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Where to Go in Edinburgh


Monday, 17 June 2024

Where to Go in Edinburgh

If you’re looking for a city-based holiday packed with things to do, Edinburgh is an excellent choice. Scotland’s capital city is home to a fantastic range of visitor attractions, historic architecture and beautiful green spaces, as well as vibrant eateries and shops to suit everyone’s tastes.

Here’s the Handpicked Cottages guide to things to do in Edinburgh.

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Topping every list of places to see in Edinburgh, most visitors will tour this fascinating castle at some point. Built on an extinct volcano, Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city. Inside its impressive walls, you’ll find a series of smaller exhibitions including the Honours of Scotland (the Crown Jewels) and the National War Museum. Make sure your visit takes in the Great Hall and St Margaret’s Chapel, and the best way to ensure you see everything is to book onto a guided tour. 


Explore the Palace of Holyrood

Continue your dive into Scotland’s royal history with a visit to Holyrood Palace, at the opposite end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile from the castle. You’ll find out more about famous figures such as Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie as you tour the elegant staterooms of the British monarch’s official residence in Scotland. Explore the grounds and Abbey, before treating yourself to a well-earned afternoon tea.


Climb Arthur’s Seat 

Ready for some walking? Edinburgh is a hilly city and even a quick trip to the shops involves steep streets and flights of steps. However, this means that you can enjoy spectacular views of the city, surrounding countryside and sunrises/sunsets. Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park, is a favourite walking spot. Allow about an hour to reach the top of the 250-metre climb. Calton Hill, home to the National Monument, is another wonderful walk to see the cityscape. For a more relaxing stroll, walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Discover Edinburgh’s visitor attractions

Edinburgh is rich in cultural and historic visitor attractions, from the fascinating Camera Obscura to Jupiter Artland, a contemporary sculpture park. Highlights include the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Galleries. Scare yourself at the Edinburgh Dungeon, take a Harry Potter tour, or visit the grave of Scotland’s most famous dog, Greyfriars Bobby. If you can, catch a production at the Festival Theatre or a concert at The Queen’s Hall.

Head for the beach

Not necessarily what you’d expect to see in a guide to Edinburgh! However, the Scottish capital is a coastal city and home to the fabulous Portobello Beach. It’s just a short bus ride or drive from the city centre, but feels like a different world. Treat yourself to an ice cream on the sands before exploring Portobello’s appealing independent shops. In need of some relaxation during your city break? There’s nowhere quite like the Turkish Baths at Edinburgh Swim Centre.


Step aboard the Royal Yacht

Since her retirement in 1997, the Royal Yacht Britannia has been moored in the Port of Leith (again, just a short bus ride from Edinburgh). The magnificent yacht was used by the British royal family on state visits, where she would host banquets for world leaders as well as providing luxurious transport for her illustrious passengers. Tour the state apartments, Sun Lounge and engine room, before unwinding in one of Leith’s many lovely restaurants. 


Try a wee dram

As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of distilleries in Edinburgh. For a dram with a difference, head back to fashionable Leith and Scotland’s first vertical distillery. Housed in an impressive new nine-storey building, Leith Distillery offers excellent views as well as whisky tastings and tours. You can also find out more about Scotland’s famous export at the Scotch Whisky Experience, which is near Edinburgh Castle. 


Enjoy Edinburgh’s shops

If you love exploring cities on foot while taking in some excellent shopping opportunities, Edinburgh’s the place for you. There’s no end of places to eat, drink and shop along the famous Royal Mile, which stretches through Edinburgh’s Old Town from the castle to Holyrood Palace. There’s also the Grassmarket area, once a medieval market place and now a vibrant hub in the heart of Old Town. The New Town is hardly modern, made from elegant Georgian streets and squares. You’ll find a great mix of chic eateries and high-end boutiques in this part of Edinburgh, along with a wide selection of high street favourites. 

Go underground in Edinburgh

Discover the now-hidden old lanes and courts beneath the city’s streets. The Real Mary King’s Close is a network of buildings and streets under the Old Town, buried during building works and preserved as a time capsule of 17th-century Edinburgh. You can book onto a guided tour of Mary King’s Close and surrounding streets, which begins with a descent by lift into this eerie, forgotten world. Expect spooky stories of ghosts and the plague, as well as plenty of entertaining tales about old Edinburgh.


Book Your Holiday in Edinburgh

Does this vibrant city appeal to you? Here at Handpicked Cottages, we have a selection of luxury holiday cottages in Edinburgh and the surrounding area.

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