25 Top-Rated Things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland 2023

Things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is recognized for being one of the liveliest and friendliest cities in all of Europe. It provides tourists with the best of both worlds: metropolitan attractions and breathtaking natural scenery, with a wide range of options to suit every taste. 

Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination due to its magnificent castle and well-known festival. But the capital of Scotland is more than just a collection of popular attractions. Edinburgh is a visually stunning city with character. It is built on a succession of extinct volcanoes and is gifted with chasm-like mediaeval lanes and grand imperial squares.

Of course there is history to be found around every turn, but it’s gardens, pubs, and neighborhoods also have a thriving nightlife. Not only is Edinburgh worthwhile, but you should immerse yourself there.

Here are some of the top things to do in Edinburgh if you want to discover more of what the Scottish city has to offer.

Table of Contents

1. It’s Worth a Stroll at the Royal Mile

Royal Mile

The roadways that connect Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse are referred to as the “Royal Mile.” This magnificent road is a terrific spot to stroll for its stores, bed and breakfasts, galleries, pubs, and restaurants. It is bordered by lovely townhouses, cathedrals, and ancient buildings.

Its name, which was given in the 16th century, comes from the separation between the two royal mansions is exactly one mile, and is one of the top Edinburgh attractions.

There are five areas to explore along the cobblestone streets: Castle Esplanade, Castlehill, Lawnmarket, the High St., and Canongate. Don’t miss the 19th-century restoration of St. Giles Cathedral, and a 15th-century grey behemoth. 

Also take a stroll around the Witches Well, a fountain honouring the Edinburgh women who were hanged on suspicion of practising black magic.

2. Feast Your Eyes to the Flower Bloom at Royal Botanic Garden

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the oldest gardens in the UK, and offers an  astounding 13,200 different plant species, and is one of the best attractions in Edinburgh. 

A herbarium with over three million specimens, a palm house, and a tropical house with rare orchids are all located in this 70 acres park. It also includes a large orchard with rare big trees from the Andes, North America, and Tibet alongside the tiered moorland garden.

The woodland garden with its vibrant blossoms, dahlias, hydrangeas, and deodar is another highlight. Additionally, there is an aquatic house with exotic water plants, including the Indian pink lotus plant.

3. A Tour to Royal Yacht Britannia is only for History Geeks

Royal Yacht Britannia

One of the most well-known Edinburgh tourist attractions in Britain and a symbol of the monarchy is the Royal Yacht Britannia. The Queen has greeted leaders and celebrities from all across the world on board this magnificent ship over the years. 

The 60-year-old yacht, which had spent more than 40 years serving the Royal Family, was transported to Leith, Edinburgh’s port district. It is here it serves as the focal point of the Britannia Visitor Centre.

Once on board, you can tour the ship’s five main decks while learning about the history.  The Royal Apartments and Bedrooms, the gorgeous sun deck, and the Royal Suite Tavern on board are all its highlights. 

4. Climb to Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat

Salisbury Crags

Arthur’s Seat, one of the best things to do in Scotland, offers visitors breathtaking vistas of the city. These swaying green hills in Holyrood Park were once an active volcano that developed about 350 million years ago.  Interested in spectacular aerial views of Edinburgh? 

From this vantage point, you can see the city’s spires and rooftops, the Firth of Forth, Murrayfield Stadium, the Pentland Hills, and more.

The historic cultivation terraces, which are among Scotland’s earliest and best-preserved examples of prehistoric farming techniques, is one of the other attractions in this vast park.

5. Visit the Scotland’s Most Famous Landmark – The Edinburgh Castle

The Edinburgh Castle

Without visiting Edinburgh Castle, any trip to the Scottish city would not be genuine. Britain’s most besieged castle, which was first constructed in 1103 on a large craggy rock, is visible from a nearby vantage point in the city.

Britain’s oldest Crown jewels are kept at the royal mansion.  A massive gemstone and pearl-encrusted imperial golden crown, the silver-gilded Medallion of Scotland, and the Sword of State, which was given to James IV by Pope Julius II in 1507, are among the vintage treasures. 

Visitors can get a flavour of castle life year-round through guided tours, and is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh Scotland.

6. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official Edinburgh Residence 


The Queen’s official Edinburgh residence has frequently been at the heart of Scottish history and is one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh. James II and James IV were both married there, as were James V and Charles I, and “Bonnie Prince Charlie” held court there in 1745. 

Public access is allowed while the Queen is not abroad, which is usually 51 weeks out of the year because she only visits during “Royal Week” in the summer. 

During certain times, visitors are permitted access to the magnificent Mary, the Queen of Scots’ old residence and historic quarters. And, which are renowned for their rich antiques, tapestries, and ornate ceilings.

Scottish National Gallery

One of Edinburgh’s three major art galleries showcases the paintings of Scotland’s most notable historical personalities from the 16th century to the present.

The artwork features the portraits of Robbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Sean Connery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Stuart, and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Scottish National Gallery, the nation’s second-largest art collection and home to Scotland’s largest collection of European paintings and sculptures, was founded in 1859. It includes the artwork that dates back to the Renaissance and Post-Impressionists are included in its collection. And, is one of the top things to do in Scotland.

8. Learn History at National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum has gained popularity since its 2011 debut and has established itself as one of the top Edinburgh family activities.

It includes exhibits from several of Edinburgh’s oldest museums and draws over two million visitors every year. Highlights include national archaeology collections, mediaeval relics, natural history, geology, painting, science, and tech exhibitions.

Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal in the world, and  Elton John’s stage costumes are the main highlights that houses 16 galleries, which comprises over 8,000 artefacts.

St. Giles Cathedral

Edinburgh’s main church is sometimes referred to as the High Kirk of Edinburgh.  It also ranks #1 Edinburgh sightseeing, drawing more than a million tourists yearly.

The existing building, which dates back to the 1300s, is renowned for its majestic 161-foot central tower and eight arched spires. Memorials to World War I victims, exquisite stained-glass panels, and a statue of John Knox, the father of the Protestant Reformation, are among the main highlights. 

10. Shop Till you Drop at Princes Street

The famous Princes Street, which dates back to 1767, is named after King George III’s sons. It was once a posh residential street, but today it serves as the hub of the city’s  principal shopping district, and is one of the top Edinburgh tourist attractions

The Princes Mall is a popular shopping destination as well, offering a variety of locations to browse. There are chic boutiques and stores that are tucked away amidst fountains and cafés. In addition to the retail therapy, you can discover restaurants, ranging from fast food to fine dining establishments.

After all that shopping and learning about history, visit Princes Street Gardens to see the oldest flower clock in the world (1903). You can also get stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, which faces the gardens.

11. The Museum of Edinburgh is Where you Learn About the City’s Past

The Museum of Edinburgh

For anyone interested in learning more about this interesting city’s lengthy and colorful past, the Museum of Edinburgh, is worth a visit. The edifice was built in the late 1500s and is definitely one of the best things to see in Edinburgh.

Its interesting exhibitions trace Edinburgh’s history through antiques and historical records. Its significant collection of decorative arts is something not to miss which includes glassware, jewels, clockwork, and earthenware from the 18th century.

Visitors who enjoy the well-known TV series Outlander should certainly stop by. An excellent place for a selfie is the museum building and the nearby Bakehouse Close. Both of these attractions were featured in the third season of the programme.

12. Modern One is a must-visit for Art Enthusiasts

Scottish National Gallery

Another important destination for art lovers is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, popularly referred to as “Modern One.” Paintings by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, surrealist works by Rene Magritte, Joan Miró, and Max Ernst, and modern works by Bruce McLean, Callum Innes, and Gwen Hardie are on the display here.

Additionally the main attraction is the gallery’s amazing collection of sculptures. Examples include pieces by David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth, and Henry Moore. It is also worthwhile to explore the expansive grounds of this magnificent gallery, and is one of the top things to do in Scotland.

“Modern Two” is located across the street and is housed in a former hospital that dates back to the 1830s. Here, you may find works by Surrealists including the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi and a stunning replica from his first London studio.

13. Views from Calton Hill are Feast to the Eyes

Calton Hill gives you stunning views of Princes Street, the castle, and the Old Town. Not just that the  Leith docks and the Firth of Forth are visible too from its eastern and northern points. 

The 13th-century Royal High School, where Sir Walter Scott formerly attended, is located at the base of the hill.

The majestic National Monument on Calton Hill is nestled atop the hill. It was built in honour of those who lost their lives during the Napoleonic Wars, is one of top attractions in Edinburgh and is arguably the most significant. 

Henry Playfair took inspiration from the Parthenon in Athens when creating the memorial.

A statue honouring the celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns is located opposite Calton Hill. Be sure to take a couple pictures from here over the city at sunset for a beautiful souvenir of your trip to Edinburgh.

14. Greyfriars Church is The City’s Oldest Graveyard and The Most Visited!

Greyfriars Church

When in Edinburgh, you should definitely stop at Greyfriars Church which houses the  oldest cemetery in the city. It serves as the resting place of many illustrious Scots, including poet Allan Ramsay (1686-1758).

Here, in 1638, was signed the first “National Covenant,” which outlawed Charles I from trying to impose the Anglican Church’s rules on Scotland. This place is the testament that established a structure wherein the state would have jurisdiction over the church. 

James Hutton, who is regarded by many as the founder of modern geology, was buried inside the Covenanters Prison.

Greyfriars Bobby may be the name most connected with the church. This Skye terrier breed faithfully followed John Grey’s coffin to the cemetery in 1858. The dog refused to leave until he passed away 14 years later. A kennel was constructed for him to live in, and a statue of Bobby, erected outside the church in 1873, is one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh.

15. Encounter Wildlife at Edinburgh Zoo

Established in 1913  on the outskirts of Edinburgh, the 82-acres city’s zoo is one of the top Edinburgh family activities.

The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from all over the world, some of which were born and grown here thanks to its conducive breeding ecosystem. 

The only zoo park in the UK to have koalas and pandas, and penguins. 

Its other “star” animals include a group of chimpanzees and waratahs, as well as a display of more minuscule creatures in a section named “Wee Beasties.”

Museum of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood is the first institution of its kind in the world and houses all things related to kids. This facility not only hosts some of the best things to do in Edinburgh for teenagers; it will also rekindle nostalgia in adults. 

It has everything from 19th-century Victorian dolls and a Raleigh Chopper bicycle to long-forgotten board games like Quintro and a 1920s voice-activated device called Radio Rex.

The option to dress up in period attire and play the kinds of games our predecessors would have liked, as well as a recreation of a Victorian streetscape replete with outdoor toys, add to the authenticity.

17. Dean’s Village is Every Photographer’s Dream Muse

Dean’s Village

It can be challenging to stand out in a city as stunning as Edinburgh, but the serene Dean Village, which became a part of the city in 1826, blows you away.  The historic grain mill district to the northwest of the city centre is a photographer’s dream scene.

The historic village will emerge in front of you as you descend the cobblestone route. The flows alongside Water of Leith, revealing its charming townhouses that front a peaceful lane. 

Well Court Hall is the main attraction that receives the most photos. The red sandstone structure, constructed in the 1880s, previously housed water mill workers. 

18. The Camera Obscura is an Observatory that you Must Visit

Camera Obscura

A pinhole camera that projects real-time moving views of Edinburgh onto a viewing table serves as the centerpiece and is located in a Victorian rooftop apartment.

One of the top Edinburgh attractions that mixes lenses and mirrors to reflect an image of the entire city onto a giant screen. The observatory was originally built as a museum of art and science.

The odd rooms leading up to the tower, like the vortex, a tunnel that seems to spin, and a mirror maze, immerse visitors in various optical illusions. Guides provide historical context for the gadgets used here.

19. Take a Unique Perspective of the city at Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close, the latest Edinburgh attractions, gives tourists a fascinating look at one of the Royal Mile’s oldest parts.

Mary King’s Close, which was partially demolished in the 1700s to make space for the Royal Exchange. It was buried and shuttered and is now located beneath the historic Old Town district. This labyrinth of underground passages that were formerly lined with dwellings was once a bustling neighbourhood and has long been the stuff of gothic novels and murder mysteries.

20. Indulge into the Sweet Trade at the Chocolatorium


A chocolate shop off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, will delight chocolate lovers and is one of the unique things to do in Edinburgh. The micro-chocolate factory welcomes guests to discover how the sweet delight is prepared. 90-minute guided tours give you the opportunity to create your very own chocolate bar to take home while learning about the evolution of chocolate.

The trip concludes with a chocolate tasting room with over 30 varieties of Scottish and European chocolates. It includes a chocolate-making experience with wafers, chocolate castles, and chocolate Nessies as well as a wide variety of coatings. You may sample chocolates with haggis and whisky flavours as well as craft versions of classic favourites like dairy milk and unsalted butterscotch.

21. Edinburgh! The City of Festivals

Edinburgh! The City of Festivals

One of the best places to visit in Scotland is Edinburgh which is also the global epicentre of the festivals. The best times to visit Edinburgh in August where the visitors and locals celebrate the acclaimed fringe Festival. That’s a whole one months of numerous free comedy and theatre performances, and is one of the top things to do in Scotland. 

This time of the year, the city hosts Edinburgh International Film Festival that screens the class movies at St. Andrews Square.  

22. Marvel at the post-modern feat of Architecture at Scottish Parliament Building

Scottish Parliament Building

A post-modern architectural marvel is one of the spectacular sights to see and is one of the top architectural things to see in Edinburgh.  

The Canongate Wall, a stone tablet of Scottish history and culture, has 24 quotations from local authors carved into blocks of Aberdeen granite. 

The façade also has a staircase-like cascade of geometric openings. The exterior is inspired by Henry Raeburn’s painting The Skating Minister, which is on display in the Scottish National Gallery.

23. The John Knox House is the Epicentre of the Scotland’s Rich Cultural Heritage

John Knox House

The venue is a pleasure for anyone interested in Scotland’s rich cultural heritage and is stone’s throw away from the Royal Mile and the Edinburgh castle. This 14th century building was supposedly the only residence of the protestant reformer after whom it was named.

Touring the exhibits and displays linked to the Scottish Reformation, a crucial period in the nation’s history, is the main highlight of a visit. A hand-painted ceiling  and sculptures from the 1800s are other noteworthy elements. 

A visit to the nearby Scottish Storytelling Centre is also recommended. This widely-liked location, which calls itself as a “haven for Scotland’s stories,” regularly offers performances by actors and musicians as well as readings by notable Scottish authors.  A customised story-telling session or workshop with one of the venue’s experienced spinners will make for an experience that creates memories. And, is definitely one of the top Edinburgh activities. 

24. It’s the Curiosity Treat for Science lovers at Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth

An immersive multimedia experience called Dynamic Earth takes viewers on a trip through 500 million years of Earth history. It exhibits natural phenomena including volcanoes, tropical rainstorms, and glaciers using virtual reality and outstanding visual effects.

This distinctive scientific centre is built in an ultra-modern tent-like structure and is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh for kids. It is situated next to Holyrood Park at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. It’s also both fun and educational thanks to amenities like the outstanding 360-degree Showdome with its 3D movies.

25. Soak into the Literature Walk at Several Bookstores Around the City

Several Bookstores

Edinburgh is well known for being the first city of literature in the world. During the summer festival season, several of its numerous independent bookshops routinely hold free events. August is the best time to visit Scotland, hosting numerous literary and art festivals. 

Of course, perusing is free. Start in the Southside with the radical queer bookshop Lighthouse Books, then make your way down a steep to Armchair Books, a treasure trove of preowned books, the exquisitely compiled Golden Hare Books, and Rare Bird Books, a bookstore dedicated exclusively to western feminism.

Places to Eat in Edinburgh

The Grain Store

If you didn’t relish the cuisine of your destination, what would be the sense of travelling? Any style of Scottish food is acceptable. With a bountiful sea and a spectacular terrain that produces a vast variety of lovely farm produce, Scotland is a prominent gastronomic destination.

The main focus of Scottish cuisine is the ingredient. In the highlands, nothing is produced in bulk. The finished project demonstrates the careful attention to detail. Beautiful hand-dived oysters, smoked salmon, matured scotch, goat’s cheese, duck, wild mushrooms, lamb, eggplants, and hand-picked herbs,are among the delectable dishes that you can try.

  • The Grain Store – It offers a homegrown alternative to traditional restaurant meals with its straightforward menu and exquisite assortment of meats. Its tumultuous Old Town location in Edinburgh provides a fitting backdrop for its straightforward mission. Old furniture, candlelit rooms, and bare walls provide the ideal setting for the freshly prepared meals. 

Address – 30 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW

  • Aurora – A tiny restaurant offering some of Edinburgh’s most creative cuisine. It began as a brunch-focused café but has now evolved into a chic, modern bistro providing fresh, in-season, locally sourced food. Don’t wait if you can attend one of their regular events, like the seafood supper club.

Location – 187 Great Jct St, Edinburgh EH6 5LQ

  • The King Wark – The venerable location keeps things interesting with a frequently changing a la carte menu, seasonal tasting menus, and celebration feasts. The Kings Wark serves more upscale dishes alongside traditional pub fare, such as the handmade beef burger with smoked applewood goat cheese. Try the seafood; it’s delicious.

Address – 36 Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6QU

  • La Favorita – Although it hasn’t changed much over the years, La Favorita is still arguably the best spot to eat pizza in Edinburgh. Their traditional thin, crispy bases are topped with fresh, high-quality toppings, and a log-fired oven combines these components to produce food that is delicious. Along with their main offerings, a robust pasta menu, which includes a well acclaimed chicken piccata, provides some diversity for those who prefer other types of Italian cuisine.

Location – 331-325 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 8SA

Places to Stay at Edinburgh, Scotland

Places to Stay at Edinburgh

The city centre, notably the sections of Old Town with the Royal Mile and New Town with the fantastic shops on Princes Street, makes a terrific base for a hotel stay if you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time. 

This is an ideal stop if you want to explore all the top locations to visit in this beautiful part of Scotland. The more cost-effective West End is likewise a well-liked and convenient area to stay. 

The city’s greatest historic sites, including Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and Holyrood Abbey, as well as museums, galleries, and dining options, are all within easy reach in these neighbourhoods. Here are a few well-regarded hotels in these busy areas:

  • Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa – It is a fantastic option for individuals who like a big chain hotel when looking for luxurious accommodation. The rooms at this hotel have glass-walled baths and media hubs, and they are only ten minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Castle. There are also larger suites available that overlook the castle. A sizable indoor pool and a full-service rooftop spa are available on-site.

Address – 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh EH3 9SR

  • The Inn on the Mile – Five minutes’ walk from the castle and Princes Street, and is located directly on the Royal Mile in a historic ancient bank building. It provides stylish, affordable rooms with beautiful city views. This charming boutique hotel also has a restaurant, which is well-liked by both visitors and residents. It is renowned for serving excellent regional cuisine, including freshly caught fish.

Location – 82 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1LL

  • Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre (Princes Street) Hotel – Another top-notch mid-range chain alternative, is situated in the centre of the city and offers bright, clean rooms with cosy beds and furniture. The best museums and galleries in Edinburgh can all be reached by foot, as can the castle and the Royal Mile. Excellent views of the castle may be had from the hotel’s on-site restaurant.

Address – 121, 123 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 4AD

  • The Ibis Styles Edinburgh Centre St. Andrew Square – The hotel features soft bedding, free hot breakfast, and a vibrant, colourful interior design. The hotel, which is a 12-minute stroll from the Royal Mile, is well-liked by families for its kid-friendly activities.

Location – 9 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 1AU


These 25 incredible things to do in Edinburgh Scotland which are listed here as suggestions for your next vacation. The best suggestion is always a surprise to you, but we can always improve on the best suggestion. Still, we think our selections here will surely inspire your next vacation destination planning.

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