Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG (website)
Open 9.30am - 6pm (5pm in winter)
Entry £17 Adult, £13.60 Concession, £10.20 Child (5-15), Free for Children under 5
Dominating the city skyline, Edinburgh Castle is Edinburgh's most visited paid tourist attraction and for good reason - thousands of visitors flock through its gates every year to discover its fascinating, vibrant (and at times grisly) history.
The large complex has lots of grand spaces and exhibitions to explore - so be sure to take a guided tour or hire an audio guide to get your bearings. Whatever you do, make sure you make time to see the Scottish Crown Jewels, which includes The Stone of Destiny, and pause at the Argyle Battery, which offers incredible panoramic views of the city.
East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ
Open 10am - 7pm (4pm in winter)
This striking landmark, found in East Princes Street Gardens, is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott and the tallest monument to a writer found anywhere in the world. At 200ft tall it's hard to miss, and for a small entry fee you can access the museum on the first level and four viewing platforms for some of the finest views in Edinburgh.
As you climb the 287 steps to the top, you'll also see 64 statues that depict characters from Scott's works as well as key historical figures.
32 Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5AA
Open 10am - 7pm Mon - Sat (3pm in winter), 12noon - 5pm Sun (not in winter)
Climb the Nelson Monument and you'll be rewarded with fantastic 360° views across Edinburgh. Located on the historic Calton Hill, just 10 minutes from Princes Street, the monument was built in memory of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.
Check out the time-ball, first installed in 1852, to help sailors at Leith harbour set their chronometers. It can still be seen dropping every day (except Sunday) at 1pm. Inside the building, visitors can find out more about Admiral Nelson and the monument.
National Monument of Scotland
Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5AA
Also on Calton Hill, the National Monument of Scotland is another of Edinburgh's key landmarks. This iconic structure has in fact stood incomplete for over 200 years, as the architects were unable to raise the funds to complete the build. For this reason, some call it "Edinburgh's Disgrace", nevertheless is it a very popular spot for visitors and locals alike.
The National Monument of Scotland serves as a memorial to all the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died during the Napoleonic wars, and was inspired by the Parthenon of Athens. Every April it serves as the dramatic backdrop to the annual Beltane Festival, a pagan celebration that welcomes the beginning of summer.
Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE
This poignant celebration of loyalty is a firm favourite with visitors. According to the story, this loyal dog stayed by his master's graveside for 14 years until his death. This monument was unveiled in the late 19th century and remains a popular draw for those far and wide today.
Find out more about the story of Greyfriars Bobby in the Museum of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile.
2a Cramond Road South, Davidson's Mains, Edinburgh EH4 5QD
Grounds open 8am - 8pm (5pm in winter), admission free
House access via guided tour only, no need to book. Tours run at 2pm Sat-Thurs (summer) and 2pm Sat and Sun (winter).
Adult £5, Child (under 16) £3, Concession £3, Family £12.50 (up to 2 adults and 3 children)
A little bit further out, but still worth a visit. Step back in time and experience life in Edwardian times at Lauriston Castle, a 16th century tower house. Here visitors get the chance to explore the house as it was left by its last owners, unchanged since 1926.
Enjoy a woodland walk in wonderful grounds, visit the award-winning Japanese garden, or take a guided tour and experience what life was like in an elegant Edinburgh home at the beginning of the 20th century.
Craigmillar Castle Road, Edinburgh, EH16 4SY
Summer: Open daily 9.30am - 5.30pm
Winter: Open Saturday - Wednesday 10am - 4pm
Adult £6, Concession £4.80, Child (aged 5-15) £3.60, Children under 5 Free
Towards the outskirts of the city in Craigmillar Castle Park, you'll find the romantic ruin of Craigmillar Castle. The complex dates from the 14th century and has hosted some of the most iconic figures in Edinburgh's history over the years - including Mary Queen of Scots.
What began as a simple town house quickly expanded into a warren of structures and spaces as each of its residents added a little more to the castle - which has resulted in an enchanting landmark full of hidden nooks and crannies to explore. If you have the time, have a relaxing wander around the surrounding park which offers great views of Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle, just a couple of miles away.