12 Things You Have To Do When You Visit Edinburgh

12 Things You Have To Do When You Visit Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a fascinating place, so much so I have been twice already this year. It’s one of those cities which I feel has the excitement and bustle of London without it being too crowded, but with the quaint lovability of a smaller town like Bath or York. There is so much to do in the city and even after two separate visits I still have loads left that I want to do in the city. Here are 12 things which you need to do should you visit the Scottish capital:

Visit Edinburgh Castle

This might seem like an obvious one to include but it is one of the most interesting spots in Edinburgh with so much history to explore alongside seeing the crown jewels (can you believe I’ve seen the one’s in Edinburgh twice but never the one’s in London?!) As the castle is atop a hill you get some amazing views over the city and on a clear day you can see for miles including over to Murrayfield Stadium. There are guided tours which can take you around the outside of the castle which I can’t recommend enough but check times beforehand as they take a long lunch break and even then they only run every hour or so.

arthurs seat

Walk Up To Arthurs Seat

Arthur’s Seat is perched up on an inactive volcano and sits way above the general level of the city of Edinburgh but if you fancy a stiff walk or scramble depending on your route the views make up for the slightly strenuous walk. There are various ways you can reach the top of Arthur’s Seat and there’s even some guides who provide guided walks but make sure you plan this beforehand depending on your fitness levels.

Walk The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile runs from the Castle on one end to Holyrood House on the other and is a lovely walk through cobblestone central Edinburgh. The streets are lined with Spirit of Edinburgh shops, so many Whisky stores and a year round Christmas shop which just made me feel so festive when I went inside even though it was only August at the time. You can take your time to explore the boutique shops and cafes along the way as you make your way from site to site.


Explore Holyrood Palace

Holyrood house is the Queens’ residence when she is in Edinburgh and despite not being a ‘royalist’ I found the Palace thoroughly enjoyable. The audio guide which takes you around the palace is really interesting and not just bogged down with boring history. Once you have visited once you can get your ticket stamped meaning you can go back within the next year for free which is great if you’re planning to revisit and perhaps explore the city with different people.

Have A Daytime Tipple at The Edinburgh Gin Distillery

The Edinburgh Gin Distillery is located along Princes’ Street (the main shopping street) and houses two working stills which help to make the famous Edinburgh Gin. Before I visited for the first time I never really noticed the gin but I see it in all manor of shops now (including John Lewis in their Christmas gifts). Their normal gin is fragrent, slightly citrus’y and just so smooth but they also do some flavoured gin liquors (Raspberry and Elderflower) which are both nice alongside prosecco, and some experimental flavours including their Christmas Gin. For just £10 you can enjoy a talk about the history, a guide around the distillery and a gin and tonic which I think is a great price.

Edinburgh Zoo Penguins

Visit Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is raved about and rightfully so with it’s huge expanse of animals to see and the great thing is none of them look trapped as all the enclosures are large and well laid out. The zoo houses the only Panda’s within the UK although sadly they were during mating season when I was there so I didn’t get to see them, next time for sure! You can easily spend a good 4 hours or so exploring the area and catching all the animals. As usual the penguins and tigers were my personal favourites there.

Explore Places Which Inspired Harry Potter

J K Rowling wrote at least a proportion of the Harry Potter novels in Edinburgh and just looking at the architecture and buildings you can see where her vision for Hogwarts came from. There’s a small cafe called The Elephant House where Rowling penned some of the novels, there’s a real life grave from a Tom Riddle at Greyfriars Kirkyard, you can visit George Heriot’s School with it’s four houses and towers which sourced as inspiration for Hogwarts and of course The Balmoral hotel where Rowling completed the sixth book.

royal brittania yacht

Explore The Royal Britannia Yacht

The Royal Britannia Yacht was once a working boat which took the royal family and many special guests around the globe alongside hosting special events and even some honeymoon trips from previous royals. During your trip you’ll get an audio guide which I think is great as it means you and your party will all go at the same pace as opposed to when you have to read as I am a really quick reader. Guided over numerous floors you’ll get a really good sense of what the yacht was like when it was in use.

While You’re There Enjoy Food On The Yacht

While on the yacht make sure you grab some food in the tea rooms from their incredible smoked salmon sandwiches through to massive slices of cake or scones. You’ll get world-class service and an incredibly regal feeling environment in which to sip your tea in.

Scotch Whisky Experience

Take On The Scotch Whisky Experience

Whisky is one of the biggest exports of Scotland so rightfully so everywhere sells whisky (even the castle has it’s own whisky!) While the Scotch Whisky Experience isn’t a distillery you learn a lot about the history of Whisky alongside what differentiates between the five types of Scotch Whisky (Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay) which is very interesting. With the basic tour which is £12 you get to taste one whisky but pay a little extra and you’ll have a chance to try them all.

Eat Loads of Fudge

Every shop in Edinburgh seems to be full of fudge which you can get in so many flavours you’ll struggle to decide. I almost always opt for a traditional clotted cream as you can’t go wrong with this and then add alongside it either mint, orange or peanut butter because I’m such a creative of habit.

edinburgh camera illusions

Visit The Camera Obscura And Get Amazing Views Of The Castle

Camera Obscura is an optical illusion museum which has all manner of tricks and images which are truly fascinating. The museum is split over a few levels with the roof being the perfect spot to look out over the city and get some of the best high views of the castle which resides next door.

Have you been to Edinburgh? What are your top recommendations?

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12 Things You Have To Do When You Visit Edinburgh



  1. October 23, 2016 / 5:11 pm

    I’ve never been to Scotland. I need to travel more, great list!

  2. Jo Wiggins
    October 23, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    I’ve done quite a few things on this list but never done the zoo, will have to do that next time I go x

  3. Louise
    October 23, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    This is a great post, I’ve written about the Scotch Whisky Experience before and have wanted to go, even though I don’t like Whisky – it still sounds fun! I spent an evening and an afternoon in Edinburgh a few years back – me and my friends had a lovely time walking around the park at the base of the castle. We also killed a few hours in Camera Obscura which was a real hidden gem to me – I absolutely loved it. I’d love to go back! x

  4. Beautyqueenuk
    October 23, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    I have been to Edinburgh as we waited for a train connection to Perth, so I havent had the chance to explore properly. That said, I love the idea of walking up to Arthurs Seat x

  5. Jodie Whitham
    October 23, 2016 / 11:37 pm

    I love Scotland and lived there for 7 years (all but six months of my adult life in fact), and still haven’t done a lot of these! I must go back 🙂 what a fun post to read 🙂 I love hearing about what to do in cities and about people’s travel experiences

  6. Erin Ek Rush
    October 24, 2016 / 7:08 am

    I’ve never been to Edinburgh but I’d love to go! Gorgeous photos and the The Edinburgh Gin Distillery has my name on it!

  7. October 24, 2016 / 10:09 am

    I haven’t been to Edinburgh in ages! I really want to go to the castle 🙂

  8. Angela Milnes
    October 24, 2016 / 11:28 am

    what a lovely sounding place. I have never been to Edinburgh but I would love to go and see the castle and visit the zoo.

  9. October 24, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    I have been to Edinburgh. Didn’t do any of these but I still had fun. Hope to visit again some day soon. Maybe I will do a few of these then.

  10. October 24, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    I love Edinburgh the last time I went I was seven month pregnant with Boo and managed to waddle round the Zoo and the Castle, it was such a wonderful weekend away. I can’t wait to go back and take Boo to the Zoo there

  11. October 24, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    I would love to visit Edinburgh castle and Holyrood Palace , they both look incredible and are full of fascinating history.

  12. Jessica Dearnley
    October 24, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    Edinburgh is still one place I need to tick off my UK bucket list. I’m hoping I can do it by early next year.

  13. Jayne
    October 24, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    I would love to visit Edinburgh one day, it’s one of my to do’s. Fab list of things to see and do. I bet there are some lovely views on the way up to Arthurs seat x

  14. October 24, 2016 / 6:01 pm

    I have visited Edinburgh once and it was for church but cant remember exactly where we in Edinburgh. I want to visit the castle though

  15. October 24, 2016 / 9:55 pm

    Edinburgh is so fascinating I would love to visit one day, the castle looks amazing.

  16. October 24, 2016 / 11:17 pm

    ive never been but oh my, i really want to go at some point

  17. October 24, 2016 / 11:56 pm

    Everytim we’ve visited, we seem to leave having found new things to go back and explore properly – and this post has created new ones!

  18. October 25, 2016 / 12:34 am

    There’s so much to do in Edinburgh. I love that city for everything there is, the zoo is defiantly my favourite.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

  19. October 25, 2016 / 8:21 am

    I really want to visit Edinburgh next, so this post is v handy thank you!

  20. Francesca Nelson
    October 25, 2016 / 9:21 am

    Ooo I want to visit Edinburgh so much!! Great things to try whilst there that I’ll take into consideration when I do eventually go!

  21. October 25, 2016 / 12:09 pm

    I am always in Edinburgh so loved this post! I would add in that you have to take the Edinburgh Bus Tour as you learn so much about the city!

  22. October 25, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    I haven’t been to Edinburgh but it is on my list of places to visit. I love the sound of so many of these places, especially the Camera Obscura

  23. Hannah Heartss ❄️⛄️
    October 25, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    I would love to visit Edinburgh, I really want to go and see the Pandas x

  24. Melanie Edjourian
    October 25, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    Great tips. I would have to go to the zoo the kids would love that and maybe also visit the places that inspired Harry Potter.

  25. mummyandthechunks
    October 25, 2016 / 6:39 pm

    I have never been to Edinburgh but it is somewhere I have always wanted to go! Would love to do most things on this list and the fudge definitely has me sold!

  26. Ickle Pickle
    October 25, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    I have never been to anywhere in Scotland, but would love to visit Edinburgh. This is a great post. Kaz x

  27. October 25, 2016 / 7:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing this – we’re heading to Edinburgh for my birthday in December and I think we’d like to try the scotch experience.

  28. October 25, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    I’ve only ever been to Edinburgh once but that was when I was about 5 years old, I’m desperate to go back, it looks like the most beautiful city! x

  29. Clairejustineo
    October 25, 2016 / 10:13 pm

    We have never been to Edinburgh before, it is our list of places to visit but having a dog we have not been far over the last few years ..Lovely pictures..

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