What do see and do in Edinburgh – the ultimate guide

If you’re a fan of beautiful architecture, 16th century buildings and mystical alleys, then you’ll definitely love Edinburgh. This old charming city really has it all. It’s no wonder this is the city where J.K Rowling came up with Harry Potter. The inspiration was literally everywhere!

For those of you who are planning a trip to the capital of Scotland – here’s the ultimate list of what to see and do during your stay!


1. Climb Arthur’s seat

If you have the courage and stamina, climbing the extinct volcano is a fun activity that provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond. The hill rises above the city to a height of 250.5 m (822 ft), and it’s not the easiest climb but well worth the view!

2. Visit Edinburgh Castle

You literally can’t visit Edinburgh without spotting the signature castle on the hill. The old building dates back to the 12th century and if you’re even a little interested in history – this is a must see.

3. Go on a ghost hunt

One of the most popular things to do in Edinburgh is to go on a ghost hunt in the old parts. It doesn’t get spookier than that! While there are several tours to choose from, the most popular one is called The Real Mary Kings Close.

4. Try Haggis

Can you really visit Scotland without trying their signature dish? Indulge yourself in a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach. It tasted way better than it sounds, I promise. And you can find it basically everywhere.

5. Take a stroll through Old Town

The oldest part of Edinburgh is a must see. Edinburgh is a small city and since most of it’s tourist attractions are along the Royal Mile that runs through the old town, you don’t have to worry about missing it.

6. Visit Camera Obscura and discover a world of illusions

Founded in 1835, this playful museum holds a lot of history but is also a fun activity for all ages. No wonder it’s one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions! The museum offers interactive exhibits demonstrating aspects of optical illusions, light and colour. There are also puzzles, a mirror maze, and a vortex tunnel. It also serves as a learning centre about optical illusions, holograms, the origins of photography and about Edinburgh itself.

7. Go on a whiskey tasting

If you’re a whiskey fan then there’s no better place to do a proper tasting than in whiskey-loving Edinburgh.

8. Eat at the Elephant House and visit Greyfriars graveyard

For all you Harry Potter fans out there – this is a MUST see! It was at the Elephant Café that J.K Rowling herself wrote parts of the first Harry Potter book, overlooking the Edinburgh Castle. After your coffee break, make sure to visit the graveyard just around the corner. This is were the author got the inspiration for some of her characters names. Which ones can you find?

9. Visit Dolly at the National Museum

If you’re intersted in seeing the first cloned animal in the world, this is where you’ll find her. The National museum is free of charge and it’s both gorgeous and super interesting. It’s quite big and it definitely holds something for everyone.

10. Climb Scott Monument

The second largest monument in the world dedicated to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (who wrote Ivanhoe). The tower is 200 feet 6 inches (61.11 m) high, and has a series of viewing platforms reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases giving panoramic views of central Edinburgh and its surroundings. The highest platform is reached by a total of 288 steps.

11. Go up Calton Hill

If you’re not keen on climbing Arthur’s seat, then maybe Calton Hill is a better choice. The walk up is not that bad and it still offers great views of the city. Some of the most iconic photos of Edinburgh is taken from here.

12. Visit Dean Village

A trip to Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the lively village of Stockbridge. In the heart of it you’ll find Dean Village, the perfect location for a stroll through a scenic cute little town.

13. Stroll around the different city areas

Edinburgh is not the biggest city so it’s definitely possible to walk around the main city center in only one day. However, some areas are more cosy than others. The Grassmarket area is located just behind the castle and is one of the most vibrant, picturesque and lively areas of the city. The area is well known for being home to some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh as well as some of the most animated and eclectic bars. If you’re more in to culture, then make sure you visit the south side, a mecca for culture lovers and architecture buffs, largely dominated by the vast green space of The Meadows and Holyrood Park.

14. Go on a pub crawl

If you’re up for the challenge, this one’s a must! Start by one end of the famous Rose Street and work your way to other end. If you’re not keen on taking on the challenge alone, there are a number of pub crawls you can join.

One Reply to “What do see and do in Edinburgh – the ultimate guide”

  1. Wow really good tips 😁. Looking forward to the pub crawl 😂

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