Amazing Best Things to Do in Edinburgh City

by Mary Harris

Are you looking for the best things to do in Edinburgh City? From the inspiring Edinburgh Castle to the vibrant energy of the Fringe Festival, this city has stolen my heart.

Let’s wander down the Royal Mile, explore art galleries filled with treasures, and indulge in the rich history at the National Museum of Scotland.

Trust me, this journey is full of adventures where the charm of Leith’s pubs and the breathtaking views from Arthur’s Seat are experiences you won’t want to miss.

Edinburgh is a place that offers endless possibilities for exploration and enjoyment. Get ready to experience the best of this charming Scottish city!

If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh, there is no shortage of options for things to do.

Get ready to pack your bags because the best experiences in Edinburgh await you and here we’ve included the list of 15 best things to do in Edinburgh City.

About Edinburgh City

Scotland’s Edinburgh is a great city full of both modern and historical attractions. You may walk down the charming Royal Mile streets and see the famous Edinburgh Castle.

The National Museum is an excellent place to view breathtaking artwork and learn fascinating facts. Come explore Edinburgh there are many of interesting things to see and do.

Key Takeaways

  • Check out the cool Edinburgh Castle for a trip back in time.
  • Take a walk on the Royal Mile’s pretty streets to find cool stuff.
  • Look at awesome art and learn about Scotland’s history in the National Museum.
  • Visit fun pubs in Leith for a good time.
  • Go up Arthur’s Seat for stunning views.

List of 15 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh City

1. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is known as Scottish landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site that captivates visitors with its stunning architecture and rich history. Viewers can watch the daily One O’Clock Gun firing at 1 pm which is an iconic tradition. 

Walking through the castle feels like stepping into the world of “Game of Thrones.” It was once a royal residence but is now a top rated museum and the UK’s favorite heritage attraction. It offers a stunning view of Edinburgh from its position on Castle Rock,i.e. 443 feet above sea level.

Don’t miss the Honours of Scotland and The Stone of Destiny which are the key Scottish treasures. Book your tickets early, especially in the summer, and enjoy the famous daily One O’Clock Gun firing.

2. Royal Mile

Royal Mile
Royal Mile

Royal Mile is a captivating series of connected streets in the Old Town located at 227 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1PE, and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This route stretches from Castlehill, near Edinburgh Castle, down through High Street to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and reveals the city’s ancient geography shaped by an extinct volcano and glacial retreat.

A 20 minute walk reveals centuries of history, from parliaments and law courts to churches and cathedrals. Don’t miss the lively eateries and pubs that contribute to the street’s vibrant atmosphere. 

3. Climb Arthur’s Seat, then stroll through Holyrood Park

Things to Do in Edinburgh City

Arthur’s Seat is an old volcano in Holyrood Park and is a must watch in Edinburgh. It is 251 meters above sea level and offers stunning 360 degree views of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Visit the historic ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel or feed the ducks and swans at Duddingston Loch. The park has a variety of accessible roads and trails for everyone, including a wheelchair and buggy friendly route to St Margaret’s Loch.

It’s a perfect destination for a scenic and inclusive experience.

4. Stroll Through The Meadows

Stroll Through The Meadows
Stroll Through The Meadows

The Meadows is located in the heart of Edinburgh and offers a spacious, grassy haven for joggers, sports enthusiasts, and sun seekers.

It’s a popular spot for students near Edinburgh University’s central campus and serves as a serene escape from the bustling Old Town and connects the city center to the quieter Southside suburbs.

Additionally, here you’ll find delightful spots like 27 Elliott’s Cafe, Consider it Chocolate for plant-based doughnuts, The Refillery for ethical groceries, and Tills which is one of Edinburgh’s oldest second-hand bookshops.

Don’t miss the vibrant Meadows Festival in June, which turns the area into a bustling market and entertainment hub for the community.

5. Watch Sunset From Calton Hill And The Scottish National Monument

 Watch Sunset From Calton Hill And The Scottish National Monument
Watch Sunset From Calton Hill And The Scottish National Monument

Calton Hill in Central Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes stunning views and iconic Scottish monuments like the National Monument. It was inspired by the Parthenon and memorizes Scottish workers from the Napoleonic Wars which is visible today with its twelve columns.

This hill located at St. Andrews House, 2 Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG, provides the best sunset view in the city by dazzling Edinburgh in bright purples and pinks.

The Old City Observatory, constructed in 1818 by William Henry Playfair, contributes to Edinburgh’s nickname, The Athens of the North. In 1834, astronomer Royal Thomas Henderson made a significant discovery here.

So, grab a hot drink, take in the view from the rooftop, and visit the modern art gallery Collective at 38 Calton Hill in Edinburgh.

6. Leith


Leith is a waterside neighborhood located in Edinburgh and attracts urban dwellers who are looking for a more relaxed lifestyle. You can explore boutique shops along Custom Lane and the shorefront, or take a stroll by the Water of Leith.

Treat yourself to a drink at the famous Teuchters Landing pub, which is known for serving some of the city’s best drinks.

Moreover, enjoy cozy afternoons in shoreline cafes and bars, and consider dining at Michelin-starred spots like Martin Wishart for a stellar European menu that is produced with fresh Scottish ingredients and French techniques.

Lastly, immerse yourself in the unique blend of shops, dining, and scenic beauty that this neighborhood has to offer.

7. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

If you are a art lover then, visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art located at 75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR for a delightful art experience.

With two impressive buildings, it showcases masterpieces from the 1900s to the present, including works by Matisse, Picasso, Emin, and Scottish contemporaries.

Moreover, the gallery’s landscaped grounds feature sculptures by famous artists like Tony Cragg and Barbara Hepworth.

Don’t miss out on coffee and cake at the gallery cafe, as well as a visit to Modern Two which is a reconstruction of Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi’s original studio. The front lawn, designed by Charles Jencks, also adds to the overall appeal of this renowned Edinburgh attraction.

8. Enjoy a Walk At Portobello Beach

Portobello, commonly known as Porty, is a charming coastal neighborhood located at Edinburgh EH15 2DX and is just three miles east of Edinburgh’s city center. It provides a wonderful escape with Georgian crescents, a dynamic neighborhood, and a scenic waterfront.

One can enjoy famous Montreal-style bagels at Bross Bagels, savor ‘Twelve Triangles’ doughnuts, and stroll along the sandy beach with views of North Berwick Law. Make a stop at The Espy, or enjoy a beach picnic featuring the delectable Civerinos pizza and frozen margaritas.

Also, wander the bustling high street by exploring charming independent shops like Bross Bagels and Twelve Triangles Bakery.

9. Royal Botanic Garden

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden located at 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR, United Kingdom, was established in 1670 and is a heaven for botany enthusiasts and a hub for plant conservation studies.

It is the second oldest botanic garden in Britain and provides a serene escape from urban chaos. Additionally, it is home to over 13,302 plant species and three million preserved specimens.

During winter, the garden transforms into a magical fairytale world with enchanting lights. Also, the garden welcomes visitors from 10:00 am to 04:00 pm and stands as one of the top tourist destinations in Edinburgh.

10. City Skyline View At Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is one of Edinburgh’s top attractions and offers family friendly fun across five interactive floors.

One can explore illusions like the mirror maze and the thrilling Vortex Tunnel and make sure you get a show time to witness the 169 year old Camera Obscura which projects the cityscape without Wi-Fi.

This unique museum, reveals its magic on the top floor by offering an exciting skyline view from the turret. Don’t miss the chance to be amazed by this Victorian spectacle that transforms sightseeing into an unforgettable experience.

11. Enjoy Hiking At Pentland Hills

Pentland Hills Regional Park is a stunning cluster of hills just south of Edinburgh that offers scenic hikes and breathtaking views of the city.

The park provides various trails suitable for all skill levels and is easily accessible by bus from the city center.

One must try hiking up Allermuir, which is the nearest peak to Edinburgh and provides unparalleled views of the city and beyond on clear days. Take yourself in nature, stay active, and enjoy the beauty just a short drive away from the city.

12. Finest Drams at Johnnie Walker Princes Street

Johnnie Walker Princes Street is a great whisky destination in Edinburgh. This eight-floor hotspot caters to both whisky enthusiasts and beginners and offers a range of dining experiences, bars, and a whisky retail area.

You can personalize your whisky adventure and explore the rich flavors of Scotland. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the world-class cocktails and breathtaking views of the Edinburgh skyline at the 1820 rooftop bar.

It’s a must visit experience for those seeking the best in whisky and a taste of Scotland’s vibrant culture.

13. St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral located in (High Street Historic Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1RE Scotland), is a must visit place for its rich cultural and religious history.

It has functioned as a Protestant church for over nine centuries and has stunning Gothic architecture and significant memorials from the mid-seventeenth century.

It is surrounded by notable buildings like Parliament House, which provides a glimpse into Edinburgh’s religious traditions.

This place is open for visits from (1:00 pm to 05:00 pm) and stands as a captivating symbol of the city’s rich heritage.

14. Show At Festival Theatre

Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre has been a historic venue since 1994 and offers a grand stage for opera, ballet, and musical events and attracts renowned performers like Charlie Chaplin and David Bowie.

This theatre was born from the remains of the old Empire Palace Theatre, and hosts diverse shows, from comedy to live music with a seating capacity of 2,000.

The theatre is rumored to be haunted by ‘The Great Lafayette,’ an illusionist who died in a 1911 fire and adds a touch of mystery.

As the home of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, it’s a must visit place for catching big hitting touring shows and experiencing Edinburgh’s vibrant performing arts scene.

15. Enjoy a Michelin-starred meal at Restaurant Martin Wishart

Martin Wishart’s flagship is a restaurant located in Leith that serves Michelin-starred cuisine. It has been a place of attraction since 1999 and has maintained its allure by blending Scottish ingredients with both traditional and modern French cuisine.

It is a popular place among locals and city visitors and offers elegant, luxurious dining for those looking to indulge.

Whether you’re choosing for lunch, a la carte, or tasting menus, the experience is enriched with a recommended wine pairing.

We highly recommend you to visit this place to enjoy lavish dining along with a wine pair.


Edinburgh City offers a rich experience with its top 15 attractions. From historic landmarks to vibrant cultural sites, there’s something for everyone. Explore our list of 15 best things to do in Edinburgh City to make the most of your visit and create lasting memories in this captivating city. After exploring these places, share your favorite spot in Edinburgh by leaving a comment below.

Your recommendations can be a valuable guide for others seeking a memorable experience in the city!

FAQs About Best Things To Do In Edinburgh City

Q. Can I visit Edinburgh Castle for free?

A. Yes, free entry is available for those serving in the British army or holding the Royal Edinburgh Ticket. Children aged four and under can also visit for free.

Q. When is the best time to visit Edinburgh?

A. The ideal time to visit Edinburgh is from May to April (Spring). During this period, the weather is milder, and the city experiences fewer crowds, allowing you to explore attractions without long queues.

Q. Which historical sites are must visit in Edinburgh?

A. Explore iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, take a walk down the historic Royal Mile, and don’t miss the impressive Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Q. Are there any cultural attractions worth exploring in Edinburgh?

A. Yes, Immerse yourself in culture at the National Museum of Scotland, catch a show at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, or appreciate art at the Scottish National Gallery.

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