where you’ll be presented with a magnificent open courtyard.

This is where the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place every year where military bands and performers from all over the world come together to entertain a quarter-million tourists annually, watched by upwards of 100 million people on TV.

The Royal Palace is perhaps the most impressive section of the castle as it houses not only the royal apartments but also the great crown room which houses the Honours of Scotland.

These artefacts are the Scottish equivalent of the Crown Jewels held in the Tower of London and they’re no less magnificent, comprising a crown, sceptre and the Sword of State.

The Stone of Scone – the ancient stone upon which Scottish monarchs were crowned – is also held within the vaults of the crown room and all the exhibits are presented with lots of background information which is great if you’ve got inquisitive children with you.

Although tickets to the castle are a bit expensive it really is an amazing place to visit and it totally justifies its inclusion in this list of the best things to do in Edinburgh.

Special offer! Click this affiliate link to purchase a Historic Environment Scotland Explorer Pass from Viator. Your 5-day or 14-day pass allows free entry to more than 77 castles, cathedrals, distilleries and more throughout Scotland. With passes starting at just £35 (as of 2019) it’s an absolute bargain!


Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirk
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Address: 1 Greyfriars, Edinburgh, EH1 2QQ
Website: Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirk sits in a prime location opposite the tower entrance of the National Museum of Scotland and just a few yards up from Candlemaker Row – the winding street that leads onto the Grassmarket.

The kirk is still very much in use as a parish church as well as being a tourist hot-spot for visitors keen to visit the wee Highland Terrier, Bobby. The story of Greyfriars extends back through many centuries and the old kirk is full of history as it’s one of the oldest surviving buildings outside of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

There’s a small museum on the site that tells the story of the religious history of Greyfriars from the time of the Franciscan monks to the present day, and it includes one of only a handful of the original copies of the National Covenant that was signed in the Kirk in 1638.

Visitors are free to walk around the outside of the kirk at any time and can explore the inside at times when there aren’t any services or events going on.

The kirkyard that surrounds the church is managed by a separate trust and walking through the site you can’t fail to be impressed by the number of tombstones, monuments and vaults that are crowded into such a small area.


St. Giles Cathedral

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Address: High St, Edinburgh, EH1 1RE
Website: St. Giles Cathedral

The distinctive 15th-century crown steeple of St. Giles Cathedral is one of the most-viewed features of any building in Edinburgh and it takes a place alongside Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace as one of the most historically significant buildings in the city.

The church has been a focal point for religious activity in Edinburgh for over 900 years (although the building that we see today traces its roots back to the 14th-century), and due to its central location on The Royal Mile it is a popular tourist attraction.

The church is still an active place of worship so visiting it might not be possible during times of prayer but during the week tourists are free to enter and explore the Cathedral as much as they like.

There are five services held every Sunday and on average fourteen take place in St Giles every week, often with the St. Giles Cathedral Choir singing in full voice. The choir is world-renowned and they have released several albums that can be bought from the gift shop, alongside other souvenirs to remind you of your time in Edinburgh.

Historic areas in Edinburgh

The Grassmarket

Edinburgh City Centre
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Address: Old Town, Edinburgh, EH1 2HS
Website: The Grassmarket

The Grassmarket in Edinburgh is a bustling collection of pubs and restaurants which sit around a large open square at the southern edge of Edinburgh Castle. Because the district is so centrally located within the city you can easily find it by either walking west from the Cowgate or walking south from the Castle Esplanade.

The Grassmarket is full of Scottish architecture from the 17th-century and many of the high-rise tenement buildings that Edinburgh became famous for are still in use as private homes.

It really is a very pretty part of the city, especially at nearby Victoria Street which is famous for the colourful shopfronts that slope gently upwards towards the George IV Bridge.

Heading back down to the Grassmarket you might be surprised to see that the area is so spacious considering the rest of the Old Town is so compact and built-up.

The reason for this lies in the original purpose for which the area was used, namely as a place to sell horses and cattle – hence the name Grassmarket which derives from the time when grass was kept in the square to feed the animals.

This part of Edinburgh has been popular with tourists for a number of years due to the assortment of pubs that line the streets and it’s still enjoyed today with outside seating areas for a number of restaurants.


Dean Village

Dean Village
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Address: Dean Path, Edinburgh, EH4 3AY
Website: Dean Village

Once the location of an 800-year-old grain milling industry, Dean Village is now best known for its beautiful architecture which features in so many iconic photos of Edinburgh.

Dean Village developed its numerous mills thanks to the Water of Leith which powered the milling stones that refined wheat crops brought in from around the Lothians. In its heyday, there were eleven working mills in this one small area of Edinburgh along with buildings to house the hundreds of mill workers.

The mills went into a slow decline in the 19th-century until a program of regeneration began in the 1970s, and today Dean Village is one of the most sought-after residential areas in Edinburgh.

Many locals go there to enjoy walking along the pathways that run alongside the river and the village has become popular as a hidden oasis away from Edinburgh’s crowds of tourists – although it’s actually only one mile from the city centre.

A good route to follow when walking through the village is to admire the stunning architecture of Wells Court and then continue down under Thomas Telford’s imposing Dean Bridge.

From there you can either follow the path onwards to Stockbridge with its vibrant cafés and bars or you can take a short walk up to the Modern Art Galleries on Belford Road.

Leith

Leith
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Address: Leith, Edinburgh, EH6
Website: Leith, Edinburgh

The main shipping port at Leith has been instrumental in the development of Scotland as an important trading partner with Europe and this fascinating area of Edinburgh is definitely worth visiting today.

Although the industrialised areas of the port are still in use – with the extensive dockyard still receiving ships from all over the world – Leith is nowadays recognised for its trendy pubs, bars and restaurants.

After a long period of neglect, Leith was extensively redeveloped in the 1970s and it’s now regarded as one of the premier hipster hotspots in Edinburgh thanks to a significant program of regeneration over the last twenty years.

Highlights in Leith are the Ocean Terminal shopping centre with its wide variety of shops and restaurants and the Royal Yacht Britannia that’s permanently moored alongside.

Further inland is the Leith Farmers Market which is held every Saturday, and this bustling wee market has become a foodie mecca with sumptuous home-made produce tempting tourists wherever they turn.

Other attractions include Leith Late, an annual multi-arts festival held in June where some of the country’s best up-and-coming artists get to showcase their works to the general public, and Michelin starred restaurants like The Kitchin, and Restaurant Martin Wishart which serve top-class food in impressive 17th-century buildings.


Calton Hill

Calton Hill
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Address: City Observatory, 38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA
Website: Collective

Calton Hill is a large hilltop located close to the hustle and bustle of Princes Street where a collection of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks are situated within a few hundred feet of each other.

The hill is included in the UNESCO World Heritage status that’s been awarded to the city which is hardly surprising considering the amount of history you will find there.

If you walk east from the city centre you’ll be guided by tourist information signs that direct you up the short walk to the top of the hill and from there you can take in breath-taking views of the city, from the rising faces of Salisbury Crags to the south to the dramatic views of the city centre to the west.

Once at the top you’ll find lots of interesting landmarks on Calton Hill including the National Monument, the Nelson Monument, and the City Observatory.

The National Monument is Scotland’s memorial to the Sottish soldiers and sailors who died during the Napoleonic wars and it’s the dominating feature of Calton Hill, while just a few yards away is the commemorative tower that honours Admiral Nelson.

Nearby to the tower is the Dugald Stewart Monument which offers a gorgeous view of Edinburgh and is one of the most-photographed landmarks in the city.

Calton Hill has recently been redeveloped as a tourist attraction by Collective, a group that has installed a restaurant, an art gallery and a viewing platform on the site of the old city observatory.

Museums and galleries in Edinburgh

The Scottish National Gallery

scottish national gallery
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Address: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
Website: The Scottish National Gallery

No visitor to the Edinburgh can fail to be impressed by the huge neo-classical Scottish National Gallery, or by the adjacent Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) building located behind it.

The galleries display some of the most significant art collections in the world including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Constable, Turner, Monet, and Van Gogh, while the biggest part of the collection covers the entire history of Scottish painting including works by Ramsay, Raeburn, Wilkie and McTaggart.

The present Scottish National Gallery was designed by celebrated architect William Playfair to house the national art collection of the RSA and it continued to house the collection until 1912 when the RSA moved into the building behind it.

After extensive remodelling the Scottish National Gallery re-opened with an emphasis on presenting a selection of the best Scottish and European art – a theme which remains to this day.

There’s an underground area that’s particularly popular with tourists as it houses an excellent restaurant and café, and a shop selling copies of some of the artworks that can be seen in both galleries.

The entrance is located at the same level as Princes Street Gardens and it’s a great place to visit for a bite to eat after spending time enjoying the nation’s collection of priceless artworks.


The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

National Gallery Modern Art
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Address: 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR
Website: The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The primary purpose of the National Gallery of Modern Art is to showcase the Scottish national collection of contemporary art dating from the early 20th-century to the present day, and the vast collection covers all forms of media across 6,000 pieces, from paintings and video to sculpture.

The galleries are divided into two separate buildings – the Modern One and the Modern Two.

Modern One is highly-regarded for its ever-changing exhibits, while the permanent collection includes dramatic pieces from renowned artists like Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol.

Across the road, Modern Two houses selections from the permanent collection as well as a continually updated catalogue of exhibits, and interested members of the public can view the history of modern art media in the comprehensive library and archive.

Externally, a sculpture park created by the landscape designer Charles Jencks dominates the lawn of Modern One where a huge serpentine mound surrounds a crescent-shaped pool of water along with lots of other sculptures and works of art.

The gallery provides a bus service to transport visitors from the Scottish National Gallery in the city centre out to the Modern Art Gallery and back again, while cafés can be found both in Modern One and Modern Two, along with souvenir shops, an art library and the book archive.


The Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Address: 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD
Website: The Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery contains the national collection of portraits, as well as the national photography collection, all of which are studies of famous Scots from various periods of history.

In total, the collection boasts over 3,000 paintings and sculptures, plus 25,000 prints and drawings and an incredible 38,000 photographs.

The building stretches out symmetrically on either side of the main hall and the artworks are displayed over an expansive three floors in rooms that still feature decorations installed by the Victorians.

Amongst the collection are several prominent figures from Scotland’s history that will be immediately recognisable including Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald – the Jacobite heroine who helped the Bonnie Prince escape to France after his rebellion was crushed in 1745.

The gallery publicly displays an impressive 850 works at any one time, and facilities for visitors include an education centre, shops, café and disabled access.


The National Museum of Scotland

national museum scotland
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Address: Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
Website: The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is the largest museum in the country. Set across 5 floors, this popular tourist attraction in Edinburgh takes visitors on a voyage of discovery through a series of collections that range from East Asian exhibits to Scottish culture.

There is so much to do at The National Museum for Scotland that you will struggle to fit it all into one day, so my recommendation is to explore it over a couple of days alongside the other attractions in this article.

The museum is split into two halves – a Victorian arcade that has been recently restored and a modern gallery building. While the modern building is by far the largest area the Victorian building is more impressive thanks to its grand vaulted iron and glass ceiling and its wide-open galleries that line the main hall over three levels.

The galleries have been designed to appeal to adults and children alike and you’re guaranteed to find something that will interest you whether it is art and design, natural history, technology, archaeology or world culture.

Families will be kept entertained by exhibits that can interacted with and there are on-site cafés and shops to break up your visit. It’s remarkable that there is so much on offer and admission is completely free.

Other visitor attractions in Edinburgh

The Scottish Parliament Building

holyrood parliament
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Address: Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
Website: The Scottish Parliament Building

The Scottish parliament building in Edinburgh is the home of the Scottish government and it is a world-class example of modern architecture. Sitting at the bottom of The Royal Mile on 4 acres, the building is an unusual tourist attraction but it’s well worth taking a look around inside, especially as it’s free to get in.

The location where the Parliament building is located seems to perfectly sum up Scotland, with the natural wonders of Holyrood Park to one side, the majestic Holyrood Palace on another, and the historic Royal Mile running past it and up towards the centre of the capital city.

The building has won several international awards for its architecture and visitors are welcome to explore it year-round.

On non-sitting days (usually Mondays, Friday, and weekends) visitors can view the Main Hall and can access the public galleries of the debating chamber and the main committee rooms.

Guided tours are also available on non-sitting days which allow visitors to access the Garden Lobby and committee rooms, but visitors must be in the company of an official guide as they explore the building.


The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience
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Address: 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE
Website: The Scotch Whisky Experience

If you’re on a visit to Edinburgh your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience, located just a short walk from Edinburgh Castle Esplanade on The Royal Mile.

The attraction features tours and whisky tasting sessions along with a very enjoyable journey through the history of one of Scotland’s most famous exports, brought to you by several resident ghostly tour guides.

At the beginning of the tour you sit inside a whisky barrel which transports you back in time while taking you on a journey through a replica distillery. The story of the distilling process is told by the ghosts of the old distillery and at the end you get to have a whisky tasting session with one of the (alive) tour guides.

Each tour is led by a knowledgeable whisky expert who’ll teach you the history of whisky production from its earliest days to the multi-billion pound industry that it is today.

The high point of any of the tours has to be the whisky collection which has the record of being the worlds largest, housing an incredible 3,384 bottles. The collection took over 35 years to build and you’ll find it hard to believe that so many different types of whisky were ever created.

The Scotch Whisky Experience also features a superb whisky gift shop, a café and a restaurant.

If you love whisky I recommend joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society: Become a member for exclusive access to the world’s biggest selection of single cask whisky


The Royal Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo
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Address: 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS
Website: Edinburgh Zoo

Set over 82 acres of parkland on the south-facing slope of Corstorphine Hill, Edinburgh Zoo is the second most popular tourist attraction in Scotland after Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh zoo has a huge amount of things to see and do, and with over a thousand animals to look at including lions, monkeys, penguins, tigers, and the only giant pandas in the UK, you’re definitely not going to get bored.

The enclosures that house these animals are exceptional, especially Penguins Rock which has Europe’s largest outdoor penguin pool and the Budongo Trail where you can watch chimpanzees in one of Europe’s most innovative man-made habitats.

Other enclosures are home to exotic birds, reptiles, insects and mammals from all over the world, with each habitat clearly signposted and marked so that you won’t ever find yourself getting lost.

Even so, as a top tip I’d recommend going to their maps and guides page which has an interactive map and a free downloadable pdf so you can get to grips with the layout before heading out.

Facilities available include a gift shop, two restaurants and a coffee shop, and there are several smaller fast-food eateries dotted about as well.


The Royal Yacht Britannia

Royal Yacht Britannia
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Address: Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6JJ
Website: The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia is the former yacht of the British Royal Family which now takes pride of place at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre at Leith in Edinburgh.

Over the course of her working life Britannia sailed over 1 million miles around the world and she’s now open year-round for visitors to follow in the footsteps of world leaders as they walk through her beautifully ornate rooms.

As you walk round Britannia’s five main decks you can listen to an interesting audio guide that explains what life was like onboard not only for the royal inhabitants but also for the Royal Navy crew that manned her during her voyages.

Starting at the bridge, you pass through the state apartments, the crew quarters, and the engine room before finally reaching the Royal Racing Yacht, Bloodhound.

There are some fascinating parts of the ship which all ages will enjoy visiting, like the huge state banquet room with its massive dining table and the gleaming Rolls-Royce Phantom which used to travel on the ship along with the Royal Family.

If you fancy a little treat you can pick up some fantastic home-made fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop and there’s a highly recommended restaurant in the Royal Deck Tea Room where you can sample top-notch Scottish cuisine.

Edinburgh inforgraphic
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Well, that wraps it up for this list of the best things to do in Edinburgh and I hope it has given you some ideas for places to visit in the city.

If this article has made you fall in love with Edinburgh I think you’ll enjoy reading my Guide to the Most Romantic Places in Scotland.

Discover more Edinburgh facts in this article: 22 Interesting Facts About Edinburgh.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Edinburgh worth visiting?

As well as hosting 12 major cultural events each year (including The Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival), Edinburgh was the first city to be granted the title of UNESCO City of Literature and it’s one of the few cities on the planet to have its centre elevated to UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

How do I travel to Edinburgh?

Edinburgh Airport lies 5 miles to the west of the city centre and has regular public transport links across the city and the surrounding areas. A regular airport bus is operated by Lothian Buses (the Airlink 100 service) which runs every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day from Waverley Bridge.

What are Edinburgh’s annual festivals?

Edinburgh International Science Festival: 4th to 19th April.
Edinburgh International Children’s Festival: 20th to 31st May.
Edinburgh International Film Festival: 17th to 28th June.
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival: 17th to 26th July.
Edinburgh Art Festival: 30th July to 30th August.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: 7th August to 31st August.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: 7th August to 29th August.
Edinburgh International Festival: 7th to 31st August.
Edinburgh International Book Festival: 15th to 31st August.
Scottish International Storytelling Festival: 16th October to 31st October.
Edinburgh’s Christmas: Late November to Early January.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: 30th December to 1st January.

What are the top attractions in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park, Calton Hill, The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh Zoo, The Royal Botanic Gardens, St. Giles Cathedral, The Royal Mile, The Scottish National Galleries, The National Museum of Scotland, Greyfriars Kirk, The Scott Monument.

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Best things Edinburgh
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Don’t forget to bookmark Out About Scotland to discover the best places to visit in Scotland, learn what to do in each region and get suggestions for top tourist attractions to add to your Scottish sightseeing itinerary.

Scotland travel writer and specialist 360° photographer. Founder of the Out About Scotland travel website and Vartour virtual tours. Follow on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.