Things to do on The Royal Mile

The Old Town is home to some of Edinburgh’s biggest and best attractions. Grab a selfie at the city’s most iconic landmarks, or uncover the capital’s hidden gems down one of our many wynds and closes.

Castles and Historic Buildings

Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Mile is full of historic buildings, and Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic. Visitors can explore the castle’s many exhibits, including the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. Don’t miss the 1 o’clock gun, fired every day except Sundays.

From the castle, make your way down the Royal Mile to John Knox House, where you can learn about the Scottish Reformation and see artefacts related to John Knox himself.

Don’t forget to admire the stunning St Giles’ Cathedral along the way. This magnificent building has been a fixture on the Royal Mile since the 12th century and is renowned for its striking architecture and beautiful stained-glass windows. Take a moment to admire the Thistle Chapel, used by Scotland’s chivalric order, the Knights of the Thistle. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a choir or organ rehearsal during your visit. Outside, look down to see a the heart-shaped pattern of stones on the pavement called The Heart of Midlothian. The mosaic is made up of different coloured granite stones and serves as a symbol of Scottish resilience and determination.

If you are looking for a glimpse into the luxury life in Edinburgh’s Old Town, head to Gladstone’s Land, a 500-year-old building that has been restored to its former glory.

If royalty is more of your thing, take a trip to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official Royal Residence in Edinburgh. Explore the bedchamber of Mary Queen of Scots and learn about the tragic events that unfolded here.


Museum of Edinburgh

There are a variety of museums on offer on the Royal Mile, From the Museum of Childhood, where you can explore toys and games from throughout history. There is something for everyone, child or not! To The Scottish Storytelling Centre, head here to learn about Scotland’s rich storytelling tradition and try your hand at telling your own tales.

Another great pick is Museum of Edinburgh, housed in a 16th-century building, it will surprise you with fascinating insights into Auld Reekie’s past. Across the street, The People’s Story tells the tale of Edinburgh’s residents through their own words.

Finally, visit the Writers’ Museum, which celebrates the lives of Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott, and features rare objects from Scotland’s literary history, sure to inspire you.


Lantern-Led tours, Real Mary Kings Close

Take a Mercat Tours to learn about Edinburgh’s rich history, including tales of murder and intrigue as well as light-hearted stories of famous residents.

For a unique experience, head to the Real Mary King’s Close, an abandoned street that used to connect to the Royal Mile and explore the still-intact houses. If you prefer to see Edinburgh on two wheels, join a guided bike tour and explore the city’s beautiful parks and hidden corners or for a taste of the supernatural, join a ghost tour and hear about Edinburgh’s dark and spooky past.

If a dram is more your style, take a whisky tour and sample Scotland’s national drink, while learning about its rich history and production process at The Scotch Whisky Experience.


St Margaret's Loch

As The Old Town can get rather busy, it pays to know where to run to if you need a quiet moment of respite. That’s why Dunbar’s Close is perfect for the weary visitor needing a moment to sit down and recuperate. A recreated 17th century secret garden, Dunbar’s Close offers moments of respite in a beautifully kept oasis in the centre of the city.

For a more active experience, Start by climbing Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that offers stunning views of the city. The you could take a tour of Holyrood Park, which includes St Margaret’s Loch.

Other Fun

A woman and man in a Mirror Maze at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Edinburgh, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile offers plenty of other fun activities for visitors. Start by visiting Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, where you can experience optical illusions and amazing views of the city.

Another fun place to visit is Dynamic Earth. It is a playground for the curious and adventurous minds, where you can touch rocks from space and even experience a simulated earthquake! With interactive exhibits, and fun educational activities, it’s the perfect place to unleash your inner geologist and have a blast while learning about our planet.

However, If you are looking to learn more about Scottish life, head to the Scottish Parliament, located at the bottom of the Royal Mile. The parliament’s visitor exhibition explains how the Scottish government works for its people and gives you the chance to see the debating chamber. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of parliament in session.

If you have a sweet tooth, you must visit The Chocolatarium. This interactive chocolate experience is the perfect place to indulge your senses and learn about the history of chocolate making. You can even try your hand at creating your own chocolate creations.

Discover all things to do in the Royal Mile

Uncover some of Edinburgh’s biggest and best attractions.