36 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh | 2024 (with Photos)

Staša Petrović

Staša Petrović - Travel Writer

Last Updated: March 28, 2024

Hey there! I'm Stasha, a travel enthusiast who has explored the hidden gems of Edinburgh. Discover the top attractions and experiences this vibrant city has to offer through my guide.

Best Things to Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a place where history meets modernity, and where every turn down its cobbled streets reveals another treasure waiting to be discovered.

With its stunning castle perched high on a hill, quaint neighborhoods, and world-famous festivals, it's no wonder that Edinburgh is consistently voted one of the best cities in the world to visit.

Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for an adventure, Edinburgh has something for everyone.

In this guide, the Travel-Lingual team will take you through a list of the 36 best things to do in Edinburgh, as put together by the Travel-Lingual team.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Top Choice Hotel

The Balmoral Hotel

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Best Time to Visit

Summer for festivals, mild weather, and longer days.

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Edinburgh, United Kingdom: cool.

Transportation Options

Bus, tram, train, taxi, bike, walking, car, scooter.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital. Explore the cobbled streets of the Old Town, where medieval architecture and hidden alleyways transport you back in time.

Marvel at the iconic Edinburgh Castle, perched atop an ancient volcanic rock, and delve into the city's rich history at the Royal Mile's fascinating museums and galleries. Ascend Arthur's Seat for panoramic views of the cityscape and surrounding countryside, or wander through the lush gardens of Princes Street Gardens.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes, umbrella, camera, and a reusable water bottle.
  2. Warm clothing, portable charger, local currency, and a guidebook or map of the city.

What Not to Miss

  1. Edinburgh Castle
  2. The Royal Mile
  3. Arthur's Seat
  4. Princes Street Gardens
  5. The Scotch Whisky Experience

What to Avoid

  1. Overpacking for the unpredictable weather.
  2. Being unprepared for steep and uneven cobblestone streets.

1. Visit the National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is one of the country's most popular attractions, and a must-visit for anyone interested in Scottish history, culture, and art.

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, the museum offers a fascinating journey through Scotland's past, showcasing everything from prehistoric artifacts to modern art and technology.

Visitors can explore a range of galleries, from the Natural World to the Scottish Design Galleries, and discover the stories behind Scotland's people, places, and events.

With interactive exhibits, special events, and a vibrant atmosphere, the National Museum of Scotland is an unforgettable experience for tourists of all ages and interests.

2. Taste Scottish National Food

The Haggis Box

Scottish cuisine is known for its hearty and comforting dishes, such as haggis, neeps and tatties, Cullen skink, and fish and chips. Many of these dishes are made using locally-sourced ingredients, such as Scottish beef, seafood, and oats.

There are many great restaurants and pubs in Edinburgh where you can sample these traditional Scottish dishes, including The Witchery by the Castle, The Kitchin, and The Royal McGregor.

Each of these places offers a unique dining experience, from elegant fine dining to cozy pub grub, all while showcasing the best of Scottish cuisine.

Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery, located in the heart of Edinburgh, is one of Scotland's most renowned art museums.

Scottish National Gallery houses an impressive collection of art, spanning from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including works by Botticelli, Van Gogh, and Monet, as well as Scottish masters like Ramsay and Raeburn.

The gallery's neoclassical building provides a stunning backdrop for the artwork, and visitors can enjoy the tranquil surroundings of Princes Street Gardens just outside.

With free admission and regularly changing exhibitions, the Scottish National Gallery is a must-visit for art lovers and those looking to explore the rich cultural history of Scotland.

4. Take a Whiskey Tour

The Scotch Whisky Experience

Taking a whiskey-tasting tour in Edinburgh is a great way to experience the city's famous beverage and learn about its history and production.

Many distilleries offer guided tours, where visitors can learn about the different types of whiskey and how they are made, as well as sample a range of whiskies from the region.

Some popular distilleries to visit in Edinburgh include The Scotch Whisky Experience, The Edinburgh Gin Distillery, and the Holyrood Distillery, each offering a unique and memorable experience for whiskey lovers and curious visitors alike.

5. Take a Ghost Tour of the City

City Of The Dead Tours

Taking a ghost tour of Edinburgh can be a thrilling and entertaining way to explore the city's darker side and learn about its haunted history.

With its ancient architecture, eerie alleyways, and notorious past, Edinburgh is known as one of the most haunted cities in the world, with many ghostly sightings and spooky stories to discover.

There are a variety of ghost tours available, from walking tours to bus tours, each led by knowledgeable guides who will regale visitors with chilling tales of Edinburgh's past and present.

It's a fun and unique way to experience the city, especially for those who enjoy a good scare.

6. Find out what Edinburgh and Athens have in common

National Monument of Scotland

The National Monument of Scotland, located on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, is a striking neoclassical structure inspired by the Parthenon in Athens.

The National Monument was commissioned in the early 19th century as a tribute to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died in the Napoleonic Wars.

The National Monument was designed by architect Charles Robert Cockerell and sculptor John Flaxman and features 12 massive columns standing over 20 meters tall.

Despite being incomplete, the National Monument remains an important symbol of Scottish identity and heritage and offers breathtaking views of the city from its perch on Calton Hill. It's a must-see for history and architecture enthusiasts visiting Edinburgh.

7. Go to the Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival is an annual event that takes place in the Scottish capital each August.

Founded in 1947, the festival is one of the world's most prestigious art events, showcasing a diverse range of music, theater, dance, and visual arts performances from around the globe.

The festival attracts thousands of visitors each year, with its innovative programming, world-class performers, and unique venues, including historic theaters, outdoor stages, and pop-up venues throughout the city.

It's a must-see for arts and culture enthusiasts, and a great way to experience the vibrant and creative atmosphere of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh International Festival typically takes place in the month of August each year.

8. Explore the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and plant enthusiasts.

Located just a few miles from the city center, the garden covers over 70 acres and features a vast array of flora from around the world, including rare and endangered species.

Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the landscaped grounds, take part in guided tours or educational programs, and even enjoy a picnic in one of the garden's idyllic spots.

The garden is a tranquil and peaceful oasis in the heart of Edinburgh, and a great place to unwind and connect with nature.

9. Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is an iconic landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland.

Built on a volcanic rock formation in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, the castle has a rich and storied history spanning over a thousand years.

Visitors can explore the castle's many attractions, including the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Royal Palace, the Great Hall, and the famous One O'Clock Gun.

With its stunning views of the city and fascinating exhibits, Edinburgh Castle is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Scottish history and culture.

10. Picnic in one of the Parks

The Meadows

Edinburgh has several beautiful spots perfect for a picnic, but one of the best places to go is The Meadows.

This large public park is located just south of the city center and features open green spaces, walking paths, and several recreational facilities.

The park is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, with plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a picnic with friends and family.

Another great spot for a picnic is Holyrood Park, which offers stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur's Seat, and plenty of picturesque spots to set up a picnic blanket.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, located in the heart of Edinburgh, is a must-see destination for art lovers and history enthusiasts.

The gallery features a vast collection of portraits depicting prominent figures from Scottish history and culture, including royals, politicians, artists, and writers.

The collection spans from the Renaissance to the present day, with works by famous artists such as Sir Henry Raeburn, Allan Ramsay, and John Singer Sargent.

Visitors can explore the gallery's many exhibits, take part in guided tours and workshops, and even enjoy a bite to eat in the gallery's elegant cafe.

With its fascinating collection and stunning architecture, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a must-visit for anyone interested in Scottish history and culture.

12. Take the Best Pictures of Edinburgh

Calton Hill

Edinburgh has many beautiful spots that make for great photo opportunities, but one of the best places to take pictures is from Calton Hill.

This iconic hilltop location offers panoramic views of the city, including Edinburgh Castle, Arthur's Seat, and the historic Old Town.

From here, you can capture stunning shots of the city skyline, especially during sunrise or sunset. Another great spot for photography is Victoria Street, a charming cobbled street in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, with colorful buildings and unique shops.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is also a popular destination for photographers, with its vast collection of plants and flowers providing endless opportunities for capturing stunning shots.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a world-renowned museum located in Edinburgh's West End. It houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, with works by famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol.

The museum's two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, feature a range of exhibits and installations, including sculpture gardens and outdoor works.

A fun fact about the museum is that its grounds are home to a herd of over 100 wild rabbits, which visitors can often spot hopping around the gardens. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a must-visit destination for art lovers visiting Edinburgh.

14. Attend a Show at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Edinburgh Playhouse

The Edinburgh Playhouse is one of the city's most iconic entertainment venues and a must-visit destination for theater lovers.

Located in the heart of Edinburgh's city center, this historic theater has hosted a wide range of shows and performances over the years, from musicals and plays to concerts and comedy acts.

With a seating capacity of over 3,000, the Playhouse is the largest theater in the UK outside of London's West End. Visitors can catch a show and soak in the ambiance of the grand theater, which boasts stunning architecture and a rich history dating back to the 1920s.

15. Explore the National War Museum

National War Museum

The National War Museum of Scotland, located within Edinburgh Castle, is a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in Scotland's military heritage.

The museum's vast collection of artifacts, including weapons, uniforms, and medals, spans over 400 years of Scottish military history. Exhibits cover major conflicts, from the Jacobite rebellions to World War II and beyond, and feature personal stories and accounts from soldiers and civilians.

Visitors can also take part in guided tours and explore interactive exhibits. The National War Museum of Scotland provides a unique insight into Scotland's military history and the impact of war on its people, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in this subject.

16. Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia

Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia is a former royal residence and is now a top tourist attraction located in Leith, Edinburgh.

This luxurious yacht was the official yacht of Queen Elizabeth II and the British Royal Family for over 40 years. Visitors can explore the yacht's stunning interior and learn about its history and significance to the British monarchy.

Highlights include the State Apartments, the Royal Deck Tea Room, and the crew's quarters. The Royal Yacht Britannia offers a unique glimpse into the lives of the British Royal Family, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in royal history or naval architecture.

17. Tour the Georgian House

Georgian House

The Georgian House is a beautiful, restored 18th-century townhouse located in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house, which provides an insight into the lives of Edinburgh's wealthy Georgian residents.

The house is decorated with period furniture, artwork, and decorations, and visitors can explore the grand rooms, including the drawing room and dining room.

The Georgian House also features a beautiful walled garden, perfect for a relaxing stroll. Touring the Georgian House is a unique way to experience Edinburgh's history and architecture and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Scotland's rich cultural heritage.

18. Check out the Street Art in the Old Town

Spectrum Arts

Edinburgh's Old Town is a hub for street art, with an abundance of colorful murals and graffiti decorating its narrow streets and alleyways.

From large-scale murals to hidden gems tucked away in corners, there's something for every street art enthusiast to discover.

The best way to experience Edinburgh's street art is by taking a self-guided tour, exploring the hidden corners of the city, and discovering new art pieces along the way.

19. Walk through the Charming Dean Village

Dean Village

Dean Village, located just a short walk from the city center, is a charming, picturesque neighborhood with a rich history.

This hidden gem features beautiful old buildings, a peaceful river, and quaint cobbled streets, making it the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Visitors can also explore the area's hidden closes, which date back to the 16th century, and learn about the village's industrial past.

Walking through the charming Dean Village is a must-do for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience a more tranquil side of Edinburgh.

20. Shop for Souvenirs at the Historic Jenners Department Store

Jenners Department Store

Located on Princes Street, Jenner's department store is a historic landmark and one of the oldest department stores in the world.

Founded in 1838, this iconic store offers a wide selection of luxury goods, from clothing and accessories to home decor and souvenirs.

Visitors can browse through the store's many departments and take home a piece of Scottish heritage with unique souvenirs and gifts. A visit to Jenners is a must-do for anyone looking to indulge in a bit of retail therapy and experience a slice of Edinburgh's history.

21. Discover the Hidden Closes and Wynds of Edinburgh

Cockburn St

Edinburgh is known for its winding, narrow streets, known as "closes" and "wynds."

These hidden alleys offer a glimpse into the city's medieval past and are home to many of Edinburgh's hidden gems, including charming cafes, boutique shops, and historic landmarks.

Visitors can explore these hidden streets on foot, taking in the stunning architecture and rich history of the city. From the famous Royal Mile to the lesser-known streets of the Old Town, exploring Edinburgh's hidden closes and wynds is a unique way to experience the city's rich cultural heritage.

22. Take the Kids to the Royal Mile

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Some of the best places in Edinburgh for kids include the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.

This attraction, located on the Royal Mile, offers a fun and interactive experience for children and adults alike.

The highlight of Camera Obscura is the rooftop observatory, where visitors can experience stunning panoramic views of Edinburgh through a giant periscope.

Inside the attraction, there are a variety of exhibits that explore illusions, puzzles, and optical illusions, making it a perfect spot for curious kids.

The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a fun and educational way for kids to learn about science and technology while having a great time.

23. Visit the Scottish Parliament Building

Scottish Parliament Building

Visiting the Scottish Parliament Building is a unique and interesting experience for those interested in politics and architecture.

The building, located at the foot of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, was designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles and opened in 2004.

Guided tours are available, taking visitors through the building's striking design, including the debating chamber and committee rooms. 

The tour also explores the history and role of the Scottish Parliament in modern Scottish politics.

24. Take a Harry Potter Tour

The Potter Tour

For Harry Potter fans, taking a Harry Potter-inspired tour of the city is a must-do activity.

The city of Edinburgh is said to have inspired many of J.K. Rowling's locations and characters, and the tour takes visitors through many of the spots that influenced the Harry Potter series.

From the winding streets of the Old Town to the picturesque Victoria Street, the tour brings the magic of the books to life and offers a unique perspective on the city's history and culture.

25. Watch the One o'Clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle

One o'Clock Gun

Watching the One o'Clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle is a popular tradition that has been going on since 1861.

Every day, except for Sundays, a gun is fired from the castle at precisely 1 pm, providing a unique and thrilling experience for visitors.

The gun was originally fired as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth, but it is now a popular tourist attraction. 

Visitors can witness the firing of the gun from the castle's esplanade, and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

26. Watch the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a world-renowned military event held every year in August.

The show features military bands, dancers, and performers from around the world, and takes place against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

The event is a spectacular display of music, dance, and pageantry, and attracts visitors from all over the world. The show culminates in a dramatic fireworks display, making it an unforgettable experience for all who attend.

27. Get Your Sweet Tooth Ready for Treats


There are many places to find delicious cakes in Edinburgh. We have listed some popular places to eat in Edinburgh below.

Of course, these are just a few options; there are many other bakeries and cafes throughout Edinburgh where you can find delicious cakes and sweet treats.

The Marshmallow Lady is our favorite. You can let us know yours in the comments below this article.



This is a cozy cafe in the Old Town serving homemade cakes, tarts, and other baked goods.

Mimi's Bakehouse

Mimi's Bakehouse

Mini's Bakehouse is a family-run bakery with several locations in the city, known for its scrumptious cakes and award-winning afternoon tea.

The Marshmallow Lady

The Marshmallow Lady

This is a specialty bakery offering handmade marshmallows, cakes, and other sweet treats.



Loudons is a cafe with several locations throughout the city, known for its delicious cakes and pastries.

Cuckoo's Bakery

Cuckoo's Bakery

This is a charming bakery in the Old Town, famous for its cupcakes and custom-designed celebration cakes.

28. Watch the Sunset from Blackford Hill

Blackford Hill

Watching the sunset from Blackford Hill is a breathtaking experience and a must-do activity for anyone visiting Edinburgh.

Located just south of the city center, the hill offers stunning panoramic views of the city skyline and surrounding countryside.

As the sun sets over Edinburgh, the city takes on a warm golden glow and the views are truly magical. This can be a perfect place for some romantic gesture or just to take an amazing photo.

29. Explore the Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Another great attraction in Edinburgh is the Museum of Childhood, which showcases toys and games from generations past.

Located on the Royal Mile, the museum is a fascinating journey through childhood history and nostalgia. Visitors can explore toys and games from different eras, from Victorian dolls and teddy bears to vintage board games and electronic toys.

The museum also has interactive exhibits and activities, making it a fun and engaging experience for both kids and adults. Admission to the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh is free.

30. Visit Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens is a beautiful public park located in the heart of Edinburgh. It is an ideal spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll while enjoying the stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town.

The park also features several monuments and memorials, including the Scott Monument, the Ross Fountain, and the Gothic Rocket.

In the summer, the gardens host a variety of events and festivals, such as the International Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. With its central location and peaceful atmosphere, Princes Street Gardens is a must-visit attraction for tourists and locals alike.

31. Explore Edinburgh's Nightlife

Sneaky Pete's

There are several nightclubs in Edinburgh that cater to different music genres and vibes.

Some popular ones include Cabaret Voltaire, Sneaky Pete's, Liquid Rooms, and The Hive. Cabaret Voltaire is a multi-level club that features different music styles each night, while Sneaky Pete's is known for its indie and alternative music.

Liquid Room is a large club with multiple rooms and dance floors, and The Hive is a smaller club with a lively atmosphere and is popular among students.

Ultimately, it depends on personal preferences and what type of music and atmosphere you are looking for.

32. Go shopping!

John Lewis & Partners

Edinburgh has a range of shopping options, from designer boutiques to vintage stores and high-street brands.

One of the best shopping destinations in the city is the famous Princes Street, which is home to popular department stores like John Lewis, as well as a number of high-end retailers.

Other great shopping areas in Edinburgh include George Street, which is known for its luxury boutiques, and Victoria Street, which is lined with unique independent shops and boutiques.

For vintage finds, the Grassmarket area is a must-visit, while the West End is known for its stylish and trendy stores.

33. Visit Famous Movie Sets in Edinburgh

Greyfriars Kirkyard

There are several areas in Edinburgh that have been featured in famous movies. For example, the Royal Mile and Greyfriars Kirkyard were both used as filming locations for the movie "The Da Vinci Code."

Victoria Street in the Old Town was said to have inspired the creation of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series, and the Elephant House Cafe on George IV Bridge is known as the place where J.K. Rowling wrote many of the early Harry Potter books.

Additionally, the city has been used as a filming location for many other movies and TV shows, such as "Outlander" and "Avengers: Infinity War."

34. Take a Bike Tour in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Bike Tours

A bike tour is an excellent way to explore Edinburgh's historic streets, iconic landmarks, and stunning landscapes.

Cycling through the city, you can cover more ground than on foot and experience the sights and sounds of the city in a unique way. Guided bike tours are available, allowing visitors to explore the city's hidden gems and learn about its fascinating history from knowledgeable locals.

You can cycle through the charming Old Town and the elegant New Town, see the iconic Edinburgh Castle and pedal along the scenic Water of Leith. A bike tour in Edinburgh is a fun and active way to discover the city's many attractions.

35. Tour the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland and is a fascinating attraction to visit.

The palace has served as the home of royalty since the 16th century, and visitors can tour the historic state apartments and view the impressive collection of art and furniture. You can also visit the ruins of the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey and stroll through the beautiful gardens.

Additionally, the palace is the site of the Queen's annual Holyrood Week in Scotland. A visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse is an opportunity to experience the grandeur and history of the Scottish monarchy.

36. Go to The Pantry

The Pantry.

There are many great places to have breakfast in Edinburgh, but one highly recommended spot is The Pantry.

Located in the Stockbridge area, The Pantry serves up delicious breakfast options made with locally sourced ingredients.

Their menu includes classic dishes like eggs benedict and pancakes, as well as more unique options like shakshuka and breakfast burritos.

The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, making it a great spot to start your day in Edinburgh. Reservations are recommended as it can get quite busy.

FAQs: Things to Do in Edinburgh

In this section, we provide answers to common questions relating to the best things to do in Edinburgh.

What is the best time to visit Edinburgh?

The best time to visit Edinburgh depends on your preferences and what you plan to do while you're there. The city is beautiful and vibrant year-round, but peak tourist season is in the summer months (June-August) when the weather is mild and there are many festivals and events taking place. However, this is also when the city is the most crowded and prices for accommodation and attractions are highest.

How much are the tickets for the Scottish national gallery?

Admission to the Scottish National Gallery is free of charge, although donations are welcomed to support the museum's ongoing work and exhibitions. However, there may be a charge for special exhibitions or events, so it's always a good idea to check the museum's website or contact them directly for more information on pricing and availability.

Summing up: Best Things to Do in Edinburgh

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh. The city is full of history, culture, and natural beauty that offers a wide range of activities for travelers.

From exploring its famous landmarks like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile to experiencing its vibrant festivals, and enjoying its stunning parks and gardens, there is something for everyone.

Touring its museums, galleries, and theaters, sampling its delicious food, and even taking a bike tour, are just some of the many things visitors can do. With so much to see and do, Edinburgh is a destination that will leave a lasting impression on any traveler, Edinburgh is definitely one of the best places to visit in the UK.