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10 Things to Do When Visiting Edinburgh

Updated on August 6, 2018
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Dawn Leslie is a writer, book lover and coffee fanatic who penned her first story at age eight about a girl who lived in a tree stump.

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Plan a visit to Scotland’s alluring capitol city with these ten activities that will keep anyone captivated, including four with free admission. Interesting and fun things to do will not be lacking when visiting Edinburgh. Scotland features a rich history, which weaves in seamlessly with modern culture. Its capitol city is a shining testament to that old meets new blend. Discover the past while enjoying the present of a very enigmatic city.

Must-See Edinburgh Attractions

  • Edinburgh Castle--high atop a volcanic rock at the end of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle’s history stretches as far back as 850 B.C.E. to an early hill-fort settlement. In the 11th century, the castle visible today began to take shape. Not only is the castle beautiful on the inside as well as out, don't miss the spectacular views from inside the castle walls.
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse--opposite the castle, on the other end of the Royal Mile, the palace was built as an Augustinian monastery in 1128. During the 16th century, King David I took it over as his royal palace and it continues to be a royal residence today. Tip: If the Royal Family is at home, the palace will be closed to visitors.
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia--the personal 'yacht' of the Royal Family. Get a dose of decadent elegance.
  • Mercat Tours--unearth the history above as well as beneath Edinburgh’s city streets with ghostly, paranormal, and haunted historical tours. Mercat has exclusive access to Edinburgh’s underground vaults. Take a candlelit tour and hear the most frightening stories while exploring the mysterious vaults. This is a truly eye-opening experience and a must-see when visiting the city.
  • The Real Mary Kings Close--an unusual collection of old houses sealed in during the 1750's when the City Chambers were built on top of them. Tip: Pre-booking is recommended. And check out their prices; this close is quite intriguing, but expensive for what is toured.
  • The Scotch Whisky Experience--the novice whisky aficionado will get an entertaining introduction to whisky and the more experienced will appreciate the sampling bar after the tour.

Edinburgh Activities with Free Admission

  • The Royal Botanic Gardens--a beautiful oasis amid the bustling life of the city. Visiting the gardens is a perfect way to wind down after a busy day of sightseeing.
  • The Museum of Scotland--features exhibits that encompass all the themes and periods of Scotland’s history housed inside a striking modern building.
  • The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art--get a fix of abstract and modern art at the Gallery and don’t miss a stroll along the River Leith; paths start here.
  • The National Gallery of Scotland--even if only for a brief visit, this is worth a look for the palatial interior with its rich red and gold décor.

End The Day with a Pint

The list of things to do is exhausted, so what now? That’s right, relax. Head over to Bennets Bar, at 8 Leven Street by Kings Theatre, a traditional pub with history back to the 1800’s. There is even a peculiar little enclosed corner by the door where drinks would have been served to the women so there would be no mixing with the men at the main bar. To sound like a local, ask for a pint of Deuchars (pronounced “duke-arse”) IPA. Sit back, unwind with a beverage, and enjoy the Scottish atmosphere.

© 2018 Dawn Leslie Lenz

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      Great list of activities here. It would be interesting to see some photos and hear more about each one. I still remember a holiday near here from many years ago. We spent a day in Edinburgh and another time visited the Royal Yacht.

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