Considered by many to be the symbol of Edinburgh, the Castle has watched over the city for centuries. Not only does it provide views across Auld Reekie, and beyond, it also affords a glimpse into the city’s past. Edinburgh Castle has served as the seat of Scottish power, a war prison during the American Wars of Independence and even today is still home to an active military base. Don't miss the 1 o'clock gun, fired every day except Sundays.
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
One of the first examples of moving pictures - a long time before television - and a real Victorian attraction Camera Obscura & World of Illusions spreads mind-bending tricks of the light and interactive experiences across six floors, culminating in the 150 year old camera obscura on the top floor, which projects live moving pictures of Edinburgh. Tickets are valid for an entire day - so you can come and go as you please!
Museum of Edinburgh
Housed in a 16th century building on the Royal Mile, the Museum of Edinburgh will excite and perhaps surprise you with Auld Reekie's fascinating past. The museum runs a full programme of exhibitions throughout the year alongside their permanent collections, and is free to enter all year round.
Across from the Museum of Edinburgh you'll find The People's Story. This unique museum tells the story of Edinburgh's residents through the years, in their own words from oral histories, interviews and other records. Start here for first hand accounts of what life in Edinburgh was really like for people through the centuries.
Celebrating the lives of three of Scotland's most well-known writers, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, the Writers' Museum is tucked away off the Royal Mile on Lady Stair's Close, and is home to rare objects from Scotland's literary history. The museum has something for everyone, young and old - whether you've read any of these writers' works or not.
The Old Town can get rather busy, so 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.
A 500 year old building located near the Castle, Gladstone's Land is a preserved example of the luxury life through the centuries in Edinburgh's Old Town. Opulently decorated, the building has been restored to how it would have looked before the city's rich and elite moved to the elegant New Town in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Scottish Parliament Building
Scotland has had its own parliament since 1999, and this is where it meets. Areas of policy devolved to Edinburgh include Scotland's environment, agriculture, sport, housing, health, education, transport and law, along with some powers of taxation. Free to visit, the parliament's visitor exhibition explains how the Scottish government works for its people, as well as giving you the chance to see the debating chamber. You may even get to see parliament in session.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse & Queen's Gallery
The official Royal Residence in Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyroodhouse stands across from the Scottish Parliament, incorporating the Queen's Gallery which hosts a range of exhibitions throughout the year. Explore the palace and you'll see where HRH Queen Elizabeth II entertains guests, and the old throne rooms used by monarchs of the past. Climb the winding staircase and you'll find yourself in the bedchamber of Mary Queen of Scots - as well as see the spot where her private secretary, David Rizzio, was brutally murdered.
The Real Mary King's Close
Unique to Edinburgh, Mary King's Close is a street that used to connect to the Royal Mile, but after the mid 18th century when the Edinburgh City Chambers were built, covering over a portion of the street, it was abandoned and closed, ultimately being entirely closed off in 1902. Today, you can visit the still-intact street, which is entirely covered over, seeing into the houses and exploring the eerie relics of Edinburgh's past. Explore Edinburgh's Mary King's Close
Museum of Childhood
Newly refurbished in 2018, the Museum of Childhood is a celebration of childhood throughout history, in Scotland and beyond. Free to enter, you'll find the museum on the Royal Mile. Exhibitions include toys and games from down the generations, focusing on aspects of growing up such as holidays, clothing, schooldays and health. The museum offers something for all ages - child or not!
St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles' Cathedral has been in its current position down from Edinburgh Castle since the early 12th century, and today is the home of the Thistle Chapel - used by the Knights of the Thistle, Scotland's chivalric order. The cathedral is admired for its architecture, and depending on when you visit you may hear an organ or choir rehearsal.
Scotch Whisky Experience
[Image courtesy of the Scotch Whisky Experience]
A five-star attraction The Scotch Whisky Experience is located next to Edinburgh Castle. Visitors enjoy a ‘barrel ride’ through the production process followed with an immersive 180° presentation of Scotland’s dramatic countryside featuring the five whisky producing regions. The art of blending is revealed in the 1870s blender’s sample room, and a viewing of the spectacular vault containing the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky. Visitors will also enjoy a guided whisky tasting.