It probably comes as no surprise that Edinburgh is one of the most popular destinations to visit in the UK. With its historic castle, medieval ruins, museums and galleries, and never-ending choice of shops, pubs and clubs, it’s easy to see why tourists flock to this festive city. And that’s without even mentioning the rowdy, fun-loving Scots. So the only question remains: What to do in Edinburgh?
History, culture and drinking: The best of Edinburgh
The Scottish capital is one of the world’s favourite destination with attractions and events to suit every traveller. You’ll never be bored in this beautiful city!
Spend a day at the Castle
Out of all the Edinburgh attractions, Edinburgh Castle [link to Batch 4 Edinburgh Castle guide] should definitely be at the top of your list. You simply can’t come to Scotland without heading up to Castle Rock to see the remains of this ancient fortress that has played a pivotal role throughout the country’s mighty history. Marvel at the old military guns and stick around for the legendary One o’clock Gun exhibition, ogle the Crown Jewels and the royal coronation crown and take a trip down to the dungeons to see what life was like for notorious criminals back in the day. There’s so much to see here that you’ll be staying for the whole day, getting lost in centuries of bloodshed and battles.
Catch a world-famous festival
Edinburgh is known as the Festival City for a reason! There are three main annual events on every Scotsman’s calendar: The Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Hogmanay, but that’s not to say that there aren’t a number of other festivals throughout the year. The Edinburgh International Festival is the original performing arts event held over three weeks in August. Top performers in music, theatre, opera, dance and art come to Edinburgh so there’s sure to be something on you’ll enjoy. The Fringe has become equally popular in recent years and is largely known for its comedy acts, although there’s everything from circus to cabaret. It’s worth timing your trip in August so you can catch these two must-see events. Otherwise, for a New Year’s you’ll never forget, consider going to Edinburgh for the winter festive season and Hogmanay, the traditional Scottish New Year’s Eve celebrations. Over three days, the city comes even more alive with pumping street parties, firework displays and all things Scottish – including, yes you guessed it, bagpipe parades!
Climb a volcano
Yes, that’s right – a volcano! There’s not many British towns that can say they’re built on an extinct volcano, but that’s exactly what Arthur’s Seat is, an 823-foot hill rising out of the beautiful Holyrood Park, just one mile east of Edinburgh Castle. It’s relatively easy to climb, but the easiest access point is the slope from Dunsapie Loch. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views across the city and the rest of the Royal Park. If you’ve got the time, walk over the other side of the park to reach the village of Duddingston, home to Scotland’s oldest pub, The Sheep Heid Inn.
Of course, drinking is one of the favourite things to do in Edinburgh! You’ll never go thirsty here with hundreds of pubs, bars and clubs waiting to pour you your favourite tipple. The most traditional-style pubs are found in Grassmarket and Old Town (but beware, they can be quite touristy), while more modern watering holes are found in New Town, particularly around George Street. However, you can’t go home without having tried Scotland’s famous first drink at The Scotch Whisky Experience at the top of the Royal Mile. You can learn about the history and production of Scotch whisky, take a quick whisky appreciation course, see the world’s largest collection and, of course, taste a wee dram yourself. Cheers!