- Travel and Places
Great Things To Do in Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Home to the second largest population in Scotland. A diverse city and a joy to visit. Whatever you are looking for in a vacation you will find it in Edinburgh, whether you are having a quick stopover or a longer relaxed vacation. Edinburgh can be all of these for you. If you want history, culture or just plain-old people watching, there is something for everyone in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is also known as the Athens of the North due to it being one of the historical major centres of the Enlightenment, led by the University of Edinburgh. The Old Town and New Town areas of Edinburgh are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recognition of the unique architecture of the Medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town.
Edinburgh is traditionally said to be built over seven hills, but that could just be a romantic notion to link it with Rome, which was also said to be built over seven hills. The seven hills are said to be - Arthur's Seat, more of a mini range rather than just one hill, Braid Hills, again more of a mini range, Castle Rock, which Edinburgh Castle sits atop of, Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Blackford Hill and Craiglockhart Hill. All of these hills offer a spectacular view of Edinburgh and are well worth the visit.
What can I do in Edinburgh?
There are lots of free things to do in Edinburgh, from walks and parks to art galleries and museums. A day out in Edinburgh doesn't have to cost you a lot of money.
A Trip to Edinburgh Castle is a must
Edinburgh Castle has dominated the Edinburgh skyline in some form since the 9th century. A beautiful majestic building sitting on top of the volcanic Castle Rock. Although no longer used as an army garrison, the British Army is still responsible for parts of the castle, although its presence is mainly ceremonial.
Many a visitor can be seen jumping in fright at 1 o'clock every day as the "1 o'clock gun" is fired. The exceptions to the gun being fired are Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day. The gun was originally fired to act as a time signal for the ships in the Firth of Forth.
Within the castle walls you can find the National War Museum of Scotland, Mons Meg ( a 15th century siege canon), The Royal Palace (once royal apartments to the Stewart Monarchs), The Great Hall, and St Margaret's Chapel which is the oldest part of the castle.
Did you know that you can get married in Edinburgh Castle, or if the mood takes you, you can propose to your loved one in the Minstrel's Gallery of the Great Hall? How Romantic!
If you don't want to "go it alone" you can book a castle tour. If you want to go at your own pace then try one of these books, and know what you want to see. The views from Edinburgh Castle are outstanding.
Edinburgh has several museums that are free for everyone to visit.
Remember, whatever time of year you visit Edinburgh, it can rain. It's part of the charm of visiting Scotland. So when you know it's going to rain pop into one of hte free museums.
The National Museum of Scotland, (part of the tower from the Museum shown in the photograph), located in the Old Town, re-opened in July 2011 following major redevelopment. It exhibits over 20,000 objects in 36 galleries. This museum is a joy for both adults and children alike with its interactive exhibits, children's galleries and frightening Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Writers' Museum, near the top of the Royal Mile, is filled with potraits, first editions and objects relating to the lives of great Scottish writers including Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Museum of Childhood is a lovely little museum full of childhood toys from the past and present. You will find this little museum also on the Royal Mile.
Acommodation in Edinburgh
There is a huge variety of places to stay whilst visiting Edinburgh, from camping to hostels, B & B to superb hotel suites. The only thing that limits your choice is your budget.
Edinburgh Guide Books
A good guide book can save you many hours getting lost in a strange city.
Family things to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a wonderful place to visit with your kids. There are lots of green open spaces for them to run around. Take a picnic and have lunch underneath Edinburgh Castle in Princes Street Gardens. Visit the swing park in the West Gardens of Princes Street.
If you go for a walk up Blackford Hill, look out for Blackford Pond. This is said to be home to the best fed ducks and geese in the city. Take along some stale bread and rolls and you'll see what I mean!
Edinburgh Zoo was built in 1913 and owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Edinburgh Zoo sits on Corstorphine Hill in 82-acres of land, which offers amazing views over the city of Edinburgh. As well as being a tourist attraction the zoo participates in various conservation programs around the world as well as doing research into animal behaviour.
Edinburgh Zoo is able to lay claim to the fact that they are the only zoo in Britain that is home to koala bears and giant pandas.
Edinburgh Zoo has just opened the largest outdoor penguin enclosure in Europe. They run a very succesful breeding program and after a complete refurbishment due to the old penguin enclosure springing a leak, they now have a world class penguine enclosure. Look out for the famous penguin walk!
Make sure you head up to the hills at the top of the zoo. The view is outstanding and there is a great playpark for the children to let off steam in. There are also several picnic benches for lunch. If the walk is too much for you, then there is a small tram like bus that runs up to the top hill during the summer months.
Before becoming home to Edinburgh Zoo, Corstophine Hill was a plant nursery.
The zoo contains one of the most diverse tress collections to be found within Central Scotland, and you may spend many an hour just wandering around the gardens before visiting the animals. Zoo horticulture is becoming increasing important. It enables the animals to live in a lush environment and provides an enhances experience for animals and visitors alike.
You can find out more information regarding Edinburgh Zoo by clicking on the following link. It will give you opening times, how to get there, etc.
Edinburgh Zoo - Why not read a bit about it before you visit!
If you're planning to visit Edinburgh Zoo then it's a great idea to have a guide. I love planning with my family what we intend seeing.
Activities in Edinburgh
Which activity would you like to do first when you visit Edinburgh?
Festivals in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has several festivals that run throughout the year. The most famous is the Edinburgh International Festival which runs through the month of August. This is a time when Edinburgh becomes home to many fantastic and outstanding performers. From street performance to the Scottish National Orchestra and many visiting famous guests, there is entertainment to suit everyone.
It does get very busy so my advice would be to book your accommodation as far is advance as possible.
Edinburgh has accommodation to cater for everyone's budget. From camping to top class hotels. The thing to remember with Edinburgh is that it is a reasonably small city. It has a good bus service, you can buy a day ticket and hop on and off buses all day at will, although it's not particularly car friendly it has several park and ride parks on the outskirts of the city, which saves you trying to find parking in the city centre.
Most tickets for the festivals go on sale approximately 6-8 weeks before the festivals start, so it might make sense to book accommodation and travel tickets early to get the best deals. The exception to this rule is Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival will go on sale in March 2014 and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo tickets are on sale now.
I have placed a link below to give you more ideas of the dates when the Festivals are held in Edinburgh, and more importantly, which Festivals are available.
Below is a selection of books which may help you decide which Festival you wish to visit.
Looking for something Special
If I haven't quite covered what you're looking for in my lens, type in your search and see what you come up with.
Just in case the weather turns wet, it's always better to be prepared.
If you intend to visit Edinburgh, or even if it is a distant dream, I would love to hear your thoughts on my lens.