Edinburgh is one of the finest capital cities in all of Europe. Located in the Central Belt region of Scotland, the city welcomes around 4-million tourists annually to explore its many historical treasures. Below, we’ll take a look at seven of the absolute “must dos” if you ever get the chance to visit this spectacular town. And even if you’re only in Edinburgh for a few days, be sure to put these seven sites at the very top of your itinerary for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
1. Edinburgh Castle
The very first attraction to visit in Edinburgh is the stunning Edinburgh Castle that’s located in the center of Old Town. It’s become a symbol of Scottish heritage and pride over the years, and in addition to touring the castle complex, you’ll also get to take in the Scottish Crown Jewels, tour St. Margaret’s Chapel, and get a stunning view of the capital city from the top ramparts of the castle.
2. National Museum of Scotland
There’s no better venue in Scotland to learn about the nation’s long history than in Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland. This ultra-modern museum houses Scottish pottery and weapons that date back to the Roman era, with one of the most treasured items including the Millennium Clock. And if you time it just right, you can actually hear the clock chime on your tour of the museum. Be sure also to check out all of the special events going on at this world-class exhibit during your stay in the Scottish capital.
3. Calton Hill
The best place to get a view of Edinburgh is to visit the top of Calton Hill. People often climb here in the morning or afternoon to take in the majestic Scottish sunrise and sunset. And while you’re at the top of the hill, you can find numerous historical monuments such as Nelson’s Tower and the Monument of Scotland near the area.
4. Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse
Anyone that’s familiar with Scottish history has probably already heard about the Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse. It was in this royal residence that Mary Queen of Scots’ husband, Lord Darnley, infamously killed her secretary Rizzio. Tourists can learn all about the grisly history of this palatial residence for a small admission fee. And since the building is still an official royal building, there’s also a large collection of artwork that’s housed here.
5. St. Giles’ Cathedral
One of the most stunning cathedrals in Edinburgh is St. Giles’ Cathedral located on the Royal Mile. Sometimes called the ‘City Church of Edinburgh,’ St. Giles’ was named after Edinburgh’s patron saint. The celebrated crowned spire at the top of the church was completed in 1243 and was designed to look like Christ’s crown of thorns. And if you can only have time to see one cathedral while in Scotland, be sure to choose St. Giles’ Cathedral.
6. Royal Yacht Britannia
If you love British royalty, then you’ll enjoy a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia while in Edinburgh. This ship used to be the royal vessel of the Queen before it was retired in 1997. Today, the luxurious ship is docked by Edinburgh and offers tours to the general public. You’ll get to peek inside all of the rooms that Queen Elizabeth used to frequent with her family while she hosted dignitaries from around the world.
7. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Finally, all nature enthusiasts should definitely explore the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Here you’ll find over 72-acres of peace and tranquility in the heart of Scotland’s bustling capital. Founded all the way back in 1670, this botanical garden is considered one of the oldest and finest in all of Europe. Just a few of the most celebrated collections in this garden include the alpine plants, the Queen Mother’s memorial garden, the Scottish heath garden, and the woodland garden.
Of course, if you can’t make it to the real Scottish Highlands this year, there are still plenty of Scottish things to do in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area. For ideas, see our recent posts on Miami movers’ favorite pubs and info on the Southeast Florida Highland Games.