Ten awesome things to do in Edinburgh

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Edinburgh is an absolutely amazing city. It has been three visits now and it’s charm really does make itself known! Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most charming cities, and is packed full of things to do see and do. With over 1000 years of history, there is defintiely going to be something for everyone!

1. Wander the Royal Mile – Things to in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile is probably the most iconic place in Edinburgh, and therefore a great place to start when visiting the city. The mile is a long ridge that starts from Edinburgh castle and runs down to Holyrood Palace. This this ridge was formed over 10,000 years ago in the last ice age. A glacier hit the volcanic rock the castle now sits on, and split to move down either side, leaving the formation in the middle.

Now, this street is one of the most famous in the city. Take time to grab a souvenir, watch the street performers, find hidden closes off to the side. Make sure to check out all the local businesses that line the street.

Image of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

2. Visit Edinburgh Castle – Things to in Edinburgh

Located at the top of the Royal Mile, is the stunning Edinburgh Castle. You can see the castle from points all over the city, as it perches looking over it. A ticket includes a 30 minute tour which is a great way of getting to know the history of the castle. Afterwards, you are free to explore in your own time.

image of Edinburgh castle - one of the amazing things to do in Edinburgh

The castle has served as both a royal residence and a military stronghold. The oldest part dates back to the 12th century and the Great Hall was added by James IV in the early 16th century. The last military action that the castle saw, was in 1745. Aside from all the history, its location offers some amazing views over the city.

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3. Hike Arthur’s Seat – Things to in Edinburgh

If you are feeling really energetic, then why not hike this at sunrise? The views are quite something!

If mornings aren’t quite your thing, then this is worth doing at any time of the day. Especially on a sunny day. The views from the top are absolutely insane, you can literally see for miles! Arthur’s seat is located in Holyrood Park, at the end of the Royal Mile, and is the highest point of the remains of an extinct volcano from 350 million years ago.

There are multiple routes to Arthur’s Seat up the volcano, and these range in how strenuous they are. Depending on the route, and your fitness, expect the hike to take between 30 to 60 mins. When you are at top, you are rewarding with the most incredible 360° views of the city. Amazing experience.

4. Greyfriars Kirkyard Cemetery

Known as the most haunted graveyard in the world; an extremely interesting place to visit. Greyfriars Kirkyard is a huge graveyard that surrounds the historic Greyfriars Kirk. Kirk, being the old Scottish word for church. Many important people to the city have been buried here. But today, it’s most famous story is one that will melt the heart. That of the dog, Greyfriars Bobby. His owner was buried in the graveyard, and even in death the dog wouldn’t leave his side. He kept returning to the grave, sitting there no matter the weather. Eventually they built him shelter and he lived there for 14 years, only leaving for food.

The graveyard is also known for inspiring some of the names of the Harry Potter stories, as JK Rowling wandered around while writing the books. Look out for many famous characters on the tombs like Potter, McGonagall, Moodie, Charles Black and even Tom Riddle. 

Tom Riddle’s grave is the one most Potterheads will want to find. You can find it by:

  • Entering the graveyard from Candlemaker’s Row. 
  • From the tomb of Greyfriar’s Bobby and from the front of the ‘Yellow’ Kirk, head towards the Flodden Wall Arch
  • After the archway turn right, you will get to a fork. Continue straight down. 
  • Walk down the hill and turn right and follow the pathway to the end. Here you’ll find the grave of Tom Riddell Esquire! 

There is so much more to the graveyard than the above, so make sure to research before! Find out about the famous residents, the Covenanters, the grave robbers and how the church was accidentally blown up, just to name a few!

26A Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE | Map

5. Tour the Vaults

Did you know there is an incredible underground world sitting below the city? There are various different tours you can take to explore more. The Real Mary King’s Close tour let’s you explore a preserved 17th century street. Another option is the tours of the vaults underneath the South Bridge. These vaults have a huge and varied history and a tour shows you how they were used from leather workers, bars, illegal activities and body snatchers. Do not miss.

6. Grab an Ice cream

When in Edinburgh, a visit to Mary’s Milk Bar is almost a must! Famous for more unusual flavours, it has become quite an Edinburgh institution! The queue’s are often quite long though so prepare yourself. This cute little 1950’s-esque store is the perfect treat when wandering around the city.

Image of Mary's Milk bar, one of the top things to do in Edinburgh

19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS | Map

7. Meander around Prince’s Street Gardens

This garden was created by draining Edinburgh’s largest loch and is now a large public space, sitting between the old and new sides of Edinburgh. With the castle looming overhead, it offers some iconic views. Beautiful all year round, and is full of iconic landmarks such as the Scott Monument, the Ross Fountain and the Ross Bandstand.

Prince’s Garden, Edinburgh | Map

8. Eat tacos at Bodega

Edinburgh, also has a massive foodie scene. If you want something a little less traditional, head to Bodega in Leith for delicious tacos! Start with some delicious margaritas. Don’t miss the pork belly and beef brisket tacos!

14-15 Albert Pl, Edinburgh EH7 5HN | Map

9. Pub crawl along Grassmarket

Edinburgh has quite an eye watering amount of pubs to frequent. But some of the oldest and most historic, can be found in Grassmarket. The bar Maggie Dickson’s is named after a fish wife is famous for being convicted of killing her newly born baby. She survived her subsequent execution and was subsequently known as Half-Hangit Maggie. Also look out for the Last Drop, which is located immediately next to the scene of public hangings which took place there in the eighteenth century. Hence the name. The White Hart Inn is said to be the oldest pub in the city, as well as the most haunted!

Grassmarket, Edinburgh | Map

10. Walk down Victoria Street

Did you even go to Edinburgh if you don’t take a photo of Victoria Street? This brightly coloured street is one of the most famous, and instagrammable, views of the city. Again this street needs to on the must visit of things to do in Edinburgh, as it is said to inspire Diagon Alley from the books.

The street was originally named Bow Street, until Queen Victoria ascended the throne. Nowadays it draws crowds, not only for the beauty curved shop fronts but also as it is littered with independent shops and cafes. A lot of which have reference to Harry Potter!

Victoria Street, Edinburgh | Map

You could days and days in this incredible city, but hopefully these are some great sites for a first visit! Edinburgh is also the perfect gateway to the highlands. If you are going deeper into Scotland make sure to check out my post on the perfect 7 day Scotland Itinerary!


ten awesome things to do in Edinburgh

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