Edinburgh has been top on my list of places to visit ever since I studied abroad in London 2 years ago! Unfortunately I didn't make it there the first time I was in Europe, but it was definitely worth the wait.
Edinburgh is a city so full of life, with some of the friendliest locals and tourists around. It has easily become one of my favorite all-time cities.
I hope that if you find yourself visiting the UK you have time to make it up to Edinburgh and experience all this city has to offer!
Here are my top things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland!
1. Spend a Few Hours at Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle sits atop Castle Rock in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Built in the 12th century, the castle has a long and facinating history.
The castle was often the center of many battles between Scotland and England, as well as being the birth place of the famous Queen Mary of Scots (Yes, that one! Who was infamously beheaded by her cousin Queen Elizabeth the I).
Cost: £16.50 for Adults (16 - 59 yrs) and £9.90 for Children (5 - 15 yrs).
The entrance fee into the castle is a little hefty for adults. However, the history and the panoramic views from Edinburgh Castle are more than worth it!
2. Walk the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is the name given the long street running West to East in the Old Town of Edinburgh. As the name suggests, the street is approximately 1 Scots mile long and runs downhill between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
The Royal Mile is the busiest tourist street in Old Town, and though you will find higher prices and more crowds, it is still worth a stroll to marvel at the old buildings and the interesting shops and pubs that line it.
3. Drink Whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience
After spending a few hours wandering Edinburgh Castle, why not unwind with some Scotch Whisky?
The Scotch Whisky Esperience is situated just a few short steps down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle. The Scotch Whisky Experience consists of a fun and educational tour about the history and different types of Scotch Whisky.
The tour ends with your very own whisky tasting and whisky glass to keep!
Cost: £14.50 for the Silver Tour (includes 1 Whisky tasting) and £25.25 for the Gold Tour (includes 5 additional Whisky tastings).
4. Hike Arthur's Seat
Situated near the city center of Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat is the main peak of a group of hills. It sits about 822 ft above the city offering beautiful panoramic views of the city.
(Hilltop pictured to the right in this photo)
5. Climb to the top of Scott's Monument
(Base of Scott's Monument)
The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It stands in the Princes Street Gardens along New Town's Princes Street.
The tower is about 200 feet high and platforms at the top of the monument offer a beautiful view of Edinburgh. The platforms are only reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases, the highest platform being reached only after climbing 287 steps! This is not one for the faint of heart!
6. If you're a Harry Potter fan, Visit the Elephant House
The Elephant House is a cafe/restaurant that prides itself on being the "birthplace of Harry Potter". JK Rowling would reportedly frequent the Elephant House and enjoy a cup of coffee while writing the first Harry Potter novel.
The Elephant House is located at 21 George Street, in Old Town Edinburgh, about a 5 minute walk from the Royal Mile. Nearly every Harry Potter fan visiting Edinburgh will have this on their must visit locations.
Why not order a latte and a desert to escape the Edinburgh rain for an hour or two while relaxing in JK Rowling's old stomoping grounds?
And don't forget to check the bathrooms to see the messages that Harry Potter fans from all around the world have left to JK Rowling!
Cost: £3 - £10 depending on what you buy to drink or eat.
7. Visit a Christmas Market
If you're lucky enough to be visiting Edinburgh during the holidays, be sure to check out their European Chirstmas Market! The traditional and romantic Christmas Market stretches along Princes Street Gardes and around the Scott's Monument.
Enjoy a hot cup of mulled wine or fresh Belgian Hot Chocolate while walking through the shops selling hand crafted gifts and surprises.
Cost: Free to walk around, £3 - £5 for Mulled Wine or Hot Choclate.
8. Unwind From a Long Day at a Pub
You can't go to Edinburgh without finishing your day as the Scottish do... at a pub of course! Many pubs around the city will have great live music in the evenings. My suggestion is to go early around 6 or 7pm for a delicious pub dinner then stay for the drinks and live music!
Cost: £3 for a pint of beer, £8+ for dinner per person