Top 10 things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is renowned as a festival city, but it’s also so much more. There are volcanoes to climb and warrens of old steep streets and a hilltop castle to explore. Oh, and not forgetting that connection with a certain Harry Potter…

Feel the drumbeat at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

This is a spectacle like no other. The venue: the atmospheric forecourt of Edinburgh’s ancient hilltop castle. The show: spectacular Highland dancing, heartbreaking bagpipes, spine-tingling drumming and almighty explosions of fireworks. 

Experience the world’s biggest arts festival

Edinburgh is the ultimate festival city and hosts events all year round. Things really ramp up in August when the largest arts festival in the world descends. The Edinburgh Fringe is well known for being a launch pad for the world’s best comedy acts.

Climb an extinct volcano

Arthur’s Seat is the mythical-sounding mountain that looms over Edinburgh, and yet is an easy climb to the top. Here you can take in the city skyline views as well as the surrounds and Firth of Forth estuary.

Discover ancient monuments and city views

Edinburgh piper

An easier ascent is Calton Hill, situated right in the city centre and tipped with monuments to poke around; if you’re not distracted enough by the city views! Can you spot your hotel from up high?

Jump at the sound of the 1 o’clock gun

Up on Edinburgh Castle’s ramparts is a field gun, where every day a traditional ceremony takes place as it has done since 1861. A guardsman loads a blank and fires the gun at precisely 1pm. Come and watch – but keep fingers firmly in ears!

Take a walk through the past

At The Real Mary King’s Close attraction, you descend below Edinburgh’s present-day streets to ones that were uncovered deep underground from 400 years ago. Get into the 1600s’ mood as the costumed actors take you on a bloodcurdling tour of the city’s history.

See where Harry Potter was ‘born’

The whole world knows that JK Rowling first created her young wizard in a café in Edinburgh – and now here’s your chance to see the very spot – The Elephant Café – Harry came to life! There are loads of spots around the city that inspired the tales – find them on the Harry Potter walking tour.

Stroke Greyfriars Bobby’s nose

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh, Scotland

Wee Greyfriars Bobby, as the story goes, became known in Victorian times for faithfully remaining by his owner’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard for no fewer than 14 years. Now a statue stands nearby where many a visitor’s hand has stroked his now-shiny nose.

Try a wee dram of whisky or 2

At the Scotch Whisky Experience you get to see behind the scenes of one of the world’s most famous tipples. Find out how it’s made, how many are made, how to taste it, and then put your new-found skills into action!

Visit the National Museum of Scotland

In the heart of Edinburgh is a wonderful collection of objects and artefacts, from the worlds of art and design, science and technology and the story of Scotland and its people. Look out for the skeleton of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dolly the sheep (the most famous example of cloning) and Vivienne Westwood classics.

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