Edinburgh is wonderful city to explore and we want you to enjoy the city as well as the Congress. We have put together a few suggestions for you to explore. For a full guide on things to do in Edinburgh as well as what’s happening in the city during the Congress, please click here.
There are so many sightseeing opportunities in Central Edinburgh, it would be impossible to list them all but we have selected a few which we believe are a ‘must do’ when in Edinburgh!
Arthur’s Seat – FREE
Fancy getting those steps in? Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano visible from much of the centre and makes for a relatively easy hike offering unmatched views of the city skyline. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, the hike takes up to 20 minutes and is definitely worth it. Situated within Holyrood Park, as well as it’s rich cultural heritage, the park offers walks, solace, wildlife, volcanic geology and unparalleled vistas of the city from its many vantage points. The park has several Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designations due to its exceptional range of grassland habitats and its internationally important volcanic geology.
Suggested day out: Why not start with a nice walk down the Royal Mile stopping for a sweet treat at the Fudge Kitchen. Continue down the Royal Mile passing Canongate Kirk (a famous landmark where Royal Weddings have taken place) and eventually arriving at Holyrood Palace which is adjacent to The Scottish Parliament. From here you cannot miss Arthurs Seat. So why not pop into Holyrood Palace and/or The Scottish Parliament before starting your climb!
Local Tip: If you don’t fancy a hike, there is a road that goes around the perimeter of Arthurs Seat that is about 5km. This is a very pleasant walk with outstanding views of the city. Sometimes the road is open to vehicles, so if you have a car, take a rest and drive round!
Palace of Holyroodhouse – Prices range from £10.00 – £19.50
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. The palace stands at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat. The State Apartments reflect the changing tastes of successive monarchs, and are renowned for their fine plasterwork ceilings and unrivalled collection of Brussels tapestries. They are furnished with numerous fine paintings and other works of art, many of which have long associations with Holyroodhouse. During the summer months, you can join a guided tour of Holyrood Abbey, which lies adjacent to the Palace in the spectacular setting of Arthur’s Seat. Escorted by Wardens dressed in their ancient hunting Stewart tartan, you will learn about the building’s extraordinary history.
Suggested day out: Why not start with a nice walk down the Royal Mile stopping for a sweet treat at the Fudge Kitchen. Continue down the Royal Mile passing Canongate Kirk (a famous landmark where Royal Weddings have taken place) and eventually arriving at Holyrood Palace which is adjacent to The Scottish Parliament. If you are feeling adventurous after your visit, you can cross the road and take a hike up Arthurs Seat!
Edinburgh Castle – prices range from £11.00 – £21.00
Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. It was recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction. The oldest part, St Margaret’s Chapel, dates from the 12th century; the Great Hall was erected by James IV around 1510; the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century; and the Scottish National War Memorial after the First World War. The castle houses the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the National War Museum of Scotland and the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O’ Clock Gun which can be heard everyday from the City Centre.
Local Tip: Book in advance! Tickets often sell out far in advance, especially in the summer months. You will also save money if you book online.
Suggested day out: The best time to visit the castle is in the morning (before the crowds arrive in the afternoon). So after you have spent the morning exploring Edinburgh Castle, stroll down the Royal Mile and explore the Old Town. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this is where you want to be! Victoria Street (Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books) will lead you from the Royal Mile down to the Grassmarket where you will have plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat or a ‘wee’ drink.
Edinburgh Old Town – FREE
Edinburgh’s oldest neighbourhood, dating back to medieval times: these small streets are lined with wool shops, pubs and historical monuments. Ensure you visit the picturesque Victoria Street and stop by Oink for a delicious pulled pork sandwich unique to Edinburgh.
The long curve of Victoria Street swoops from George IV Bridge down to the historic Grassmarket and is home to Edinburgh’s finest selection of independent boutiques.
National Museum of Scotland – FREE
Explore the diversity of the natural world, world cultures, science and technology, art, design and fashion, and Scottish history, all under one roof. The National Museum of Scotland is one of the Top 10 UK visitor attractions, and in the Top 20 of the most visited museums and galleries in the world. Fresh from a £47 million redevelopment, the museum houses a spectacular array of over 20,000 fascinating artefacts.
Suggested day out: The National Museum of Scotland is so vast that you could actually spend a whole day here! However, if you fancy making the most of your time in Edinburgh, this is a great opportunity for you to explore the Old Town, Edinburgh University and have a lovely stroll through the Meadows (one of the largest parks in city).
Local Tip: The museum has a rooftop terrace that provides wonderful view of the city. Just take the lift to the 7th floor where you will be able to access the rooftop terrace for free!
Other things to see in Central Edinburgh:
– The Meadows (large green space near Edinburgh University).
– The Royal Mile (also known as the High Street, you wont miss this if you are visiting Edinburgh Castle).
– Grassmarket (an area iconic to Edinburgh that sits below the Castle). TOP TIP: Visit the rooftop of Cold Town House which offers unrivalled views of Edinburgh Castle whilst enjoying a drink.
– The Scottish Parliament
– Calton Hill (Another hill in Edinburgh city centre which offers gorgeous views of the city).
– St James Quarter (If you fancy some retail therapy, this is where you want to go).
North Edinburgh (Just outside the city centre)
North Edinburgh has a lot to offer and is great way to get away from the business of the city centre. North Edinburgh is accessible via the following Lothian Bus Routes (all take about 15 mins to reach Leith/Newhaven area from Princes Street) – 10, 11, 16, 22, 23 – to find out more about getting around Edinburgh visit the Lothian Buses website.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a world-renowned centre for plant science, horticulture and education boasting a rich living collection of plants. The Botanics offers visitors peace and tranquility amongst its stunning 72 acres with thousands of species in Edinburgh city centre. Make sure to see a tropical range of plants in the Glasshouses.
Suggested day out: The garden is located just outside the city centre in an area called Inverleith. From the gardens walk out the west gate and opposite the entrance is the gorgeous Inverleith Park. Take a stroll through the park down to the boating pond that has one of the best views of the whole city! From the pond, follow the path down to a road and continue to Stockbridge where you will find a lively atmosphere full of independent shops and cafe’s.
Local Tip: Walk to the Botanics! From Princes Street it is only about a 20 minute walk to the Botanical Gardens. Just find Hanover Street which comes off Princes Street, walk up and this will then turn into Dundas Street. You just walk all the way down Dundas Street where you will pass some fantastic shops and cafes as well as historical buildings! At the bottom of Dundas Street you will find signs to the gardens.
Dean Village is a beautiful oasis right by the Water of Leith, a hidden gem that Edinburgh has to offer! Dean village is a short 10 minute walk from the West End of Princes Street and can also be accessed from Stockbridge, walking along the Water of Leith.
Other things to see in North Edinburgh:
– Fettes College (a co-educational independent school, that looks like a castle – a stunning piece of architecture).
– The Shore, Leith (this area is slightly further out on the Edinburgh Coast Line. The number 11, 16. 22 & 23 buses travel across the city to Leith. Here you can explore a different side to Edinburgh and enjoy traditional Fish & Chips at The Fishmarket located at Newhaven Harbour).