The Edinburgh List: Top 10 Things To Do In The Scottish Capital

Edinburgh is the greatest city in the world.

With so much to see and do, it is a place that you can only fall in love with more and more as you delve deeper into its history and discover hidden riches that you never knew existed – or could even exist at all.

But with so much to explore, where exactly should you start? What should you prioritise?

At the time of writing, the festive season is almost in full flow and it would be tempting to simply dive straight into all of the Christmas activities that the capital has to offer.

Well, hold your horses. Whilst you should almost certainly touch on these, there are other opportunities that deserve your attention.

So, button up your jacket and wrap that scarf up nice and tight.

Here are our top 10 things you can do in Edinburgh right now.

Edinburgh Castle: It would be impossible to compile a list of this sort and not mention one of the most iconic castles in the world, so forgive us for pointing out the obvious here. Sitting proudly and handsomely upon an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is, in many ways, what the capital is all about. Historic, spectacular, fascinating, awe inspiring…There’s a long line of fine adjectives that we could use. Put simply, no visit to Auld Reekie is complete with, at least, taking a stroll up to the car park and admiring the view across the city. However, we highly recommend that you take the time to get yourself a ticket and have a look inside. A truly historic location.

Mary King’s Close: Edinburgh is a city full of fascinating history, and some of it can be pretty gosh darn spooky. You’ll find plenty of ghost tours scattered around the Royal Mile and they’re all definitely worth a look. Located under the City Chambers building, this 17th century street, with its labyrinth of twists and turns, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh and an experience like none you will have anywhere else. Discover the people who lived here…And died here. Enter if you dare. 

Holyrood Palace: The Palace Of Holyrood House, or Holyrood Palace as it is commonly known, sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile and is the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland. It is also, luckily for you, open to the public and well worth a visit. Vast and with a guided audio tour available, you can spend hours looking around this beautiful historical site. It is highly recommend that you get tickets in advance, as it is a sought after location. But you simply must visit if you get the chance. An enchanting and significant part of the city and Scottish life.

Princes St Gardens: Princes St is a great place to go shopping, but it can get pretty busy. So, if you need a break from all of that retail therapy, why not pop on down to Princes Street Gardens and relax with a coffee or a spot of lunch. With Edinburgh Castle looming down on you and squirrels dancing around like mad things, enjoy the lush green grass and chilled out atmosphere of one of the city’s most popular locations to chill out and take a breather. It might not be the right time of year for a picnic, but, hey, we’re not judging! You’d be hard pressed to find a better spot…One sandwich or two?

The Scotch Whisky Experience: It’s no secret that Scotland likes its whisky. We make a lot of it and, yes, we drink a lot of it too. If you are a fan of the gold stuff – or even if you’re not – we think that a visit to The Scotch Whisky Experience will be an informative and rewarding one. The story of the nation’s national drink is a long and fascinating one. On this first class tour, you’ll learn how whisky is made, the different types and, you guessed it, even try a nip (if you want to). Feeling thirsty? Let’s go for a dram.

Dean Village: There are some spots in Edinburgh that take you to a place that appear directly from a fairytale. Not a city, and certainly not a capital city, but a quaint, mystical land and somewhere that you have never visited, even in your wildest flames of imagination. Dean Village, a short walk from Princes Street and living alongside the gorgeous Water Of Leith, is a place of dreams. With beautiful woodland, bridges and twittering birds, this popular location is a photographers’ heaven. So, grab a coffee and let’s go for a stroll. Picture perfect and utterly Instagramable. 

Royal Botanic Gardens: If Dean Village has gotten you in the mood for a bit of peace and tranquility, then we highly recommend you take a walk through the other worldly Royal Botanic Gardens. With exotic looking trees and plants, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into paradise as you investigate all that this delight of nature has to offer. Whether it’s your first time, or fifty first, you will never get bored of coming back here again and again. An utter miracle of the great outdoors.

Royal Mile: When it comes to legendary streets here in Auld Reekie, you simply cannot beat the Royal Mile for history and aesthetic appeal. From Edinburgh Castle at its peak, right down to Holyrood Palace at its base, there is so much to see and do here that we recommend spending at least an entire afternoon to check out all of the treasures that it has to offer. St Giles Cathedral, The Museum Of Childhood, John Knox House….And we’re not even scraping the surface here. And, if you need a bite to eat and a touch to drink (which you will), the Royal Mile is heaving with amazing cafes, bars and restaurants to keep you fueled up. Oh, and if you like ghosts.. Well, you might just find a few here walking alongside you.

Calton Hill: There are many places you can go in Edinburgh where you can get some quite spectacular views of the city. However, if you want the crème de la crème, then you  must venture to Calton Hill, just off the east end of Princes St. Taking about 20 minutes to complete, once you reach the summit you’ll find a new meaning to the word ‘romance’. As well as the sight of the capital across from you, there are also some fine collections of monuments, including the National Monument, which is a replica of the Parthenon of Athens. A true beauty spot.

Leith: If trendy is your thing, then so is Leith. Named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, Leith has been attracting locals and visitors alike for years, thanks to its standout bars, restaurants and vibrant atmosphere. The recent tram extension has helped make it super accessible and people are discovering, and rediscovering, what all the noise is all about. If you’ve got a free day, then head on down to this part of the world. There’s always sunshine on Leith.

Edinburgh has so much to offer. We could have easily provided a Top 100. However, hopefully, this list will be a good place to start.

In any case, we here at Belvoir Edinburgh hope you are all happy, healthy and well.

Now get out there and enjoy our great city of Edinburgh.