Castles and Monuments

Lauriston Exterior Shot Summer 600

From mighty fortresses to poignant statues, Edinburgh has its fair share of breathtaking landmarks. Make sure you check out these top castles and monuments when you're in the city.


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Dominating the city skyline, Edinburgh Castle is Scotland's most-visited paid-for attraction - and for good reason - thousands of visitors flock through its gates every year to discover it’s fascinating, vibrant (and at times grisly) history.

The large complex has lots of grand spaces and sights to explore - so be sure to take a guided tour or hire an audio guide to get your bearings. Highlights of this mighty military stronghold include the Great Hall where lavish banquets took place; 12th century St Margaret’s Chapel - the oldest building in Edinburgh; the daily spectacle (except Sundays) of the One O’Clock Gun from Mills Mount Battery; The Stone of Destiny, Scotland’s ancient kingmaking stone; and The Honours of Scotland, Britain’s oldest crown jewels.

Top tip: Book your tickets in advance from Edinburgh Castle's website for the best price and to guarantee entry.

The Scott Monument

Scott Monument From The Gardens

Found in East Princes Street Gardens, the striking 200ft tall Scott Monument is dedicated to Edinburgh-born author Sir Walter Scott and is one of the world’s largest monuments to a writer.

Although awe-inspiring to view from ground level, the best way to learn more about Scott, his legacy on international literature and why such an impressive monument was erected in his honour is by joining one of the daily guided tours. Remember to bring your camera, as on reaching the third floor viewing platform, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city.

Tickets can be purchased from the Scott Monument kiosk. Pre-booking is not currently available.

The Nelson Monument

Nelson Monument

Perched on the top of Calton Hill is the Nelson Monument, built between 1807 and 1815 to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

In the shape of an upturned telescope, for many years this monument also had an important role to perform – a time ball would drop at 1pm daily to help ships to navigate at sea.

Today, visitors can climb the 147 steps to the top of the monument and look out over the panoramic city skyline or pay a trip to the ground floor museum which hosts a range of changing exhibitions.

The Nelson Monument is currently closed – check their website for updates.

The National Monument 

National Monument

Also on Calton Hill is another of Edinburgh's key landmarks - The National Monument.

This iconic structure has in fact stood incomplete for over 200 years, as the architects were unable to raise the funds to complete the build. For this reason, some call it "Edinburgh's Disgrace" - nevertheless it remains a popular spot for taking-in the stunning views of Edinburgh and across the River Forth.

Every April the monument takes on a new life, serving as the dramatic backdrop to the annual Beltane Festival, a pagan celebration that welcomes the beginning of summer.

Greyfriars Bobby 

Greyfriars Bobby

Situated at the top of Candlemaker Row is the small, but poignant statue of a dog.

It celebrates the life of Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal terrier who stayed by his master's graveside for 14 years. The pup became quite the local celebrity during his lifetime, and shortly after his death in 1872, this monument was erected in his honour. Today, it is a popular photo-stop for visitors, keen to get a photo of man’s best friend.

Lauriston Castle

Lauriston Exterior Shot Summer 600

Step back in time and experience life in Edwardian times at Lauriston Castle, a beautifully preserved house that remains largely unchanged since it was last inhabited in 1926.

Enjoy a woodland walk in the expansive grounds, visit the award-winning Japanese garden, or take a guided tour and experience in an Edinburgh middle-class home at the beginning of the 20th century.

Entrance to the house is chargeable; the grounds and garden are free to visit.

Craigmillar Castle

Craigmillar Castle

Towards the outskirts of the city in Craigmillar Castle Park are the romantic ruins of Craigmillar Castle. The complex dates from the 14th century and has hosted some of the most iconic figures in Scotland's history including Mary Queen of Scots who sought refuge here in 1566.

What began as a simple town house quickly expanded into a warren of structures and spaces as each of its residents added a little more to the castle - which has resulted in an enchanting landmark full of hidden nooks and crannies to explore.

If you have time, enjoy a relaxing wander around the surrounding park which offers great views of Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle, just a couple of miles away. 


From castles and museums to galleries and gardens, Edinburgh is packed with award-winning attractions for all ages. Discover more in our guide to Edinburgh’s Top Attractions >