You might have dreamed of visiting Edinburgh, imagining what it would be like to walk through castles or take a day trip to Loch Ness, but there is so much more to see and experience in Scotland’s hilly capital city.
Let’s explore five unique attractions to find the magic of Edinburgh in time for your visit.
1. Royal Mile
Touted as a "Scot’s mile long," the Royal Mile connects two royal residences, the Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. It is also a main thoroughfare throughout the city and is the home to old and new parliaments, a cathedral and churches, law courts, and several tourist attractions, such as restaurants, pubs, cafes, and shops.
2. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat
The 640-acre Holyrood Park lies in the heart of Edinburgh, just off the path from the city’s Royal Mile, next to Holyrood Palace. The main attraction of Holryood Park is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano and the highest point in the park. It sits 823 feet above sea level, offering premier views of Edinburgh. The trip up and down the hill is lovely, too, filled with diverse flora.
3. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is probably number one on everyone’s list of places to visit, for a good reason. It stands on Castle Rock, a volcanic plug humans have inhabited since the Iron Age. The castle has served as a military fortress, prison of war, and royal residence over the centuries.
During visits to Edinburgh Castle, you might get the chance to hear the famous One O’Clock Salute from Half Moon Battery, which is the firing of a cannon to remember the tradition of assisting ships to synchronize their clocks. Additional highlights include seeing the Scottish National War Memorial, the Crown Jewels, and the National Work Museum.
4. Mary King’s Close
Mary King’s Close is Edinburgh’s underground street, buried beneath and running under the famous Royal Mile. This underground street features a series of abandoned homes and alleyways, lying below the bustling city streets since the 17th century. Mary King’s Close is a place frozen in time, and tours reflect that, since there are no actors, placards, or recreations. You see it as it was when it was last inhabited. With all the humidity and organic eeriness, it’s a haunted tour based on ambiance alone. Be careful if you have claustrophobia or fear of dark and unfamiliar spaces.
5. Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura is an unusual visual arts gallery and Edinburgh’s oldest tourist attraction, established in 1835. Focusing on optical illusions, you can also experience several hands-on activities, such as going through a mirror maze and an Ames room filled with distorting images. Another popular activity is the vortex tunnel, which provokes a sense of imbalance while completely safe and stable. Finally, you can climb to the roof to get a bird’s eye view of the city using free telescopes.
These are only a few unique and magical things you can see and do in Edinburgh.