Holyrood View from Calton Hill

Eco-friendly attractions

From galleries to castles, historic houses to outdoor spaces, discover more about the visitor attractions in Edinburgh that are championing and promoting sustainable practices.

© National Galleries of Scotland
A family group looking at a painting,© National Galleries of Scotland

National Galleries of Scotland: National

The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL

Together with the Modern and Portrait, the National contains an unrivalled collection of art from across the decades. Housing an extensive collection of European paintings from the Renaissance to the post-Impressionist era, the National features works by renowned artists such as Titian, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

All three galleries adopt low carbon alternatives wherever possible, and the National raises awareness of sustainability and its effects by displaying various art whose theme involve sustainability, such as artists who tell stories using recycled or repurposed materials.

two people looking in awe at the interior of the great hall in the gallery,© National Galleries of Scotland

National Galleries of Scotland: Portrait

1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD

The National Gallery of Scotland: Portrait, focuses on portraiture, showing the nation’s history through compelling images, and includes portraits of influential figures from Mary Queen of Scots to Billy Connelly.

Their café uses high quality and sustainably sourced Scottish produce, which has helped reduce food miles. In addition, their Learning and Engagement Team have helped in delivering sustainable public events using ecargo bikes for public drop-in drawing and sketching meet-ups.

© National Galleries Scotland/Keith Hunter
The exterior of the Modern Two building,© National Galleries Scotland/Keith Hunter

National Galleries Scotland: Modern

75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR

73 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DS

Comprised of two buildings and a stunning sculpture garden, the Modern showcases a diverse collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures and innovative exhibits. Embracing contemporary and modern art, it houses pieces by iconic artists like Picasso and Warhol.

They continually work towards identifying innovative ways to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint through improving their historic buildings and adopting virtual couriering for art works. They have also launched Preserving Pasts, Imagining Futures, a public engagement project inviting people all over Scotland to imagine how the country might look in the future due to climate change.

National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland - main area

National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

Celebrating Scotland’s rich history and heritage, The National Museum of Scotland features diverse exhibits of science, technology, art and history, offering visitors an immersive experience of the country’s past and present.

Their natural science collection provides invaluable data for biodiversity changes over time and contributes to a better worldwide understanding of human impact on the environment. They are also developing a research and collecting initiative to represent sustainable transport within their collections.

Image © Ruth Armstrong Photography
A family underneath a Spitfire aircraft in the Military Aviation Hangar at the National A Museum of Flight © Ruth Armstrong Photography,Image © Ruth Armstrong Photography

National Museum of Flight

East Fortune Airfield, B1347, North Berwick, EH39 5LF

Located on the grounds of the former Royal Air Force East Fortune airfield, The National Museum of Flight celebrates the history and wonder of aviation and houses an impressive collection of aircraft, ranging from vintage biplanes to iconic jets. Visitors can explore exhibits that showcase the evolution of aviation technology, learn about pioneering aviators and experience the thrill of flight through interactive displays. Their outdoor space features a runway and airfield, providing a unique setting for dynamic airshows and events.

They are keen to learn from and about nature by using outdoor classrooms and the use of natural materials. They make sure they offer regular exhibition programmes maintaining their focus on sustainability with subjects such as wildlife photography, the global threat of a pandemic and the survival of bees.

Dynamic Earth with Sunrise

Dynamic Earth

Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS

Dynamic Earth is a scientific and educational venue that takes visitors on a captivating journey through the Earth’s evolution. From the Big Bang to the present day, visitors can engage with immersive exhibits and cutting-edge technology that bring Earth’s dynamic processes to life. The venue also houses a unique 360-degree dome cinema, providing a breathtaking cinematic experience that showcases the beauty and power of our planet.

Visitors can expect to find ethical food options, promotion of sustainable transport options and e-charging points. Their team aim to inspire people to be part of the solutions through their school workshops, gallery experiences, Planetarium shows and engagement programmes.

Family outside Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

With roots stretching back to at least the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle is a historic gem and a must-visit attraction in Scotland’s capital. Explore its varied attractions, such as the Crown Jewels exhibition, the National War Museum of Scotland and St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh.

In an effort to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, the castle have undertaken a number of initiatives. These include re-lamping with LED lighting, laying sheep’s wool insulation, implementing automated smart meters and replacing gas boilers, controls and pumps.

© Hidden Scotland
Craigmillar Castle,© Hidden Scotland

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle Road, Edinburgh, EH16 4SY

Dating to the 14th century, Craigmillar Castle offers a unique blend of architectural beauty and historical significance, with highlights including the tower house and great hall. Surrounded by lush greenery, the castle makes a picturesque and unique destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking a glimpse into Scotland’s past.

As a Natural Heritage site, the castle follows a sustainability policy whilst delivering a wide range of activities and volunteering opportunities to foster a greater understanding of nature and its value.

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel

Chapel Loan, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9PU

Nestled in the charming village of Roslin, 7 miles south of Edinburgh, Rosslyn Chapel gained widespread recognition through its prominent feature in the 2003 novel and subsequent film, The Da Vinci Code. Visitors can admire the exquisite stonework, including the famed Apprentice Pillar and the Green Men, and marvel at its intricate carvings, mysterious symbols and captivating history.

The chapel reuses paper where possible. They also have a rainwater harvester to save water, LED lighting and sensors to decrease energy consumption and have introduced beehives to their grounds as well as planting over 70 trees.

Exterior photo of The Royal Yacht Britannia,© Marc Millar

The Royal Yacht Britannia

Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6JJ

Having served the British Royal Family for over four decades, this majestic vessel once carried Queen Elizabeth II on many state visits and private vacations. Now open to the public, the Royal Yacht Britannia offers visitors a unique glimpse into Royal life at sea, from the elegant State Apartments to the crew’s quarters.

Within their tearoom the ship uses locally sourced produce whenever possible. They also provide various recycling points and encourage visitors to walk, cycle or use public transport.


Gladstone’s Land

477B Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2NT

Dating from the 17th century, Gladstone’s Land is one of the oldest buildings on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Once home to prosperous merchants and tradespeople, it now serves as a museum, where visitors can explore its intricately decorated rooms and learn about the lives of its former inhabitants.

As part of the National Trust for Scotland, they have programmes that offer outdoor learning experiences within school grounds, in urban green spaces and the great outdoors, as well as offering free services to primary schools within areas of multiple deprivation.

Origins Guide, The Scotch Whisky Experience,© The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience

354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE

Situated on the Royal Mile, The Scotch Whisky Experience offers visitors the opportunity to delve into the world of Scotch whisky through interactive exhibits, guided tours and tasting sessions. Their restaurant, Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar, serves a menu showcasing the best of Scotland’s natural larder.

The attraction works with local suppliers to use the freshest ingredients possible and works hard at monitoring their energy, water, waste, carbon and chemical usage. Within their shop there is a selection of gifts made from recycled water bottles, old whisky casks and repurposed whisky bottles.

Botanic Garden view of pond and statue

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

20a Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR

Spanning over 70 acres, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (or the Botanics as they are known locally) is renowned for its extensive collection of plants from around the globe. Visitors can wander through beautiful landscapes, including lush glasshouses showcasing exotic flora, tranquil ponds and meticulously manicured gardens.

The garden serves as a hub for scientific research and conservation efforts, housing plant specimens and playing a crucial role in the preservation of endangered species.

Four giraffes at Edinburgh Zoo,© The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Edinburgh Zoo

134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS

From majestic lions to playful penguins, Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from around the world, offering visitors the chance to observe a diverse array of species up-close.

Beyond its role as a popular visitor attraction, it is deeply committed to the preservation of endangered species, actively participating in breeding programs and supporting wildlife research initiatives.

They encourage local wildlife through their wildlife gardens, bug hotels and bird boxes, and inform and educate on relevant environmental issues through the use of fun and engaging events and activities.

Planning a break in Edinburgh?

There are plenty of small things you can do to make your time away more eco-friendly, whilst still enjoying a fun packed holiday.