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.


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!

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