Scotland’s capital is renowned for its culture and history, much of which is reflected in the top tourist attractions in Edinburgh.
The iconic Edinburgh Castle, situated at the top of the Royal Mile, dominates the city skyline giving striking views towards Arthurs Seat and all the way across the Forth of Firth to Fife from its position on Castle Rock.
Inside the castle you’ll be able to visit The National War Memorial, the Half Moon Battery, St Margaret’s Chapel, the Grand Hall and the Crown Room, where you’ll find the Honours of Scotland (Scotland’s Crown Jewels), together with the Stone of Destiny.
Try not to jump out of your skin when Mons Meg is fired daily at 1:00.
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
Tickets: Edinburgh Castle
Scotch Whisky Experience
As well as a selection of fun educational experiences for new comers to Scotland’s national drink, the Scotch Whisky Experience, at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, has a vast selection of whiskies available by the dram for those wanting to taste limited edition bottlings.
The tours, all within the building itself, include a gentle barrel ride, a whisky tasting and a visit to the world’s largest whisky collection in the venue’s vault.
Address: 354 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE
Tickets: Scotch Whisky Experience
National Galleries of Scotland
The National Galleries of Scotland are spread over three galleries – The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and Modern One and Modern Two.
The National Gallery is home to works from the early Renaissance period to the end of the 19th century. The National Portrait Gallery is dedicated to and the two modern art galleries (adjacent to one another) house over 5,ooo pieces of contemporary art.
Address – National Gallery: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
Address – Portrait Gallery: 1 Queen St, Edinburgh,EH2 1JD
Addresss: Modern One and Two: 75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR
Website: National Galleries of Scotland
Royal Botanic Gardens
A mile from the city centre, the Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the finest gardens in the world comprising around 70 acres of plants and trees that can be enjoyed by those with a keen interest in botanics or those who simply want to enjoy the tranquility.
Whilst there don’t forget to take in the Tropical Palm House and Temperate Palm House, which reaches a staggering 72ft hight.
The Gardens are open year round and have a range of tours, exhibitions and educational events.
Address: Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ
Website: Royal Botanic Gardens
Edinburgh Zoo, owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, is home to over 1,000 different species of animal set in around 82 acres of land to the west of the city centre.
Highlights of visiting the zoo include the Penguin Parade, a visit to the Giant Pandas (booking recommended), a wonder through the wallaby enclosure and the lemur walk through, and there are educational talks throughout the day.
Address: 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS
Tickets: Edinburgh Zoo
Real Mary King’s Close
The Real Mary King’s close is a labyrinth of underground streets where people lived during the 17th to 19th centuries.
Tours of the close and its interconnecting streets are conducted by costumed actors based on a real characters giving a fascinating insight into Edinburgh’s hidden history, including what happened during the plague, how people were quarantined and how life stock was kept.
Address: 2 Warriston’s Close, High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PG
Website: The Real Mary King’s Close
Dynamic Earth may be educational, but it’s certainly fun to be taken back in time to the big bang and told the story of how our planet evolved with the wizardry of multi media.
Experiences include watching distant stars explode as you travel in a spaceship, the gushing of molten lava as the ground judders beneath your feet and flying above glaciers as they sculpt the landscape. Suitable for children of all ages (including those well into middle age).
Address: 112-116 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS
Website: Dynamic Earth
‘Scotland’s finest stately home’, less than 15 miles outside Edinburgh and set in some 6,500 acres of grounds, is a vast country house dating from the 17th century.
Much of the interior of Hopetoun has remained unchanged over the past three centuries allowing visitors to get a first hand experience of Georgian grandeur. The staterooms are furnished with period furniture, carpets, tapestries and fine antiques but what’s truly magical is that, unlike many other homes of its stature, there are no cordons preventing visitors from taking a closer look.
Address: Queensferry, Edinburgh, EH30 9SL
Website: Hopetoun House
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is world renowned for its vast collection of artefacts covering everything from prehistoric dinosaurs to the future of science with interactive experiences and tours housed across two interconnected buildings.
The diversity of the museum’s collection allows for a wide range of interests to be accommodated and includes Scottish history, world culture, natural science and technology.
Address: Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
Website: National Museum of Scotland