Best 20 things to do in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Welcome to Edinburgh, where haggis-eating, kilt-wearing, castle-loving adventures await! Prepare yourself for a whirlwind of Scottish goodness as we present the best 20 things to do in this lively city. From exploring the Royal Mile's charming nooks and crannies, to pretending you're royalty at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and rounding off your day with a wee dram of whisky in a cozy pub - Edinburgh will bewitch you with its blend of medieval wonders and modern delights. So pack your bagpipes and prepare to get lost in a city that knows how to throw one heck of a ceilidh!

Save destination

1. Calton Hill

4.8 (3954)

Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5BN, UK

Welcome to Calton Hill, Edinburgh's very own "mini mountain with a view"! Brace yourself for a somewhat uphill battle, both literally and metaphorically, as you climb this charming hump of rock. But fear not, for at the summit you'll be rewarded with a panoramic spectacle that will make your jaw drop like a tourist's ice cream cone on a particularly windy day. Don't worry about losing your bearings, as the grandiose National Monument perched atop the hill will serve as a beacon, reminding you that you're definitely not lost... well, unless you intended to end up here by accident, in which case, well played!

Learn more

2. St Giles' Cathedral

4.6 (8281)

High St, Edinburgh EH1 1RE, UK

In the enchanting city of Edinburgh, nestled amidst the bustling streets and cheeky bagpipers, lies St Giles' Cathedral, like a wise old tale waiting to be heard. With its impressive Gothic façade reaching for the sky, this architectural gem is essentially the Dumbledore of cathedrals – both grand and mysterious. Step inside its hallowed halls and prepare to be awed by its cavernous beauty, where stunning stained glass windows compete with ancient echoes of ghostly bagpipe tunes. Spooky yet majestic, it's the kind of place where even the pigeons pray with an air of reverence.

stgilescathedral.org.uk

Learn more

3. The Real Mary King's Close

4.4 (8979)

2 Warriston's Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1PG, UK

Nestled beneath the bustling streets of Edinburgh lies The Real Mary King's Close, a fascinating underground labyrinth that guarantees more twists and turns than your average reality TV show. Here, you'll embark on a journey through time, plunging into the dark and mysterious depths of 17th-century Scotland faster than you can say "haggis." Discover the secret stories of a forgotten world, where cobblestone streets and ghostly tales collide, offering an experience that's more entertaining than trying to pronounce "Loch Ness" after a few too many drams of whisky.

realmarykingsclose.com

Learn more

4. Princes Street Gardens

4.6 (24075)

Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2HG, UK

Welcome to Princes Street Gardens, the picturesque green oasis nestled in the heart of Edinburgh, where locals and tourists alike gather to admire nature and compete in the eternal battle of avoiding pigeon poop. Marvel at its magnificent floral displays, carefully designed to distract you from the omnipresent seagulls, who have seemingly forgotten their designated landing zones. So, grab a picnic blanket, strategically position yourself away from any feathered foes, and prepare for a day of cautiously sunbathing! Venture deeper into the gardens, where you'll spot the iconic Scott Monument - a towering gothic extravaganza affectionately referred to by the locals as "the world's largest bird toilet brush." But fear not, as its stunning views of the city from atop will temporarily distract you from the aerial artistry of our feathered friends. Beware, though: if you have a fear of heights or an irrational phobia of aggressive pigeons, it might be best to admire this magnificent structure from a safe distance. At the far end of the gardens lies the Ross Fountain, which proudly gushes its watery showmanship. A mesmerizing sight that attracts both admirers and lovers of impromptu rainbow impressions. Just be aware, should you decide to imitate the fountain's dance, there's a high chance you'll end up drenched and another seagull-inspired talent show will be born. Consider yourself warned, and enjoy the gardens in all their quirky glory!

Learn more

5. Greyfriars Kirkyard

4.6 (1381)

26A Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ, UK

Welcome to Greyfriars Kirkyard, a place where tombstones outnumber tourists! Take a stroll through this ancient graveyard in the heart of Edinburgh and prepare to be buried (figuratively speaking) in historical charm. Don't let the "Kirkyard" part fool you; this place is anything but boring. With its ghostly atmosphere and eccentric stories lurking behind each memorial, you'll be dying to visit... well, pun intended.

Learn more

6. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

4.6 (12541)

549 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, UK

Welcome to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions in Edinburgh, where reality takes a delightful detour! Step inside this wacky wonderland and prepare yourself for a mind-bending adventure like no other. Get ready to be tricked, amazed, and dazzled as you navigate through a maze of optical illusions, mind-boggling exhibits, and photographs that'll leave you questioning your own sanity. Whether you're a seasoned trickster or a curious traveler, this quirky destination promises an unforgettable experience that will have you scratching your head in bewilderment and laughing till your sides ache.

www.camera-obscura.co.uk

Learn more

7. National Museum of Scotland

4.8 (39412)

Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, UK

Welcome to the National Museum of Scotland, where history comes alive and exhibits have a hilarious knack for tickling your funny bone! Stroll through countless rooms filled with a treasure trove of artifacts, from the museum's ancient knights, who must have been terrible dancers with their heavy armor, to the stuffed animals who are surprisingly good listeners, considering their complete lack of ears. Don't miss the spellbinding geological section, offering the uncanny ability to transform the dullest rock into a wild rock-star who has endless tales to share about crushing pressure and intense heat!

www.nms.ac.uk

Learn more

8. Scott Monument

Scott Monument, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ, UK

Welcome to the magnificent Scott Monument in Edinburgh, a towering tribute to the literary legend, Sir Walter Scott. Prepare to huff, puff, and climb your way up its narrow spiral stairs - a test of leg strength typically reserved for Olympic athletes or people who get stuck in awkward yoga poses. As you reach the top, fear not the breathtaking, panoramic views of the city; just remember not to drop your sunglasses, or they might be forever memorialized on the heads of the unsuspecting pedestrians below.

Learn more

9. Edinburgh Castle

4.6 (80701)

Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK

Nestled atop a rocky outcrop like a majestic hairpiece clinging for dear life, Edinburgh Castle proudly reigns over the city below. Prepare to marvel at the fortress's impressive architecture, which has withstood countless rain showers, irritable seagulls, and overly enthusiastic tourists armed with selfie sticks. Rumor has it that the castle's stone walls even possess telepathic abilities, able to communicate eerie laments of lost socks and the perpetual struggle of finding a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

www.edinburghcastle.scot

Learn more

10. National Galleries of Scotland

4.6 (11358)

The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL, UK

In the enchanting city of Edinburgh, nestled amidst the historic grandeur, lies a haven for art aficionados and culture connoisseurs alike - the National Galleries of Scotland. Prepare to embark upon a journey where masterpieces from renowned artists adorn the walls, and the ghosts of creativity past whisper enchanting tales in your ear. Be warned, though, for you may find yourself gazing at the paintings for so long that the artists themselves begin to wonder if they've suddenly become celebrities.

www.nationalgalleries.org

Learn more

11. Palace of Holyroodhouse

4.5 (15074)

Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX, UK

Welcome to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where history meets hilarity! This magnificent royal residence in Edinburgh will leave you feeling like a right fancy pants. Marvel at the stunning architecture as you try not to trip over an imaginary red carpet and imagine yourself hobnobbing with the Who's Who of Scottish royalty. Don't forget to keep an eye out for any mischievous ghosts - they're known to roam the halls and might just give you an unexpected royal boo!

www.rct.uk

Learn more

12. Royal Yacht Britannia

4.7 (7996)

Ocean Dr, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, UK

Nestled in the charming city of Edinburgh, you'll discover the Royal Yacht Britannia, a floating beauty exuding a certain je ne sais quoi. Once the epi-center of royal glam, this magnificent vessel has hosted its fair share of fancy-pants parties and discreet rendezvous. Step aboard and pretend to be a member of the royal family; just be warned, you might start demanding tea and crumpets without even realizing it!

www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

Learn more

13. Dynamic Earth

4.4 (1840)

Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh EH8 8AS, UK

Welcome to Dynamic Earth, where the Earth geeks unite! This wondrous place in Edinburgh will take you on an epic adventure through time and space, minus the TARDIS. Get ready to discover the secrets of our planet with interactive exhibits, dazzling visuals, and enough geology jokes to make even the toughest igneous rock crack a smile. So strap on your hard hat, folks, and prepare for a journey that's more thrilling than a roller coaster made of tectonic plates!

www.dynamicearth.co.uk

Learn more

14. The Scotch Whisky Experience

4.6 (7919)

354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE, UK

Welcome, fellow whisky enthusiasts, to the one and only Scotch Whisky Experience in enchanting Edinburgh! Prepare to embark on a journey that will tantalize your taste buds and whisk you away into a world of amber elixirs. Here, you'll immerse yourself in the rich history of Scotland's national tipple, from its humble beginnings to its glorious golden reign. And fear not, as you'll be guided by knowledgeable wizards of whisky who possess a supernatural ability to make your dram dreams come true!

www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

Learn more

15. Scottish Parliament Building

4.2 (678)

Edinburgh EH99 1SP, UK

Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh lies the Scottish Parliament Building, standing not just as a place of political discourse but as a symbol of architectural eccentricity. Its design has been likened to a geometric riddle concocted by a tipsy mathematician; its walls flow and curve like the kilts on a windy day. Prepare to embark on a whimsical journey as you explore this marvel of modern construction, where debates collide with aesthetics, leaving visitors with an unforgettable impression of Scotland's unique charm.

www.parliament.scot

Learn more

16. Royal Mile

4.7 (9299)

Edinburgh EH1 1QS, UK

Welcome to the Royal Mile in Edinburgh! Prepare to embark on a charming journey along this historic stretch of road, where you can gracefully pretend to be a faltering ghost from the past, lost amongst the hordes of excited tourists. As you stroll, don't miss the opportunity to dodge the maze of tartan shops that line the street, tempting you with their endless array of plaid goodies that scream, "Please, take me home and clutter your wardrobe!"

www.visitscotland.com

Learn more

17. The Royal Botanic Garden

4.7 (18165)

Edinburgh EH3 5NZ, UK

Welcome to The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, where time slows down, plants take center stage, and all your worries melt like a snowman in summer. Stroll through lush greenery and witness nature putting on a show that would make even the snobbiest theatre critic thumb up. Oh, and don't forget to bring your selfie stick, because you'll look positively ravishing surrounded by flowers that Instagram filters can only dream of emulating!

www.rbge.org.uk

Learn more

18. Arthur's Seat

4.8 (2837)

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh EH15 3PY, UK

In the enchanting city of Edinburgh, where cobblestone streets and historic castles abound, resides a peculiar mound known as Arthur's Seat. Rising majestically like the bicep of a Scottish giant, this volcanic wonder offers visitors the chance to hike their way to panoramic perfection. From the summit, witness a view so breathtaking that it could make even the most cynical tourist question their obsession with bagpipes and tartan.

Learn more

19. Dean Village

4.6 (11929)

Dean Path, Edinburgh EH4 3AY, UK

Welcome to Dean Village, a quaint little neighborhood tucked away in Edinburgh, where time seems to have taken a vacation. Be prepared to navigate streets that twist and turn like a spaghetti dish that lost its way. As you wander, marvel at the stunning views of beautifully preserved historic buildings, making you wonder if the city secretly has a cloning machine for charming architecture.

history.business.site

Learn more

20. Edinburgh Zoo

4.3 (11765)

134 Corstorphine Rd, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, UK

Welcome to Edinburgh Zoo, where the animal kingdom puts on a show, but please don't expect them to juggle or do magic tricks! Take a walk on the wild side and encounter creatures from across the globe, though it's strictly recommended not to engage in debates with the parrots - believe me, they always win! And if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the resident pandas, who are so cute they could probably charge for selfies, but they're just too polite.

www.edinburghzoo.org.uk

Learn more

How to get there

Plane

The best way to get to Edinburgh by plane is to fly into Edinburgh Airport, which is located approximately 8 miles from the city center, with many major airlines such as British Airways, EasyJet, and Ryanair offering direct flights from a range of cities around the world.

Car

Driving to Edinburgh is a great option for those who prefer to travel at their own pace or are traveling with a lot of luggage. You can reach Edinburgh by taking the M8 motorway, which connects the city to Glasgow and other major cities in the region.

Train

The most convenient way to travel to Edinburgh by train is to catch a train to Edinburgh Waverley station, which is located in the heart of the city center and is well connected to the rest of the UK. Trains are available from a range of cities including London, Manchester, and Birmingham.

Boat

If you're traveling from Europe, taking a ferry to Rosyth in Fife is a great option. From there, you can easily reach Edinburgh by car, bus, or train. DFDS Seaways operates a direct ferry service from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Rosyth.

Bus

The best way to get to Edinburgh by bus is to take a coach from Edinburgh Bus Station, which is located just a short walk from the city center. A variety of coach companies, including National Express and Scottish Citylink, provide direct services from various cities across the UK.

More guides

The Ultimate 5-Day Budget Adventure in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a great place to visit on a limited budget. You can enjoy free activities like hiking up Arthur's Seat or exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens. Additionally, there are plenty of affordable accommodation options and budget-friendly food choices throughout the city.

Romantic Edinburgh Getaway: 3-Day Love Affair

. Edinburgh is a perfect destination for a romantic trip, where couples can experience the rich history, culture, and scenic beauty of Scotland. Stroll along the Royal Mile and explore the majestic Edinburgh Castle, or visit the charming streets of Old Town for an unforgettable experience. Savor some of the delicious Scottish cuisine and wash it down with a glass of whisky to add a touch of romance to your excursion.

Edinburgh on a Budget: 3 Days of Adventure!

Immerse yourself in the charming city of Edinburgh without breaking the bank. Stroll through the medieval streets of the Old Town and visit free attractions such as the Royal Botanic Garden and the National Museum of Scotland. Satisfy your appetite with delicious meals from affordable local eateries and save even more by booking a budget-friendly accommodation.

One Day of Romance in Edinburgh

A romantic trip to Edinburgh, United Kingdom would be an enchanting experience. From exploring the city's historical landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle and Royal Mile to admiring the breathtaking views from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh offers the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. The city's cozy pubs and lively nightlife make it an ideal choice for couples looking to indulge in delicious food and drinks while enjoying each other's company.