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 15 things to do in Edinburgh

#1
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

star-4.56,943
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-516,059
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
Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town

star-515,490
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
#4
Grassmarket

Grassmarket

star-54,964
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
#5
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

star-55,936
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-53,967
The Forth Bridge, the distinctive red-hued cantilevered railway bridge that arches over the Firth of Forth close to Edinburgh, is one of Scotland’s most recognizable symbols. A triumph of engineering, the bridge is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 1,709-foot (521-meter single cantilever span is the second-longest in the world.More
#7
Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

star-4.54,182
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-55,097
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-4.53,100
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-54,562
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
#11
Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

star-53,114
The Scottish Parliament complex, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004, sits across from Arthur’s Seat at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Known for having one of the most innovative and controversial designs in Britain, Parliament is a must-see on any Edinburgh itinerary; various tours are available for those who want to explore the building.More
#12
National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

star-4.53,038
Set across two buildings—one Victorian and one modern—and featuring a collection of more than 20,000 artifacts, the National Museum of Scotland is one of Edinburgh’s top visitor attractions. The diverse exhibits cover anything and everything to do with Scotland, including natural history, art, fashion, science, and archaeology.More
#13
Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

star-53,096
Straddling both the Scottish Highlands and the Lowlands, this island-studded loch boasts the largest surface area of any of Scotland’s lakes. It’s also one of its most famous, thanks in no small part to a well-known Scottish folk song that speaks of its “bonnie banks.” The lake’s mirror-clear waters reflect the crags and peaks that rear up around it, most notably the 3,195-foot (974-meter) Ben Lomond on its eastern shore, whose summit offers views of both Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.More
#14
Scott Monument

Scott Monument

star-4.53,546
One of Edinburgh’s most recognizable landmarks, the Scott Monument is a tribute to celebrated Scottish author and Edinburgh native son Sir Walter Scott. This imposing gothic tower stands 200 feet (61 meters) tall and dominates the skyline of New Town. Climb the 287 steps to the top for splendid views over the city.More
#15
Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel

star-51,257
Propelled into the limelight by Dan Brown’sThe Da Vinci Code, this 15th-century chapel is well worth a look, even for those with no interest in Knights Templar conspiracy theories. The Gothic exterior—with its flying buttresses, pinnacles, and pointed arches—hides an elaborate interior, full of stone carvings rich in symbolism.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 Lomond, Stirling Castle and the Kelpies from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Hairy Coos Tour from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Isle of Skye, The Highlands and Loch Ness- 3 Day Group Tour from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands Day Trip from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Edinburgh Castle Tour - Skip The Line Tickets Included
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness and Glen Coe Day Trip from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Loch Ness Glencoe and The Highlands from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
3-Day Isle of Skye Inverness Highlands and Glenfinnan Viaduct Tour from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
West Highland Lochs, Mountains & Castles from Edinburgh
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Edinburgh

star-5
Superb thanks 😊
Yusuf_L, Aug 2022
Edinburgh Three Bridges & Inchcolm Island Cruise
We came from London and city Edinburgh long drive but so happy to visit cruise 🛳 trip
star-5
MiniMax Edinburgh
Bonnie_W, Aug 2022
Private 2hr Tour of Edinburgh in a Mini Cooper
This 2 hour tour was perfect to see the sites in Edinburgh.
star-5
Lovely Scotland!
Fille_W, Aug 2022
Full-Day Trip to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands with Lunch from Edinburgh
We really enjoyed this chance to see more of Scotland than 'just' Edinburgh!
star-5
Wonderful day tour from Edinburgh.
Susan_M, Aug 2022
Highland Lochs, Glens and Whisky Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
It was a great way to see the Highlands and get out of Edinburgh for the day.
star-5
A warm welcome to Edinburgh
Daniel_S, Aug 2022
Arrival Private Transfers from Edinburgh Airport EDI to Edinburgh City
He was also very friendly and shared a lot of useful information about Edinburgh and its must see attractions.
star-5
Really good guide (Ross)....
Liz_H, Aug 2022
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
A great way to see some parts of Edinburgh and to learn some of its history.
star-5
Great tour highly recommend
Rachel_W, Aug 2022
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Also really helpful this summer kids go free thank you for a very enjoyable tour of Edinburgh.
star-5
Wonderful trip
Joanne_R, Aug 2022
HILL & NATURE Walk ~ DISCOVER REAL EDINBURGH WITH A LOCAL EXPERT! Half Day Tour
It was so nice to see the countryside, so close to downtown Edinburgh.
star-5
Enjoyable Experience
Liz_H, Aug 2022
Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh
It was a fun way to see some key parts of Edinburgh and a good experience.
star-5
Wonderful day trip
Ethan_G, Aug 2022
The Ultimate Whisky Experience from Edinburgh
Martin was a very knowledgeable guide and took us on a great route to see several lovely sites in the country side, and it was great to tour and taste at 2 very different distilleries.
star-5
Best of Edinburgh
Amanda_T, Jul 2022
Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
No time restrictions- complete freedom to see all the highlights of Edinburgh
star-5
Great experience, nice and friendly guide Sophia!
Michaela_M, Jul 2022
Original Harry Potter Locations Tour - Edinburgh
Many things to see and experience.
star-5
Easy and efficient!
Jennifer_L, Jul 2022
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
It has drop off points at a lot of the big attractions you will want to visit!
star-5
Climbing to beauty and knowledge of Edinburgh castle
Heather_B, Jul 2022
Edinburgh Castle Tour - Skip The Line Tickets Included
If you have time to see more it would be amazing, but we were on a time crunch due to the cruise ship departure.
star-5
A fun and exciting tour for all Harry Potter enthusiasts
Ajmer_W, Jul 2022
Original Harry Potter Locations Tour - Edinburgh
We found an exciting tour guide with some very memorable facts around Harry Potter, it enabled us to see Edinburgh city centre in a new light and gave us a new perspective on the journey of Harry Potter.
star-5
Great time and great energy
Ava_D, Jul 2022
Edinburgh Pub Crawl
Really fun to see various bars in Edinburgh and meet people from around the world
star-5
Interesting and entertaining
Suzie_C, Jul 2022
History Lovers Old Town Walking Tour
A good way to see edinburgh!
star-5
Good time. Give it a go!
John_V, Jul 2022
Walking Tour of Edinburgh's Old Town - History and Tales
The tour motivated us to visit Edinburgh Castle and The Writer’s Museum.
star-5
Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
Rachel_T, Jul 2022
Edinburgh Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
The On and Off Bus was an easy and informational way to get my father around town to see the sites without having to walk the hilly city of Edinburgh.
star-5
Very good walking tour...
Lee_W, Jul 2022
The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
Very good walking tour with daft Jamie ,great information and very funny getting to see some parts of Edinburgh that you wouldn’t normally see
We perform checks on reviews

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.

People Also Ask

What is Edinburgh famous for?

Edinburgh is often said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s famous for its historic attractions, which include its castle and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old and New Towns, and its literary heritage. Edinburgh is also famously a festival city, home to the world’s largest art festival.

...More
What should I not miss in Edinburgh?

As well as visiting Edinburgh Castle and wandering around the Old Town and New Town, you should make time for the excellent National Museum of Scotland, whose collection includes everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to works by Scottish artists and designers, and a cloned sheep. Best of all, it’s free to enter.

...More
What is the most visited place in Edinburgh?

With up to 2.2 million visitors a year, the National Museum of Scotland is Edinburgh’s most visited attraction. Edinburgh Castle attracts a similar number of visitors each year, making it the city’s most-visited paid attraction. The Scottish National Gallery and St. Giles Cathedral are the next most visited attractions.

...More
How can I spend 3 days in Edinburgh?

With three days in Edinburgh you’ll have enough time to thoroughly explore both the Old and New Towns, as well as the city’s most famous attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Royal Yacht Britannia. You’ll also have time for a day trip to Rosslyn Chapel or North Berwick.

...More
Is Edinburgh a safe city?

Yes, Edinburgh is generally a safe city. You are unlikely to have any problems wandering around the city during the day. Even at night you’re unlikely to have any problems as long as you stick to the main streets and well-lit areas—it’s best not to walk across the Meadows on your own at night.

...More
Is Edinburgh expensive?

No. Edinburgh is not particularly cheap (and living costs for residents can be high) but neither is it expensive to visit compared to other major European cities—and it’s certainly more budget-friendly than London. Prices for hotels and eating out are quite high, but are balanced by the number of free attractions you can visit.

...More
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?