The beautiful city of Edinburgh stands on seven hills on the southern banks of the Firth of Forth and is the capital of Scotland. The city has two distinct parts; the medieval Old Town and the Georgian ‘New Town’ and both of them are nestling below the city’s iconic castle.
Edinburgh is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its colourful history, rich history and distinctive character, Edinburgh is a delightful place to visit in Scotland.
1Wander Down The Royal Mile
Photo: Mike McBey
The first walk to enjoy in Edinburgh is along the Royal Mile. This famous cobbled street links Edinburgh Castle at its upper end and at the lower end of Royal Mile stands the 17th century Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official Scottish residence of the British Monarch – HM The Queen.
Royal Mile has changed little over the centuries and there are still numerous cobbled side streets with stone staircases. Royal Mile if fringed by numerous pubs, restaurants, street performers and souvenir shops – including many selling the famous Scottish knitwear, shortbread and tartan.
Things to look out for on the Royal Mile:
The Royal Mile Market At Tron Kirk
The Scottish Parliament
St Giles’ Cathedral
2Explore Edinburgh’s beautiful castle
Edinburgh’s iconic castle sits on top of a seven million-year-old extinct volcano at the upper end of Royal Mile. The castle was first built in the 12th century, but much of it dates from the 16th century and it has always played an important part in Scottish history. The castle is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny which is a weathered stone on which Scottish kings and queens sat during their coronation.
Not only is the Edinburgh Castle historically significant it is also a great viewpoint over the city. Some of the best viewpoints around the Edinburgh Castle are from the Argyle Battery or locate Lang Stairs which give access to the Upper Ward of the Castle.
3Hike up to Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is the highest point of the second extinct volcano in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is situated in Holyrood Park and is a steady climb of 300 metres, but is well worth the effort as the views from the top are fantastic. Looking over the city of Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat truly gives you a different perspective of the city.
It offers a panoramic view of the city and its narrow streets on one side and river Forth, Inchkeith and Fife to the other side.
Did you know? – It is particularly popular to climb Arthur’s Seat on May Day (1 May) as local legend tells that if a woman climbs to the top early in the morning just as the sun rises and bathes her face in the early morning dew, she will enjoy eternal beauty…
4Learn how to drink whisky properly
Scotland is well known for its whisky. There is even an old saying in Scotland, “Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky”.
Scotch Whisky, popularly known as Scotch dates as far back as 11th century. The capital city of Edinburgh offers many different whisky experiences making it the perfect destination to learn about whisky and to try a variety of whiskies.
Where to drink whisky in Edinburgh:
SCOTCH at the Balmoral: offers whisky from every single region in Scotland. One of the best whisky bars in Edinburgh.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society: Located in Leith, the vaults at The Scot Malt Whisky date as far back as 18th century. It is a members-only but anyone can become a member and make most of the whisky experience Edinburgh has to offer.
Scotch Whisky Experience: Not surprisingly, there is a vault in the city that contains the world’s largest collection of whiskies and there is plenty of opportunities to sample a wee dram – or two- guided by experts.
If you are planning your trip around your interest in whisky, it is good to note that May is the ‘Whisky Month’ and there are all types of special events held in the city to celebrate Scotland’s national drink.
There are also a number of distilleries that can be visited that tell the story of whisky making and how the different regional whiskies each have their very own distinctive aromas. Take a look at some of the most beautiful whisky trail in Scotland here.
5Sample some traditional Scottish cuisine along with unique dishes
Traditional Scottish Cuisine:
While you are in the city you have to sample some of the traditional Scottish dishes such as Haggis, tatties and neeps (haggis, potatoes and turnips). Season game meat is also worth trying. Hadrian’s Brasserie at the Balmoral Hotel is an excellent place to trail this classic dish. It is a classy affair at the Hadrian’s Brasserie, but with inexpensive classic dishes and the executive chef holding a Michelin Star you are in for a treat.
Seafood in Edinburgh:
Scotland is also well known for its excellent lobster, salmon and trout and good mussels and oysters are plentiful too. Leith, the buzzing seaside port in Edinburgh is home to some excellent seafood restaurants. We highly recommend trying the seafood platter at Fishers.
The hottest restaurant in Edinburgh:
Fhior is a must-try while in Edinburgh. Specialising in seasonal dishes made with top quality local produce and showcasing modern Scottish cuisine. The restaurant offers diners a selection of tasting menus which is the perfect way to enjoy the true taste of Scotland.
Unique and quirky foods in Edinburgh:
6Stroll up to the Calton Hill
It is fun to take a stroll up to the ruins of the Old City Observatory on Calton Hill which stands high above Edinburgh. The ruins are so fascinating that they have been dubbed the title ‘The Athens of the North’
The Calton Hill is also home to one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh: The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage, not only do you get to sample some of the finest seasonal Scottish dishes. Nestled within the City Observatory walls, this restaurant also offers some of the best views in the city. Head to this viewpoint in the evening and simply enjoy gazing at the stars and the twinkling lights of the city.
7Drink in an illicit speakeasy
Evenings are fun in Edinburgh and enjoying a drink or two in an illicit speakeasy is a popular pursuit! Some of our favourite speakeasy bars in Edinburgh:
Panda & Sons – Classic prohibition-style Speakeasy in Edinburgh. This hidden bar can be somewhat hard to miss, disguised as a vintage barbershop. Tucked downstairs, expect to be treated to creative cocktails, a wide range of craft beers or our extensive wine list.
Hoot The Redeemer – Walking into this speakeasy will transport you to a 1950’s vintage fair. With Tarot reader, claw crane machine, as well as a boozy ice cream parlour. It certainly is a fun and one of a kind bar.
8Visit Dean Village
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Dean Village. Off the beaten path lies this underrated yet scenic spot in Edinburgh. Just a short walk along the Water of Leith, this hidden gem should be a must on your things to do list in Edinburgh.
What was once a water milling village is now a tranquil residential area. The main attraction of this charming village is the narrow cobblestoned roads lined with cute small houses, beautifully preserved buildings like the iconic Well Court, and views over the river. Head to the bottom of Hawthornbank Lane for some of the best views Dean village has to offer.
9Visit the town of Stockbridge and the prettiest street in Edinburgh
Stockbridge is another charming district in Edinburgh that is worth visiting. The streets are lined with quirky cafes, cosy pubs, restaurants and shops. Stockbridge is also home to Edinburgh prettiest street, the Circus Lane. What has quickly become popular in the Instagram community, this cute little cobbled street is lined with terraced mews houses draped in colourful plants and flowers. The spire of St.Stephen’s Church looms over the circus lane. It may just be a street but it certainly is a postcard-perfect scene.
The part of Edinburgh turns into a foodies heaven on Sunday with a market that is lined with street food vendors, most of which are family-run. Stockbridge is also home to the 350-year-old Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.
10Discover the Camera Obscura
The oldest tourist attraction in Edinburgh is the Camera Obscura which first opened in 1835. The Camera Obscura is situated on Royal Mile – not far from Edinburgh Castle. It is an optical illusion which offers visitors a virtual panoramic view of the city which is reflected on a large table! There is the interactive Optical World, a light corridor, world of illusion, a mirror maze and a display of holograms – all great fun with an excellent view of the city from the rooftop turret too!