Perched on an extinct volcano at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. It became Scotland's chief royal castle in the Middle Ages and is now home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th-century gun Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
As Scotland’s most famous castle, Edinburgh has served as both a royal residence and as a military stronghold. Its history is compelling and complex, with St Margaret’s Chapel – the oldest part – dating back to the 12th century, with the Great Hall added by James IV in early 16th century and the Scottish National War Memorial erected after the First World War. Perched atop the crags of Castle Rock, the easily defendable location last saw action in 1745 and statues of two Scottish icons, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, flank the main entrance gateway. Stunning views of New Town and the Firth of Forth can be seen from the battlements.
Audio tours in eight languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin, take visitors or a journey around the castle, detailing its dramatic history and highlighting its exceptional architecture. Guided tours by the castle stewards are also available.
Getting to Edinburgh Castle
The imposing fortress of Edinburgh Castle is viewable from most parts of the city and dominates the capital’s skyline. The castle is a short uphill walk from the city centre’s Waverley Station and can be viewed from the station exits. Edinburgh Airport has regular bus and tram links to the city centre. If using local bus services, look for buses that stop at the Mound or George IV Bridge.
The Royal Mile, an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and attractions that forms the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh’s Old Town, leads up to the castle from Holyrood Palace. Named after the exact distance between the two historic locations, the route is home to the Scotch Whisky Experience, an enthralling journey through the history of Scotland’s favourite tipple. A short walk from the castle is the stunning art collection at the Scottish National Gallery, while the Edinburgh Dungeon – an 80-minute tour of a millennia of Scottish history featuring live shows and undergrounds rides – is next to Waverly Station.