Edinburgh Castle dominates the unmistakable skyline of this ancient city. Its ramparts still echo with gunfire each day when the traditional one-o’clock gun booms out over the city, startling unwary shoppers. Impressive by day, make sure you also check it out at night when it is dramatically flooded with lights.

Edinburgh’s Old Town, which bears a great measure of symbolic weight as the ‘heart of Scotland’s capital’, is a delight for lovers of atmosphere and history. If you appreciate the unique architectural heritage of the city’s Enlightenment period, then the New Town’s for you. Explore the main thoroughfares, but don’t forget to get lost among the tiny wynds and closes – the old medieval alleys that connect the winding streets. 

Edinburgh’s port, Leith, sits on the shore of the Firth of Forth, and throbs with smart bars and restaurants. You can see the former royal yacht, Britannia, moored here.

While there is no underground system like London's Tube, it is still pretty easy to get around Edinburgh. There is a local bus network, and getting around on foot is easy. There is a tram that will get you to and from the airport.

Map of Scotland showing Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world and is set in the heart of the dynamic Scottish capital, where it dominates the skyline. This castle has witnessed a tumultuous Scottish history since a royal castle was built there in the twelfth century, but human habitation of 'the castle rock' goes back to at least 200AD.

As the backdrop of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the castle has become a symbol of both Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole. There are plenty of tours available and there are a couple of restaurants as well as shops and displays inside the grounds.

Edinburgh Castle

Old Town

Edinburgh's medieval heart is along the Royal Mile, which runs from the Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Most of the really famous sites are in this area and it is a wonderful place to get lost in the ambience of 16th-century Edinburgh. The most famous places in the Old Town are The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood, St Giles Cathedral and Greyfriars Kirkyard among others. St Giles' Cathedral has a wonderful vaulted ceiling.

A great way to see the Old Town is to walk down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Hollyroodhouse. The Royal Mile is the backbone of the Old Town and there are plenty of bars all the way along to quench your thirst with a single malt or two.

August is a great time to be in the city - the streets are flooded with performers and the town comes alive when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival rolls into town. 

Cobbled lane in Old Town, Edinburgh

New Town

The New Town is the shopping and commercial centre of Edinburgh. It might be called New Town, but most of it still dates to the 18th century, and boasts wonderful Georgian architecture, and very well-preserved buildings. The New Town, along with the Old Town, are listed as World Heritage Sites.

The Scott Monument, the National Gallery of Scotland and Old Carlton Burial Ground are located here.  You'll find great shopping on George Street, which is lined with designer shops, bars and restaurants, and Dundas Street is home to antique shops and galleries.

Edinburgh New Town, with the Scott Monument in the foreground

Ghosts & Ghouls

Often said to be one of the most haunted cities in the UK, Edinburgh has a long history of murder, torture, hangings and plague has left a haunting legacy on the city's Old Town, and ghostly apparitions now walk the narrow, cobble-stoned streets.  

For a spine-tingling time, check out the underground vaults, a series of chambers built under South Bridge around 1788, and the Covenanter’s Prison and Black Mausoleum in the Greyfriars Kirkyard in Old Town ... you might just run into the resident poltergeist.

There are also a number of ghost tours you can take part in, and is a fun way to get to know Edinburgh's grisly past, with some very entertaining hosts.

Spooky street in Old Town, Edinburgh

Around Edinburgh

There are a wealth of experiences to be had right on Edinburgh's doorstep. The Kelpies are a huge and striking sculpture of water horses in Falkirk, which is only 45 minutes away. Linlithgow has a claim to fame with the ruins of the palace that both James V and Mary Queen of Scots were born in. The Pentlands is an area of parkland that sits on the edge of Edinburgh and is a great place for walks ... even to the local pub. East Lothian will give you a glimpse of Scottish beaches and seaside towns.

Don't limit yourself if you are going to Edinburgh - it’s well worth getting out of the city for a day or so.

The Kelpies

The Infinity Experience

Respect Your Elders
Castle Rock, where Edinburgh Castle stands, has been inhabited for over 2865 years.