Edinburgh is the second most visited city in the UK (behind London), and it's not hard to see why. Scotland's capital is a visually stunning compact city, made up of the medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town. The city is blessed with stunning views, fascinating architecture and enthralling stories. There is so much to see and do, so here is our guide to the ultimate Edinburgh experience.
10. Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions provides a fun environment where you can enjoy fantastic views of Edinburgh's skyline and optical illusion attractions - a great day out for all the family. Tickets between £8 and £15.
9. The Royal Yacht
One of Edinburgh's top tourist attractions, The Royal Yacht Britannia was home to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family for over 40 years, sailing over 1,000,000 miles around the world. Now berthed in Edinburgh, you can follow in the footsteps of Royalty to discover the heart and soul of this most special of Royal residences. Tickets between £8 and £15.
8. A Taste of Scotland
There are two tastes you must experience on any trip to Scotland: haggis and whisky - unless of course you are vegetarian (try Lucky Pig at Paradise Palms) or tea-total (afternoon tea at The Balmoral). Edinburgh has an abundance of great restaurants and bars. For great food check out Timberyard, Wedgwood and Cafe St Honoré. For value eats, see Oink (get the pulled pork bap with haggis stuffing and apple sauce), Wings and Dough Pizzeria. For brunch, hit up Urban Angel, Papii Cafe or Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch (vegan options). And for the ultimate whisky experience, check out Whiski Rooms, The Scotch Whisky Experience or The Canny Man's. If whisky isn't to your taste, you can try some gin at Edinburgh Gin and Pickering's Gin, or explore local craft beers at Brewdog or The Hanging Bat.
7. Harry Potter
Edinburgh is the birthplace of Harry Potter. JK Rowling spent much of her time in cafes around the city, including The Elephant House, where she sat in the back room with a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle. Without giving too much away, it is believed she found inspiration for Hogwarts and many character's names nearby. For all Potter fans, The Potter Trail is a must.
6. A Different View
Calton Hill hosts a number of notable buildings, including Holyrood Palace and St Andrew's House, headquarters of the Scottish Government, which sits on the steep southern slope of the hill. The hill is also the location of several iconic monuments and buildings: the National Monument, the Nelson Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument, the old Royal High School, the Robert Burns Monument, the Political Martyrs' Monument and the City Observatory. You can also get a great view over the city.
Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, and at 251 metres, it is a great setting to enjoy a sunset/sunrise, whilst enjoying panoramic views over the city and surrounding landscape. It's an easy climb, so pack a picnic and enjoy.
5. Museums & Galleries
Immerse yourself in Scottish culture on a budget, with access to fantastic museums and galleries in Edinburgh. The National Museum is a fantastic collection featuring pieces on Alexander Graham Bell and Dolly the Sheep. It has something for every one with extensive features on fashion, engineering and wildlife.
If you have any interest in literature, The Writers' Museum is a must, featuring the lives of three of the foremost Scottish writers: Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
4. Festival Season
Edinburgh is one of the leading cities for festivals, with many fantastic events happening right throughout the year. August is an amazing month with the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo, Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh International Festival. Other festivals include Edinburgh's Hogmanay, Edinburgh Film Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and the magical Edinburgh's Christmas. More info: Edinburgh Festival City.
3. Going Underground
The Edinburgh Dungeon is a frightfully entertaining journey below the city's surface to a dark world. It is an entertaining and sometimes scary experience with fantastic actors, props and special effects. One tip: book your tickets online, even if you have to pop into a nearby bar or cafe - you will save money!
You can also explore Edinburgh's dungeons with a walking tour. There are many dark and twisted stories, and the setting couldn't be any better!
2. Explore Old Town
Edinburgh has such a storied past, that a walking tour is the ideal way to explore the landmarks, hear the stories and learn some history. Most of the tours will incorporate Edinburgh Castle, St Giles' Cathedral, The Stone of Destiny, Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, Greyfriars Bobby, The Royal Mile and Harry Potter. SANDEMANs NEW Europe are one of the many excellent walking tour providers, but rest assured, there is no such thing as a free tour - you will be reminded of the 'optional donation' many times.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates Edinburgh's skyline from its position on the Castle Rock - an extinct volcano. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. It is one of the most attacked places in the world. Take a few hours to explore the castle and The National War Museum. Tickets from £9 to £17.
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