Edinburgh: The Best Things to Do



Edinburgh is a city that effortlessly combines ancient history with a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Nestled on the southeastern coast of Scotland, it’s a city of remarkable contrasts and stunning beauty.

The city borders the shores of the Firth of Forth to the north and the Pentland Hills to the south in a landscape that’s peppered with rugged hills and crags that are dominated by Castle Rock, a hill in the middle of the city that’s the location of the world-famous Edinburgh Castle.

Nearby is Arthur’s Seat, an 823-foot volcanic plug which is the focal point of Holyrood Park, and just a few minutes walk in the opposite direction is Calton Hill, home of many of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Calton Hill

Edinburgh boasts a rich history dating back to the earliest people who settled in Scotland and it was once home to the powerful Votadini tribe before it became an outpost of Northumbria, transitioning over the years to become the powerbase of Scottish royalty and eventually the capital city of Scotland.

Today, it’s best known as a tourist destination, but it’s also a centre of excellence for learning – particularly in the fields of medicine – in addition to being a hub for many of the UK’s largest financial institutions.

The Old Town and New Town, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are a testament to the city’s architectural splendour, with the Old Town’s sprawling collection of medieval closes contrasting starkly with the neoclassical grace of the New Town’s wide, orderly streets.

As for tourist attractions, Edinburgh is a treasure trove. The most iconic is undoubtedly Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock and dominating the city skyline. The Royal Mile stretches away from the castle towards Holyrood Park and is lined with museums, a cathedral, and dozens of historic buildings like John Knox House and Canongate Kirk.

The Royal Mile

The Palace of Holyroodhouse (the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland) lies at the bottom of the Royal Mile and is a must-visit for history buffs, while those interested in literature and the arts can take their pick from the Scottish National Gallery, the Museum of Edinburgh, and the Writers’ Museum, all of which are just a short walk from the castle.

The city is also home to a number of festivals that are staged throughout the year including the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the International Book Festival, the Royal Military Tattoo, and the Edinburgh International Festival, amongst many others

Nature and wildlife lovers, meanwhile, can enjoy the beautiful Water of Leith, cycle along miles of footpaths next to the Union Canal, have fun at the superb Edinburgh Zoo, or visit the stunning Royal Botanic Garden.

In essence, Edinburgh is a city that beautifully intertwines a fascinating past with a thriving present. It’s a city that captivates and inspires, and it’s a must-visit destination for all travellers.

Find places to visit and things to do in Edinburgh with these visitor guides.

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