Travel - Destinations
By: - at February 6, 2013

Top 10 Things to Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh city

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of the most important cities in the United Kingdom. It is a beautiful city that is full of historic buildings including the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Zoo, and the Edinburgh Castle that rests just above this picturesque city. The city also has ancient streets, beautiful parks and gardens annually attracting more than 13 million tourists. No matter if you are a first timer or a returning visitor, here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Edinburgh to make visiting this beautiful city a lasting, memorable event.


Top 10 Edinburgh Tourist Attractions:

10)  The Royal Mile
It is the place visitors should certainly not miss for it is steeped in the history of the city. The Royal mile is home to some of the best known landmarks in the area. It was once the main thoroughfare of Medieval Edinburgh.

Medieval Architecture of the Royal Mile:
Medieval Architecture of the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is nearly one mile long with a string of five historic streets that are lined with medieval tenement buildings and gift shops. It also connects to two popular attractions in Edinburgh - the two royal residences of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House and Abbey.

Holyrood House and Abbey:
Holyrood House and Abbey
 By Saffron Blaze via Wikimedia Commons


9)  The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is located at the lower end of the Royal Mile and is right next to the royal residence named the Palace of Holyrood. This magnificent building has a fascinating layout and looks visually striking from any angle.

The Scottish Parliament Seen from Halfway up Salisbury Crags:
The Scottish Parliament Seen from Halfway up Salisbury Crags
By Klaus via Wikimedia Commons

Distinctive Windows Inspired by the Painting "The Skating Minister":
Distinctive Windows Inspired by the Painting "The Skating Minister"

"Skating Minister" by Henry Raeburn:
"Skating Minister" by Henry Raeburn

View of Scottish Parliament at Night:
View of Scottish Parliament at Night

The Scottish Parliament Building is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Edinburgh. Although it has the architectural feeling of a modern art museum, it is a working government building that represents Scottish nationalism. It is open to the public for visits.


8)  The Edinburgh Dungeon
If you are looking for a thrill and interested in the darker side of the city, visit the Edinburgh Dungeon. Here, a full cast of infamous rascals, roughs and villains cannot wait to meet you. You will be told exciting, scary and funny stories of 1000 years of Scotland’s murky past.

 The Edinburgh Dungeon

Feel the effects of the plague, sense a ghostly presence of tortured souls, visit the torture chamber, and see the warrior hero William Wallace in pieces. This popular tourist attraction is suitable for all ages.


7)  Edinburgh Zoo
Opened in 1913; the Edinburgh Zoo is always a popular tourist attraction. You can enjoy a great day watching various animals such as: giant pandas, birds and fish visiting – all set among beautifully landscaped hills.

Edinburgh Zoo Entrance:
Edinburgh Zoo Entrance
By Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons

Corstorphine Hill House on the Grounds of the Edinburgh Zoo:
Corstorphine Hill House on the Grounds of the Edinburgh Zoo
By Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons

It is one of the world’s leading conservation zoos where you can see some of the most fascinating animals in the world. With a great collection of wild animals, the zoo has helped save many endangered species of wildlife through its captive breeding program. One of their most popular programs focuses on the breeding and raising of penguins.

Gentoo Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo:
Gentoo Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo
By billfromesm via Wikimedia Commons





6)  The Writers' Museum
Scotland is home to some of the greatest writers in English literary history. Built in 1622, The Writers' Museum is a very rich and historic place situated in Lady Stair’s House.

The Writers Museum
By Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons

Exterior of Writers' Museum:
Exterior of Writers' Museum
By Stefan Schafer via Wikimedia Commons

It is dedicated to the lives and work of great Scottish and world-wide literary celebrities including Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.


5)  The National Museum of Scotland
Visit Scotland’s largest library and the world center for the study of Scotland. This fantastic museum, formerly known as the Royal Museum, houses an extraordinary range of international collections and materials.


By Maccoinnich via Wikimedia Commons

Lewis Chessman on Display at the National Museum of Scotland:
Lewis Chessman on Display at the National Museum of Scotland
By Christian Bickel via Wikimedia Commons


4)  Scottish National Portrait Gallery
It is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings where you can explore a fascinating overview of the past and present cultural environment of Scotland and the Scottish people. This gallery shows a wealth of metaphorical expression including painting, photography, sculpture and film.

View Down into the Grand Hall inside the Scottish National Portrait Gallery:
View Down into the Grand Hall at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
By Brian McNeil via Wikimedia Commons

David Hume (left) and Adam Smith on Exterior:
David Hume (left) and Adam Smith on Exterior
By Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons

Here you will meet the people who have shaped the identity of Scotland and its people at home and abroad. You will also have a chance to discover the new Photography Gallery and the amazing atmosphere of the Victorian Library.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery Grand Hall Mural:

By Brain McNeil via Wikimedia Commons


By james denham via Wikimedia Commons


3)  Our Dynamic Earth
This state-of-the-art science museum is located right next to the Scottish Parliament Building which is also ironically located close to the former home of James Hutton, known as the “Father of Geology.”

Our Dynamic Earth
By Globaltraveller via Wikimedia Commons

This is a fascinating science museum that will take you on a thrilling journey back in time to tell the history of planet Earth. Take your time and explore the foundational events that lend to the creation of the universe and the Earth as we know it.

Our Dynamic Earth

Tours educate visitors about topics including the Big Bang theory, the formation of the earth and the planets, plate tectonics, tropical rain storms, earthquakes, evolution, ecology, and so much more.


2)  The Royal Botanic Garden
Founded in 1670, the Royal Botanic Garden covers more than 70 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Located just one mile from the center of Edinburgh, it is the second oldest botanic garden in the United Kingdom and has a massive collection of plants and trees. It is world renowned for its fantastic horticultural excellence and variety of species.

Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden:
Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden
By Ham via Wikimedia Commons

This stunning garden has a collection of over 15,000 plants and flowers from all over the world. If you want to unwind, then the Royal Botanical Garden is the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful greenery and agriculture. If you are hungry, the restaurant serves excellent food at reasonable prices.

Small Waterfall at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:
Small Waterfall at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Saxifraga urumoffii at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:
Saxifraga urumoffii at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh


1)  The Edinburgh Castle
It is a mighty fortress that has defended the nation and dominated the skyline of Edinburgh for centuries. It is a world-famous attraction for visitors. Edinburgh Castle is top on the list as a must-see destination because of its historical importance throughout Scottish history. It is one of the most iconic, atmospheric and popular tourist attractions in Scotland. Edinburgh Castle has played a central role in Scottish history.

Edinburgh Castle From the North:
Edinburgh Castle From the North
 By Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons

Edinburgh Castle from West Port:
Edinburgh Castle from West Port
By Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons

It served both as a royal residence and as a military stronghold. In fact, it is seen as the very reason for Edinburgh’s existence. Any visit to Edinburgh would be incomplete without seeing the castle, which is the most famous landmark of Scotland's capital city.

Edinburgh Castle from West Princes Street Gardens:
Edinburgh Castle from West Princes Street Gardens


Conclusion
The historic city of Edinburgh is packed with world-class tourist destinations. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, which offers a plethora of attractions for visitors. If you are looking for a great vacation, save up for the second most popular tourist destination in the UK after London: Edinburgh.


 

 

 

 

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