Edinburgh is a great place to visit, with plenty to do whatever your interests.
If shopping is your thing, then the new town has all the big stores that you’d expect a major city to have; if you prefer to nose around second-hand bookshops and relax in cafes, then the Grassmarket below the castle in the old town is the place to go.
Here are a few of my favourite things to do in Edinburgh –
It’s virtually impossible to avoid the Castle, as it dominates the city centre from almost every angle.
If you choose to visit the interior, give yourself plenty of time, as there is quite a lot to see, and I’d recommend timing your visit to coincide with with one-o’clock gun. This has been a daily event since 1861, and began so that the ships in the Firth of Forth could set their maritime clocks.
Edinburgh Castle has an excellent website with visitor information and the history of the castle.
It’s busy at all times of day and is illuminated at night.
The Royal Mile
The length of a Scottish mile (about 1.81km long), this stretches from the Castle to Holyrood palace, and has many interesting historic buildings and small museums along its length.
It also has a great many souvenir shops if you want to buy something touristy to remind you of your trip.
The Scottish Parliament
Housed in a modern building towards the very end of the Royal Mile is the Scottish Parliament.
Open to the public six days a week, it has an exhibition in the entrance and a very nice and reasonably priced cafe.
You can book a free tour of the building or wander round on your own, and there are staff available to give directions or answer any questions.
From the parliament building it’s not far to Calton Hill, another of Edinburgh’s high landmarks.
Accessible only on foot – and there quite a few steps to climb – this hill gives panoramic views of the city, to Arthur’s seat on one side and the Firth of Forth on the other.
At the top of the hill are a couple of observatories (one private and the other visitable only by appointment, sadly) and the ‘National Monument’, an unfinished replica of the Parthenon in Athens.
It can be a bit windy at the top, but it’s a great place for a picnic.
Princes Street Gardens
This park is another great place for a picnic, and sits between the old and new parts of town.
A huge public space, with plenty of benches, flower beds and lots of space for children to run around in.
Even at the busiest of times, it never feels overcrowded – the photo below was taken at the height of the Edinburgh Fringe, when thousands of additional visitors are in the city.
If you’ve had enough of pounding the streets and want to relax in an area that feels a thousand miles from the city, then head for Dean Village.
Very close to the Museum of Modern Art and the Haymarket end of town, this is a quiet residential area with attractive buildings and gives an entirely new impression of Edinburgh.
There are many other places to go and things to see in Edinburgh – I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of my favourites.
Brave Traveller Tips
As this is Scotland, the weather can be extremely changeable, even in the height of summer, so always keep an umbrella handy!
If you’re planning on exploring the old town, do wear flat, comfortable footwear as there are many hilly parts and old cobblestones to negotiate. Be aware that some parts may be difficult for the not-so-nimble.