Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is a city filled with history, culture and stunning landscapes. It is an important site for education and art. Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, takes place here every August. Even outside of that, Edinburgh is a must-visit destination. There are so many culturally enriching and inspiring experiences all year round, from climbing Arthur’s Seat to strolling the corridors of Edinburgh Castle. Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Edinburgh!
1. Hike up to Arthur’s Seat
The hike up to this extinct volcano only takes 45 minutes from its base in Holyrood Park. Not many cities in the world can boast of having one, and it is considered to be a possible location for Camelot, the legendary castle of King Arthur. Arthur’s Seat offers a touch of wilderness and nature right in the heart of Edinburgh, making it the ideal city escape. Here you will also find a hill fort dating from around 600 AD, as well as older structures dating from 2 AD. At the summit enjoy city-wide views and spot locations like The Balmoral and Edinburgh Castle.
2. See the view from Calton Hill
For more great views, visiting Calton Hill is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. Apart from views of the city, here the picturesque ruins of the Old City Observatory is also named ‘The Athens of the North’. Inspired by a Greek temple and designed by William Henry Playfair, it was here that astronomer Royal Thomas Henderson discovered how to measure the distance between stars. You can also spend time exploring the Acropolis, with the Parthenon-inspired National Monument, as well as the Nelson Monument.
3. Visit Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is of great importance to the city, and undoubtedly one of things to do in Edinburgh that you just cannot miss. Sitting boldly atop the other extinct volcano in the city, the castle’s grandiosity is a reminder of its royal past. On display here are Scotland’s crown jewels as well as the Stone of Destiny. If you get peckish while strolling, there’s a traditional tea room where you can get homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream!
4. Stroll on Princes Street
Princes Street has been the heart of the city since 1770, and is now one of Edinburgh’s most popular shopping districts. Apart from all the designer brands and high street stores, you’ll also find a number of key landmarks nearby such as the Scott Monument. Not for claustrophobics, there are 267 steps and spiral staircase narrows as you go. Peek out of the different viewing platforms along the way for a breath of fresh air!
5. Check out Camera Obscura
Dating back to 1835, Camera Obscura is Edinburgh’s oldest tourist attraction. With five floors and over 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits, the gallery focuses on fun visual illusions and promises fun for all ages. At the very top floor you’ll find the camera obscura itself and see the city from a unique vantage point, with free telescopes available for close-up views! Come and discover history and modern marvels together under one roof..
6. Join in on the Edinburgh Festival
Edinburgh Festival is in fact made up of several festivals. Since 1947, the International Festival has been a world stage for the greatest music and drama. Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an alternative which grew up around it, is the world’s largest arts festival. For three weeks in August, the city of Edinburgh welcomes an explosion of creative energy from around the globe. Artists and performers take to hundreds of stages all over the city to present shows for every taste.
7. Take a day out at Portobello Beach
A former seaside village, Portobello is three miles east of the city centre. Sun, sea and sand are the holy trinity for a day trip here. After spending some time under the sun, go stroll along the promenade. Home to a tight-knit community of creatives, this place is filled with interesting shops and cafés. Make sure to try a Twelve Triangles doughnut and stop for a tipple in The Espy!