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Edinburgh's top attractions | Insight Guides Blog

Edinburgh's top attractions

View over the historic center of Edinburgh
View over the historic center of Edinburgh. Photo: Shutterstock

From its impressive castle to its Georgian architecture, there are plenty of attractions in Scotland's fascinating capital.

Edinburgh Castle

An indisputable hit of Edinburgh is its Castle, which is over 1,000 years old and still in excellent condition. The massive structure was built on a hill (an extinct volcano in fact), which adds to its charm and the incredible scenery. The picturesque view from both the summit of the castle and from the bottom is unforgettable as it sits 120 metres above sea level and right in the centre of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh castle

The Royal Mile

Much of Scotland’s turbulent history was enacted along the Royal Mile, and you’re never more than a few metres from a historical sight, place of gruesome intrigue, or statue revealing the fascinating stories of past notable residents. Walking around this area will take you to the Scottish Parliament, the Edinburgh Dungeon and St Giles’ Cathedral.

St Giles' Cathedral

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is one of the city’s best view points. Topped with some grand buildings, it’s very popular with tourists. The most attractive accent up the hill is Waterloo Place on its west side,  but on the hill you can also find the National Monument, which honours the soldiers killed in the Napoleonic Wars. It was intended that this should be a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, but only one side was completed before funds ran out. Nonetheless, it’s still impressive!

Calton Hill

The Edinburgh Old Town Weaving Co.

Want to feel like a Scot? Then dress up as one! An original kilt or tartan is certainly the perfect gift from Scotland. If you plan to buy some, head to the Edinburgh Old Town Weaving Co. This family-owned sewing shop reveals the secrets of tartan’s manufacture and traditional Scottish clothing. The Victorian building in which the business is housed, is also a great attraction – it’s located on the road leading up to the castle and offers a wide selection of souvenirs.

Scottish kilt


National Museum of Scotland

This inspiring space recount Scottish history and innovation through a vast collection of national treasures and multimedia displays. 

The interior of the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock

City art

Among an unprecedented 30 galleries in central Edinburgh are four housing the National Collection, in which pride of place must go to the Scottish National Gallery. 

View over Scottish National Gallery. Photo: Shutterstock

Royal Botanic Garden

This world-famous garden dates back to 1670 and houses a vast selection of beautiful, exotic plants.

Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock

To learn more about historical Edinburgh, read our Edinburgh Travel Guide or visit our online shop to purchase a copy of Great Breaks Edinburgh