Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Activities

Our hidden gems uncover the best things to do for a great day out in Edinburgh.

One Spa – The Sheraton Hotel

8 Conference Square, Edinburgh, United Kingdom EH3 8AN, website

The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa is home to One Spa, widely regarded as one of Europe’s finest city Spas offering a range of holistic Spa treatments including a pool with a very special view. Situated on the top floor, high above Edinburgh city centre the 19m swimming pool has an infinity edge and views of Edinburgh Castle which makes for a very unique swimming experience indeed. 

Top tip: need some fresh air after your swim? Nip up to the stunning rooftop Hydropool!

Pickering's Gin Distillery

Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, Website

Pickerings

Pickerings Gin is made at Summerhall in the first exclusive gin distillery to be establised in Edinburgh for over 150 years. You can get a glimpse behind the scenes by booking a tour of the distillery, available Mondays and Tuesdays at 4pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm and 6pm. See how their hand crafted small batch gin is made, find out more about the botanicals used and sample the gin at different stages in the distilling process. The tour costs £10 a head, lasts 45-50 minutes and is a must for any gin fan.

Top Tip: After you've finished your tour, pop next door to the Royal Dick pub which has a pipe straight from the distillery and serves Pickerings Gin on tap!

Gladstone's Land

477b Lawn Market, Edinburgh, EH1 2NT, Website

Gladstones Land

Find out how the other half lived in 17th Century Edinburgh when you step through the doors of Gladstone’s Land. Once the home of the wealthy merchant and landlord Thomas Gledstane, several of the rooms in the house have been restored to how they would have looked “at the time”. You’ll experience the cramped conditions of the high-rise tenements in 17th-century Edinburgh as you navigate your way around the low ceilings, narrow, winding staircases and tiny windows of this historic house. Make sure you look up when you reach the Painted Chamber and admire the beautifully decorated ceiling in this grand bed chamber. 

Top Tip: Visit on a Saturday between 12.30pm and 5pm during July and August to see the 17th Century brought to life by the costumed guides. 

Lauriston Castle 

2 Cramond Road South, EH4 6AD, website

Lauriston Exterior Shot Summer 600

This beautiful castle in the north of Edinburgh was gifted to Scotland by its last private owner Mrs Reid and the interior maintains the look it had when it was left in 1926. Mrs Reid's husband Mr W. R. Reid took much care and attention to decorating the castle and you can see his stunning collections of Italian Furniture, Sheffield Plate, Crossley Wool Mosaics and Blue John ornaments when you take a guided tour - the only way to gain access inside this stunning building. The Castle's incredible gardens were orginally laid out by William Henry Playfair in the 1840s and boast breath-taking views of the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island. The Japanese Friendship garden, gifted by the prefecture of Kyoto, is truly spectacular when in full bloom and well worth the trip.

Tour of Lauriston Castle are available April to October: Monday - Thursday at 2pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2pm; November to March: Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Admission prices are £5 for adults, £3 for children (under 16), £3 for concessions and £12.50 for families (up to two adults and three children under 16). 

Access to the gardens only is free of charge. The Garden are open April through September: 8am - 8pm; October through March: 8am - 5pm.

Top Tip: Lauriston Castle hosts regular family events throughout the year, visit their event pages to see what's coming up.   

Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ, website

Royal Observatory Edinburgh 600

Situated on Blackford Hill, the Royal Observatory Edinburgh is a top spot for star gazers. The observatory team are dedicated to supporting and promoting public interest in astronomy and host a range of events throughout the year so you can find out more about their work and get a closer look at the night sky over Edinburgh. The observatory building itself is stunning and at each event you’ll have the chance to take a tour of their incredible Victorian telescope dome. Take a look at their website to see what special events and talks they have coming up – they’ve always got lots of interesting things going on. 

Top Tip: Their Public Astronomy Evenings are always very popular so make sure you book in advance.   

The Georgian House

7 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DR, website 

Georgian House 600

Step back in time and explore The Georgian House on Charlotte Square. The stunning building, designed by celebrated 18th century architect Robert Adam, has been beautifully restored to show a typical Edinburgh New Town House of the late 18th to early 19th century. Each room is filled with fine examples of furnishings and trimmings of the time, including a fantastic collection of paintings porcelain, silver and glass. You’ll get an idea of how life was lived by the Masters of the house in the drawing room and dining room, while downstairs the kitchen and scullery will give insight into a day in the life of a servant. Stop to chat to the guides for more information about this incredible building.

Top Tip: Learn more about the house and how New Town residents lived with Living History tours in November. These costumed tours are fully scripted and portray an imaginary day in the life of the Lamont family and their household servants. Tour dates can be found on the National Trust for Scotland’s website

Guerlain Spa – The Caledonian Hotel

The Caledonian, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB, website

Guerlain Spa Waldorf Credit Facebook

Edinburgh’s ‘Grand Old Lady’, The Caledonian Hotel which opened in December 1903 as part of Princes Street Railway Station is now home to The UK’s first Guerlain Spa,  offering a sanctuary of luxury and relaxation to residents and visitors alike. Not that we could ever imagine why anyone would wish to escape our beautiful city of Edinburgh but should you feel the need embrace the Champs Elysées experience of an afternoon, why not sample the range of luxurious treatments using Guerlain products and respecting the origins of the signature massage from 1939 when the brand opened its first ‘Institut de Beaute’ in Paris.

St Giles' Roof Top Tours

St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, EH1 1RE, website

St Giles Rooftop Credit Veronika Kallus

[Image Credit: Veronika Kallus] 

On a clear day on the roof of St Giles’ Cathedral, the panoramic views of the surrounding hills punctuated by the spires and towers of Edinburgh are not to be missed.  Even on a rainy day, a bird’s eye view of the Royal Mile provides a unique photo opportunity of Edinburgh Castle all the way down to Holyroodhouse.

The tour of the rooftop also gives visitors a rare glimpse into how the cathedral has been altered and extended over the years. Visitors will be able to get close up to the famous 50 meter high crown spire, and will learn some of the more interesting occurrences at St Giles’, and especially the tower itself. You’ll hear all sorts of tales about the tower and even stand where prisoners would have stood when the tower was used as a jail. 

The Edinburgh Gin Distillery

1a, Rutland St, Edinburgh EH1 2AD, website

Edinburgh Gin 500X210

Visit the Edinburgh Gin Distillery to indulge both the mind and the palate in all things gin. Nestled in the heart of the city, beneath the stairs at 1a Rutland Place, in the dramatic shadow of Edinburgh Castle. 

From taking a tour or a guided tasting, to trying your hand at making your own, indulge yourself in the majesty and mystery of the beautiful botanical libations we call gin.

Top Tip: As well as touring the distillery visitors can distill a bottle of their very own gin!

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