Edinburgh

[View west along Princes Street from the Scott Monument]

Edinburgh is Scotland's capital city and a global icon. The list of world-famous attractions is impressive: Edinburgh Castle, the joint World Heritage Sites of the Old and New Towns, Edinburgh Zoo, The Royal Mile, Arthur's Seat... and the list goes on. Nowhere else in Scotland comes close to its breathtaking architecture, and there's a depth of history here that larger Glasgow can only dream of. And Edinburgh's striking cityscape seems in perfect harmony with the spectacular natural landscape. Extinct volcanoes are everywhere, making up a number of the city's legendary seven hills and rising 251 metres above sea level at rocky Arthur's Seat. It's easy to forget that Edinburgh has expanded to reach the ocean too, with Portobello Beach and the Port of Leith both only a short bus ride from the centre. The city does feel like it's owned by tourists at times - particularly during summer. And for a few weeks during August, fervour reaches new heights with the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe - the largest arts festival anywhere on the globe. Despite all this, exploring this so-called Athens of the North is always a hugely rewarding experience. You'd need a full week (or more) to visit the full list of sights below, divided for convenience into Old Town, New Town and The Rest.

[Edinburgh Castle (2/7/13)]

📌 Edinburgh ★★★★
Location (Edinburgh Waverley train station): G.R.: NT 257738 ///plus.spirit.steep
Anything else? Parking in the city centre is awkward (and expensive except at weekends, when there are some free streets) - it's best to explore by foot, bus or tram.

[City Art Centre]

Old Town (& nearby)

📌 City Art Centre ☆☆☆
Description: Spacious, central art gallery with often-changing exhibitions, usually of Scottish works.
Location: 2 Market Street, immediately south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 258737 ///loyal.love.cloud
Open (2018): Wednesday to Sunday
Cost: Free

📌 Camera Obscura & World of Illusions ★★★
Description: Child-friendly (though not just for children) but expensive attraction crammed with optical illusions and experiences, topped with the camera obscura itself, along with excellent views over Edinburgh.
Location: Castlehill, Royal Mile, 10-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 255735 ///front.forest.panel
Open (2018): Daily
Cost (2018): £15.50 (adults), £11.50 (children)

>> Dynamic Earth ★★★★☆
>> Edinburgh Castle page: Edinburgh Castle ★★★★; National War Museum ☆☆☆

📌 Fruitmarket Gallery ☆☆☆
Description: Smallish, contemporary art gallery showcasing both local and international works.
Location: 45 Market Street, immediately south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 258738 ///fades.easy.attend
Open (2018): Daily
Cost: Free

📌 Gladstone's Land ★★☆☆
Description: Typical Royal Mile tenement block, once home to the merchant Thomas Gledstane (Gladstone) - a chance to discover what the Old Town really used to be like in the 17th century.
Location: 477B Lawnmarket, Royal Mile, 5-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 255736 ///rang.churn.head
Open (2018): Almost daily, by guided tour only - must be booked in advance
Cost (2018): £7 (adults), £5 (children), free for National Trust for Scotland members

📌 Greyfriar's Kirk ☆☆☆
Description: 17th century Old Town church (with major alterations) with unusual, yellow-harled exterior, where famous Skye terrier Greyfriars Bobby is said to have loyally guarded his dead master's grave for 14 years until he too passed away.
Location: Greyfriars Place, 10-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 256733 ///duke.chest.asks
Open (2018): Monday to Saturday, April to October; some Thursdays, November to March
Cost: Free

>> Holyrood Palace & Abbey page: Holyrood Abbey ★★☆☆; Palace of Holyroodhouse ★★★; Queen's Gallery ☆☆☆

📌 Museum of Childhood ★★☆☆
Description: A 5-floor nostalgia trip showcasing historic toys and games.
Location: 42 High Street, Royal Mile, 10-min walk south-east of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 261737 ///amuse.decide.forgot
Open (2018): Thursday to Monday
Cost: Free

📌 Museum of Edinburgh ★★☆☆
Description: Smallish and quiet given the important-sounding name, but a good place to start...
Location: 142 Canongate, Royal Mile, 15-min walk east of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 265738 ///punchy.needed.visit
Open (2018): Thursday to Monday
Cost: Free

📌 Museum on the Mound ★★☆☆
Description: Small, unusual, modern museum about the history of money - usually nice and quiet.
Location: The Mound, immediately south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 256737 ///smiled.fuel.nation
Open (2018): Tuesday to Friday (plus, ironically, afternoons on bank holidays)
Cost: Free

📌 National Museum of Scotland ★★★★
Description: Scotland's most popular visitor attraction (in 2017) and its biggest and best museum, detailing the country's long history - large enough to spend a whole day in!
Location: Chambers Street, 10-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 258733 ///dizzy.modern.unions
Open (2018): Daily
Cost: Free

>> The Edinburgh Dungeon ★★★★☆

📌 The People's Story Museum ★★☆☆
Description: The history of Edinburgh from the perspective of "ordinary" residents.
Location: 163 Canongate, Royal Mile, 15-min walk east of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 264738 ///fields.closer.later
Open (2018): Wednesday to Sunday
Cost: Free

📌 The Real Mary King's Close ★★★
Description: An hidden-away warren of Old Edinburgh streets preserved underneath the Royal Exchange buildings; now an atmospheric tourist attraction accessed by well-choreographed, guided tours.
Location: 2 Warriston's Close, Royal Mile, 5-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 258736 ///indoor.hooks.making
Open (2018): Daily by guided tour only - advance booking strongly advised
Cost (2018): £15.50 (adults), £9.50 (children)

>> St Giles' Cathedral ★★☆☆

📌 Scotch Whisky Experience ★★★
Description: Excellent and interactive introduction to whisky and the closest you can get to visiting a (whisky) distillery without leaving the city; includes a "ride" in replica barrels and the world's largest whisky collection!
Location: 354 Castlehill, Royal Mile, 10-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 254735 ///twigs.horn.sings
Open (2018): Daily
Cost (2018): £15.50+ (adults) depending on tour type, £7.50 (children)

>> Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) ☆☆☆

📌 Surgeons' Hall Museums ★★☆☆
Description: Large collection of bone and tissue specimens, grisly bodily curiosities... you get the picture. Once a medical teaching resource - not for every taste!
Location: Nicolson Street, 15-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 261733 ///scans.double.mugs
Open (2018): Daily
Cost (2018): £7 (adults), £4 (children)

>> Walk: Arthur's Seat - view from the high chair ★★★

📌 The Writers' Museum ☆☆☆
Description: Museum celebrating writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson: exhibits of moderate interest, but housed in a particularly beautiful building.
Location: Lady Stair's Close, 5-min walk south of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 256736 ///petty.lofts.mole
Open (2018): Wednesday to Sunday
Cost: Free

[View over the city from Salisbury Crags on the ascent of Arthur's Seat (23/1/12)]

New Town (& nearby)

>> Calton Hill page: Calton Hill ★★★; Nelson Monument ☆☆☆

📌 Georgian House ★★☆☆
Description: Late 18th century New Town mansion, in total contrast to the squalor of 18th century Edinburgh Old Town.
Location: 7 Charlotte Square, 15-min walk west of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 246739 ///pumps.poet.harp
Open (2018): Daily, March to November; Thursday to Sunday, early to mid-December
Cost (2018): £7.50 (adults), £6 (children), free for National Trust for Scotland members

>> Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh ★★★

📌 St Cuthbert's Parish Church ★★☆☆
Description: Stunning Victorian church hidden amongst trees in Princes Street Gardens - beautiful apse and friezes.
Location: 5 Lothian Road, 15-min walk west of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 248736 ///clubs.verge.view
Open (2018): Tuesday to Friday, Easter to September; Tuesday to Thursday, October to Easter
Cost: Free

📌 St John's Church ★★☆☆
Description: Beautiful Scottish Episcopal church with stunning ceiling decorations, an oasis of calm right in the middle of Edinburgh.
Location: Princes Street, 10-min walk west of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 248737 ///outfit.wiser.game
Open (2018): Daily
Cost: Free

📌 Scott Monument ★★☆☆
Description: Ornate, 200 foot-high monument commemorating author Sir Walter Scott, with amazing views from various viewing platforms reached by increasingly claustrophobic spiral staircases.
Location: Princes Street, 5-min walk north-east of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 256739 ///dare.mess.icons
Open (2018): Daily
Cost (2018): £5

[Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (November 2012)]

The rest (& outlying suburbs)

>> Caiy Stane ★☆☆☆☆
>> Corstorphine Dovecot ☆☆☆
>> Craigmillar Castle ★★☆☆
>> Cramond - island and village page: Cramond, Kirk, Roman Fort ☆☆☆; Cramond Island ★★☆☆
>> Dr Neil's Garden ★★☆☆
>> Edinburgh Zoo ★★★★
>> Gilmerton Cove ★★★
>> Lauriston Castle ★★★
>> Leith ★★★☆☆
>> Summerhall Distillery (Pickering's Gin) ★★☆☆
>> Royal Yacht Britannia ★★★
>> Walk: Blackford Hill - batting above average ★★☆☆
>> Walk: Braid Hills - surveying the seven summits ★★★☆☆
>> Walk: On safari at Corstorphine Hill ★★☆☆

[Scott Monument]

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