Travel and Home logo icon profile picture transparent traveling

WHY EDINBURGH IS SO POPULAR AND FAMOUS

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, is home to the largest arts festival in the world.

Combined with The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the other fantastic things to see and do, you will enjoy every minute of your holiday. So, let’s go through a few highlights you should put on your “to see and do list”…

Things to do in Edinburgh Museum Stirling Castle Holyrood House HM Yacht Brittania min

Edinburgh Old Town & the Royal Mile: The Royal Mile comprises a succession of streets that is the main road in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The main thoroughfare (about 1.8 km / 1 Scots mile long) got its name from its traditional use as a ceremonial route for kings and queens for the last 500 years.

I always recommend the bus as the very first thing to do. It gives you an all-rounded experience of the highlights. You are in a much better position to decide what you DO want to see, once you’ve been on the bus. Besides, it’s great fun too!

The city has quite an intriguing history of ghosts, so brace yourself for all the anecdotes and decide for yourself whether it is believable.

River Cruise

Go on to the award-winning Firth of Forth at Hawes Pier and enjoy magnificent sightseeing such as the Red Forth Rail Bridge, the historic Inchgarvie Island, Inchcolm Island, Forth Road Bridge, Queensferry Crossing.

The captain will share some fascinating anecdotes about Edinburgh.

Also, keep a watchful eye for some seals, puffins, and other wildlife throughout the cruise.

From Calton Hill (in central Edinburgh) you’ll have some spectacular panoramic views of the city. There is a collection of historic monuments and architectural splendor. It is famous for its Athenian acropolis and the Nelson Monument.

Calton Hill dates all the way back to the early 1800s and is rich in history, from the prehistoric era to now.

At the head of the Royal Mile is Edinburgh Castle, with a stunning view of the city below and even Auld Reekie. Try to plan your visit so that you are there at 13h00 which is when the gun is fired from Mondays to Saturdays.  

What Is Edinburgh Castle Known For?

Edinburgh Castle is famous for the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It’s also home to the Crown Jewels (the Honors of Scotland) and serves as a military station. In addition, the castle is home to the Scottish National War memorial.

How Long Do You Need To Stay In Edinburgh Castle?

Set aside about two hours from start to finish.  That said, if you’re a speed demon, you can do it in about an hour.

A colorful, bustling, vibrant, and historic marketplace, and event space that sits directly below Edinburgh Castle. It’s a great spot for a break with all its pubs, cafes and if you have a bit of energy left, some particularly good independent shops.

The ship was built in 1953 and has a rich history of British royalty.  Thus, a must-see for royalists. Lunch or at the very least, an afternoon tea is not negotiable. I will go back for sure, even if it’s just for lunch.

At the foot of the Royal Mile is the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It was an absolute treat seeing where HRH Queen Elizabeth II entertains guests and the old throne rooms used by past monarchs. We climbed the narrow winding staircase to view the bed chamber of Mary Queen of Scots and where David Rizzio (her private secretary) was brutally murdered.

This popular and captivating attraction is a science center about the natural process that shaped our planet from the Big Bang to now. It is located on Holyrood Road.

Explore an alleyway under the Old Town buildings. Mary King was a merchant burgess from the 17th century. She resided in the close. There are many tours that include the close and many other underground vaults at which point you’ll get to hear about the many myths, urban legends, Edinburgh’s ghosts, stories of hauntings, and many murders.

The second-largest monument to a writer in the world can be found here in Edinburgh. Named after the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott it is 61.11 m (about 200 feet) high with several viewing platforms.

The monument was constructed after his death in 1832 and carries 64 figures of characters from his novels. Construction was completed in 1844.

Previously, I’ve mentioned the harmonious sounds of the church choir. Conversely, lovers of Whisky will have a less sober experience at the Scotch Whisky Experience! Without giving away too much, I will just mention that you’ll get to see a spectacular cellar hosting the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky.

I love organ music and quite enjoy the harmonious sounds of a choir. And this is exactly what you may encounter if you’re lucky enough when you visit the 12th-century St Giles’ Cathedral. St Giles’ Cathedral is also known for its magnificent architecture.

The museum, on Lady Stair’s Close, is a Robert Burns fan’s must. Also celebrating Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson is well worth your time whether you like literary history or not.

Another free attraction is the Museum of Childhood, which celebrates childhood in Scotland through time. Young and old will enjoy this museum.

The People’s Story (telling the story of life in and of Edinburgh’s residents through the centuries) sits just opposite the Museum of Edinburgh.

Meander through a recreated 17th-century garden.

The 500-year-old Gladstone’s Land building depicts luxury life through the centuries.

Here you can view the debating chamber of witnesses in a live parliamentary session.

Things to do in Edinburgh Museum St Giles Cathedral Landscape Queensferry Bridge Forth Clyde Canal min

Tickets for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

 5 – 27 August 2022

Harry Potter attractions to see

Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed when visiting Edinburgh. Must-see sites include:

  • Diagon Alley. Also known as Victoria Street and Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh.
  • The Spoon Café where J.K. Rowling started “telling” the world about the now-famous Harry Potter.
  • Elephant Cafe was another popular spot where J.K. Rowling took pen to paper.
  • George Heriot’s School (founded in 1628) was the inspiration behind the magical school of Hogwarts.
  • Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in Reading is close to the coffee houses J. K. Rowling frequented. Hence the theory that some of the gravestones may have been the inspiration behind some of the famous Harry Potter characters. 

In addition to the above attractions, you may also see J.K. Rowling’s handprints on High street (#253), Edinburgh.

The Balmoral Hotel

J.K. Rowling had a tough time finishing her last novel. With too many distractions at home, she headed over to the Balmoral. She finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while staying at the Balmoral Hotel (room 552) in January 2007. 

The room has been renamed since and is now known as the J.K. Rowling Suite. You can book a hotel stay in the same room, or if you don’t want to stay at the hotel you may want to enjoy a meal or some other refreshments at the now famous hotel.

Perfect Day Trips

Day trips are a great way to extend your travel experience without changing hotels. These are our day trip recommendations…

Lochness, mysterious Glencoe and Highlands

Glencoe is known for the 1692 massacre of the Clan MacDonald. With mountains, bogs, moors, green hills, and lochs the Highlands is truly scenic. Spend an afternoon at any of the small quaint villages. The people are super friendly, and the variety of souvenirs are so pretty, you can’t resist shopping.

Try to book a cruise on Loch Ness and add a visit to the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Don’t forget to be on the watch for Nessie!

Also, watch out for the Highland cows (also called “hairy coos” or “heilan coo”) which is a Scottish bred (published in the Herd Book of 1885) of rustic cattle. With their long horns, shaggy coat, and long lashes, they are geared to withstand Scotland’s intemperate conditions. Their meat is lower in cholesterol than other forms of beef, thus growing in popularity. By the way, their milk is not that popular because of its high butterfat content.

Reading

  • A day trip to this beautiful town on the Thames and Kennet rivers in the South of England is well worth the journey.
  • Iconic Greyfriars Church is a landmark of Scotland’s religious history going back to 1225.
  • Lovers of museums will enjoy the Reading Museum about local history and nature exhibitions.
  • Also, the Museum of English Rural Life about English food and farming.
  • The extensive medieval Abbey Ruins (founded by Henry I in 1121) is a gem in the center of Reading.
  • Harry Potter fans must head over to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, the setting of the haunted graveyard from J.K. Rowling’s 4th book. Also, here you’ll have the opportunity to visit Professor McGonagall’s Grave and Tom Marvolo Riddle’s Grave, aka Lord Voldemort.

Rosslyn

Rosslyn Chapel, built 600 years ago, is a unique example of religious architecture. Located in Rosslyn, to the South of Edinburgh it is a 32-minute drive (12 km / 7.5 mi) via the A701.

Stirling Castle

Even if you’re not a lover of castles, this one has such beautiful scenery that it’s worth going to. Don’t be in a rush when you go, there are lots to see and explore.

Plan your trip to Edinburgh

Explore Edinburgh: Get Your 72-Hour Free Travel Itinerary

No strings attached. View and print or save the ultimate 72-hour itinerary that highlights the best of Edinburgh.

Get your travel itinerary >>

Best time to visit?

August is the time for cultural events. I believe Spring is just as good a time because of the mild Spring weather. That said, we experienced mild weather in August too.

How long to stay?

I spent less than a week and can say with conviction that it was too little. Thus, I recommend you book at least a week. Especially during August. In addition to your week, you simply have to do one or two day-trips into the countryside.

The best versatile cameras for holidays

Do you take all your camera gear on holiday, or do you travel light? 

Check out the options >>

Find cheap flights to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport
Edinburgh Airport (EDI)

Transfers in and around Edinburgh

Find The Best Hotels in Edinburgh