Edinburgh is the historical, cultural, and political capital of Scotland. For nearly a thousand years, Scotland's kings, parliaments, writers, thinkers, and bankers have called Edinburgh home. Today, it remains Scotland's most sophisticated and entertaining city. It's a place of stunning vistas — nestled among craggy bluffs and studded with a prickly skyline of spires, towers, domes, and steeples. The city hums with life. Historic, monumental, fun, and well organized, Edinburgh is a tourist's delight.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Royal Mile Historic road — good for walking — stretching from the castle down to the palace, lined with museums, pubs, and shops.
▲▲▲ Edinburgh Castle Iconic hilltop fort and royal residence complete with crown jewels, Romanesque chapel, memorial, and fine military museum.
▲▲▲ National Museum of Scotland Intriguing, well-displayed artifacts from prehistoric times to the 20th century.
▲▲ Gladstone's Land Seventeenth-century Royal Mile merchant's residence.
▲▲ St. Giles' Cathedral Preaching grounds of Calvinist John Knox, with spectacular organ, Neo-Gothic chapel, and distinctive crown spire.
▲▲ Scottish Parliament Building Striking headquarters for parliament, which returned to Scotland in 1999.
▲▲ Palace of Holyroodhouse The British royals' official Scottish HQ, with lavish rooms, 12th-century abbey, and gallery with rotating exhibits.
▲▲ Scottish National Gallery Choice sampling of European masters and Scotland's finest.
▲▲ Scottish National Portrait Gallery Beautifully displayed Who's Who of Scottish history.
▲▲ Georgian House Intimate peek at upper-crust life in the late 1700s.
▲▲ Royal Yacht Britannia Ship for the royal family with a history of distinguished passengers, a 15-minute trip out of town.
▲ Camera Obscura Five floors of illusions, holograms, and gags, topped with the best view of the Royal Mile.
▲ Scotch Whisky Experience Gimmicky but fun and educational introduction to Scotland's most famous beverage.
▲ Writers' Museum at Lady Stair's House Aristocrat's house, built in 1622, filled with artifacts from Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott.
▲ The Real Mary King's Close Underground street and houses last occupied in the 17th century, viewable by guided tour.
▲ Museum of Childhood Five stories of nostalgic fun.
▲ John Knox House Medieval home with exhibits on the life of Scotland's great Protestant reformer.
▲ People's Story Museum Everyday life from the 18th to 20th century.
▲ Museum of Edinburgh Historic mementos, from the original National Covenant inscribed on animal skin to early golf balls.
▲ Queen's Gallery Intimate museum with treasures from the royal art collection (closed for renovation through the end of 2023).
▲ Rosslyn Chapel Small 15th-century church chock-full of intriguing carvings a short drive outside of Edinburgh.
Scott Monument Climbable tribute to the famed novelist Sir Walter Scott.