Edinburgh City Guide | VisitBritain

Edinburgh City Guide

Scotland’s elegant capital

Welcome to Edinburgh, a city loved by royalty and party animals alike. Centuries of history have left their mark on this city, giving you the atmospheric, medieval Old Town, elegant, Georgian New Town and the attractions of one of Britain’s most cutting-edge cities.

History & heritage

It may be a vibrant capital city, but every inch of Edinburgh is a reminder of its rich history. Explore the narrow, cobbled alleys of the Old Town and the elegant crescents of the New Town and you’ll see why they’ve been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Then discover royal secrets, spectacular collections and timeless architecture at Edinburgh’s castle and historic houses, which make up just some of the 4,500 listed buildings in the city.

Eating & drinking

Edinburgh is home to more Michelin starred restaurants than any other part of the UK outside London, so if you’re in the mood for an award-winning dinner, you’re in luck. Try Castle Terrace or The Kitchin for first-class modern food using the finest Scottish ingredients. If you want to try traditional haggis, neeps (swede) and tatties (potatoes) pubs across the city will happily oblige. And don’t forget to sample a warming dram or two of the national drink on a Scotch Whisky tour.

For families

It’s not just the grown-ups who get to have all the fun in Edinburgh. For an unforgettable family day out, head to Edinburgh Zoo, where family favourites like the daily Penguin Parade keep kids of all ages entertained. Or for an educational day out that’s anything but boring, take them to the National Musem of Scotland, Our Dynamic Earth or the Scottish Storytelling Centre. And those hard-to-please teens? Give them a spooky treat with a ghost tour of the city’s haunted Historic Vaults.

Top attractions

With so much to see and do in Edinburgh, it can be hard to know where to start exploring. We suggest you head to the Royal Mile, home to the magnificent Edinburgh Castle at one end and the Palace of Holyroodhouse - the Queen’s official residence in Scotland - at the other. As you make your way along the mile, you’ll pass the iconic St Giles’ Cathedral, The Real Mary King’s Close underground tour and the cutting-edge Scottish Parliament building.

Arts & culture

There’s no better way to experience the dynamic arts and culture scene than at one of Edinburgh's festivals. Each August, people from all over the world flock to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - the largest arts festival in the world - and the iconic Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. And you’re in for a real treat if you visit in December - the city’s spectacular three-day Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations are world-famous.

Sean Connery's Guide to Edinburgh

Music & nightlife

There’s almost as much to see and do in Edinburgh at night as there is during the day. If you’re in the mood to party, head to the classy cocktail bars of George Street, the lively bars in the Grassmarket or Princess Street, or Rose Street, which has more pubs than any other street in Edinburgh. And whatever your musical taste, you’re sure to find it at one of Edinburgh’s live music venues. Try The Caves or Bannerman’s for intimate gigs, or larger venues like HMV Picture House or The Queen’s Hall for mainstream acts.

Shopping

You won’t be short of places to spend your holiday money in Edinburgh - the city is a dream for shoppers on any budget. To find the best of the British high street, head to Princes Street, George Street, Princes Mall or St James Centre. For luxury brands and high-end boutiques, look no further than Multrees Walk and Harvey Nichols in St Andrews Square. Vintage aficionados, we haven’t forgotten about you - head to Stockbridge for the best vintage and second hand shops.

Hidden gems

In a city like Edinburgh, you’ll find a hidden gem around almost every corner. Our favourites include the Eat Walk Edinburgh tour -  a great way to explore the local restaurants - and the city’s beaches. Portobello beach is just three miles from the city and a great way to experience the Scottish coastline if you’re short on time.

Buy before you fly

To make your visit to Edinburgh easier, you can buy tickets to attractions, travel passes, and much more at our online shop, and avoid the queues! For more great offers, go to the VisitBritain Shop.

Find out more about Edinburgh and see it on a map on the VisitBritain LoveWall!


DiscountsAnd deals

Save time and money before you travel!

We have over 150 Britain products in our online shop. From transport tickets to popular attractions and sightseeing passes, we have everything in store.

View all products
Edinburgh Castle

Visit an icon of Scotland and discover 900 years of military and royal history

Edinburgh Castle
From £16
BritRail GB Flexi Pass

Unlimited rail travel in England, Scotland and Wales.

BritRail GB Flexi Pass
From £159
  • Culture
    • Shakespeare in the RSC Source:© marpete, Flickr
      Writers and poets

      Britain has produced some of the world's greatest writers and the British landscape has inspired some of the world’s most famous stories,...

    • Glasgow Riverside Museum Copyright:Karen V Bryan
      Free museums

      History, design, science, nature, football, giant stuffed walruses – whatever your passion, you’ll find a museum to match it in...

    • Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
      Film locations UK

      Setjetters rejoice - Britain is one glorious, gorgeous movie set. Don't just take our word for it: filmmakers, cast and crew have filmed some...

    • Yorkshire Sculpture Park Source:socialBedia
      Free art galleries

      World-famous masterpieces by the legends of the art world and controversial installations and creations by modern-day geniuses. See them all at...

    • Oda Mae Brown, Ghost the Musical Source:Sean Ebsworth Barnes
      British theatre, opera and dance

      Britain is a nation of drama lovers and in the land that brought you Shakespeare, you'll never be far from some of the best and most varied...

  • Heritage
    • Stonehenge Source:matt crawford
      World Heritage Sites

      Did you know that Britain has 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites? These range from sites of natural beauty like the Dorset and East Devon Coast to...

    • Eilean Donan Castle at night Source:Allan Gourlay
      Britain's castles

      Want to know a secret about British castles? They really are the stuff of your wildest dreams. Dramatically situated, packed with history and...

    • View towards Steel Rigg from Hadrian's Wall in Northumbria, Hadrian's Wall, near Haltwhistle, Northumberland, England © Britainonview.com / Rod Edwards
      Stately homes

      Once upon a time, stately homes were the exclusive privilege of royalty and landed gentry. Today, these spectacular country pads make for a...

    • The Pineapple, Dunmore Source:Taffy van Doorn
      Historic houses

      Why stay in a nondescript hotel when you can play Lord of the Manor at some of the oldest and most interesting buildings in Britain? Discover...

    • Buckingham Palace
      Top 10 royal attractions

      Get closer to the scandal, glamour and history of the British royal family with a look around our top 10 royal attractions.

  • Outdoors
    • The Deep Aquarium, Hull Source:© VisitBritain / Pawel Libera
      Britain’s wildlife

      Britain has a startling variety of natural habitats crawling with animals of every kind. You can also visit world-class zoos, gardens and parks...

    • Lily pads at the National Botanic Garden of Wales Source:Steve James
      Great British Gardens

      Britain is a nation of green-fingered garden lovers and we have some of the most famous green spaces in the world. From a whole rainforest...

    • Walking in the mountains
      Walking and hiking

      Experience the best of the great British outdoors on foot with thousands of miles of walking and hiking routes all over Britain. Wherever you...

    • Autumnal Punting in Cambridge Source:tad2106
      The 10 best ways to enjoy Britain's...

      From lakes, lochs and the sun-baked South Coast to wild Welsh waterfalls, we’ve toured Britain to bring you the best watery activities.