Edinburgh: Scotland’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Few cities radiate such historical flair as Scotland’s capital Edinburgh does. You’ll find everything from narrow and winding streets, magical gardens to imposing buildings. No wonder Edinburgh is a popular travel destination.
In order to convince you as well, we’ll first reveal some interesting facts about the capital and then tell you about our top 10 places of interest there. After reading this article, you’ll want to travel to Edinburgh straight away!
Edinburgh in a Nutshell
Let’s start with some interesting facts about this great city. Since 1437, Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland, located in the north of Great Britain. It is Scotland’s second-largest city with about 525,000 inhabitants. In order to fully enjoy Edinburgh, we recommend you travel there during the summer months, when the climate is a bit drier than in autumn or winter. Get more information about Scotland’s weather in our climate guide.
Scotland offers many culinary specialties. We recommend you try the most famous and popular dish: Haggis Neeps ‘N’ Tatties. This delicacy is made of sheep lungs, liver, and heart and is served with onions, oatmeal, turnips, and potatoes. It’s topped off with a whiskey and cream sauce. Whiskey is, of course, among Scotland’s most famous products.
In the center of Edinburgh, you can easily reach everything on foot. If you decide to go further away from the city center, there is a well-structured bus network. The buses are available 24 hours a day and will take you anywhere you want to go without having to spend much money.
If you’re in Edinburgh during summer, be sure to attend of the country’s biggest events: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It has been taking place every year in August since 1950. There, you’ll experience traditional military music, various dance performances, and also great live music from different groups. It’s an amazing show you don’t want to miss!
If you happen to be in Edinburgh during winter, be sure to check out the Christmas market. Stroll through many beautiful stands, surrounded by countless lights. That’ll surely get you in the Christmas spirit.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Edinburgh
Now let’s start with our top 10 places of interest. Did you know that many of them inspired J.K. Rowling while writing the Harry Potter series? No wonder, as many scenes of the movie were filmed here. You’ll surely feel the mystical atmosphere while exploring these sights as well.
First up is Edinburgh’s landmark, Edinburgh Castle. It is located on Castle Rock, which was formed out of a volcano 340 million years ago. The castle itself was already mentioned during the 14th century and was the setting of many battles.
Nowadays, various guided tours take place at Edinburgh Castle. We highly recommend taking part in one of these tours, because the story behind this castle is very interesting. Moreover, you’ll find many exhibitions of historical paintings and artifacts on the inside. And of course, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a highlight as well – as mentioned above, it takes place every year in August at the beautifully illuminated castle.
This pompous palace is the Scottish residence of the Queen. It’s easy to tell just by looking at it. The building, which has been under monument protection since 1970, was commissioned by King David I as an administrative center in 1128. Over the years, it has become a magnificent building surrounded by a marvelous park, perfect for beautiful walks.
We recommend a guided tour to admire the breathtaking royal reception rooms, antiquities, and historical relics. The Palace’s history is highly fascinating, so be sure to visit it!
While strolling through the Holyrood Palace’s Park, we recommend you keep on walking. Would you like to visit a sight that you can reach on foot from here? Then Arthur’s Seat, a 251 meters high hill, is the place to go. It lies about 1.5 km outside of Edinburgh’s center, but is easy to get to by public transport, even if you don’t happen to be at Holyrood Park.
Hiking up the hill is an adventure in itself, but be sure to take in the view as well. From the top of the hill, you’ll see the whole city! This place should definitely be at the top of your bucket list.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Is there anything better than being in a historical city such as Edinburgh and taking a walk through the royal botanical gardens without a care in the world? No, we don’t think so.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is the perfect place to do just that. After all, it’s one of the world’s most curated gardens for a reason! It was founded in 1670 and is home to more than 100,000 different and rare plant species. Visit various greenhouses and learn more about plants as well as Edinburgh’s history.
National Gallery of Scotland
Another gem in Edinburgh is the National Gallery of Scotland. It was opened in 1895 and holds a large collection of paintings, printings, and sculptures going back to the 17th century.
Here, you’ll have the chance to admire the works by Ramsay or Raeburn! No wonder this place is very popular among travelers. That’s why we recommend booking a ticket in advance, so you don’t have to queue for a long time.
Old Town and Royal Mile
You’ll walk through Edinburgh’s old town one way or another. However, it’s so beautiful that we simply had to include it in our top 10 list. Be it the centuries-old buildings, the rustic cafés and bars, or the narrow streets – you’ll be enchanted by Edinburgh’s flair.
In the middle of the old town, you’ll find the world-famous Royal Mile. However, this street is not only good for shopping. A walk through this mile-long street is a sight in and of itself.
The Royal Museum is part of the National Museum of Scotland and therefore one of the top places of interest. It was opened in 1888, serving as a place of learning and development for people of all ages ever since. The exhibitions cover the fields of archaeology, geology, natural history, science, technology, and art.
The great thing about this museum is its interactive features. You can participate in numerous science exhibits and experiments yourself. It’s both educational and entertaining at the same time!
This village offers you an enchanting and idyllic atmosphere. Due to its location near a small river, a great ambience awaits you here. Visit impressive 19th-century buildings or marvel at the beautiful surrounding nature. Since Dean Village is further away from the other tourist attractions, it’s the perfect place to simply relax and wander around.
Mary King’s Close
It’s time to get mystical! This underground, hidden maze of narrow streets perfectly represents the culture of Scotland. It is full of mysteries and spooky stories about Edinburgh’s history. We recommend taking a tour that will catapult you 400 years back in time.
To appear more mysterious, the tour guides wear traditional clothes while telling you everything there is to know about Edinburgh. Well, almost everything – some mysteries are off-limits to foreigners, being kept top secret instead.
A bit further away from the city, you’ll find this breathtakingly beautiful seaside promenade. You can comfortably reach this sight either by taking a 30-minute-long bus ride from the city center, or you can simply walk there.
Portobello Beach is characterized by its fine sandy beach, where you’ll find only a few small stones. This beach is also very clean. You will surely have a great time here – whether it’s sunbathing or taking a walk. We recommend you stop by one of the many cafés and restaurants to get some refreshments. If you’re a dog owner, no worries! Dogs are free to roam on this beach.
A city that is both modern and historical, while keeping its mysterious flair at the same time. That’s Edinburgh for you! The best thing is that you can get around the whole city on foot. No matter if you’re interested in the many historical buildings, the narrow streets, or one of the most popular shopping streets, Scotland’s capital will surely captivate you.
Our personal favorite is Mary King’s Close, the winding underground streets where you’ll find out (almost) everything about old Scottish sagas and traditions. However, Portobello Beach is no less beautiful.
Now there should be nothing standing in the way of your trip to Edinburgh. We hope you got a good overview of our top 10 places of interest in Scotland’s capital. Enjoy your next trip!