Places You Must Visit While In Edinburgh

Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Last week we decided to spend a few days in Edinburgh.  It’s actually been a few years since I was last in the Scottish capital and I had forgotten just how much I love this city.  Edinburgh is probably best known for its Fringe Festival, Military Tattoo and Hogmanay Street Party but it is also home to a lot of historical sights from the medieval structures in the Old Town to the Georgian buildings in the New Town.  Also lets not forget the huge choice of cafés, bars, restaurants and shops that Edinburgh has to offer too.

Edinburgh from Calton Hill


Being Scottish means that you are well aware how much the weather can change on a daily basis.  Although I was only away for three nights I ended up taking half of my wardrobe with me just in case. My bag contained clothes for all seasons from cropped jeans and a t-shirt to a thick jacket and boots but I still ended up buying a jumper on my first day as it was so bloody cold!  Oh and forget your heels, the cobbles and hilly streets will make walking in them impossible.

So where should you visit in Edinburgh?  Below are the free places and the not so free places you should visit while in Edinburgh.

Free Places To Visit In Edinburgh

The Royal Mile & Old Town

No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a walk down the Royal Mile.  The Royal Mile is the main road through the Old Town.  It starts at the Castle at the very top and runs down to Holyrood Palace at the bottom.  There are lots of alleyways (called closes) that lead off the road in a fishbone pattern where many people used to live but now there are pubs and shops in their place.  You will also find lots of pretty medieval buildings as you make your way down towards Holyrood.

Edinburgh Castle Royal Mile Old Town

Old Tolbooth Royal Mile Edinburgh

Unicorn at Holyrood Palace Gates

St Giles Cathedral

You will find St Giles Cathedral (also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh) about a third of the way down the Royal Mile opposite the City Chambers.  It has a distinctive crown shaped steeple and beautiful stained glass windows.


St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh Royal Mile

Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens is smack bang in the middle between both the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.  It is the perfect place to sit on a sunny day, have a picnic and people watch.  It used to be the site of Nor Loch, a man made lake where the sewage from the Old Town would end up as well as where some people met their untimely end.  Just remember what may lie beneath you as you sunbathe on the grass ?. It is also home to their Winter Wonderland in the lead up to Christmas and has some amusement park rides and market stalls to entertain and feed you during the festive period.

Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is situated  just beyond the eastern end of Princes Street and is where you will find some amazing views of Edinburgh.  You will also come across quite a few monuments there such as the Dugald Stewart monument, the Nelson monument and the National monument to mention a few as well as the City Observatory.  There is also a graveyard on the other side of the road where many famous local people were laid to rest and where you can get views of Holyrood Palace and Arthur’s Seat.

View of Edinburgh from Calton Hill
View of Edinburgh from Calton Hill
Dugald Stewart Monument Calton Hill Edinburgh
Nelson Monument Calton Hill Edinburgh

(Not) Free Places To Visit In Edinburgh

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is just a short bus journey away to Corstorphine and where you will currently find the Giant Pandas (you need to pre-book a time to see them on your visit), meerkats, Asian lions and penguins plus many more.  The cost for adults is £19 each.

Red Panda at Edinburgh Zoo

The Real Mary King’s Close

As I mentioned earlier there are many closes off the Royal Mile where people used to live.  Some of these buildings were fourteen storeys high with the upper classes living on the top levels and the poorer people living on the lower levels.  Mary King’s Close was partially demolished and the now City Chambers building was built over the top of it but there are still some rooms and houses preserved underneath the building.  One of the rooms is said to be haunted by a little girl and some people leave her toys so she won’t get lonely; there are creepy looking china dolls, cuddly Olafs and some kind person even left her a One Direction dvd should she ever feel the need to watch Harry Styles sing.  You do need to book your space 24 hours in advance and the cost per adult is £14.75.

The Real Mary King's Close Royal Mile Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that was built on Castle Rock, the plug of an extinct volcano.  It was home to many royals through the ages as well as being a military base.  It is a popular tourist attraction and it’s probably worth booking online so you can queue jump, the adult price for a ticket is £17.

Edinburgh Castle Royal Mile Edinburgh


These are just a few of the places you can visit while in Edinburgh and there are plenty of others such as the Scottish National Gallery, Museum of Childhood, Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Palace that I have yet to see.  There are plenty of tours that you can go on including ghost tours where you can find out ghoulish tales of body snatching, sinister sightings and murders if that’s your thing.

Have you visited any of these places? Have you been to other sights I’ve not listed here? Let me know below as I’d love to hear them.

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27 responses to “Places You Must Visit While In Edinburgh”

  1. Lisa says:

    Looks like you had a fab time! I’m an Edinburgh local (sounds so cringe but can’t think of a better way to say it!) and would definitely recommend Camera Obscura (top of the Royal Mile) and a trip to the Botanic Gardens. Actually, if you go to the Botanics you can then have a wander around trendy Stockbridge too, even better on a Sunday when there’s a wee market.
    I laughed about all your layers- it drives me crazy, this mental Scottish weather!
    Lisa x |

    • Denise says:

      I remember going to Camera Obscura many years ago but the queues outside were huge, I guess going when it was the school holidays wasn’t the best move but Edinburgh is always full of tourists :). I am definitely heading back as there is so much that I still want to see, will remember about the Botanic Gardens for next time. xx

  2. Jasmin N says:

    Loved this! I have been planning a trip to Edinburgh for autumn & this is super handy. I’ll save this for later 🙂

    • Denise says:

      Oh I hope you have so much fun there, it really is a pretty city and there is plenty of things for you to do. The gardens will look so pretty with the changing of the leaves in Autumn 🙂 xx

  3. Perla says:

    I have never been to Edinburgh, neither was on my bucket list :)) but after reading your post I realized that actually Edinburg is full of history and a great place to visit. The Castle looks so fabulous on that hill, I would really love to see it.

  4. Holly says:

    Fab summary. I love Edinburgh and have done most of those things- Edinburgh Castle did it for me! We were there for Hogmanay and it was amazing!!

    • Denise says:

      It must have been such a good atmosphere at Hogmany, I have never been there for new year but it would be so much fun although there must be sooooo many people there.

  5. Phoem Ponce says:

    I always dream of visiting Edinburgh. After I graduate from college I will defiitely visit!

  6. Madelaine says:

    You’ve convinced me! My sister went to Edinburgh and loved it and I thought about going then but now I’m definitely going! I’m from wales so the ever changing weather isn’t going to be a shock lol!
    Great blog, thanks for sharing xx

    • Denise says:

      Haha at least it wont be a shock for you then, even in the Summer months it rains and is cold so take all your wardrobe with you :D. I hope you have a lovely time when you go xx

  7. Chloe says:

    This post has made me massively miss Edinburgh – I love the city!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

  8. Sheri says:

    Lots of good advice plus great pictures to go with it. I have a friend heading there in two weeks and will send this to her.

  9. Katja says:

    I went to Edinburgh and loved it so much! Here’s my two cents to add to your lovely list:
    Katja xxx

  10. Phaytea says:

    Definitely a fun experience..the buildings surely holds a lot of history…Lovely pic

  11. Ree love30 says:

    I went to Edinburgh for a music festival once and loved it! People were so friendly and I’d love to go back again. Ree love30

  12. sabine says:

    I have not been to Edinburgh yet and I would love to go there one time. I can use this blog post as a to do list!

  13. michenn says:

    GAHHH I really wish I could visit! That sounds like such a great location and the photos are absolutely beautiful!!

  14. Such beautiful photos and great tips.

  15. Seeing all of these amazing places really makes me miss being in the UK. I need to go back for a visit sometime in the near future.

  16. arv says:

    Edinburgh looks like my kind of place. full of history. I will love visiting here. Great and helpful post

  17. Nora says:

    Oh wow! There sure is a lot of history and culture in Edinburgh. I would love to visit that garden, it looks absolutely gorgeous! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the tips, these sure are helpful for readers planning a trip to Edinburgh!

    • Denise says:

      It is such a lovely place, Nora & if you ever get the chance to go there you should as it is a very beautiful city 🙂

  18. Claire says:

    I go to Edinburgh a few times a year with my family because we love it so much! I’ve not been to Edinburgh Zoo in years though so I must do that this summer <3

    G is for Gingers xx

    • Denise says:

      You would need to book if you do head there as we had to book the day before, it was quite expensive but I guess if you stay there all day it would be worth it. It is quite hilly there so remember and don’t wear heels if you do decide to go 🙂 xx

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