When there isnt a festival on in Edinburgh (think Hogmany at New Year, International Festival in August, The Fringe, the Book Festival, the Film Festival etc etc..) there is still plenty for the intrepid tourist to look at. The best way to explore Edinburgh is on foot, although if you dont like walking or hills, you may also opt for one of the many tourist buses or bespoke tours. To get you off to a flying start we have listed below the must see attractions in Edinburgh that are on the tick list for most tourists. Starting with the most popular...
Arthurs Seat is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park, a remarkably wild piece of highland landscape in the centre of the city of Edinburgh, about a mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle. The hill rises above the city to a height of 251 m (820 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city, is quite easy to climb, and is a popular walk. Though it can be climbed from almost any direction, the easiest and simplest ascent is from the East, where a grassy slope rises above Dunsapie Loch.
Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the sky-line of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. As one of the most important fortresses in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle has been involved in many historical conflicts, from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, up to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions. From the later 17th century, the castle became a military base, with a large garrison. Its importance as a historic monument was recognised from the 19th century, and various restoration programmes have been carried out since.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a scientific centre for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation, as well as a popular tourist attraction. Originally founded founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, today it occupies four sites across Scotland — Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore — each with its own specialist collection. The RBGE's living collection consists of more than 15,000 plant species, (41,00 accessions) whilst the herbarium contains in excess of 3 million preserved specimens. The Edinburgh site is the main garden.
Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of the British royal family, the 83rd such vessel since the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. She is the second Royal yacht to bear the name, the first being the famous racing cutter built for The Prince of Wales in 1893. She is now permanently moored as an exhibition ship at Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, is a building which, together with the adjacent Royal Museum, comprises the National Museum of Scotland. It is dedicated to the history, people and culture of Scotland. The museum is on Chambers Street, in central Edinburgh. It is part of the National Museums of Scotland. Admission is free. Opened in 1998, incorporating collections from the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and Scottish items from the Royal Museum, the museum possesses a distinctive look.
he National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh, is the national art gallery of Scotland. An elaborate neoclassical edifice, it stands on The Mound, between the two sections of Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens. The building, which was designed by William Henry Playfair, first opened to the public in 1859. The National Gallery shares the Mound with the Royal Scottish Academy Building. In 1912 both were remodelled by William Thomas Oldrieve. When it re-opened, the gallery concentrated on building its permanent collection of Scottish and European art for the nation. The archive and study facilities at the National Gallery include the Prints and Drawings Collection of over 30,000 works on paper, from the early Renaissance to the late nineteenth century; and the reference-only research library, which is available to the general public. The library covers the period from 1300 to 1900 and holds approximately 50,000 volumes of books, journals, slides, photographs and microfiches, as well as archived material relating to the collections, exhibitions and history of the National Gallery.
he Royal Mile is a succession of streets which form the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. As the name suggests, the Royal Mile is approximately one Scots mile long, and runs between two foci of history in Scotland, from Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Castle Rock down to Holyrood Abbey. The streets which make up the Royal Mile are (west to east) Castle Esplanade, Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand. The Royal Mile is Edinburgh Old Town's busiest tourist street, rivalled only by Princes Street in the New Town.
A prominent feature of the Edinburgh skyline, St. Giles' Cathedral or the High Kirk of Edinburgh is a Church of Scotland place of worship decorating the midpoint of the Royal Mile with its distinctive traditional Scottish crown steeple. The church has been one of Edinburgh's religious focal points for approximately 900 years. Today it is sometimes regarded as the mother church of Presbyterianism.
The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (not to be confused with the National Monument). It stands in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station. The tower is 200 feet 6 inches (61.11 m) high, and has a series of viewing decks reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases giving panoramic views of central Edinburgh and its surroundings. The highest viewing deck is reached by a total of 287 steps (those who climb the steps can obtain a certificate commemorating the event). It is built from Binnie shale quarried in nearby Livingston; the oil which continues to leech from its matrix has helped to glue the notoriously filthy atmosphere of Victorian Edinburgh (then nicknamed "Auld Reekie" — old smokey) to the tower, leaving it an unintended sooty-black colour. Bill Bryson has described it as looking like a "gothic rocket ship".
Holyrood Park (also called Queen's Park, and formerly King's Park) is a royal park in central Edinburgh, Scotland. It has an array of hills, lochs, glens, ridges, basalt cliffs, and patches of whin (gorse) within its 650-acre (260 ha) area. The park is associated with the royal palace of Holyroodhouse, and was formerly a 12th-century royal hunting estate, although it is now publicly accessible. Arthur's Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh, is at the centre of the park, with the cliffs of Salisbury Crags to the west. There are three lochs; St Margaret's Loch, Dunsapie Loch, and Duddingston Loch. The ruined St Anthony's Chapel stands above St Margaret's Loch. Queen's Drive is the main route through the Park, and is partly closed on Sundays to motor vehicles. St Margaret's Well and St Anthony's Well are both natural springs within the park. Holyrood Park is located to the south-east of the Old Town, at the edge of the city centre. Abbeyhill is to the north, and Duddingston village to the east. The University of Edinburgh's Pollock Halls of Residence are to the south-west, and Dumbiedykes is to the west.