This is the ideal way to explore Edinburgh right now. If you’re stuck at home (near or far) and bored, we’ve got plenty to keep you occupied. If you’re an Edinburgh local and missing your old haunts, you’ll find lots of options to keep your spirits up. And if you’re desperate to come to Edinburgh and want to get in the mood, we’re confident there’s enough here to get your Edinburgh holiday planning off to a great start.
Our Big Virtual Tour of Edinburgh has so much going on you’ll be exhausted! With enough to keep you busy from early morning to the wee small hours, we’ve scoured Edinburgh’s online offerings, so you don’t have to.
As it’s a virtual guide, we’ve listed the tour by theme so you can pick and choose the things you fancy doing at a time that suits you. Enjoy!
Edinburgh was established as a town in the 1100s, so there is a lot of history to cover! Here’s a few excellent online resources to catch you up on all 11 centuries of it!
The National Museum of Scotland (free)
Explore the floors and exhibits of this impressive museum with a guided virtual tour. As well as wandering around the museum, you can enter exhibitions and galleries to look at the 20,000+ items available in the virtual collections.
The only thing that’s missing is a cup of coffee and a muffin at the 1st-floor cafe, but you can easily recreate that at home, too!
For more details visit the National Museum of Scotland website.
The Story of Edinburgh in 101 Objects (free)
Can a city’s history really be told through the objects and treasures it keeps? We think so, and we’re sure after you’ve browsed this wonderful collection of 101 items you’ll agree with us.
Work methodically from number 1, or pick a number at random, this is a wonderful treasure hunt that you can quickly lose hours in. There’s a downloadable map which is perfect for getting started on planning your next trip to Edinburgh. For further details visit the Edinburgh 101 project website.
Old Edinburgh Online Experience (ticketed)
From the comfort of your sofa, you can enjoy a guided tour around some of Edinburgh’s oldest streets in the Old Town. The tour combines stories, pictures and live video to give you a rich experience of walking through the city’s narrow alleys and closes.
Tours start at £10 and are a brilliant way to learn about Edinburgh’s people, history, and culture.
The Port of Leith: 200 Years of Maritime History (free)
Leith is a bustling neighbourhood in Edinburgh, but it was once the busiest port in Scotland and an essential harbour for travel and trade.
Made by Historic Environment Scotland, this excellent 10-minute short film takes you through this vital area’s maritime history. Any Leithers watching this will be sure to learn a thing or two about the place they have aligned in their heart! Watch the film here.
St. Cecilia’s Hall - Scotland’s Oldest Music Hall
Edinburgh has a long and happy musical tradition. It boasts Scotland’s first-ever music hall, St. Cecilia’s, commissioned In 1757 by local musicians.
The first concert featured the one and only Robert Burns, and he was quickly followed by illustrious guests from around the world. This lovely film takes you on tour through the historic building, and it’s rich (and glamorous) history. Watch the film here
Walks and Tours in Edinburgh
One of the best things about Edinburgh is how easy it is to walk around. Hilly, yes, but small enough to take in several walks in a day without feeling exhausted. The scenery is always stunning, yes even on rainy days.
We’ve featured a few of our favourite walks and tours below which give you a flavour of the true essence of Edinburgh.
Victoria Street in the rain
Said to be the inspiration behind Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, this little walking video down Victoria Street in the rain shows you exactly how beautiful Edinburgh is, whatever the weather. Watch the video here.
Edinburgh in the snow
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Captured during the now-famous Beast from the East storm, this beautiful short film shows how Edinburgh’s already impressive landmarks really shine in the snow. Watch the film here.
A stroll through Edinburgh on a sunny day
Edinburgh comes into its own on a sunny day. People take to the streets and the parks to enjoy coffees and lunch al-fresco, and you could forget you’re in chilly Scotland altogether. Join us for a sunny walk here.
A guided tour through Edinburgh (ticketed)
If you love the idea of a virtual walk around Edinburgh but would love to know more about the areas, then book onto a guided walking tour.
The Edinburgh Expert offers virtual tours for up to 5 devices, so why not book a tour with a group of friends and have the virtual experience together? Book your virtual Edinburgh tours available here.
Harry Potter Tour (ticketed)
Unless you’re a muggle through-and-through, you will know Edinburgh’s importance at the heart of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter walking tours have been top-rated over the years, and now you can book into a virtual, interactive version. Visit the Potter Trail here.
Castles & Palaces
It’s often said that you can’t walk in Scotland without tripping over a castle - there are a lot of them (around 3,000 give or take a few!)
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Edinburgh is home to one of the world’s best known Scottish castles. An iconic landmark, it guards over the city from the peak of a dormant volcano. It’s a fascinating place to visit in person, but seeing it from the sofa is still pretty cool.
This fantastic 3D model gives you a view of the castle that you would never get in person. Explore the castle here.
After exploring the 3D version and learning all about this famous Edinburgh landmark, join a virtual walking tour and explore the corridors, balustrades and stairs you’ve been learning about. Join the tour here.
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets. It’s the main thoroughfare in the old town and has been Edinburgh’s High Street for hundreds of years.
You might wonder why it’s called the Royal Mile if it’s really the High Street! Well, it’s known as the Royal Mile because kings and queens would walk on procession from the chilly halls of Edinburgh Castle down to the warm and luxurious Palace of Holyrood.
You can share in the royal experience on this excellent walking tour (without any of the crowds, cheering and pomp!)
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
(Image Credit: Visit Scotland - Kenny Lamb)
This is the King’s official Edinburgh residence and has been the home of many royal family members through the ages. Both Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary Queen of Scots lived here, and it’s been visited by many famous people including Nelson Mandela.
Enjoy a virtual tour around this impressive palace here.
Lauriston Castle is on the edge of Edinburgh and often goes unvisited by tourists because of its location. The great thing about our virtual tour is that you can easily hop over to Lauriston Castle from The Royal Mile and you don’t have to pay a fortune in taxi fares!
There are many videos and tours around the castle here.
Edinburgh is full of iconic landmarks. From the Scott Monument to Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat out to the Forth Rail Bridge. Here are a few ways to catch them in all their glory:
City Skylines: Enjoy some birds eye flights across Edinburgh, following the city’s old railway lines.
Scott Monument: Virtual tour of the Scott Monument
The Forth Rail Bridge: A unique and mesmerising tour of the bridges
Arthur’s Seat: Enjoy the views from the top of Edinburgh’s Arthur Seat - the beautiful hill in the heart of the city - without the huffing and puffing.
(Image Credit: Stuart Armitt)
Edinburgh plays host to many festivals throughout the year, covering everything from film festivals, jazz festivals, magic festivals and science festivals. There’s plenty of festival action to keep visitors and residents entertained.
Perhaps most famous are the collection of festivals that make up the Edinburgh Festival (namely, Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Phew!). Taking part in all of the events and celebrations during the Edinburgh festival is exhausting, but two attractions most visitors make sure they attend is the opening event and the massive fireworks at the end.
Watch the most recent Edinburgh festival opening performance here.
And catch the end of the Festival Fireworks here.
If you type ‘Scottish recipes’ into a search engine, you’ll find thousands of recipes to follow. We like to keep things simple, so if you do too, why not cook along with one of Edinburgh’s best-known chefs Tony Singh.
In this video, he cooks a delicious spicy Scottish haddock recipe. So if you can’t get along to your favourite Scottish restaurant, make sure you’ve grabbed the ingredients to this delightful traditional meal and cook along with Tony!
Cook with Tony Singh here.
One thing that everybody loves in Edinburgh is the nightlife. Pubs and clubs stay open till the wee small hours (some venues remain open till 5am during the Festival in August).
If you’re looking for a taste of Edinburgh’s unique nighttime entertainment, then we’ve picked out a few examples of Edinburgh’s finest.
Edinburgh Local Musicians
Find a pub in Edinburgh on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, and you will find a local band playing. With a wide range of musical styles (and talent) on offer, you’re never far away from a traditional ballad, a new rock song or a good old fashioned sing-a-long.
If you are really missing catching local bands, or want a taste of the Edinburgh music scene, then the Ruby Tuesday Live Sessions are the perfect taster. This is a wonderfully musical Facebook group, where local Edinburgh musicians come together and play live gigs every Tuesday (you can catch them all on replay).
Every musician shares their ‘tip jar’ link with their performance so you can send a few pounds their way if you like what they play. Ruby Tuesday Live Sessions is a fabulous way to keep Edinburgh live music alive.
Catch all the performances here.
There has always been a strong tradition of comedy in Edinburgh. Comedy acts make up a big part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every August and many famous comedians started their careers in the city.
Several pub and theatre venues host live comedy sessions and three dedicated venues that host comedy every night they’re open.
If you’re looking forward to getting back into the comedy circuit in Edinburgh, then here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long, but for now, watch some of Edinburgh’s finest shows from in your own comedy club (also known as your living room).
Watch free comedy for you from The Stand Comedy Club, an Edinburgh institution.
Short videos, clips and comedy shows from Monkey Barrel Comedy.
Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre has long been a trailblazer in the Edinburgh theatre scene. For the past 50+ years, it’s been home to some of the most exciting and thought-provoking theatres in the country.
Now, to cope with current restrictions and challenges, The Trav (as Edinburgh residents fondly call it) has launched a virtual programme with specially commissioned works to keep theatre lovers sated.
Some shows are free, others ticketed, and all of the exceptional standards, as you would expect from The Traverse.
Check out the virtual theatre programme here.
Dance till dawn
Let’s end our Big Virtual Tour of Edinburgh on a high. Literally!
The night is young, and it’s time to move your body. Clear some space in your lounge for dancing, and turn the volume up loud. We’re taking you dancing! This excellent replay of world-famous DJ Patrick Topping is the perfect way to end our Big Virtual Tour of Edinburgh.
Enjoy a 2 hour DJ set, live-streamed from the top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill. Dance away the lockdown cobwebs and catch a beautiful summer view across the city and off to the Pentland Hills while you party!
Catch the fantastic Patrick Topping set here
Thank you so much for joining us on our Big Virtual Tour of Edinburgh itinerary. You’ve been excellent adventurers, and we can’t wait to welcome you back to Edinburgh, in person soon.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for planning your trip to Edinburgh, when restrictions are lifted, head to our Edinburgh Itinerary page and join us on another adventure soon.
In the meantime, stay safe and look after yourself.