Pride of Scotland

Scotland’s down-to-earth capital offers fun nightlife, impressive historic sites and elevated gastropub cuisine.

Edinburgh is easy to navigate if you split it in two: The medieval Old Town, where the imposing fortress of Edinburgh Castle sits perched above the city and, across a ravine, the Georgian New Town, with its neoclassical buildings and wider avenues. One-sixth the size of London and home to four universities, Scotland’s compact capital has an approachable, university-town feel with many bars, restaurants and coffee shops lining the meandering streets around the University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s sophisticated restaurants and historic landmarks put it in the same league as many of Europe’s other great cities.

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Things to See in Edinburgh

Royal Mile

One of the best things to do in Edinburgh is to walk along the Royal Mile. The famous street is lined with taverns and souvenir shops and stretches from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace at the bottom of the hill. The roughly one-mile walk is a good way to get the lay of the land, and the landmarks at both ends are well worth visiting.

The extensive Edinburgh Castle complex includes Scotland’s crown jewels, the country’s oldest chapel, the National War Museum and the Royal Palace where James VI, future king of Scotland, England and Ireland, was born. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is an official residence of Queen Elizabeth II who spends a week there at the beginning of each summer to carry out official business. You can visit the museum, the State Apartments and the chambers of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots, which are adorned with impressive Flemish tapestries.

Ghost Tour

Edinburgh is famous for having a host of haunted sites. One of the top things to do in Edinburgh is to go on a so-called Ghost Tour. Mercat Tours has been guiding visitors through the city since the mid-1980s and it’s the only company in town with access to the Blair Street Underground Vaults. This eerie network of caverns was once a busy centre of commerce, with many businesses and taverns located here in the 1800s. But eventually it became a hideout for criminals and smugglers.

On the Evening of Ghosts & Ghouls Tour, a guide will lead you through the candlelit vaults and tell you tales of some of its more sinister residents while you swig a dram of Scottish whiskey.

Arthur’s Seat

Wondering what to do in Edinburgh if you fancy some exercise and fresh air? Just look to the ancient volcano that provides a stunning backdrop to the city.

Located in Holyrood Park, just east of the centre of town, it’s an excellent site for hiking. The Red Route takes about two hours from the Palace of Holyroodhouse and is a circular walk that takes walkers to the summit and back.

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