Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and located on the south shore of the Firth of Forth estuary. It is also the home of the Palace of Holyroodhouse (Holyrood Palace) where Queen Elizabeth resides when in Scotland.
The city is most well-known for its culture and tourism, hosting many popular festivals and events every year such as the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, which is the largest art festival in the world. Edinburgh is also home to dozens of museums, galleries, shopping, and theaters.
If you get hungry while you are visiting the city, stop in at one of the many restaurants, cafés, or other eateries. You do not want to miss their national dish, haggis, which is a savory meat pudding served with mashed potatoes. You should also try bangers and mash, which are sausages and mashed potatoes. But leave your bags at one of the luggage storage companies in Edinburgh first, to travel light as you go about your day.
Museums and Galleries
- Scottish National Gallery
The art gallery, located on the Mound in the center of the city, has been open since 1859. You can see hundreds of works of art including Madonna Bridgewater by Raphael, Haystacks by Monet, and A Woman in Bed by Rembrandt. They also have a café and gift shop to enjoy.
- National Museum of Scotland
This museum was developed when the Museum of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Museum merged in 2006. The collections inside the Scottish building are housed in chronological order with the oldest on the bottom floor. The Victorian building has four sections that include science and technology, European art and design, world cultures, and natural history.
- Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh
If you like plants, you will love this garden. Founded in 1670, they have over 13 thousand species and 3 million preserved specimens. Their amazing collection includes 20 sections such as orchids, ferns, fossils, rainforest plants, and arid lands. They even have a rock garden.
Parks and Other Outdoor Fun
- Edinburgh Zoo
With over 600,000 visitors a year, you know this zoo has to be something special. Built in 1913, they feature 170 other species and thousands of animals such as pandas, monkeys, lions, and koalas. Be sure to see Wojtek, the military bear, and Sir Nils Olav, a military penguin.
- Holyrood Park
Also known as the Queen’s Park or King’s Park, this 650-acre green space is full of cliffs, ridges, glens, and lochs to explore. Climb up to Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano), stroll along Duddingston Loch, or get selfies with the Holyrood Palace.
- The Royal Mile
Take a walk down the Royal Mile from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle. It is the most popular tourist street in the city with a lawn market full of shops, pubs, museums, and several bridges to walk along. You can get some fantastic photos here.
- Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
With six floors of fun and interactive exhibits, you and the kids will not get bored at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Take a unique virtual tour from the roof, see the city from telescopes, and play with optical illusions of color and light. Take a walk through the mirror maze, into a vortex tunnel, and try some amazing puzzles.
- The Edinburgh Dungeon
If you like haunted houses, you will love the Edinburgh Dungeon. They boast 11 shows with 15 actors and two thrilling rides. The shows take you through 500 years of Edinburgh’s history to learn about witch trials, the plague, and the Plague Cleaner. Don’t miss the witch hunt show.
- Dynamic Earth
This fun museum-type attraction has features like a time machine, an earthquake experience, and even a real iceberg. The 4D techniques let you travel through the universe to learn about the creation of our planet. Be sure to visit the planetarium and the gift shop to get some unique souvenirs.
- Ocean Terminal
This bustling mall has 39 retail stores from Betty Bags to White Stuff. You can even get your car washed while you shop at Autovalet. And you will not go home hungry with 15 restaurants and cafés such as Pizza Express, Nando’s, Subway, and Zizzi. They even have a museum, gym, theater, and the Royal Yacht Britannia.
- Waverly Mall
With more than two dozen shops from Anime Republic to The Body Shop, you should be able to find whatever you are looking for at Waverly Mall. They also have 15 eateries, including McDonald’s, KFC, and Sushi Stop. There is even a Whisky Shop and Cask Smugglers where you can enjoy an adult beverage.
- Multrees Walk
For upscale shopping at its finest, hit the Multrees Walk. Stop at Pandora or Swarovski for something shiny, peruse fine bags at Louis Vuitton or Coach, or browse the five floors of Harvey Nichols. Stop in Castle Fine Art and see if you can find something for your wall before you go.
Grab a Bite to Eat
- Howies Restaurant
Edinburgh has several Howies Restaurant locations with the main one on Princes Street. The building was built in 1815 to memorialize the Battle of Waterloo, so eating here is an amazing experience. And their food is good, too. This eatery features dishes like pan-roasted Scottish lamb rump to East Lothian lobster.
- Forage & Chatter
Not far from Howies, this casual space offers local cuisine from local food supplies. They serve the freshest meats and produce in the city. Summer ratatouille, North Sea cod, duo of lamb, and beef sirloin with pickled girolles are just some of the mouth-watering choices. Don’t miss the Scottish cheese for dessert.
- Makars Gourmet Mash Bar
Located near the Mound, this famous little spot has mash (mashed potatoes) served nine different ways, from classic to Stornoway black pudding mash. They also have lamb shank, beef haggis, wild boar, and honey-soaked char-grilled smoked gammon with sweet chili chutney.
Before leaving Edinburgh, be sure to get some selfies with the Lovers Touch on Keir Street, the Edinburgh Castle on Castlehill, or the Observatory House on A1 and Leith Street. Or take a guided tour to see the most famous spots so you don’t miss anything.