EDINBURGH TOURIST ATTRACTIONS | 60 + TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN EDINBURGH
If you are looking for places to see and experience when traveling to Edinburgh then here is a list of some of the best tourist attractions, landmarks and venues you can visit to make your time in Edinburgh more enjoyable.
Positioned in the centre of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh castle having been built over a millennium ago is significant land mark and tourist attraction. With its view of New Town and it’s a must see if you are visiting Edinburgh. Being involved significantly in many wars and sieges it’s a historical place you have to see.
For more information, head over to our article written about Edinburgh Castle.
Quick Jump Menu
This page contains over 60 tourist attractions of Edinburgh. To make it a bit easier to navigate, you can click any of the links below to jump to that section of the page.
Festivals / Yearly events in Edinburgh
Churches, cathedrals, abbeys, kirks and palaces of Edinburgh
Castles in and near Edinburgh
Unusual attractions in Edinburgh
Museums and Galleries in Edinburgh
Surgeons’ Hall Museums
The Royal Yacht Britannia
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Scottish National Gallery
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Old Medical Museum
National Museum of Scotland
Museum of Childhood
The Writer’s Museum and Makars Court
Scottish Storytelling Centre
The Queen’s Gallery
Parks and Gardens in Edinburgh
Neighbourhoods and areas in Edinburgh
Tourist attractions close to Edinburgh
Landmarks / Scenery
Greyfriars Bobby Statue and Greyfriars Kirk
Forth Road Bridge
Old Calton Burial Ground
The Ross Fountain
The Scottish Parliament
Pentland Hills Regional Park
The Real Mary King’s Close
Whisky & Gin tourist attractions near Edinburgh
Zoo / Animals
FESTIVALS / YEARLY EVENTS IN EDINBURGH
THE ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO
The Royal Edinburgh military tattoo is a yearly series of performances. These performances are by the British Armed Forces, commonwealth and international military bands. The performance takes place on the esplanade of the Edinburgh castle. Usually held around August, the tattoo is one of the crown jewels of festivals in Edinburgh. Interestingly, the name “Tattoo” comes from a Dutch phrase, “doe den tap toe” (turn off the tap). This would be played by the drummers in the army every night. This was a signal to the bar tenders to turn off their ale taps, so the soldiers could retire to their beds.
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
The Edinburgh International Festival is held over a three-week period in August. The international festival celebrates the arts with performances in a range or arts. You will be able to see performances of music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe. The Edinburgh international festival is world renowned. This is a a showcase of the worlds great preforming arts.
EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL
The Edinburgh fringe festival is one of the most famous festivals in Edinburgh. The Fringe festival dates back to 1947. 8 theatre companies turned up united to the first impromptu Fringe festival. There are thousands of performances to see with hundreds of different venues. The Fringe festival has helped establish the careers of many comedians. These include Rowan Atkinson and Billy Connolly.
CHURCHES, CATHEDRALS, ABBEYS, KIRKS AND PALACES OF EDINBURGH
THE PALACE OF HOLYROOD HOUSE
Although being a tourist attraction, The Palace of Holyrood House is still used as a royal palace. Tours can be affected by security on short notice and all phones have to be switched off while inside. Filming is permitted on the outside but to fill inside you have to fill out an application. This level of exclusivity to experience the palace makes it a very worthwhile place to visit.
Named after the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Holyrood Abbey (Holy-cross Abbey) can be found across from the Palace of the Holyrood House. Holyrood abbey dates back to 1128. This historical location was once used as a meeting ground for the elders of Scotland. The now ruined abbey is open for the public see.
ST’ GILES CATHEDRAL
There is uncertainty who built the St’ Giles Cathedral. Some think its King Alexander or his brother King David. The cathedral has stood time for nearly as long as the Edinburgh castle itself. With time the cathedral grew to become the impressive work of craftsmanship that it is today.
Located in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The Canongate Kirk is the parish church of Edinburgh Castle. Build in 1688 the Kirk is an active church still to this day. The queen often attend services at the church when she is in Scotland. The queens granddaughter Zara Philips had her wedding at the church in 2011.
ST JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
St Johns Episcopal church is a category A listed building located in the centre of Edinburgh. Built in 1818 the church is still active till this day. Featuring a plastered ceiling derived from Westminster abbey at and stain glassed windows.
ST CUTHBERT’S CHURCH
St Cuthberts Church in Edinburgh was founded in the 7th century. The structure of the structure was built in 1892. An interesting find that occurred in the church was in 1773. Workmen uncovered an urn with an embalmed human heart. This is believed to be the heart of a crusader killed in battle for the holy lands.
ST MARY’S CATHEDRAL
St Marys Cathedral was built in the late 19th century in the west end of Edinburgh. Located in the New Town. The cathedral is designed in a gothic style and is a category A listed building and part of a world heritage site. Also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the virgin. The church has an impressive spire reaching 90 meters high. The spirre of the church makes it the highest building in the urban Edinburgh area.
CASTLES IN AND NEAR EDINBURGH
Positioned in the centre of the Scottish capital. Edinburgh castle was built over a millennium ago. It is a significant landmark and tourist attraction. With its view of New Town and it’s a must-see if you are visiting Edinburgh. Being involved significantly in many wars and sieges, it’s a historical place you have to see.
Craigmiller Castle can be found just outside of Edinburgh. This castle is well known for being the place in which Mary Queen of Scots has stayed in 1566. This castle holds a lot of interesting things to find as you explore its 5 floors and view from the tower house.
Located on the outskirts of Edinburgh the Midhope Castle is a 16th century tower house. Located in the hamlet of Abercorn. The Midhope castle has been featured in the Outlander TV series. This castle is the main character Jamie Frazer’s family home “Lallybroch”.
The home of the family Dundas since the Middle Ages. Dundas castle is a 15th century castle that was sold and in 1995 after coming into disrepair. The new buyer has embarked on a substantial programme of restoration at the castle. Nowadays, the castle is a luxury 5 star hotels that host weddings and celebrations.
UNUSUAL AND UNIQUE ATTRACTIONS IN EDINBURGH
Rumoured for ghosts, murder and an excellent venue during the Edinburgh festival. The Vaults of Old Town can be quite an experience. As you explore these abounded dark rooms you might get a wee fright. The vaults are built in the huge arches of the old South Bridge.
The Caves is a private hire venue within one of the South bridge’s vaults. It has been excavated and refurbished to serve as wedding, party and music venue. With its theme of being almost like a cave since it is set inside of the many South bridge vaults.
CAMERA OBSCURA AND WORLD OF ILLUSIONS
Close to Edinburgh Castle is the Camera Obscura world of illusions. This is a tourist attraction founded in 1835. Today with 6 floors of interactive exhibits for visitors to choose from. The Camera Obscura building is the oldest purpose built attraction in the city. The interactive exhibits demonstrate aspects of optical interests. You will find exhibits of illusions, light, colour there is also a mirror maze and vortex tunnel.VIEW WEBSITE
The Dynamic Earth is a non-profit science and visitor centre. The centre is located near the Scottish parliament building in Edinburgh. The dynamic earth aims to make learning fun for all of its visitors. Exhibits at the Dynamic earth include an undersea tunnel and a 360 degree cinema called the “ShowDome”.
MAISON DE MOGGY (A CAT CAFÉ)
If you are a cat lover this could be the perfect cafe for a rest stop in your tour of Edinburgh. The Maison de Moggy is a cat cafe located 4 mins from Edinburgh Castle. The cafe has 12 resident cats who live in the cafe and love to welcome new guests. The cafe prepares food off site in a cat free environment and offers vegan options.VIEW WEBSITE
THE EDINBURGH DUNGEON
Not for the faint-hearted, the Edinburgh Dungeon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh. With a host of live actors The Edinburgh Dungeons show various historical events in a fun and scary way. There are 11 shows at the Dungeon, such as a witch hunt and a cannibal cave. Visitors are guided on a journey through 500 years of Scottish history and will meet some of Edinburgh’s most infamous characters.
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES IN EDINBURGH
SURGEONS’ HALL MUSEUMS
The surgeons’ hall museum is the headquarters of the Royal College of surgeons of Edinburgh. In the headquarters is housed the Surgeons’ Hall Museum, which has been growing its collection since 1699. Originally developed as a teaching museum they have been open to the public since 1832. The museum features collections like bone and tissue samples, medical artefacts and even works of art.
THE ROYAL YACHT BRITANNIA
With over 40 years of service for the royal family. The Royal Yacht Britannia has travelled far and wide even reaching its way to Canada. Now found in Edinburgh. Visitors can experience the floating royal house of the British monarchs.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery and museum located on Queen st in Edinburgh city centre. The National Portrait Gallery also holds the Scottish National Photography Collection. The gallery displays portrait work from mostly Scottish artists. Established over 132 years ago (1889) the building is noted for having a Spanish gothic style and is a category A listed building.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY
The Scottish National Gallery is a phenomenal place to discover amazing art work. Having art work made by artists dating from the 16th century. The National Gallery is located near the city centre, it is a great destination to visit.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART
Housing the art of the 20th century and of the more modern contemporary works. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art can be quite a refreshing place to explore. You are sure to find something new and original.
OLD MEDICAL MUSEUM
Originally being a university’s collection of anatomical data and specimens. The Old Medical Museum is now open for public to see. With its open-days schedule giving the public a chance to learn and understand more. Visitors will learn about the way bodies organs work along with many other cool things. There are many things to see such as skeletons of different species.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND
The National Museum of Scotland attracted over 2.2 million visitors in 2019. The museum is a very popular attraction to come and see. There are thousands of artefacts to excite your interest. These range from archaeologically to medieval objects found in Scotland. Other items of interest in the as well as even objects that are from the ancient Egypt.
MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD
The museum of Childhood is located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh city centre. This museum is the first museum in the world to specialize in the history of childhood and playtimes. The collections in the museum will inspire nostalgia for some and intrigue for others. With over 60,000 objects on display all around childhood and playthings, there is sure to be something for everyone.
THE WRITER’S MUSEUM AND MAKARS COURT
The writer’s museum is located close to Edinburgh castle. The museum and celebrates the literary works of three famous Scottish writers. The writers included in the museum are Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Dive into the minds of these great writers. Have a look at collections of their works including portraits and personal objects. Close by the Writers Museum is the makars’ court. This hosts a collection of Scottish literary works written in English, Scots, Gaelic and Latin.
SCOTTISH STORYTELLING CENTRE
Located in the centre of Edinburgh is the Scottish Storytelling Centre. This Edinburgh tourist attraction is a celebration of story, story telling and performing. The centre has been operating for nearly 20 years and describes its self as a vibrant arts venue. With regular live performances, the Scottish Storytelling Centre is an amazing place to listen to story and have a cup of tea.
THE QUEEN’S GALLERY
Opened by the Queen in 2002 the Queens Gallery forms part of the Palace of Holyrood. located close by the Scottish parliament the Queens Gallery showcases works from the royal collection. Open to the public daily. This Edinburgh tourist attraction features, paintings, sculptures and ornate furniture.
PARKS AND GARDENS IN EDINBURGH
These private gardens are restricted to its members. Members are people who live around the gardens . These gardens add a sense of nature and scenery to the city of Edinburgh. The gardens can be seen from the Dean bridge which runs over the them and its valley’s Water of the Leith.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN
With 4 gardens around Scotland. The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is the main garden of their collection. With its significant collection of plants. Regarded as one of best botanic gardens in the world. The royal botanic gardens in Edinburgh are sure to be a memorable experience for any visitor.VIEW WEBSITE
PRINCES STREET GARDENS
Princess street gardens are amazing public parks filled with trees, grass, shrubs and plants. The park is located in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and is an excellent place to relax. Interestingly, Princes Street Gardens were created in the 1820’s. Where the gardens are now used to be the Nor Loch an artificially created body of water. The nor Loch once was formed a part of the castles defences.
Holyrood Park is a 650 acre public park that is filled with lochs and glens. Holyrood Park is a little bit of the highlands in Edinburgh. The park was originally created in 1514 and encompasses Arthurs seat, an extinct volcano and Edinburgh’s highest point.
The Meadows are a large mostly flat park. This park has children’s play parks, tennis courts, croquet courts and many recreational sports pitches. The park is common ground and was used as a free grazing area up until the 1920’s. The meadows is found to the south of Edinburgh city centre.
NEIGHBOURHOODS IN EDINBURGH
THE ROYAL MILE
The Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare that connects two of Scotland’s most historic buildings. These buildings Edinburgh castle and Holyrood Palace. The total length of the streets between the castle and the palace is 1.6km just short of a mile. The term Royal Mile comes from a book published in 1902 called W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century. A quote from the book “…with its Castle and Palace and The Royal Mile between” is the first noted mention of “Royal Mile”.
The old town is the oldest part of the city of Edinburgh. It holds a vast amount of medieval buildings. Walking through the old town can make quite an experience. Not only for its aesthetic and cultural factors but also its surrounding landmarks. Landmarks like Edinburgh castle, the vaults and many other destinations. You are sure for a fulfilling experience around every corner you turn.
This architecturally calculated part of the city is a great counterpart to the Old Town. With its symmetrical design best viewed at its finest from Edinburgh castle. Located along Princes Street it gives the city more a sleek and elegant taste. With lots of shops and big brands it’s a great place to find something nice.
Dean Village is a tranquil oasis located in the centre of Edinburgh. The area was once home to 11 grain mills using the power of the river Leith for their process. Nowadays, the area is known for being an excellent place to take a walk through and to get away from the hustle of the city centre.
The Grassmarket neighbourhood is located behind the castle in Edinburgh’s ancient old town. This neighbourhood is one of the city’s most dynamic, beautiful, and energetic neighbourhoods. The Grassmarket is a haven for small merchants, designers, and craftsmen. It is absolutely brimming with some of Edinburgh’s greatest shopping. This neighbourhood is recognized for having some of Edinburgh’s greatest restaurants. It also has some of the city’s most diverse pubs.
EDINBURGH CASTLE ESPLANADE
The vast flat field, which was built in 1753, served as the staging place for Edinburgh’s troops. The esplanade is now used as an annual outdoor showground. It mainly features The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It has also hosted visiting famous performers such as TEXAS, Moby, Elton John, Tom Jones, and others.
The West End Village is tucked away behind Shandwick Place. It is one of Edinburgh’s hidden jewels. Both William Street and Stafford Street are located in the heart of the village. It’s a place where colorful, trendy stores and several well-loved pubs and bars are located. They are combined to give this section of Edinburgh a bohemian vibe. Both residents and visitors alike will enjoy exploring this region.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS CLOSE TO EDINBURGH
INCHCOLM ABBEY AND ISLAND
Inchcolm Abbey was founded on this island in 1140. It was a priory created by King David I. It is the best-preserved set of monastery structures. The abbey is in a spectacular setting, which you can see from the boat as you approach the island. The 13th century well-painting is a unique medieval fresco. The medieval stone screens within the bell tower are uncommon medieval church fittings.
Hopetoun is a stunningly beautiful location in Scotland. It also has the greatest stately house at its centre. Hopetoun is a pleasant and flourishing community on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It has a lot to offer for living, recreation, entertainment, and business all year. Hopetoun’s farming operation also produces Estate-raised cattle, lamb, and poultry. They also produce wild game, which is sold directly through the Estate’s Hopetoun Farm Shop.
The Queensferry Crossing is a Scottish road bridge. It was built beside the existing Forth Road Bridge and carries the M90 highway. It has a total length of 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) . The Queensferry Crossing is a three-tower cable-stayed bridge. Around 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of new roads were constructed when building the bridge. The new roads include intersections in Fife, South Queensferry, and M9 Junction 1A.VIEW WEBSITE
In excellent weather, the Seaside Award-winning beach draws many people. The place organizes a variety of popular events, including the annual Big Beach Busk. It also has international volleyball championships, and triathlon races, along with the promenade. The Portobello Kayaking and Sailing Club, is also located here. Keep an eye out for the magnificent Victorian swimming pool. It’s an amazing pool which has an original Aerotone and Turkish baths.
FORT DOUGLAS ADVENTURE PARK
Dalkeith Country Park is a great place to visit if you’re searching for things to do around Edinburgh. They organize a bunch of fun events throughout the year. The events range from outdoor festivals to Fort Douglas activities and seminars. Dalkeith Country Park is a one-of-a-kind holiday spot. Our goal is to make you happy, motivate you, and provide you with an unforgettable day out.
Jupiter Artland is located just outside Edinburgh. It is one of Scotland’s most important arts organizations. Jupiter Artland is an expansive collection of site-specific artworks. The art works are from some of the world’s most well-known artists. They include artists such as Antony Gormley, Charles Jenck. They have pieces from Cornelia Parker, Phyllida Barlow, Marc Quinn, and many more. This park has over 100 acres of woodland and meadows within the grounds of Bonnington House.
Leith is unlike any other place. It is a centre of bustling dining and drinking establishments. This centre includes innovation, and ethnic variety, each with its own distinct flavour. The area of Leith is located near the mouth of the Water of Leith, on the banks of the Firth of Forth. The area has an ancient harbour, which goes back to the 14th century. The harbour was visited by numerous travelling monarchs and queens. Some of the more famous were Queen Mary of Scots and King George IV.
Stockbridge has a bohemian vibe that draws many artists to this part of Edinburgh. Many artists that visit Stockbridge are musicians and authors. It’s filled with many shops such as jewellers, and antique dealers. The neighbourhood comes to life even more on Sundays. It’s flooded with people and natural products on the market. Most products are quality fruits and vegetables that grow in the area.
LANDMARKS & SCENERY AROUND EDINBURGH
GREYFRIARS BOBBY STATUE AND GREYFRIARS KIRK
Bobby was a Skye Terrier who spent the final two years of his life being cared after by a local cop, John Gray. Bobby is said to have watched John Gray’s tomb in the Kirkyard for fourteen years after his death. Bobby won the hearts of both the Lord Provost, William Chambers, and the general people. They constantly brought him food and other comforts each day. In 1961, Disney created a film based on the story of the devoted little dog.
Holyrood Park is located in the centre of Edinburgh, just a short walk from the Royal Mile. Holyrood Park is a 640-acre Royal Park located next to Holyrood Palace. There is an old volcano that rises 251 meters above sea level and offers spectacular views of the city. It’s called Arthur’s Seat and it is also home to a huge and well-preserved fort. This is one of four hill forts that date back to the year 2000. It is also a site of Special Scientific Interest due to its varied flora and geology.
Calton Hill’s magnificent vistas have amazed and inspired tourists for ages. There are a number of significant locations that can be viewed from the bird’s eye view on Calton Hill. Some of them include Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace and the Parliament. Calton Hill is also known for its historic monuments. They serve as some of the city’s most prominent landmarks. The National Monument, which was inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, is one of the most stunning.
FORTH ROAD BRIDGE
The Forth Road Bridge is one of the most important long-span suspension bridges in the world. It was also the longest outside the US when it was built. It has a primary span of 1006 meters between the two towers. The structure is about 2.5 kilometres long in total. It was built with a whopping 39,000 tonnes of steel and 125,000 cubic meters of concrete.
OLD CALTON BURIAL GROUND
Some of Edinburgh’s most attractive and quiet locations are the historic cemeteries. There are exactly five in the centre of the city. They are all open to the public and provide insights into Edinburgh’s rich history. The people who lived there created the city as we know it today. They also provide some of the greatest views and perspectives on the city.
THE ROSS FOUNTAIN
This cast-iron fountain was sculpted by artist Jean-Baptiste Jules Klagmann. It is a magnificent example of 19th century sculpture. Mermaids, walrus and lion heads, and cherubs may all be found near the foot of the fountain if you look closely. Four female luminaries of science, the arts, poetry, and industry are at the top. It’s amazing craftsmanship which takes the breath away
THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT
It is located in the Holyrood district of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. Tours run about an hour and include topics such as the architecture and design of the parliament. Monday through Saturday, the Scottish Parliament is typically accessible to the public. If you only have a few minutes, come to one of the regular 10 Minute Talks in the Main Hall. It is a fantastic way to learn about the Parliament. Every year, they organize a number of events and visit exhibitions. You can find the details on their website.
PENTLAND HILLS REGIONAL PARK
The Pentland hills park is a wonderful place for a walk and also a horse ride. Horseback riding trails may be found all throughout the Pentland Hills. Riding must be done with caution here. Mainly due to the uniqueness of the terrain and the multiplicity of landowners. Explore the magnificent Pentland Hills’ beautiful riding routes and tracks. As long as you ride properly, horseback riders enjoy access to the majority of the area.
Scott Monument is a Gothic monument dedicated to Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott. It was built back in 1846. The blackish colour of the tower on Princes Street gives it an eerie beauty. The spire is adorned with 64 figures depicting characters from the author’s works. The top of this monument is amazing because it offers some of the best views in the area.
THE REAL MARY KING’S CLOSE
Edinburgh’s greatest secret is a maze of subterranean alleys underneath the City Chambers. It’s on the Royal Mile where actual people lived, worked, and died between the 17th and 19th centuries. Guests will dig underground to hear the true stories from Edinburgh’s amazing history. This is a one-hour tour guided by a character tour guide portraying a former inhabitant of the Close.
WHISKY & GIN TOURIST ATTRACTIONS NEAR EDINBURGH
EDINBURGH GIN DISTILLERY
The Edinburgh Gin Distillery, located in the heart of Scotland’s city, is a destination as no other. They make tiny batches of gin there, inspired by the majesty, and mischief of Edinburgh and its people. The Edinburgh Gin Visitor Centre is the only site in the city where you can immerse yourself in all things gin. Both mentally and physically. The objective is to educate, thrill, and lobate in equal measure. Whether you take a tour or a guided tasting, or try your hand at producing your own.
PICKERING’S GIN DISTILLERY
Summerhall Distillery, home of Pickering’s Gin, offers tours. Come witness how handcrafted, small batch gin is created. You can learn about our story, and try all three of our fantastic gins. Pickering’s Gin is handmade in the Summerhall district of Edinburgh. It’s made among the galleries, workshops, theaters, and studios. This modest but perfectly shaped distillery is located right here. The pleasant and enthusiastic crew is eager to show you around on one of the distillery tours..
THE SCOTCH WHISKY EXPERIENCE EDINBURGH
Take a tour of a replica distillery before you learn about the mysteries of the Whisky regions. The tour is led by an extremely experienced guide. At the end of the tour you can take some of The World’s Largest Whisky Collection. You can select your ideal ‘dram’ and sample it. Expert tour guides and whiskey advisers are on hand throughout the experience. They are there to personalize your visit and ensure the satisfaction of everyone. Child-friendly displays and tailored tours are completely wheelchair accessible.
ZOOS IN EDINBURGH ANIMALS
Scotland’s craziest visitor attraction. Edinburgh Zoo is home to approximately 1,000 beautiful species from all over the world. It is a hope of the only giant pandas and koalas in the United Kingdom. Over 1,000 rare and endangered species, including the UK’s only giant pandas, call this place home. The RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is jam-packed with exciting and out-of-the-ordinary activities.View Website