Epic Edinburgh: 16 Things Not to Miss in Scotland’s Capital City

| |
Victoria Street Edinburgh Scotland

From haunted tours to whisky tastings, here’s your ultimate guide to the top things to do in Edinburgh Scotland.

With its magnificent architecture, stunning scenery, and fascinating medieval history, it’s no wonder Edinburgh Scotland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It also happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world.

From a lofty castle to underground haunted vaults, Scotland’s energetic capital city has plenty of things to see and do.

Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan (like my husband) looking to explore the real-life locations used in the films, or you’re simply hoping to soak up all that this incredible city has to offer, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan your visit to Edinburgh right here.

So, let’s get started!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to book through these links, I receive a small commission, which I will undoubtedly blow on more flights (it’s a vicious cycle).  All of this internet voodoo takes place at no additional cost to you. 

What is Edinburgh Scotland famous for?

Scotland’s picturesque capital city is best known for its stunning architecture, rich medieval history, and vibrant arts and culture scene. And thanks to Edinburgh’s long, dark history and many haunted locations, including Mary King’s Close, the city is well-known for its spookier side, too.

On a lighter note, Edinburgh is also one of the world’s best festival cities with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe being the two most famous festivals held each year.

And finally, Edinburgh is a terrific home base (or just the ideal starting point) for exploring the rest of Scotland as my husband and I recently did.

We first visited the brilliant Scottish capital on our honeymoon, so it’s no surprise we found it to be simply magical.

Read More: The Great UK Road Trip! Scotland, England & Wales in 5 Days

We loved it so much, in fact, that we took our adult kids back a few years ago. And, of course, when planning our recent trip around the Scottish Highlands, we couldn’t resist yet another visit.

But as I began to compose my detailed post about the Highlands, I quickly realized that it was impossible to reduce our stop in Edinburgh to a simple paragraph or two.

Read More: The Bucket List Scotland Road Trip Itinerary in 7 Amazing Days

Sidebar: I had similar feelings about the spectacular Isle of Skye, so it also rated a separate, detailed post (if you’re planning a visit – and you should – it’s a must-read).

Read More: Isle of Skye: 10 Irresistible Things to Do on Scotland’s Best Island

But back to Edinburgh, a city that easily stands alone as a terrific destination, whether you make it to the Highlands or not.

Thus, what follows is my own complete and thorough love letter to what I consider one of Europe’s most beautiful and unique cities.  

But first, let’s start at the beginning.

How to pronounce Edinburgh?

Sure, I consider myself pretty well-traveled. Yet, even I got this one wrong when planning our first visit years ago.

While seeking travel advice from a friend and recent visitor to the city, I tentatively floated the non-existent term “ed-in-berg” during our conversation. Luckily, she quickly corrected me before I could repeat the error elsewhere. Note to fellow Americans, it does not rhyme with Pittsburgh.  

There are actually two pronunciations of Edinburgh that are widely considered correct:

“ed-in-bruh” or “ed-in-buh-ruh”

I settled on the second option which seems to roll off the tongue slightly better for me. But whichever you choose, remember that the “ruh” at the end is the key here, and not “row.”

Best way to get around Edinburgh

Most international flights to Scotland land at Edinburgh Airport, located just 8 miles from the city center. From the airport, it’s a breeze to get to the city center. And once there, Edinburgh is a delightfully walkable city.

Yes, the usual taxis and shuttle services are widely available at Edinburgh Airport. But my favorite option to get into the city is the quick and easy tram system!

The station is located just outside the airport and trams run every 7 minutes. A return ticket from the airport to the city center will run you just £7.50 (be sure to always buy your ticket before boarding the tram).

You can find more information on routes and ticket prices on the Edinburgh Trams official website. And the odds are good your hotel is located pretty close to one of the tram’s many convenient stops around the city center.

And speaking of hotels…

Best Places to Stay in Edinburgh

As I mentioned, Edinburgh is a terrific walking city. That’s why I recommend staying in the heart of the city center where you can take full advantage of all that walkability.

All of the options listed below meet the walkability criteria and all offer private baths and air conditioning (my other two non-negotiables). I went into full detail on all my favorite Edinburgh hotels in Old Town here: The Top Edinburgh Hotels in Old Town (for Easy Exploration)

I highly recommend checking out that post for a wider variety of walkable hotel options. But here’s a quick recap of my top hotel picks:

Okay, enough about how to get to Edinburgh and where to stay, let’s talk about all those fabulous things to do!

The Best Things to Do in Edinburgh

I’m not overstating it when I say there are endless things to see and do in this wonderful city. But since it’s likely your visit does indeed have an expiration date, I’ve whittled things down to a list of what not to miss in Edinburgh.

Here are my 16 can’t-miss experiences that are sure to make your trip to this magical city one to remember.

And off we go!

1. Edinburgh Castle

This imposing fortress has played a pivotal role in Scottish history and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

Perched atop the imposing Castle Rock (a long-extinct volcano), this historic castle dates all the way back to the Iron Age. It’s the most besieged place in all of Britain and Edinburgh’s #1 attraction.

And that’s why Edinburgh Castle deserves the top spot on every visitor’s must-see list (especially if you’re short on time).

Edinburgh Castle Scotland
Edinburgh Castle

The Edinburgh Castle Ticket System

Tickets are timed and sold only for a specific date. In the summer months, tickets can and do sell out so it’s a good idea to book in advance. (Note: When I checked recently the morning times were routinely sold out, but afternoon time slots were more readily available on short notice.)

And while Edinburgh Castle was once captured in just 30 minutes in 1639, you’ll want to allow at least 2 hours to hit the highlights. A true history buff could easily spend an entire day here, there is a lot of ground to cover. (My vote? Split the difference and plan on half a day.)

How to avoid the ticket system

One workaround for the the timed ticket system is to book a guided tour of the castle, this tour is my top pick:

#1 Pick
Edinburgh Castle Views Scotland

Edinburgh Castle Guided Walking Tour in English

This 90-minute “skip the line” tour includes the castle entrance fee and a walking tour of the castle with a friendly and knowledgeable local guide.

So, if you weren’t able to get tickets, this tour is a great option because you definitely don’t want to miss Edinburgh Castle when you visit. Of course, there’s no need to book a tour, you can easily visit on your own.

Touring the castle on your own

There are several suggested tour itineraries to guide your visit according to your interests. But a few of the most popular things to see are the Portcullis Gate, the Lang Stairs, St Margaret’s Chapel, Mons Meg, the Great Hall, and the Crown Jewels.

And don’t forget to leave plenty of time to simply enjoy the spectacular, panoramic views over the city.

Edinburgh Castle City View
City views from Edinburgh Castle

If you like to explore at your own pace, the audio guide (£3.50 Adult/£1.50 Children) is a great way to learn as you go. BONUS: It can even be downloaded to your own device so you don’t have to wear one of those touristy headsets (just remember to bring a fully-charged phone or tablet with internet access).

Need to Know: Open daily from 9:30am – 6:00pm (5:00pm from October-March). Tickets are £19.50 for adults and £11.40 for children (5-15) and must be booked for a specific date and time. You can find more information on the Edinburgh Castle Official Website.

2. Take a stroll along the Royal Mile

Lined with historic buildings, shops, and cafes, this iconic street is the main thoroughfare in Edinburgh’s Old Town and the city’s central hub.

Connecting Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyrood House, this expansive cobbled lane is actually a “Scot’s mile” (1.81 km). which is a wee bit longer than an English mile. It’s divided into several unique areas including Lawnmarket (popular with visitors due to the infinite number of souvenir shops) and High Street where you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants and pubs.

Tip: There’s also a terrific 2-hour guided walking tour of Old Town Edinburgh that departs from the Royal Mile: Old Town Walking Tour History and Tales in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile is the liveliest place to be during the wildly popular arts and culture festival – Edinburgh Festival Fringe – each August. This year’s festival dates are August 2 – 26, 2024. Unless you’re going to Edinburgh specifically for the festival, I do not recommend visiting during this time. It’s nuts.

Royal Mile Edinburgh Scotland
Street performers on the Royal Mile

3. Palace of Holyroodhouse

Located at the end of the Royal Mile, this official residence of the British monarch is open to visitors during the summer months.

The palace has a centuries-long history as a residence to a long line of Scottish monarchs. Touring the grounds is self-guided with the use of a complimentary multimedia guide. Be sure not to miss the Throne Room, the Great Gallery, or the magnificent State Apartments, which are some of the most lavishly decorated rooms in the palace.

Need to Know: Summer Hours (April 1 – October 31) are 9:30am – 6:00pm. Closing time is 4:30pm the rest of the year. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays except during July and August when it’s open 7 days a week. Advance tickets are £20/Adult, £13/Young Adults (18-24), and £10/Children (5-17).

For the latest hours and to book advance tickets, visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse official website.

Note: Keep in mind that Holyroodhouse is a “working palace” and closures can and do happen at any time on short notice. Also, tickets on the day of are a few pounds more so book in advance if you plan to visit.

4. The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this popular kid-friendly attraction features a number of interactive exhibits, as well as – you guessed it – a camera obscura (you’ll need daylight hours to fully appreciate this one so plan your visit well before sunset).

Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Rooftop Terrace. Not only is this Edinburgh’s oldest visitor attraction, but I also suspect 10 out of 10 kids would rate it as their favorite.

Need to Know: Summer Hours 8:00am – 10:00pm daily. Tickets are £21.95/Adults and £16.95/Kids (5-15). Like Edinburgh Castle, tickets are for a specific date and time so advance booking is strongly recommended during the busy summer months.

For more information and to book advance tickets, visit the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions official website.

5. The Royal Yacht Britannia

Launched in 1953, the Royal Yacht Britannia served as the floating palace of the Royal Family for more than 44 years. During that time, it became one of the most famous ships in the world, traveling more than a million nautical miles as a majestic ambassador of the Commonwealth. The Royal Yacht has hosted everything from state visits to Royal honeymoons.

In 1997, the yacht was decommissioned and converted into a museum located just outside Edinburgh’s city center in the port of Leith. Today, it’s one of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist sights.

Visitors can learn about the history of this swanky ship while exploring five well-appointed decks including the Bridge, the crew’s quarters, the engine room, and of course, the Royal-worthy State Apartments. And if all that exploring leaves you a bit peckish, pop over to the Royal Deck Tea Room for cakes and scones (naturally).

You can even spend a night or two aboard nearby sister ship, Fingal. Or, just a short stroll away, the 1920’s-era yacht Ocean Mist Leith has also been lovingly converted into a 17-room luxury hotel.

Need to Know: Summer hours are 9:30am – 6:00pm daily. Tickets are £19.50/Adult, £9.25/Children (5-17) and include the audio guide. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, visit The Royal Yacht Britannia official website.

Tip: The Royal Edinburgh Ticket covers entry to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and the Royal Yacht Britannia with a single ticket (£69 Adult/£36.50 Children).

6. National Museum of Scotland

I freely admit that I’m not generally much of a museum person when I travel. But for this one, I make an exception. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland is home to an impressive collection of artifacts.

Take a walk through centuries of Scottish history in the spectacular Grand Gallery. Learn about the tumultuous history of Mary, Queen of Scots, dabble in Scottish fashion (and why not?), and see life-size models of some of the world’s coolest creatures in the Animal World.

National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh
Grand Gallery, National Museum of Scotland

There are also a variety of interactive exhibits, so it’s a great place to visit with kids. Kid Bonus: There’s a miniature version of the museum made entirely from Legos and even one item of interest to Harry Potter fanatics (more on that in a moment).

If you only visit one museum on your visit to Scotland, this is the one.

Need to Know: Open daily from 10:00am – 5:00pm, admission is FREE (yet another great reason to go!). For the latest hours and more information, visit the National Museum of Scotland’s official website.

7. Edinburgh’s Best Harry Potter Sights

Edinburgh is widely considered to be the city where JK Rowling found the inspiration for the iconic Harry Potter series.

And Scotland’s quirky capital has more than a few wizard-worthy sights and movie-themed activities to satisfy even the most discerning Potterhead (like the one I married).

You can see a lot of the sights around town on your own but there are also two fun guided tours specifically geared toward Potterheads:

  • Original Harry Potter Locations Tour in Edinburgh – This 2-hour group walking tour is a great time for adults and kids alike. It’s the perfect overview of all of Edinburgh’s Harry Potter sights.
  • The Potter Trail Private Tour – This one is a bit more expensive than the first tour but I like it a bit better because it’s a private 90-minute tour. So you’ll get plenty of one-on-one time with your guide to ask questions.

Like I said, you can easily explore the sights on your own. But if you’re traveling with a big Harry Potter fan, the tours are an extra special experience.

Here’s how to do it on your own…

6 fun Harry Potter things to see or do in Edinburgh:

1. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard – Located near two of the coffee houses JK Rowling frequented in her early writing days, this graveyard may have inspired some of the character names. The most famous of these is the tombstone of Thomas Riddell (i.e. Lord Voldemort, birth name Tom Marvolo Riddle). You’ll also find tombstones for William McGonagall (perhaps the inspiration for Minerva McGonagall?) and Elizabeth Moodie (“Mad-Eye” Moody?).

P.S. Those two coffee houses are The Elephant House (which you can visit) and Nicolson’s Cafe, which has long since closed.

2. Edinburgh City Chambers – J.K. Rowling was awarded the Edinburgh Award here in 2008 and her handprints were immortalized on flagstone to mark the occasion. Stop by to snap your photo with your own hands in her golden handprints. Do you have what it takes to write the next great novel series?

3. National Museum of Scotland – On display in the Kingdom of Scots on Level 1, don’t miss the Lewis chess pieces featured in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

4. Victoria Street – Just off the Royal Mile (on the way to Grassmarket), the colorful curve of shops and restaurants known as Victoria Street is rumored to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. Whether that’s true or not, it’s without a doubt one of Edinburgh’s most Instagram-able streets.

Victoria Street Edinburgh Scotland
Victoria Street, Edinburgh

5. The Balmoral Hotel – Of course, for the ultimate Harry Potter experience in Edinburgh (and if money is no object), book Suite 552, the “JK Rowling Suite” at the Balmoral. The suite’s door is painted purple and boasts an owl door knocker. The room also features a glass-enclosed bust signed by Rowling to mark the occasion when she finished Deathly Hallows in this very suite on January 11th, 2007.

6. The Cauldron – Unleash your inner happy hour wizard with this magical “Potion Making” class. Allow me to translate. This is basically a whimsical lesson in brewing molecular cocktails cleverly rebranded with a robe and functioning wand. Harry Potter + Cocktails? Even a muggle will love it.

And don’t worry, you can choose to brew non-alcoholic cocktails, too, so this one’s for wizards of all ages. For pricing and more info, check out The Cauldron’s official website.

That covers the Harry Potter fans in the group, let’s move on!

8. Stop for a pint in Grassmarket

This historic market square located in the heart of Edinburgh is the hub of activity in the summer months. The Grassmarket area is home to cozy pubs, colorful shops, a variety of restaurants, and even a weekly farmer’s market.

From locals to street performers, Grassmarket is my #1 place to enjoy a pint on a sunny summer day and people-watch the day away.

Grassmarket Edinburgh
A summer day in Grassmarket

And now, let’s talk about some of the spooky sights that Edinburgh is famous for!

9. Get Spooked in the Edinburgh Vaults

The Edinburgh Vaults are a series of chambers located under Edinburgh’s South Bridge. Originally used to store goods in the 18th and 19th centuries, the vaults were later used as living quarters for the city’s poorest residents.

Allegedly, some of those former residents still haunt these underground halls, and – good news – you can check for yourself (if you want to). The vaults offer an eerie glimpse into Edinburgh’s torturous past.

Take a tour with a costumed guide to hear all the chilling stories of crime and murder from days gone by.

Need to Know: You’ll need to book a guided tour to visit the vaults. Tours vary in price, take approximately 1 hour, and are often combined with other spooky local sights. Here are a couple of great options:

10. Experience The Real Mary King’s Close

For history buffs, The Real Mary King’s Close is a must when visiting Edinburgh. And if you only have time for one “haunted experience” while visiting Edinburgh, this is definitely the one.

Edinburgh’s unique narrow alleyways are called “closes,” a Scottish term alluding to their propensity to lead to private property, hence “closed” gates. Lurking beneath the Royal Mile, is perhaps the most famous Close, a series of claustrophobic alleyways with a disturbing history called Mary King’s Close.

Named for Mary King, an affluent widow merchant who resided here in the 17th century, this particular Close is a well-preserved labyrinth of streets, homes, and passageways. It was home to a bustling community that included a variety of social classes.

Mary Kings Close Edinburgh
Mary Kings Close Edinburgh

In 1645, Edinburgh was hit hard by the bubonic plague and due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in the densely-populated Close, the deadly disease spread like wildfire.

To prevent additional spread within the city, hundreds of infected residents were literally sealed up in quarantine within the Close. While they were provided with food, ale, and even medical care provided by one very heroic doctor, it’s a haunting part of the city’s history.

To this day, Mary King’s Close is considered the most haunted place in Edinburgh. This entertaining one-hour tour utilizes actors to tell the stories, myths, and legends of the Close throughout its captivating history. It’s an absolutely fascinating piece of world history and a must-do tour.

Need to Know: Tickets are £19.50/Adults and £12.95/Children (5-15, under 5 not allowed). Be sure to book in advance, this is one tour that nearly always sells out. For more information, visit the Real Mary King’s Close official website.

11. Hop on board the Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour

To explore the lighter side of haunted Edinburgh, hop aboard the Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour. The tour hits some of the most haunted locations in Edinburgh, including Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Royal Mile. It’s surely the most humorous way to learn about the city’s murderous history from grave robbers to plague victims.

Led by a classically trained actor/guide dressed as a medieval executioner (naturally), this one is a killer night out for adults and kids alike.

Sidebar: When our adult kids suddenly decided we should do this after spotting the bus parked near Lawnmarket, I thought it would be stupid. I was wrong, it was actually a lot of fun. What do I know? (they made me write this).

Need to Know: Tours operate nightly and last a little over an hour, depending on traffic.

Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour
Hop aboard the Ghost bus!

12. Go dark in the Edinburgh Dungeon

The Edinburgh Dungeon is a 70-minute interactive walk-through experience. Incorporating special effects and theatrical sets with live actors, the experience takes visitors on a journey through 1,000 years of Edinburgh’s dark history.

From the courtroom to the torture chamber, take a walk back in time in the shoes of some of the city’s worst criminals.

Need to Know: Open daily 10:00am – 6:00pm. Tickets are £19.76 for Adults when booked in advance online (note that this attraction is recommended only for kids 8 and up). For more info and to purchase tickets, visit the Edinburgh Dungeons official website.

Okay, that’s just about enough of ghosts, goblins, and graveyards (*dusts off cobwebs*), let’s move on to my favorite subject, the best places to eat and drink in Edinburgh!

13. The Scotch Whisky Experience

No visit to Scotland is complete without a taste of the famous national drink. And there’s no better way to educate yourself about the joys of Scotch whisky than with a visit to The Scotch Whisky Experience.

Located at the base of Edinburgh Castle along the Royal Mile, stop by to become a “one-hour-whisky-expert” with the Silver Tour experience. This basic ticket includes a tour of the distillery as well as a tasting session.

If you’re already a whiskey enthusiast, go for the next step up, the Gold Tour, which includes all of the above plus an additional 4 contrasting whiskies to sample.

14. Savor Edinburgh’s most unique dining experiences

Edinburgh is home to some of the best food in Scotland. From fresh seafood and local produce to traditional haggis (an acquired taste, for sure), there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And of course, enjoying a pint of ale at one of the ubiquitous cozy pubs around town is a must.

Here are just a few great places to wine and dine like a Scot:

1. Devil’s Advocate – Tucked away in Old Town Edinburgh along Advocate’s Close, this popular restaurant and bar is located in an old Victorian pump house. Known for inventive seasonal cocktails and 300+ whiskey selections, a visit to the bar is a must even if you don’t have time to stay for dinner.

2. The Witchery – Opulent, flamboyant, decadent. Just a few of the words used to describe Edinburgh’s most atmospheric restaurant. Located in an equally glamorous hotel, this exclusive dining experience is as unique as Edinburgh itself. Advance reservations are an absolute must.

3. The Last Drop – You can’t leave Edinburgh without visiting a traditional British pub. And this historic pub located in Grassmarket is a solid choice. The name commemorates the last hanging that took place in Grassmarket in 1864 and the pub’s understated exterior is a throwback to the architectural style of the era. Known for its wide range of real ales and classic pub fare, don’t miss the award-winning steak & ale pie.

4. Wetherspoons – A collection of trendy student pubs around the UK, stop for a pint in one of these iconic locations. Edinburgh is home to 6 Wetherspoons (including one at the airport in case you miss the others!), here are a few to try: The Standing Order, The Playfair, and The Booking Office.

15. Hit the Beach at Portobello

Does Edinburgh have beaches, you might ask?

Indeed, it does! And you don’t have to go far to find white sand and blue seas. Just a few miles from Edinburgh’s city center, Portobello Beach is a picture-perfect seaside suburb. Restaurants and cafes line a beachfront promenade framed by elegant Georgian and Victorian homes.

After a few days of sightseeing, it’s the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

16. Get Out of Town! The Best Day Trips from Edinburgh

Have more time? There are tons of fabulous day trips from Edinburgh. You can book an organized tour. Or, if you want to explore Edinburgh’s surroundings on your own schedule, don’t be afraid to rent a car.

Driving on the left isn’t so hard and Scotland’s road system is excellent.

We rented our car through DiscoverCars.com (my all-time favorite booking site) but there are lots of options to choose from in and around the city.

MY Pick
Scotland Road Trip Car

Discover Cars

My favorite rental car booking site to use all over the world. No hidden costs, free cancellation, and 24/7 customer support.

Tip: I recommend picking up the car at the airport so you don’t have to drive in the city.

But whether you decide to drive yourself or let someone else do the driving, get out of the city and explore Scotland’s stunning countryside! Here are some of my favorite day trips within a reasonable drive from Edinburgh:

  1. Explore the Scottish Highlands
  2. Uncover the Legend of Loch Ness
  3. Hit the links at St. Andrews
  4. Feel like royalty at Balmoral Castle
  5. Visit Aberdeen, Stonehaven & Dunnottar Castle
  6. Hop on the train to Glasgow

Here’s the full guide to all of these day trips: 7 Day Trips from Edinburgh that Prove Scotland is Awesome

FAQs about Visiting Edinburgh

And just in case I missed anything (or you have more questions for your visit), let’s cover a few more commonly asked questions about Edinburgh

What’s the best time of year to visit Edinburgh?

No matter what time of year you visit Edinburgh, there’s always something to do.

But if you want the best shot at warm and sunny weather (not something Scotland is particularly known for), the summer months of May to September are your best bet.

With one possible caveat…

What’s the worst time to visit Edinburgh? August.

I mentioned that the city is world-famous for its festivals and during the month of August Edinburgh is truly at full tilt.

That’s because there are half a dozen festivals taking place concurrently each August, most notably the largest two: Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo (August 4-26, 2023) and the massive Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August 4-28, 2023).

During August, Edinburgh’s cobbled lanes are at max capacity and hotel rates soar to their lofty peaks. Despite that, there’s just something especially magical about Edinburgh in August. It’s the best time of year to experience this dynamic city reveling in what it does best – arts, culture, history, and just plain fun.

But if you’re not into either of these festivals, definitely avoid an August visit.

The Bottom Line: If you do visit Edinburgh during the month of August, be sure to add at least one event from each of these festivals to your must-do list.

Get in the Christmas Spirit in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a marvelous city to visit at any time of year, but it’s especially enchanting during the holidays.

The entire city is decked out in festive decorations during the annual Winter Festival, delicious smells emanate from the Christmas market stalls, and you can stick around for the popular New Year’s festival, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.

The annual Edinburgh Winter Festival runs from late November to early January each year. So, if you’re looking for a truly merry holiday experience, plan a visit to Edinburgh during the holidays.

How many days do you need in Edinburgh?

To see some of the best attractions that Edinburgh has to offer, you’ll need more than just a single day. In fact, you’ll need at least three or four days to tackle the majority of my list below.

But luckily, it’s entirely possible to explore many of Edinburgh’s highlights in two full days. Of course, if you can spare a little more time, this energetic city can easily keep you busy for 4-5 days.

Only have one day? Pick a few sights that interest you most and save the rest for your next visit. Trust me, once you’ve gotten a taste of Edinburgh, you’ll be back for more.

Wrapping up a terrific visit to Edinburgh

And that’s a wrap!

All of the wonderful, spooky, and delicious things to do in and around Scotland’s fabulous capital city.

It’s your ultimate guide to what not to miss in Edinburgh!

There’s no doubt this uniquely beautiful city has a lot to offer. From its rich history and culture to its stunning architecture and scenery, there is surely something for everyone in Edinburgh.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip today and experience all that this incredible city has to offer!

Edinburgh Scotland Things to Do

Looking for more awesome destinations in this part of the world? Start here:

The Great UK Road Trip! Scotland, England & Wales in 5 Days

15 Wild & Wonderful Things to Do in the Faroe Islands (Don’t Miss #6!)

Top 3 Reasons to Visit Isle of Man? Castles, Coasts & Cats (if you’re lucky!)

Incredible Iceland: Europe’s Geothermal Wonderland

How to Survive Driving in Ireland (and Actually Enjoy It!)