Top things to do in Edinburgh

Wonderguide by

Sophie van der Meulen

Top things to do in Edinburgh

If there is every a competition for the most magical city in Europe, Edinburgh might just take the crown. It is easy to see how the Medieval architecture, cobble stone streets and vibrant atmosphere inspired J.K. Rowling. Explore the museums, landmarks, history, food and nightlife.

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Museums to visit

Image - National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland
Sophie van der:If the Scottish weather gets you down, take shelter at the National Museum of Scotland. Entry is free and it offers hours of entertainment. It is a great spot for bith adults and children to learn more about the Scottish history. The entrance hall is beautiful and so id the view from the tower.
Image - National Library of Scotland
National Library of Scotland
Sophie van der:Even if you're not a bibliophile, the National Library of Scotland is worth a visit. They have a nice little gift shop and often host interesting temporary exhibitions.
Image - Central Library
Central Library
Sophie van der:Just across the road from the National Library lies the Central Library. Take a look at the pretty reading halls and whatever temporary exhibition is on display.
Image - Scottish National Gallery
Scottish National Gallery
Sophie van der:Art lovers also have options when it comes to museums in Edinburgh. The National Portrait Gallery is a charming and cozy museum with beautiful paintings by famous Scottish artists. The downstairs cafe is also very nice.
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Landmarks to see

Image - Edinburgh Old Town
Edinburgh Old Town
Sophie van der:The Old Town of Edinburgh is a beautiful place. Due to the elevation of the Mound, strolling here involves a fair bit of climbing. Walk the Royal Mile and explore the little side streets.
Image - SANDEMANs NEW Edinburgh, Free Walking Tour
SANDEMANs NEW Edinburgh, Free Walking Tour
Sophie van der:There are plenty of free walking tours to be found on the Royal Mile, but SANDEMANs is definitelt the best. This European wide tour company offers both pay as you wish walking tours and prepaid specialty tours. You'll want to try them all, especially if Greg is your guide.
Image - Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Sophie van der:As far as castles go, Edinburgh Castle is not one of the prettiest. It is more a fort than a castle and still has military use. It is worth going inside to see what the castle looked like during Mary Scots reign.
Image - Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard
Sophie van der:Greyfriars Church is not all that impressive, but the surrounding graveyard is. The place was used as a mass grave during the plague, but the headstones belong to wealthy citizens. You might recognize some of the names from the Harry Potter books. Don't forget to place a stick on the grave of Greyfriars Bobby, one of the monks dog.
Image - Travelade Image
Victoria Street
Sophie van der:This cute little street inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
Image - George Heriot's School
George Heriot's School
Sophie van der:This school is the original Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling based her wizarding school on Heriot's four house system.
Image - Palace of Holyroodhouse
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Sophie van der:The Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace.
Image - Edinburgh New Town
Edinburgh New Town
Sophie van der:Edinburghs New Town is actually pretty old. This part of town is often overlooked by tourists, but certainly worth a visit. It is the main shopping area for citizens of Edinburgh. There are beautiful mansions to look at, as well as the infamous Rose Street.
Image - Royal Bank of Scotland
Royal Bank of Scotland
Sophie van der:The Royal Bank of Scotland is not an obvious choice for a tourist destination. The bank actually has a stunning interior, which is a well kept secret in Edinburgh.

Nature and parks

Image - Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens
Sophie van der:Edinburgh may not get many sunny days, but when they do there is no better place to be than Princes Street Gardens. Bring a pick nick and lounge in the grass, gazing up at the castle and Old Town.
Image - Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat
Sophie van der:It's quite the hike, but the view from Arthur's Seat can't be beat.
Image - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Sophie van der:If you're a fan of pretty gardens, then the Royal Botanical Gardens are a must. You can easily get there by bus and entree is free!

Activities and experiences

Image - The Real Mary King's Close
The Real Mary King's Close
Sophie van der:As beautiful as Edinburgh is now, back in the Middle Ages, it was an overcrowded cesspool of a city. At Real Mary King's Close you get to travel underneath the Royal Mile to see what living in Edinburgh was like a few centuries ago.
Image - The Scotch Whisky Experience
The Scotch Whisky Experience
Sophie van der:Of course, you can't leave Scotland without trying some Scotch Whisky. At the Scotch Whisky Experience they've turned the art of whisky into a funride for adults. Learn about whisky, distilling and try a few different ones.
Image - Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Sophie van der:Camera Obscura in Edinburgh has been around since the 1900s. It's the oldest tourist attractions in the city.

Places to eat

Image - Makars Gourmet Mash Bar (Mound)
Makars Gourmet Mash Bar (Mound)
Sophie van der:Afraid of haggis? At Makars they understand that the thought of eating offal is intimating to some. That's why they've created a great little haggis tasting platter. I promise you'll want to order the full plate as soon as you try it.
Image - Hula Juice Bar & Cafe
Hula Juice Bar & Cafe
Sophie van der:Done with rich, starchy, greasy Scottish cuisine? Let the girls at Hula make you one of their amazing smoothies or bowls. That vitamin kick cures even the worst hangovers.
Image - The Witchery by the Castle
The Witchery by the Castle
Sophie van der:Sure, the Witchery is touristic. But is also fun, charming and a good restaurant. Try some iconic Scottish dishes in the warm atmosphere.
Image - MUMS Great Comfort Food
MUMS Great Comfort Food
Sophie van der:Sometimes you just want something warm, tasty and soothing. MUMS serves classic comfort food in a hip interior for a fair price.
Image - Oink Victoria Street
Oink Victoria Street
Sophie van der:The hippest place to eat in Edinburgh is little more than a glorified food stall. Oink does one thing and they do it right! Oinks hog roast sandwiches are the perfect quick, tasty lunch during a busy day of sightseeing.
Image - Mary's Milk Bar
Mary's Milk Bar
Sophie van der:People with a sweet tooth will love Mary's Milk Bar and their creative ice cream flavors.

Pubs and bars

Image - Sandy Bell's
Sandy Bell's
Sophie van der:If you only visit one pub in Edinburgh, make it Sandy Bell's. This place is an Edinburgh institution. Rub elbows with the locals, ask the bartender about the whisky specials and listen to the traditional music.
Image - The Last Drop
The Last Drop
Sophie van der:The Last Drop is a traditional Scottish pub on the Grassmarket. Their whisky and beer menu is superb.
Image - The Bongo Club
The Bongo Club
Sophie van der:Looking for a place to dance and let loose? the Bongo Club is the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.
Image - The World's End
The World's End
Sophie van der:A classic pub at the end of the Royal Mile. Hence the name.
Image - The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters
Sophie van der:How many pubs do you know with their own food court? The Three Sisters is right at Kerbside, the perfect place for those who don't want to pick. There are events, food trucks and more.
Image - The Banshee Labyrinth
The Banshee Labyrinth
Sophie van der:This bar is supposedly haunted, but don't let that scare you off. The whole place is a maze of separate little bars and rooms. Wandering around here you might just stumble on a live music show or the dungeons
Image - Dirty Dick's
Dirty Dick's
Sophie van der:Rose Street in New Town was once known for drunks and prostitutes. Now it's drunks and excellent pubs. The best one is Dirty Dick's, a traditional grubby little pub you will instantly fall in love with.

Wonderguide map

  1. National Museum of Scotland
  2. National Library of Scotland
  3. Central Library
  4. Scottish National Gallery
  5. Edinburgh Old Town
  6. SANDEMANs NEW Edinburgh, Free Walking Tour
  7. Edinburgh Castle
  8. Greyfriars Kirkyard
  9. Victoria Street
  10. George Heriot's School
  11. Palace of Holyroodhouse
  12. Edinburgh New Town
  13. Royal Bank of Scotland
  14. Princes Street Gardens
  15. Arthur's Seat
  16. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  17. The Real Mary King's Close
  18. The Scotch Whisky Experience
  19. Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
  20. Makars Gourmet Mash Bar (Mound)
  21. Hula Juice Bar & Cafe
  22. The Witchery by the Castle
  23. MUMS Great Comfort Food
  24. Oink Victoria Street
  25. Mary's Milk Bar
  26. Sandy Bell's
  27. The Last Drop
  28. The Bongo Club
  29. The World's End
  30. The Three Sisters
  31. The Banshee Labyrinth
  32. Dirty Dick's

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