Edinburgh has to be one of the cutest cities I’ve ever visited. There’s just this whole feeling in the air as you walk around that city. It reminds me of feelings I’ve gotten walking around Disney World or Paris or Dublin – you can just feel this excitement seep into you and give you life as you explore this place that feels like a completely new world. So whether you’re going to Edinburgh or thinking about it, here are some things to do in the city:
1. Walk Around
Walking around is always one of the best ways to explore and enjoy a new city, and Edinburgh is perfect for it. It’s always enjoyable to walk the Royal Mile, one of the main streets running through the city. That street connects most of the top sites to see in the city, and often time you’ll stumble upon street performers, often playing bagpipes. Additionally, there are some beautiful parks throughout the city that are perfect for wandering.
2. Arthur’s Seat
You can’t go to Edinburgh and not hike up to Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that overlooks the city and the ocean. It’s a beautiful hike with beautiful views that you can easily get to with just a short walk from the middle of the city. I would recommend wearing tennis shoes or at least Converse if you choose to do this hike. Even if you don’t want to hike up to the very top, I’d definitely recommend at least walking around on some of the paths that circle Arthur’s Seat – they’re an easy walk and still have beautiful views as well.
3. Calton Hill
Calton Hill, located right next to the main part of the city and not far from Arthur’s Seat, has perhaps my favorite view in all of Edinburgh. It overlooks the city, Arthur’s Seat, the ocean and the royal palace in the city. It’s also home to several memorials and monuments that are Greek inspired. If I lived in Edinburgh, I think I’d visit this hill all the time. It’s the perfect place for activities like picnicking, drinking some wine with friends, reading or writing.
4. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle, located at one end of the Royal Mile, also has great views. It’s 16.50 to 17 pounds to get in, and sadly there’s no student discount. If you’re visiting other castles and tourist attractions in Scotland though, there’s a pass you can buy to see them all. I’d say the entrance fee is worth it if you’re the kind of person who loves great views, history or anything related to royal families or Medieval times. I personally loved climbing up into the castle and taking in views of the city around me. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing the Scottish crown jewels and learning more about Mary Queen of Scots.
5. Scott Monument
This beautiful monument located in a park in the middle of the city is the largest monument to a writer in the world. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll or to relax and drink a coffee or eat a sandwich from Pret a Manger. For five pounds, you can even go up to the top and take in great views of the city. I opted not to do this because I’ve heard it gets very claustrophobic, and there are so many great views all over the city.
6. Scotch Whiskey Experience
If you’re a whiskey fan or want to know more, then the Scotch Whisky Experience is a great way to try many different whiskeys and to learn more. There’s even an amusement park type of ride that’s part of the experience. There are several different tour options depending on what you want to get out of it, the cheapest of which is 15 pounds for a 50-minute tour and tasting. I’ve heard that it’s quite a bit of fun, even if you’re not a big whiskey fan.
7. Live Music
There are so many pubs and restaurants all over the city that host live performances, which is a must see while in Edinburgh. I visited Ensign Ewart on the Royal Mile, near the castle, on a Sunday evening and loved listening to some locals play some traditional Scottish folk music. The pub has live music Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
8. Elephant House and Greyfriars Kirkyard
Calling all Harry Potter fans! J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter books in this very place. I visited this café and restaurant for lunch and enjoyed a delicious steak and ale pie – the perfect meal after a long hike up to Arthur’s Seat. I’ve heard that the desserts, coffees and teas are delicious here as well. Before you leave, be sure to check out the restroom, where people have scrawled all sorts of notes to J.K. Rowling all over the walls. Afterwards, visit the cemetery, Greyfriars Kirkyard, just down the road, where you’ll find some names of characters from the books on the tombstones. J.K. Rowling used to stroll around this cemetery, where she found inspiration for character names. Read more about Harry Potter-related things in Edinburgh in this blog post.
9. Scottish Highlands Tour
Edinburgh is a beautiful city with many things to see and do. With that being said, the Scottish countryside is absolutely beautiful, and you have to see it. Several people had recommended the tour through Hairy Coo with me, and I absolutely loved it. It was a free tour where you tipped at the end, and the company drove us around all day long to various castles and monuments. We even got to feed some hairy coos!
10. Watch a Rugby or Football Match
Scots, and many other Europeans, absolutely love their rugby and their football. Venture into a pub during a match, and you’ll really get the local experience. Grab a beer, watch the match and take it all in.
11. National Museum of Scotland
This free museum hosts a variety of different collections and exhibits. I think the most interesting of which is Dolly, the first cloned mammal. This might not be the first thing on your list, but if you have time to kill, it might be worth checking out.
There you have it! Those are my tips on adventures to be had in Edinburgh. Happy travels!
What did you enjoy doing in Edinburgh? Please share in the comments below!