Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Edinburgh


By Wyatt Johnson

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city with a rich history and stunning architecture that attracts millions of tourists each year. From its ancient castle perched high on a hill to its charming cobbled streets, there is something for everyone to discover in this vibrant city.

One of the most famous landmarks in Edinburgh is Edinburgh Castle. This iconic fortress dominates the city’s skyline and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Inside the castle, visitors can explore its historic halls, see the Crown Jewels of Scotland, and learn about the castle’s fascinating past through interactive exhibits.

The Royal Mile, a historic street that stretches between the castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, is another must-visit attraction in Edinburgh. This bustling thoroughfare is lined with shops, pubs, and restaurants, and is a hub of activity year-round. Visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s vibrant atmosphere, browse for souvenirs, and sample traditional Scottish cuisine.

For those interested in art and culture, the National Museum of Scotland is a must-see. This world-class museum showcases the country’s history, culture, and natural heritage through fascinating exhibits and interactive displays. From ancient artifacts to modern art, there is something to captivate visitors of all ages.

These are just a few of the many top-rated tourist attractions that Edinburgh has to offer. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a nature lover, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this enchanting city.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, located on Castle Rock, is a historic fortress that dominates the skyline of the city. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland and offers breathtaking views of Edinburgh.

With a rich history dating back to the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle has witnessed numerous sieges and battles. Visitors can explore its ancient walls and learn about its role in Scottish history.

Inside the castle, you can visit the Crown Jewels of Scotland, including the iconic Stone of Destiny and the Scottish Crown Jewels. These priceless artifacts are of great historical significance.

The Great Hall is another highlight of the castle. With its impressive medieval architecture, it showcases the grandeur and opulence of Scottish royalty.

While exploring the castle, don’t miss the National War Museum of Scotland, which displays a vast collection of war artifacts and memorabilia.

Visiting Edinburgh Castle is an unforgettable experience that provides a glimpse into Scotland’s fascinating past and offers panoramic views of the city. It is a must-visit attraction for anyone traveling to Edinburgh.

Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is one of the most famous and historic streets in Edinburgh. It stretches for approximately one mile from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The street is lined with charming shops, cafés, restaurants, and historic buildings, making it a must-visit destination for tourists.

One of the main attractions along the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle, which stands proudly on top of Castle Rock. Visitors can explore the castle and learn about its rich history, including its role as a royal residence and military stronghold. The castle offers stunning views of the city and hosts various events throughout the year, such as the world-famous Edinburgh Tattoo.

Another notable landmark on the Royal Mile is the St. Giles’ Cathedral. This stunning gothic building dates back to the 14th century and is known for its intricate stained glass windows and impressive spire. Visitors can explore the cathedral and learn about its religious significance through various exhibitions and guided tours.

The Royal Mile is also home to several museums, including the Museum of Edinburgh and the People’s Story Museum. These museums provide insight into the city’s history and offer a glimpse into the lives of its past inhabitants. The Museum of Edinburgh showcases a wide range of artifacts, while the People’s Story Museum focuses on the social history of Edinburgh.

Attraction Description
Edinburgh Castle Explore the historic castle and enjoy breathtaking views of the city.
St. Giles’ Cathedral Admire the stunning gothic architecture and learn about the cathedral’s history.
Museum of Edinburgh Discover the city’s history through a wide range of artifacts and exhibitions.
People’s Story Museum Learn about the social history of Edinburgh through interactive displays.

As you wander along the Royal Mile, you’ll also come across various landmarks, such as the Canongate Tolbooth and the John Knox House. The street is bustling with activity, and during the summer months, it comes alive with street performers and festivals.

Whether you’re interested in history, shopping, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, a visit to the Royal Mile is a must when in Edinburgh. It offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past and present, making it a top-rated tourist attraction.

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is one of the most iconic landmarks in Edinburgh and a must-visit tourist attraction. Located in Holyrood Park, this ancient volcano is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The peak of Arthur’s Seat offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, the surrounding landscapes, and the majestic coastline. It is the perfect spot for a hike or a leisurely stroll. There are various walking routes available, catering to different fitness levels and preferences.

For those interested in history and archaeology, Arthur’s Seat is also significant. It was once the site of a hill fort and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Exploring the area, you may come across remnants of ancient settlements and structures.

If you visit during the spring or summer months, you will be treated to a stunning display of wildflowers covering the slopes of Arthur’s Seat. This makes it an ideal destination for photography enthusiasts looking to capture the beauty of nature.

It is important to come prepared when visiting Arthur’s Seat, as the weather can change quickly and it can be quite windy at the top. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring water, sunscreen, and a map of the area.

Whether you are looking for a challenging hike, a peaceful escape from the bustling city, or simply a chance to immerse yourself in nature, Arthur’s Seat is a must-visit attraction in Edinburgh.

The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience is a must-visit attraction for whisky enthusiasts in Edinburgh. Located on the famous Royal Mile, this interactive museum takes visitors on a journey through the history and production of Scotland’s national drink.

Visitors can choose from a variety of tours, each offering a unique experience. The Silver Tour is a great option for beginners, providing an introduction to the whisky-making process and a tasting of a single malt whisky. For those looking for a more in-depth experience, the Gold Tour includes a guided tour of the whisky collection, a nosing and tasting session, and a complimentary whisky glass to take home.

One of the highlights of the Scotch Whisky Experience is the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky. With over 3,000 bottles in their collection, you can explore a wide range of flavours and ages of whisky.

In addition to the tours and collection, the attraction also features a whisky shop where visitors can purchase a bottle of their favourite whisky or browse a selection of whisky-related gifts and souvenirs.

Whether you are a whisky connoisseur or a beginner looking to learn more about Scotland’s famous spirit, the Scotch Whisky Experience is a must-visit attraction in Edinburgh.

Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is advisable to check the official website for updates on opening hours and tour availability before your visit.

St. Giles’ Cathedral

St. Giles’ Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is a prominent religious landmark in the heart of the city. Built in the 14th century, the cathedral is the principal place of worship for the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The cathedral’s striking Gothic architecture is a sight to behold, with its tall spire dominating the Edinburgh skyline. Inside, visitors are treated to stunning stained glass windows, intricate stone carvings, and a beautifully decorated ceiling. The highlight of the cathedral is the Thistle Chapel, dedicated to the Order of the Thistle, Scotland’s highest order of chivalry.

St. Giles’ Cathedral also holds historical significance, having witnessed many important events in Scottish history. It played a role in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and it was here that Scottish Presbyterianism was established.

Visitors can join guided tours to learn more about the cathedral’s history and explore its various chapels. The stunning architecture and rich history make St. Giles’ Cathedral a must-visit attraction in Edinburgh.

Address: High St, Edinburgh EH1 1RE, United Kingdom

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9:00am-5:00pm, Sunday: 1:00pm-5:00pm

Admission: Free (donations are welcome)

Note: The cathedral may be closed for religious services or events. It is recommended to check the official website for updated information before planning a visit.

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh. It is located on Chambers Street and is known for its impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits. The museum covers a wide range of topics, including art, science, history, and culture, making it a must-visit for visitors of all interests.

Visitors to the National Museum of Scotland can explore the diverse collection that spans thousands of years. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary art, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The museum also showcases many fascinating displays, such as the Millennium Clock and the stunning Natural World galleries.

One of the highlights of a visit to the National Museum of Scotland is the chance to see the Lewis Chessmen. These intricate chess pieces were discovered on the Isle of Lewis and are considered one of the greatest artifacts of the Viking Age. They provide a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the time.

In addition to its permanent collection, the National Museum of Scotland regularly hosts special exhibitions and events. This ensures that there is always something new and exciting to discover during a visit. It is worth checking the museum’s website or speaking to staff to find out about any upcoming exhibitions or activities.

Whether you are interested in history, art, science, or culture, a visit to the National Museum of Scotland is a must. With its impressive collection and diverse range of exhibits, it offers a unique opportunity to explore Scotland’s rich heritage and discover something new. Make sure to set aside plenty of time to fully experience everything the museum has to offer.

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace, also known as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Located at the end of the Royal Mile, this historic site has been a royal residence since the 16th century and is still used by the Queen for official functions and ceremonies.

The palace is famous for its stunning architecture and beautiful gardens. The building itself features a combination of Scottish Gothic and Baroque styles, with intricate stone carvings and grand reception rooms. Visitors can explore the State Apartments, which are filled with opulent decorations and historical artifacts.

One of the highlights of a visit to Holyrood Palace is the chance to see the beautiful gardens. The grounds include the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, a tranquil haven of peace and reflection. The gardens are also home to a variety of plant species and offer wonderful views of Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano that is a popular hiking spot.

Inside the palace, visitors can learn about the history of the Scottish royal family through exhibitions and displays. The Queen’s Gallery, located within the palace, showcases a rotating collection of works of art from the Royal Collection, which includes pieces by famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.

Overall, Holyrood Palace is a must-visit attraction for history buffs and anyone interested in experiencing the grandeur of Scottish royal life. Whether you explore the State Apartments, stroll through the gardens, or admire the art in the Queen’s Gallery, a visit to Holyrood Palace is sure to be a memorable experience.

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions and is home to over 1,000 animals from around the world. Located just a few miles west of the city center, the zoo offers visitors a chance to see a diverse range of animals in a beautiful and natural setting.

One of the highlights of the zoo is the Panda Exhibit, which is home to the UK’s only giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang. Visitors can learn about these fascinating creatures and watch them in action through the specially designed enclosures. The zoo also has a variety of other mammals, including lions, tigers, and penguins.

For those interested in birds, the Budongo Trail is a must-visit. This exhibit features a large aviary that is home to a variety of bird species, including flamingos, parrots, and owls. Visitors can learn about the different types of birds and their habitats, as well as the conservation efforts that are being made to protect these species.

Another popular attraction at the zoo is the Penguin Parade. This daily event allows visitors to get up close and personal with these adorable birds as they waddle their way around their enclosure. It’s a great opportunity to learn about penguins and their unique behaviors.

The zoo also offers a variety of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. From behind-the-scenes tours to animal handling sessions, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the animals and their habitats. The zoo also participates in several conservation initiatives and works to protect endangered species.

Overall, a visit to Edinburgh Zoo is a must for animal lovers and families alike. With its wide variety of animals, beautiful grounds, and educational opportunities, it’s a great way to spend a day in Edinburgh.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is one of the most iconic and picturesque spots in Edinburgh, offering panoramic views of the city skyline. Located in the city center, this hill is home to a number of interesting landmarks and monuments.

One of the most prominent features on Calton Hill is the National Monument, often called “Edinburgh’s Disgrace” due to its unfinished state. This monument was intended to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens and was dedicated to the Scottish soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars.

Another notable landmark on Calton Hill is the Nelson Monument, a tall tower that was built to commemorate Admiral Lord Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower for breathtaking views of the city.

Calton Hill is also home to the Dugald Stewart Monument, which honors the Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart. This neoclassical monument features a statue of Stewart and is a popular spot for visitors to relax and take in the scenic surroundings.

In addition to the various monuments, Calton Hill is also known for its beautiful parkland and walking trails. It’s a great place to go for a leisurely stroll and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply taking in the stunning views, a visit to Calton Hill is a must when in Edinburgh. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of this iconic landmark.

Calton Hill Highlights:
The National Monument
The Nelson Monument
The Dugald Stewart Monument
Beautiful parkland and walking trails

The Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close is an underground labyrinth of 17th-century streets and buildings located beneath the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. This historic site offers visitors a unique glimpse into Edinburgh’s past, providing a fascinating insight into what life was like in the city during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The close is named after Mary King, a wealthy businesswoman who once lived and operated a number of businesses in the area. Today, visitors can explore the close and learn about the lives of the residents who once inhabited these streets.

The close was closed off and left abandoned for many years before being rediscovered and opened to the public. Today, guided tours allow visitors to walk through the narrow, winding streets and experience what life was like in the close centuries ago.

During the tour, visitors will be taken through various rooms, including houses and shops that have been preserved to reflect the time period. They will hear stories and anecdotes about the people who lived and worked in these spaces, giving them a greater understanding of daily life in Edinburgh’s past.

Some of the highlights of a visit to The Real Mary King’s Close include the opportunity to see a reconstructed house, complete with period furnishings, and the chance to enter the plague-stricken home of one of the residents.

The Real Mary King’s Close offers a unique and immersive experience for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning more about Edinburgh’s past. With its well-preserved buildings and engaging tour guides, it is a must-visit attraction for anyone visiting the city.

Scott Monument

The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to the famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is located in the Princes Street Gardens and stands tall at 200 feet, making it the largest monument to a writer in the world.

Construction of the Scott Monument started in 1840 and was completed in 1844. Designed by George Meikle Kemp, it features a unique blend of Gothic and medieval architectural styles, with intricate carvings and sculptures adorning its facade.

Visitors can climb the narrow spiral staircase of the monument to reach the top, where they can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city. The monument also houses a museum dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, offering insights into his life and literary works.

The Scott Monument is a must-visit attraction for literature enthusiasts and history buffs. Its impressive architecture, rich history, and breathtaking views make it a popular landmark in Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens

The Princes Street Gardens is a beautiful public park located in the heart of Edinburgh. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city due to its stunning landscapes and historical significance. The gardens stretch along the southern side of Princes Street, offering a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city center.

The gardens are divided into two sections, the East Princes Street Gardens and the West Princes Street Gardens, separated by The Mound. Both sections of the gardens offer visitors a variety of activities and attractions to enjoy.

In the East Princes Street Gardens, you can find the Scott Monument, a towering Gothic monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scottish writer. Climb the steps to the top of the monument for stunning panoramic views of Edinburgh’s skyline.

The Ross Fountain is another highlight of the East Gardens. This impressive Victorian fountain is adorned with sculptures and offers a picturesque spot to relax and enjoy the surrounding greenery.

The West Princes Street Gardens is home to the famous Floral Clock. It is a unique and intricate clock made entirely of flowers, and its design changes throughout the year to reflect the season. Make sure to visit the clock and capture a photo of this charming and colorful landmark.

The gardens also serve as a venue for various events and festivals throughout the year, including the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Christmas Market. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens during these events to experience the vibrant atmosphere and enjoy live performances and entertainment.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, a scenic walk, or a place to enjoy cultural events, the Princes Street Gardens is a must-visit destination in Edinburgh. It offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and entertainment for both locals and tourists alike.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is a historic cemetery located in the heart of Edinburgh. It is one of the most famous cemeteries in Scotland and is home to many significant figures from Scottish history. The kirkyard dates back to the late 16th century and is known for its beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere.

Within Greyfriars Kirkyard, visitors can explore the gravesites of notable individuals such as the poet Allan Ramsay, the economist Adam Smith, and the philosopher David Hume. Many of these graves are marked with grand monuments and intricate sculptures, creating a unique and interesting experience for visitors.

One of the most famous attractions in Greyfriars Kirkyard is the grave of Greyfriars Bobby, a loyal dog who famously guarded his owner’s grave for 14 years after his death. The story of Greyfriars Bobby has become a beloved tale in Edinburgh and visitors can pay their respects at his grave, which is marked with a statue of the faithful dog.

Aside from its historical significance, Greyfriars Kirkyard is also known for its beautiful surroundings. The cemetery is surrounded by lush greenery and offers stunning views of the city. Many visitors enjoy taking a peaceful walk through the kirkyard, taking in the serene atmosphere and admiring the stunning architecture.

For those interested in history and Scottish culture, a visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard is a must-see. Its rich history, famous gravesites, and beautiful surroundings make it a unique and memorable tourist attraction in Edinburgh.

Location Edinburgh, Scotland
Established Late 16th century
Notable Gravesites Allan Ramsay, Adam Smith, David Hume
Famous Attraction Grave of Greyfriars Bobby


What are some of the top-rated tourist attractions in Edinburgh?

Some of the top-rated tourist attractions in Edinburgh include the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Arthur’s Seat, and the National Museum of Scotland.

How long does it take to tour Edinburgh Castle?

It typically takes about 2-3 hours to tour Edinburgh Castle, although some visitors may choose to spend more time exploring the various exhibitions and historical sites within the castle.

What can I see and do on the Royal Mile?

The Royal Mile is a historic street in Edinburgh that is packed with attractions and things to do. Visitors can explore the iconic landmarks such as St. Giles’ Cathedral and the Real Mary King’s Close, shop for souvenirs, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy traditional Scottish food and drink in the numerous cafes and restaurants.

How long does it take to hike up Arthur’s Seat?

The time it takes to hike up Arthur’s Seat can vary depending on the individual’s fitness level and pace. On average, it takes about 1-2 hours to hike to the summit and back, but some people may take longer to enjoy the scenic views along the way.

What are some of the must-see exhibits at the National Museum of Scotland?

Some of the must-see exhibits at the National Museum of Scotland include the Scotland Galleries, which showcase the country’s history and culture, the Natural World galleries, which feature specimens and displays of animals and plants from around the world, and the Art and Design gallery, which displays a wide range of artworks and crafts.

What are some of the top tourist attractions in Edinburgh?

Some of the top tourist attractions in Edinburgh include the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Arthur’s Seat, and the National Museum of Scotland.

Can you tell me more about the Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress located on Castle Rock overlooking the city. It is one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks and attracts millions of visitors each year. The castle is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, and the National War Museum of Scotland. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, learn about its fascinating history, and enjoy stunning views of the city.

Photo of author

Wyatt Johnson

Wyatt Johnson, a seasoned travel writer and Miami resident, is the driving force behind captivating pieces at TravelAsker. Unveiling the gems of his vibrant city and its serene beach resorts, his articles showcase an array of family-friendly activities. Leveraging his global insights and experiences as a family man, Wyatt becomes your ideal companion, guiding you through the enchanting delights of Miami and the wonders of Florida.

Leave a Comment