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Unexpected Edinburgh

96%
Found this guide helpful

My favorite vacations involve no cars. Cities which are accessible by walking or public transportation are high up on my list. I first came to Edinburgh for 3 nights on the tail end of a trip to London. We chose Edinburgh since you could travel there on a train in a few hours. After coming home, I realized I wanted to spend more time there so went back for a two week trip. Friends said that this would be too long but we actually didn't get to do some of the activities available. There is good news and bad news about Edinburgh: the good news is that much of it is on hills that add to the beauty of the sights, e.g. Edinburgh Castle and the hidden medieval towns off the Royal Mile. This is also the bad news since there is a lot of aerobic walking involved. You need to pace yourself and plan your daily itinerary wisely.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Foodie

23 Places

1 City Tip

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Map

23 Places

Patisserie Valerie Northbridge

Restaurants

Scottish National Gallery

Art Museums

Craigmillar Castle

Architectural Buildings, Castles, Historic Sites

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Art Galleries, Gardens, Points of Interest & Landmarks

People's Story

History Museums, Speciality Museums

National Museum of Scotland

Natural History Museums, Speciality Museums

Edinburgh Old Town

Historic Walking Areas, Neighbourhoods

Royal Yacht Britannia

Ships, Speciality Museums

St Giles' Cathedral

Churches & Cathedrals

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites, Castles

Whiski Rooms

Restaurants

Tanjore

Restaurants

Milnes Bar

Restaurants

Tartan Weaving Mill

Gift & Speciality Shops, Factory Tours

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two (Dean Gallery)

Art Museums

The Real Mary King's Close

Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

The Kilderkin

Restaurants

Parliament House

Government Buildings

Edinburgh Castle

Castles

Royal Mile

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Art Museums

New Town

Historic Walking Areas, Neighbourhoods

joan w's City Tips

  • Transportation is widely available to anywhere you wish to go. Via the Google maps application, we took city buses to Craigmillar Castle, the modern art museums, and the Royal Botanic Garden. The drivers and passengers are very helpful about fares and where to get off. Many day trips are available, most leave from near the Balmoral Hotel on the downhill side. As you become familiar with the streets, you can choose flatter alternatives to reaching the Royal Mile. There are many charming "closes" (pronounced with a soft s) that provide shortcuts between the major streets. These are shown on Google maps as gray shaded paths. On our first visit, we stayed at a hotel which was very conveniently located near a bridge to New Town and about a half mile to the castle. For the two week trip, we decided to rent an apartment to save money on food and came across the website for Vacation Rentals Scotland. This organization has lots of great apartments at all prices and we rented one near Parliament. It was uphill from there to most everything but the upside is it was downhill in the evening when you were tired.
  • Patisserie Valerie Northbridge
    Restaurants (Cafe, European)
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    The desserts here are a feast for the eyes and a stop makes for a welcome pause on a busy day in Old Town.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    Tips
    • Would certainly return to try more pastries.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #527 of 2,074 restaurants in Edinburgh
    • Amazing Macaroons 15/10/2018
    • No feel good factor 14/10/2018
    • Patisserie Valerie Northbridge
    Address:
    25 North Bridge
    Edinburgh EH1 1SB
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 557 1533
    Price range:
    US$4 - US$20
    Hours:
    Sun
    08:30 - 22:30
    Mon - Sat
    08:00 - 22:00
    Other:
  • Scottish National Gallery
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Astonishing collection of Old Masters in a very beautiful setting.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Not as crowded as our New York museums but go early if you really want to take it all in.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #34 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Such an amazing atmosphere 17/10/2018
    • Another stunning Edinburgh building 17/10/2018
    • Scottish National Gallery
    Address:
    The Mound
    Edinburgh EH2 2EL
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 624 6200
    Hours:
    Thu
    10:00 - 19:00
    Fri - Wed
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Craigmillar Castle
    Architectural Buildings, Castles, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Off the beaten path but worth the bus ride and half mile walk up a gentle incline. Very well preserved and has interesting internal staircases that kids were enjoying.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • very casual-the office was closed that day so was free.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #23 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Unexpected, engaging and brilliant views 10/10/2018
    • A hidden gem- don’t miss this castle ruin 09/10/2018
    • Craigmillar Castle
    Address:
    Craigmillar Castle Road
    Edinburgh EH16 4SY
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 661 4445
    Price range:
    US$11 - US$11
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 17:30
    Other:
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
    Art Galleries, Gardens, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Ii believe this 200 year old garden has 10 greenhouses to explore. The landscape plan here is phenomenal being the age it is and has wonderful tree specimens.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Great side gardens, don't miss the alpine one. Gift shop is large with many interesting items.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #19 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Wow 17/10/2018
    • Beautiful relaxing Autumnal stroll 16/10/2018
    • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
    Address:
    20 Inverleith Row
    Edinburgh EH3 5LR
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 552 7171
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • People's Story
    History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    I always like museums that demonstrate how people used to live in various eras and this one certainly does that. I would go to the new addition of the National Museum of Scotland first though if you're limited on time.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • There were hardly any visitors and it was free. The building is one of those nice old creaky ones that meme you feel you stepped back in time.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #57 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very informative hidden gem! 15/10/2018
    • very informative, highly recommended 01/10/2018
    • People's Story
    Address:
    Canongate Tolbooth
    Royal Mile
    Edinburgh EH8 8BN
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 529 4057
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • National Museum of Scotland
    Natural History Museums, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Beautiful buildings near the university and Nicolson St which has great shopping

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Don't miss the new addition, we spent hours there looking at all the exhibits on why Scots emigrated and on the country's industries.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Roof terrace 17/10/2018
    • A wonderful museum that will satisfy all ages 17/10/2018
    • National Museum of Scotland
    Address:
    Chambers Street
    Edinburgh EH1 1JF
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 300 123 6789
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Edinburgh Old Town
    Historic Walking Areas, Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    A walk down the Royal Mile in Old Town is like taking a trip in a time machine. There is so much to see and wonder at.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Restaurants, shops and attractions on every block.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Change money at the Post Office - who knew? 17/10/2018
    • Get on your walking shoes! 17/10/2018
    • Edinburgh Old Town
    Address:
    Old town
    Edinburgh EH1
    Scotland
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
    Other:
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
    Ships, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    A fun side trip by bus, plan 3 hours.A look into how royalty used to travel to visit their possessions. Entrance located inside a huge shopping mall so you can pick up anything you forgot to pack.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Didn't eat there but there is a restaurant on the yacht. We ate at an Italian place in the mall, it was pretty good.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great visit 18/10/2018
    • Well worth a visit 17/10/2018
    • Royal Yacht Britannia
    Address:
    Ocean Drive
    Ocean Terminal
    Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 555 5566
    Price range:
    US$26 - US$26
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 16:00
    Other:
  • St Giles' Cathedral
    Churches & Cathedrals
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Loved this cathedral as it offers wonderful concerts open to the public for low or no cost. The acoustics and organ are world class.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Check their website online for upcoming events.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #40 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful 18/10/2018
    • Go inside. Beautiful church 16/10/2018
    • St Giles' Cathedral
    Address:
    High Street
    Historic Royal Mile
    Edinburgh EH1 1RE
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 226 0674
    Hours:
    Sun
    13:00 - 17:00
    Mon - Fri
    09:00 - 19:00
    Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites, Castles
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Edinburgh is so fortunate to have 2 enormous castles to visit. This one is still in use by the royal family and you can visit another of Mary Queen of Scots' private rooms.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Near Parliament, restaurants and pubs.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #35 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Canaletto exhibition plus visit to Palace 17/10/2018
    • THE gates and doors - oh my! 17/10/2018
    • Palace of Holyroodhouse
    Phone:
    +44 303 123 7324
    Other:
  • Whiski Rooms
    Restaurants (Bar, British, Scottish)
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    On the mound, central to everything, you can find extensive whiskey offerings in the restaurant and purchase bottles on the other side. Edinburgh's own beer, Innis and Gunn is almost impossible to find in the states but can be had on draught here. Very nice menu, had lunch here twice.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Try the Cullen Skink, a very satisfying fish chowder. Several scotch flights are available.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #201 of 2,074 restaurants in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • excellent! 14/10/2018
    • Book ahead 11/10/2018
    • Whiski Rooms
    Address:
    4 North Bank Street
    Edinburgh EH1 2LP
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 225 7224
    Price range:
    US$13 - US$33
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 01:00
    Other:
  • Tanjore
    Restaurants (Indian, Asian)
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Tanjore is a wonderful place to eat near hotels that are about a half mile off the Royal Mile. Their specialty is called dosas, a large lentil pancake served with sauces and meats of your choosing. These were outstanding but the wait staff could be a bit more upbeat.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #381 of 2,074 restaurants in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Tasty food - extra long wait 15/10/2018
    • Great Prices but there’s room for improvement 05/10/2018
    • Tanjore
    Address:
    6-8 Clerk Street
    Edinburgh EH8 9HX
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 478 6518
    Other:
  • Milnes Bar
    Restaurants (Bar, British, Pub)
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    When you tire from shopping on Princes Street, this cozy pub is a block away down in a cozy cellar which must be hundreds of years old. The menu is extensive and there are a full range of alcoholic beverages, including many single malts.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Casual dress
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1,055 of 2,074 restaurants in Edinburgh
    • Great watering hole in Edinburgh 16/10/2018
    • Pleasant night 14/10/2018
    • Milnes Bar
    Address:
    35 Hanover Street
    Edinburgh EH2 2PJ
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 225 6738
    Price range:
    US$650 - US$2,358
    Hours:
    Mon - Wed
    11:00 - 23:00
    Thu - Sun
    11:00 - 00:00
    Other:
  • Tartan Weaving Mill
    Gift & Speciality Shops, Factory Tours
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Right outside the castle courtyard, this store has four floors of all your plaid and tourist item needs. I especially enjoyed the fabric department where there are many books to help you find your family's tartan. They sell small remnant bags of plaid which I used later to make Christmas ornaments.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • Lots of stairs!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 203 Shopping in Edinburgh
    • Cool to See 28/09/2018
    • Good spot the find an array of affordable souvenirs. 11/09/2018
    • Tartan Weaving Mill
    Address:
    555 Castlehill
    Royal Mile
    Edinburgh EH1 2ND
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 220 2477
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 19:00
    Other:
  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two (Dean Gallery)
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    This lovely museum is near Dean Village and is accessible by bus. It is located in a beautiful park which is near the first Modern Art. Lunch is available in a pretty cafe and the food was very well-prepared.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #52 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Quality experience 14/10/2018
    • Stunning Gallery! Good opportunity to see Emile Nolde Exhibition 09/10/2018
    • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two (Dean Gallery)
    Address:
    73 Belford Road
    Edinburgh EH4 3DS
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 624 6200
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • The Real Mary King's Close
    Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    A visit to Edinburgh is not complete without going to one of this type of attractions. It is amazing to me that people actually lived under the streets above and that these rooms are so well preserved. The plague is brought to life by the sample bedroom and story of the "healer" who visited.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Stairs, ramps etc. This gets crowded, reserve a time earlier in the day.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great tour guide 17/10/2018
    • Excellent tour of the Close 17/10/2018
    • The Real Mary King's Close
    Address:
    High Street
    2 Warriston's Close
    Edinburgh EH1 1PG
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 225 0672
    Price range:
    US$28 - US$28
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 21:30
    Other:
  • The Kilderkin
    Restaurants (Bar, Pizza, British, Pub, Scottish)
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    Cozy pub near Parliament and Holyrood. Had a wonderful salmon dish, there is nothing as good as scottish salmon! Astonishing selection of pizza varieties served in the evening.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Very casual, babies okay.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #497 of 2,074 restaurants in Edinburgh
    • Nice pub for lunch 08/10/2018
    • Friendly pub! 04/10/2018
    • The Kilderkin
    Address:
    65 Canongate
    Edinburgh EH8 8BT
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 556 2101
    Price range:
    US$8 - US$13
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:30 - 20:00
    Mon
    11:00 - 23:00
    Tue - Thu
    11:00 - 00:00
    Fri - Sat
    11:00 - 01:00
    Other:
  • Parliament House
    Government Buildings
    joan w Says:

    If you have time, sit in on a session of Parliament, it's interesting to observe the speeches on diverse topics delivered in an entertaining way at times.There is an exhibit on Scottish history on the ground level and tours are available. The cost of this unusual building was phenomenal. Anywhere else, I'd think it was great but sticks out like a sore thumb in this medieval town.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Not always in session but you can visit the building.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #166 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    • Behind the scenes 02/10/2018
    • Interesting tho'embarrassingly amateurish. 02/10/2018
    • Parliament House
    Address:
    Parliament House 11 Parliament Square
    Parliament Square
    Edinburgh EH1 1RQ
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 225 2595
    Other:
  • Edinburgh Castle
    Castles
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    This is the number one place to visit in Edinburgh. Lines for tickets can be long but once you're in, stay for the day and enjoy the cafe lunch which is great, or do the free whiskey tasting halfway up. This castle seems to just emerge from the rock, how did they do that?

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Steep climbs to top, the view is well worth it.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    • A great few hours spent 18/10/2018
    • Long way up.... 18/10/2018
    • Edinburgh Castle
    Address:
    Castlehill
    Edinburgh EH1 2NG
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 668 8956
    Price range:
    US$32 - US$32
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:30 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Royal Mile
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    There's so much to see on a stroll down the Royal Mile. All the tourist shops are here, as well as some trendy boutiques and kilt shops. You'll see men in kilts and fashionable women and maybe a bagpipe player or parade.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Many, Many restaurants and pubs as well as music at night.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Need more than a day to really check out the Royal Mile... 17/10/2018
    • Amazing architecture! 17/10/2018
    • Royal Mile
    Address:
    Royal Mile
    Edinburgh EH1 2PB
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 510 7555
    Price range:
    US$17 - US$17
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    The Portrait Gallery may be the most beautiful building I've ever been in. It is simply stunning everywhere. The art is wonderful, especially loved the portrait of King GeorgeIII and Queen Charlotte.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Great gift shop and small cafe available.
    From the community
    Ranked #24 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful building, small collection 15/10/2018
    • " A cultural experience" 15/10/2018
    • Scottish National Portrait Gallery
    Address:
    1 Queen Street
    Edinburgh EH2 1JD
    Scotland
    Phone:
    +44 131 624 6200
    Hours:
    Thu
    10:00 - 19:00
    Fri - Wed
    10:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • New Town
    Historic Walking Areas, Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    joan w Says:

    This area is the newer part of town, only 250 years old or so. It's very bustling and offers modern stores of all kinds. You can try the new tram or a bus: they all seem to stop on Princes Street. Jenners is the major department store on the street--it's gallery style and the staff is very helpful.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Be really careful crossing the street.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #45 of 395 things to do in Edinburgh
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • New Town 16/10/2018
    • Walking in the New Town 15/10/2018
    • New Town
    Other:
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