Recent Searches
Clear
Things to do in Edinburgh

Things to do in  Edinburgh

Welcome to Edinburgh

Steeped in Celtic and medieval history—and fondly nicknamed Auld Reekie—Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage–listed city widely considered the prettiest in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle’s mighty fortifications dominate the skyline, while the Royal Mile sweeps through the old town to the city below. From the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to the Edinburgh Fringe, the city hosts a stellar selection of festivals and celebrations that draw crowds from all over. No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a taster of Scotch whisky, and if you’re looking for a change from the city streets, the soaring peaks of the Scottish Highlands are never far away.

Top 10 attractions in Edinburgh

#1
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

star-55,098
Edinburgh Castle—with its fortress walls, cobbled promenades, and winding stone steps—has loomed over Scotland’s capital city for more than 1,000 years. Steeped in history, the former royal residence is now a museum, featuring detailed exhibits; period artifacts, such as the Scottish Crown Jewels; and dark dungeons that illuminate the castle’s storied past.More
#2
Royal Mile

Royal Mile

star-511,767
The atmospheric Royal Mile thoroughfare cuts through the historic core of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, extending for slightly more than a mile from Edinburgh Castle all the way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Both sides of the partly pedestrianized street are bordered by historic granite buildings bearing shop display windows piled high with symbols of Scotland, from tartan to whisky to shortbread. In between the former tenements and taverns are darkened arm-width-wide alleyways, known locally as closes.More
#3
Grassmarket

Grassmarket

star-53,781
Steeped in history, the Grassmarket is located directly below Edinburgh Castle and is just a minute’s walk from the famous Royal Mile and the National Museum of Scotland. A vibrant and historic area, here visitors can soak up the medieval atmosphere while marvelling at one of the most iconic views in the city, the mighty Edinburgh Castle.A stroll over the George IV Bridge leads to the Greyfriars Bobby statue and through some of Edinburgh’s oldest and most famous streets, including Candlemaker Row, Victoria Street, and West Port.The Grassmarket was traditionally a meeting point for market traders and cattle drovers, with temporary lodgings and taverns all around. It was also once a place of public execution, and a memorial near the site once occupied by the gibbet was created in 1937 to commemorate more than 100 people who died on the gallows in a period known as The Killing Time.Nowadays, the old market area is surrounded by pubs, clubs, shops, and two large hotels. Most buildings in the area are Victorian, with several modern buildings on the area’s south side.More
#4
Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

star-510,880
The historic heart of Edinburgh, UNESCO-listed Old Town, is home to the city’s most visited sights. Its central artery is the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is lined with top attractions including St. Giles Cathedral, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and the Scottish Parliament Building.More
#5
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

star-54,501
Perched above the city of Stirling on a chunk of volcanic rock, this mighty Scottish fortress has seen it all, from attacks by Robert the Bruce to the coronation of the infant Mary Queen of Scots to the premiere of the movie “Braveheart” in 1993. In addition to the impeccably recreated Royal Palace interiors and the sheer amount of history held within its robust walls, the castle also offers superb views over Stirling and Scotland’s green hills and valleys.More
#6
Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge

star-52,405
The iconic Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge that arches over the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Situated 14 kilometers from Edinburgh’s city center, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed by English engineers, John Fowler and Benjamin Baker. The bridge and its associated railway infrastructure is owned by Network Rail.The distinctive red bridge, which links the villages of South Queensferry and North Queensferry, was opened by the Prince of Wales in March 1890, although was only classified as a UNESCO site on its 125th anniversary in 2015. The bridge spans a total length of almost 2500 meters and is an iconic symbol of Scotland’s engineering and architectural prowess and ingenuity. It also transports approximately 200 local and intercity trains across the Forth every single day.More
#7
Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

star-53,293
Set amid splendid gardens at the foot of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official Scottish residence of the British royals, who first decamped here from nearby Edinburgh Castle back in the 15th century. The complex grew from a 12th-century abbey, whose ruins can still be seen on the grounds, into a full-fledged Baroque palace complete with elaborate plasterwork, sumptuous furnishings, and a number of tapestries. The palace is perhaps most famous for having hosted to the rather unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, whose beloved secretary was slaughtered here by her jealous second husband.More
#8
St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

star-54,089
The official church of the Church of Scotland, St. Giles Cathedral and its famous crown spire tower over the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. With a history stretching back over 900 years, St. Giles is renowned for its beautiful stained glass windows, ornate Thistle Chapel, and busy concert calendar.More
#9
Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat

star-52,304
One of several peaks in the long-extinct volcanic ridge that towers behind Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers hill walking in the heart of the city. Set within the 640-acre (260-hectare) Holyrood Park, it’s also the site of a 2,000-year-old hill fort. On a clear day, the summit promises spectacular views of the cityscape.More
#10
Calton Hill

Calton Hill

star-53,698
Looming over Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, Calton Hill is one of the seven hills that the Scottish capital is built on. Come here for 360-degree views that encompass Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and, on a clear day, the Firth of Forth.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Edinburgh

3-Day Isle of Skye and Highlands Tour from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe and Ben Nevis from Edinburgh

Special Offer

The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

star-4.5
1266
From
$26.99
Loch Ness Glencoe and The Highlands from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
The Chocolatarium Chocolate Tour Experience
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Fright Night Tour

Fright Night Tour

star-4.5
293
From
$21.89
Private Central Highlands Driving Tour

Private Central Highlands Driving Tour

star-5
23
From
$755.70
per group

Recent reviews from experiences in Edinburgh

star-5
Best activity to do Edinburgh!
Davina_W, Jul 2021
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions Entrance Ticket
I highly recommend this place to visit!
star-5
Sensational spooky stories
Daniel_G, Jul 2021
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
After the tour she even took me and my fiancé to see the most haunted bar in Edinburgh.
star-5
Wonderful tour
Lauren_W, Jul 2021
Walking Tour of Edinburgh's Old Town - History and Tales
Our guide was friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and also could give good recommendations for restaurants, pubs and attractions/things to do while in Edinburgh which I found very useful as a tourist.
star-5
Easiest way to get around Edinburgh
Shaun_R, Jul 2021
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Really good way to see Edinburgh in an easy and convenient way, the booking site was easy to use and we just showed our digital tickets to the driver and on we popped.
star-5
Escape challenge with an interesting walk.
Lynda_S, Jul 2021
Sherlock's Secret Challenge - The puzzle solving game that shows you the city
A great way to see really lovely interesting parts of Edinburgh.
star-5
Interesting & entertaining!
Katie_B, Jul 2021
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
It was interesting to visit some of the graveyards and learn some of the history of Edinburgh without it being boring!
star-5
What a laugh!
Mark_B, Jun 2021
Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh
Nice way to see some sights too, Edinburgh is a lovely city.
star-5
Excellent Tour we'll recommend
Darren_C, Jun 2021
The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
Fully Recommend to anyone if they want to see some parts of Edinburgh you might not see without a tour guide.
star-5
Highly recommended
Bev_S, Jun 2021
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
It was brilliant to see so much of Edinburgh which really is an amazing city with so much history.
star-5
There is no Scotland without the Highlands!
Theodosios_Z, Jun 2021
Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
The stops for photos were frequent and with further options for activities (Eg boat tour to Loch Ness).
star-5
Amazing tour with Stefan!
Maia_G, May 2021
Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
I only had a few days in edinburgh and it allowed me to see much more of the city than anticipated.
star-5
Lovely day
Sukhjit_D, Aug 2020
Edinburgh Full-Day Guided Private Tour in a Premium Minivan
You will be able to see the highlights of Edinburgh in a day and it’s excellent way of travelling especially now because of COVID-19.
star-5
Covid-19 visit
Adam_S, Aug 2020
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions Entrance Ticket
Will return when next visiting Edinburgh to see the Camera Obscura and to get photos on the roof terrace without rain 😉🤣
star-5
This tour won’t leave you ‘hanging’!
Anthony_G, Aug 2020
The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
We did this tour on a warm sunny summer night.
star-5
Edinburgh
ksparkinson, Feb 2020
Edinburgh Sky to Sea Bike Tour by Manual or E-Bike
I got to see and learn a lot about Edinburgh.
star-5
Great walking tour
Simon_D, Jun 2021
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
Trip covered alot of ground and got to see parts of Edinburgh you'd normally walk past
star-5
Enjoyable and Interesting Tour
joy1, Nov 2019
Chauffeur Driven Private Sightseeing Tour of Edinburgh
Having only one day in Edinburgh as part of a cruise stop, we wanted to see all of the key historical points of interest.
star-5
Great intro to Edinburgh
ratedralph, Oct 2019
Highlights & Hidden Gems With Locals: Best of Edinburgh Private Tour
Our guide showed us both the major attractions of the city plus, of course, the hidden gems.
star-5
Best 1 Day tour
Blommietjie, Oct 2019
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe and Ben Nevis from Edinburgh
Got to see most of the highlights in 1 full day.
star-5
St Andrews & Fife
Diana_R, Sep 2019
St Andrews & the Fishing Villages of Fife Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
Enjoyed the entire tour and would recommend it for anyone wanting to see Scotland outside of Edinburgh.

A local’s pocket guide to Edinburgh

Will Thompson

Will lived and studied near Edinburgh during his university years. He also worked for the Fringe Festival during the summertime.

The first thing you should do in Edinburgh is...

download the Transport for Edinburgh app. Bus and tram are by far the easiest ways to cross the city.

A perfect Saturday in Edinburgh...

includes a trip to the Camera Obscura, lunch on the Royal Mile, and a walk around Holyrood Park or the Royal Botanical Gardens. Finish up with dinner and drinks in New Town.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a whole month of art and theatre. You never know what you might see, especially with the Street Events along the Royal Mile.

To discover the "real" Edinburgh...

head south of Princes Street and towards the Meadows where you can enjoy all the great Edinburgh architecture, as well as the city’s parks.

For the best view of the city...

you should hike to Arthur’s Seat at the top of Holyrood Park. If you want an easier walk, take a quick trip up to Edinburgh Castle instead.

One thing people get wrong...

is believing that fried Mars Bars are something locals actually eat. However, if you do want to try one, you’ll find them in some Edinburgh chip shops.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in Edinburgh?
Q:
What are the top activities in Edinburgh?
Q:
What are the top things to do near Edinburgh?
A:
Check out things to do near Edinburgh:
Q:
What do I need to know before visiting Edinburgh?