If you plan to visit Scotland, you must spend at least 2 days in the breathtaking Scottish capital, the magical city of Edinburgh! It’s a beautiful historic city with gorgeous architecture, rich culture, stunning landscapes, charming streets, and the cutest local shops.
Edinburgh’s vibe is relaxed and calm, yet active and exciting. Here are the best 10 things that you can do in Edinburgh!
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is a charming street that runs all the way from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh castle. It is approximately one mile long (1.6 kilometers), and home to many landmarks, shops, restaurants, and cafes. It’s a must-see when you visit Edinburgh and is often filled with tourists.
Places to see at the Royal Mile include St Giles cathedral, the Scottish Parliament Building, and the historic Canongate Kirk. You will also see many shops that sell Scottish goods such as kilts, wool and cashmere, bagpipes, fudge, and Scottish whiskey.
This iconic castle sits atop an extinct volcano and offers breathtaking views of the city. It is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you walk up the Royal Mile, you will see Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill. If you are spending over 2 days in Edinburgh then visiting the castle is a good idea. There’s an entrance fee of £18-21 for an adult, family and children rates are also available. Book your tickets here.
St Giles’ Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is a historic cathedral located in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the principal place of worship for the Church of Scotland in the city, and is named after Saint Giles, the patron saint of Edinburgh. The cathedral was founded in the 12th century and has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries. It is a distinctive and prominent landmark in the city, with its tall spire and large, ornate gothic architecture.
The cathedral is open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction, as well as a place of worship for the local community. Entrance is free of charge.
Palace of Hollyrood House
Located at the end of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. The palace was originally a monastery, founded in 1128 by King David I of Scotland, and was later converted into a royal residence.
The palace is open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction at one end of the Royal Mile. It is also the setting for the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
If you decide to visit the palace, plan 1-2 hours to enjoy the history, the buildings, the furniture, and the paintings. And don’t forget to visit the gift shop!
Mary King’s Close
Mary King’s Close is a historic site that consists of a series of narrow alleys and underground streets that were once part of the city’s medieval Old Town. The close, which is named after Mary King, a prominent merchant who lived in the area in the 17th century, was originally a bustling hub of commerce and trade. However, it was later abandoned and sealed off due to outbreaks of plague in the city.
Today, Mary King’s Close is a popular tourist attraction, offering guided tours that allow visitors to explore the underground streets and learn about the history of the area. As you walk up Mary King’s Close, you will be heading toward Calton Hill.
Calton Hill is a stunning panoramic hill in central Edinburgh, Scotland, situated on the eastern end of Princes Street. It is a popular tourist destination and provides beautiful panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Calton Hill is home to several notable landmarks, including the National Monument, a neoclassical monument modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, and the City Observatory, which was used for astronomical observations in the 19th century.
Calton Hill is also the site of the Nelson Monument, a tower dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson, and the Dugald Stewart Monument, a memorial to the Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart. The hill is a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument and is also protected as a Category A listed building. It is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to take in the views of the city and enjoy the outdoors.
As you admire the panoramic views from the top of the hill at Calton Hill, don’t miss the view of Ribbon hotel; a controversial £1bn development that reminds many people of a popular emoji.
The development features a shopping galleria with 80 different brands, 30 restaurants, W Edinburgh hotel, Everyman cinema, residential apartments, and much more.
Scottish National Gallery
The Scottish National Gallery is an art museum located in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is one of the national galleries of Scotland, along with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The Scottish National Gallery is home to a vast collection of art from the early Renaissance to the present day, including works by artists such as Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh.
The museum is located on The Mound in central Edinburgh and is open to the public. It is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists and hosts a variety of exhibitions and events throughout the year.
As you walk down from Calton Hill towards Princes Street, you will see the 61 meters high Scott Monument. It is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, and the second largest in the world that was made to a writer.
It was constructed in 1844, and the tower is adorned with 68 statuses dedicated to Scottish writers, poets, and more. You can climb up the stairs to reach the top of the monuments for a panoramic view of the city of Edinburgh including Princes Street Gardens.
Shopping at St James Quarter
St James Quarter is a modern shopping center in Edinburgh. It is located in the city center, east end of the new town near Princes Street. St James Quarter is a shopping galleria with many shops, international brands, and restaurants. You can easily spend 2-3 hours there if shopping is your thing.