Looking for things not to miss in Edinburgh? The city is more than just beautiful architecture, gothic buildings and medieval cobblestone streets. Scotland’s capital is rich in history offering a story to be discovered behind every corner. (Maybe even a ghost or two!)
I enjoyed exploring the city of Edinburgh, and although I only spent 2 days there, I think I could comfortably have stayed another 2 or 3 days and still not have seen everything. It doesn’t matter if you looking for an adventurous hike, discover the city’s secrets or just want to unwind with a pint or two, Edinburgh offers something for everyone. Here is a list of the 9 best attractions I visited while travelling through the city:
1. Get lost at the Edinburgh Castle
I couldn’t help but feel like I was lost in the medieval ages while exploring the various corridors and rooms around the castle. Edinburgh castle is rich in architecture and fulled with history. (I’m sure the castle walls could tell a story or 2.) The castle is situated on top of castle rock which was formed over 340 million years ago after a volcano erupted.
I would recommend at least 2 hours to make the most of your visit and see the main features that the castle has to offer. There are tours that meet throughout the day at the Portcullis gate if you would like to learn more history about the castle, alternatively there are audio guides available at the ticket counter. Make sure you watch the 1pm gun which has been fired from the castle since 1861. (I suggest you get there at least 30min before to get a good viewing spot)
2. Watch the monster come alive at the Frankenstein pub
A lively pub with a great atmosphere! Three different levels with three different bars, a life size model of Frankenstein’s monster and tasty cocktails to match the theme! I loved the Gothic décor of the pub, which is themed around the famous Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein”
There are some entertaining props around the pub, offering some great Kodak moments with friends and the silent black and white Frankenstein movies on the big screens adds an awesome ambience! I was enjoying a pint when midnight struck, next thing I know the lights dimmed with smoke effects, light flashed, the music changed and I watched in awe as a surprise guest make an appearance, which adds a unique touch to the pub!
3. Take a hike up Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is perched on top of a extinct volcano, offering magnificent 360 degree views of Edinburgh. There are variety of different trails to reach the top that are suitable for different ages and fitness levels. Although it’s a moderate hike, it shouldn’t take you longer than 2 hours to summit the 251m hill.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. (The top was super cold and windy making it hard to stay and admire the view for longer than 10min.) I hiked the red route early in the morning, even though it was rather chilly I was rewarded with beautiful landscapes along the way, some fresh Scottish air and stunning views of the city!
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4. Stroll down the historical Golden Mile
The Royal Mile is based in the heart of Edinburgh and filled with Scottish pride. There are pubs, hotels, cobblestone roads, landmarks, entertainers, an assortment of unique shops and a whole lot of interesting things not to miss in Edinburgh.
If you walked from one side to the other without stopping, it will take you about 20min but allow a full day to visit the hidden gems and explore the hidden alleys along the way. Edinburgh castle, St Giles Cathedral, Scott Monument and The Real Mary King Close are all situated along the Mile.
5. Meet Greyfriars Bobby for good luck
Greyfriar’s Bobby is a Skye Terrier who lived in Edinburgh during the 19th century. The story goes that the dog belonged to a night watchman that died and then buried in the Greyfriars churchyard. Bobby spent the next 14 years sitting on his masters grave.
When Bobby eventually died the story gained momentum and the statue of “Grefriars Bobby”was erected. Today the statue remains a popular attraction in Edinburgh, while some believe the story is a hoax others believe that rubbing the Skye terriers nose now offers good luck!
6. Visit the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Six floors jam packed with puzzles, tricks, optical illusions, interactive displays and even a giant kaleidoscope. There were tons of illusions that kept me amused and mesmerized but my favourite has to be the bendy mirrors and vortex tunnel .
I spent about 2 hours at the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, but I could easily have spent another hour or two playing with the interactive gadgets. Check out the rooftop terrace for a really decent view of the city and don’t forget your camera!
7. Discover the secrets of the underground city at the Real Mary King’s Close
Located under the old town building’s in Edinburgh, the close is filled with myths and urban legends. The Real Mary King’s Close tour is lead by costumed characters giving you insights to the city’s history, tales of haunting’s and famous murders. The characters escorts you though the close, telling stories of the people who lived, worked and died at the closes.
Many visitors claimed seeing, hearing and feeling things they can’t quite explain during their visit. Although I didn’t see any paranormal activity during my visit, I couldn’t shake off the spooky feeling lingering in the close. I suggest booking online as tours are limited!
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8. Explore the Holyrood House and Holyrood Abbey
The Palace of Holyrood House is the official residence in Scotland for the Queen. The tour gives you an opportunity to explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Holyrood Abbey ruins, the palace gardens, historic apartments, state rooms, and Mary Queen of Scots’ haunted chambers.
No photos are allowed inside the palace but the Holyrood Abbey ruins is a photographers dream with multiple unique photo opportunities!
9. Climb 276 steps up the Scott monument
This is one of those things not to miss in Edinburgh for sure! The 61.1 metre Scott Monument was dedicated as a lasting memorial to Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scottish author who died in 1832. There are 287 steps to the top of the monument which offers fantastic panoramic views of Edinburgh.
The monument has multiple levels between the stairways to pause and catch a glance at the scenery. I wouldn’t recommend climbing the monument if you scared of heights or suffer from claustrophobia. The spiral staircase near the top gets very narrow, with only one way up and down.
Have you been to Edinburgh? What would you recommend for things not to miss in Edinburgh? What is your favorite attraction?
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