Things to Do in Edinburgh

St Giles' Cathedral

Landmarks

As mediaeval masterpieces go, this cathedral takes some beating. Gothic arches soar heavenward, borne atop thousand-year-old columns, inspiring awe in many a neck-craning visitor. The Thistle Chapel is every inch a modern-day Camelot, injecting intrigue with complex carvings in wood and stone. It wouldn’t be Scotland without bagpipe-playing cherubs on stained-glass windows!

Accommodations near St Giles' Cathedral
  • St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, EH1 1RE
  • Open Monday-Saturday 09.00-17.00, Sunday 13.00-17.00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
  • http://www.stgilescathedral.org.uk/
Scottish National Museum

Museums

What do Dolly the Sheep and a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton have in common? They both “live” in the Scottish National Museum, of course! Behind its façade – half-sleek cladding, half-stained Victorian stone – lies a treasure trove of interactive exhibits, covering topics from Ancient Egypt to video games. If you’re a fan of Scottish history, then you’ve come to the right place.

Accommodations near Scottish National Museum
Edinburgh Castle

Monuments

Hail the seat of Scottish power! This lofty castle’s perched atop an extinct volcano, a vaunted vantage point it’s held for over a millennium. Stare down the stony visages of Scottish heroes Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, whose statues guard the gate. Admire arcane accessories like the wonderfully named Stone of Destiny, used in coronations since the Middle Ages.

Accommodations near Edinburgh Castle
Scott Monument

Monuments

The Scott Monument’s a curious thing. Once described as a “vulgar” by Charles Dickens, it definitely catches the eye for better or worse. This freestanding Neo-Gothic tower looms over Princes Street in blackened sandstone, complete with fin-like protrusions and statues of characters from Sir Walter Scott’s writings. Huff and puff your way up its 287-steps for tip-top views.

Accommodations near Scott Monument
Princes Street Gardens

Parks

What a change! Once upon a time, there was a putrid moat called Nor Loch, which gave Edinburgh its nickname of “Auld Reekie” (Old Smelly). All that changed when it was transformed into charming gardens with rolling lawns, stately statues and fetching flowerbeds. Head there on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) for a full-on Scotch knees-up complete with fireworks and live music.

Accommodations near Princes Street Gardens
Camera Obscura

Popular Areas

Even in the age of “selfie sticks” and plasma TV, there’s a nostalgic pleasure to be taken from seeing an old camera obscura. At this museum, you can marvel at the same projected images of Edinburgh that have delighted curious visitors for the last 150 years. Since then, they’ve added a raft of other mind-bending illusions, including holograms, a hall of mirrors and a giant kaleidoscope.

Accommodations near Camera Obscura
  • Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND
  • Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-18:00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
  • http://www.camera-obscura.co.uk/
Calton Hill

Parks

If Edinburgh’s known as the “Athens of the North”, it’s down to the National Monument on Calton Hill. But rather than fronting a hilltop temple complex, its giant Parthenon-style columns stand alone against the sky, frozen in an eerie state of undress. This unfinished monument’s a dramatic photo op. Romantics take note – the sunset over Edinburgh’s sure to set hearts ablaze.

Accommodations near Calton Hill
Holyrood Park

Parks

Cluttered by cobwebs? Blow them away with a bracing walk around blustery Holyrood Park. Its tawny, windswept cliffs and icy lochs will give you a stirring taste of Scotland’s wild countryside. Scramble up the volcanic crag of Arthur’s Seat, stopping to shudder at the ghostly silhouette of crumbling St Anthony’s Chapel. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the city.

Accommodations near Holyrood Park
Royal Yacht Britannia

Landmarks

A seafaring palace. Britannia used to be Queen Elizabeth II’s floating royal residence, ruling the waves for 44 years and clocking up over a million miles. It’s now a moored-up museum, where mere mortals can imagine regal life on the high seas. Marvel at the engine room and admire her Majesty’s own Rolls Royce. High tea and scones in the tea room is the icing on the cake.

Accommodations near Royal Yacht Britannia
Edinburgh Zoo

Attractions

This is Edinburgh’s animal kingdom, where kings parade on a daily basis. King penguins, that is. Every day, these two-tone birds go for a regal waddle round a route lined with adoring fans. Birds not your bag? Monkey around in the impressive Budongo Trail, dedicated to the conservation of chimpanzees. Book ahead to catch a glimpse of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the UK’s only pandas.

Accommodations near Edinburgh Zoo
  • 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS
  • Open Monday-Sunday 09:00-16:30. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
  • http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/

Reviews of Edinburgh

10

Exceptional

July 26, 2016

Loved the People of Edinburgh- They made my day. People of a city are the true representative of the richness of a place. They simply are amazing people. One takeaway- keep the exact change if you are using bus service, Bus drivers do not keep change.
Kumar A
United Kingdom
1 review
10

Exceptional

July 27, 2016

beautiful and vibrant city with a lot to see and great transportation from airport to city and tour buses were very easy to get around.
Whai Ming
United States of America
14 reviews
8

Very good

July 26, 2016

We enjoyed the Royal Mile area from the Castle to the Palace. Having high tea at the Palace for lunch was a highlight. We did the Whiskey Exeperience, Edinburgh Dungeon and Royal Botanical Gardens. Good mix of activities for our teens. We accessed everything by public bus.
Judith
United States of America
1 review
10

Exceptional

July 27, 2016

The right city for a short stay, lots to do and beautiful buildings to admire. Friendly people.
Reza
United Kingdom
20 reviews
6

Review score

July 27, 2016

I'm afraid it was raining all day, We thought the entry to the castle was over priced. Prefer the highlands.
Robert
United Kingdom
15 reviews
8

Very good

July 26, 2016

Runrig at the castle and dinner at Chaopraya were our highlights. The rain is always the downside of Edinburgh
Philip
United Kingdom
5 reviews
4

Review score

July 26, 2016

I usually love the travel lodge in princess st but I thought a change would be nice how wrong was I
esther
United Kingdom
6 reviews

Accommodations and Hotels in Edinburgh

Motel One Edinburgh-Princes

9 Wonderful

Score from 4025 reviews

$118

Average price per night
  • 10-15 Princes Street, New Town, Edinburgh
Royal British, Princes Street

7.9 Good

Score from 1648 reviews

$119

Average price per night
  • 20 Princes Street, New Town, Edinburgh
The Roxburghe

8.8 Excellent

Score from 2860 reviews

$147

Average price per night
  • 38 Charlotte Square, New Town, Edinburgh
The George Hotel

8.7 Excellent

Score from 815 reviews

$192

Average price per night
  • 19-21 George St, New Town, Edinburgh
Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh

8.7 Excellent

Score from 3473 reviews

$185

Average price per night
  • The Royal Mile, Old Town, Edinburgh
Apex Waterloo Place Hotel

8.9 Excellent

Score from 2212 reviews

$160

Average price per night
  • 23-27 Waterloo Place, Princes Street, Edinburgh
Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel

8.8 Excellent

Score from 2902 reviews

$158

Average price per night
  • 61 Grassmarket, Old Town, Edinburgh
Apex Grassmarket Hotel

8.5 Very good

Score from 4353 reviews

$149

Average price per night
  • 31-35 Grassmarket, Old Town, Edinburgh
Albany Ballantrae Hotel

8.3 Very good

Score from 2236 reviews

$106

Average price per night
  • 39-47 Albany Street, New Town, Edinburgh
Discover Edinburgh

Popular Neighborhoods in Edinburgh

West End

205 properties

West End’s all about performance. This district’s chock-full of theatres, cinemas and concert venues. It really comes into its own during August’s Fringe Festival, when you can barely walk for grinning street comics or touts thrusting flyers into your hand. Need a break from the theatricality? Slip into Caley Sample Rooms for an off-stage brew.

Princes Street

131 properties

A thoroughly famous thoroughfare. This mile-long street’s a hit with retail fiends, who flock to emporia like Jenners Department Store. It’s also foremost on the tourist trail, with the Scott Monument and sweeping views up to the castle. Sniffy about Scottish cuisine? Buck those hesitations at classy Contini’s, inside the National Gallery.

Old Town

118 properties

Edinburgh Old Town oozes mystery. Its cobbled “wynds” (narrow alleyways) entice and delight with unexpected nooks and crannies that urge you to explore. In the town that spawned Stevenson’s “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, let Grassmarket’s cosy pubs bring out the bard in you. To unravel the ghostly tales behind Old Town’s hidden gems, join a guided tour.

Royal Mile

104 properties

This street’s a mile-long history lesson. As you stroll down from Edinburgh Castle towards Holyrood Palace, look out for St Giles Cathedral – it leaves onlookers agape with its Gothic flourishes and fifty shades of grey sandstone. During the Fringe Festival, the Royal Mile teems with street performers and enthralled tourists.

Haymarket

82 properties

Hay ho, let’s go! Commuters zoom in and out of Edinburgh’s central business district in a whirl of brogues and briefcases. On match days, you’ll see (and hear) rugby fans bustle their way to iconic Murrayfield Stadium. There’s plenty to please foodies, too – from First Coast’s Scottish fare to Lovecrumbs’ exceedingly good cakes.

New Town

59 properties

Don’t be fooled by the name – New Town’s not that new. But its open spaces and elegant Georgian façades stand in stark contrast to the scrunched mediaeval maze of Old Town. Hidden behind neo-classical columns, New Town’s flats are among the city’s most sought after. If you fancy going the full Scottish, pick up a bespoke kilt from 21st Century Kilts.

Broughton

44 properties

Broughton’s an up-and-comer. This residential district’s flourishing into a nucleus of fine dining, funky bars and boutiques. Treacle serves up curious cocktails, Kitchin’s a hit for slap-up meals and the Pink Triangle flaunts fab nightlife for all persuasions. Intrigued by the local delicacy, deep-fried Mars bar? Tuck in at Café Piccante.

Bruntsfield

9 properties

Bruntsfield’s a leafy district where students eat, drink and sleep. On sunny days, grab a corner-shop beer and join the fresh-faced crowds in The Meadows Park, where you’ll find picnics, frisbees and sun cream galore. Head to funky gastro-pub Blackbird for Sunday brunch, before stopping off at Cameo Cinema’s cosy bar for a pre-film pint.

Stockbridge

9 properties

Local cheesemongers, high-class delis, microbreweries, vintage clothes shops… no wonder Stockbridge is consistently voted among the UK’s coolest places to live. Adjust your horn-rimmed specs, fasten that top button and join the locals at Stockbridge Tap Pub or The Last Word cocktail saloon. To escape society’s trappings, go for a stroll along leafy Water of Leith.

Morningside

6 properties

Morningside – lovely name, lovely place. This quiet area’s townhouses are home to Edinburgh’s best-lined pockets. Potter around like a leisurely local, stopping off for lunch at Nonna’s Kitchen (try the pumpkin ravioli). Then spend an evening of well-oiled repartee in legendary pub Canny Man’s, purveyor of countless single malt whiskies.

Portobello

6 properties

“Oh I do love to be beside the seaside…”. Well, by the Firth of Forth, anyway. Portobello combines the faded charm of old-time beach resorts with an eco-conscious community spirit. You won’t find your standard superstores here – just friendly joints serving organic, locally sourced grub. Check out the Espy or The Tide to sample the “Porty” vibe.

Local Tips for Edinburgh

Water of Leith
Sally by Sally

Sally moved to Edinburgh over 3 years ago and enjoys its sights as much as its friendly atmosphere.

The Water of Leith riverside trail is a lovely way to explore the city by foot or bike. The river flows from the Pentland Hills, through the city and onto the Firth of Forth inlet. The 19-kilometre-long path is home to a diverse number of plants and animals.

  • Water of Leith Visitor Centre, 24 Lanark Road Edinburgh EH14 1TQ
  • www.waterofleith.org.uk
  • Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-16:00
Edinburgh's hidden bars: Panda and Sons
Brogan by Brogan

Brogan is new to Edinburgh but already loves its vibe and that there is always something going on.

Disguised as a barber shop, I was lucky enough to stumble upon this wee gem. One of the city's many hidden bars, Panda and Sons is a modern-day speakeasy serving quirky cocktails. If you go on a Saturday night, there is the added bonus of free popcorn to nibble on.

  • 79 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4NF
  • www.pandaandsons.com
  • Open Monday-Thursday 16:00-01:00, Friday-Sunday 15:00-01:00
Greyfriars Bobby
Noemi by Noemi

Noemi swapped sunny Spain for a rather chillier Edinburgh but still loves it 11 years later.

A dear icon of the city, wee Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye terrier who supposedly guarded the grave of his master for 14 years and has been commemorated in books and films. Stop to view the pooch’s famous statue next to Greyfriar’s Kirk Church, in the heart of the old town.

  • Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh, EH1
Arthur's Seat
Dympna by Dympna

Dympna was born and raised in Edinburgh and is still resident in the capital city.

For an invigorating adventure, a hike up Arthur’s Seat is a must. A mountain in the middle of the city, join its footpath starting across from Holyrood Palace, or head up towards Pollock Halls. The walk is certainly worth it and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views over Edinburgh!

  • 1 Queens Drive, Edinburgh, EH8 8HG
  • www.edinburgh.gov.uk
  • Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
The Shore
Casey by Casey

No matter how many times she leaves, Casey always finds her way back to her beautiful hometown.

Once run-down and industrial, The Shore has evolved into a lively, vibrant area and one of my favourites in the city. It’s home to Edinburgh’s highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, cocktail bars, pubs, a floating restaurant and one of the best cake shops in the city.

  • The Shore, Edinburgh, EH6 6QW
Mary King's Close
Troy by Troy

South African Troy came to the city 9 years ago for 2 months and liked it so much he never left.

Below Edinburgh’s lively streets lies an underground city which housed its ancient population. Mary King’s Close’s amazing actors bring 17th-century Edinburgh to life, taking you on a tour along the remains of these subterranean streets and recounting the city’s murky past.

  • 2 Warriston's Close, High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PG
  • www.realmarykingsclose.com
  • Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-17:00. Changes seasonally. Check website for details.
City Ghost Tours
Emma by Emma

Now living in London, Glaswegian Emma enjoys visiting Edinburgh whenever she’s north of the border.

A great way to bring Edinburgh’s “nooks and crannies” to life is with one of the city ghost tours. Beginning on the Royal Mile, they lead you down eerie alleyways and into spooky cellars. Hilarious tour guides will entertain you, mixing history with jokes and the odd blood-curdling scream.

  • There are several providers in town.
The Elephant House
Angel by Angel

Spaniard Ángel spent a year studying in Edinburgh and loves the magic that the city has.

You’ve probably heard the story of how J.K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter on a little paper napkin. What you might not know is that she did this in the Elephant House Café - a great spot to have a cup of tea in the midst of the atmospheric old town and overlooking Edinburgh Castle.

  • 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EN
  • www.elephanthouse.biz
  • Open Monday–Thursday 08:00–22:00, Friday 08:00–23:00, Saturday 09:00–23:00, Sunday 09:00–22:00
Inverleith Park
Michael by Michael

Originally from the Western Isles, Michael loves Edinburgh’s charm, history and the lovely locals.

Inverleith Park is just a stone’s throw from Stockbridge and offers one of the best views of Edinburgh’s skyline. It hosts festivals and fairs throughout the summer, and there are also loads of shops, restaurants and bars nearby.

  • Arboretum Road, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ
See what other visitors said

Best of Edinburgh

Like anywhere in the UK, history is in your face - which is one reason I love going there. Edinburgh is no exception. What with the Castle in the middle of town and the Palace of Holyrood on the east end, along with all of the other history steeped into every square inch of this elegant city, I recommend it to all. I first visited it as a mouthy 16 year old back in 1967 ... and yet I had enough maturity (buried somewhere deep inside me!) to fall in love with it even back then ... finally got to come back in 2007 and then again last week. An elegant city ... and don't confuse it as being just "more of England" ... it is TOTALLY different from England!

Edinburgh bus tours hop on hop off 1 day pass. Buy the ticket mid morning so you can use it until the time of purchase the next day. We used the second day to visit the Royal Britannia Yacht. Use google maps to inform on which local bus to catch back to your hotel location.

Edinburgh castle was a fantastic, day out for the whole family, grandparents, parents and children. Loads to see, very informative staff and lots to see and discuss. View fantastic. Tip, book ahead on line to save long queue (we actually did it while stood in queue)

Booking.com asked travelers...

Why do you recommend Edinburgh for food?

Ate at a restaurant called McKirdy's Steakhouse. A family affair where the meat is supplied by the butcher who is a family member. Great knowledge & recommendation of steaks to fit your personal requirements. Friendly Staff and excellent service.

International Science Festival events

Yes - good vintage and retro shops

Great record shops!

Explore on foot

Transportation

Edinburgh Transportation

Air – Edinburgh International Airport

Edinburgh Airport is located 13 km outside the city. The Lothian Bus Airlink 100 connects you to Waverley Railway Station in 40 minutes and costs GBP 4.50 each way, also stopping at Haymarket Station and the West End. Nightbus N22 runs from 00:47 to 04:17, costing GBP 3. The city centre-bound trams run every 8-12 minutes from the airport, taking around 35 minutes and costing GBP 5 for a single ticket (GBP 8 return). A taxi to the city centre will cost you around GBP 25.

Train

Waverley Railway Station is Edinburgh’s main hub just next to Princes Street. Trains are used mainly to travel to the suburbs and neighbouring towns. The East Coast line ends at London Kings Cross, and regular connections to Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Perth are run by First Scotrail. Haymarket Station is the second main station and a commuter hub, it's also the closest station to Murrayfield Rugby Stadium and EEIC Conference Centre.

Bus

Edinburgh's maroon-coloured Lothian Buses run all over the city, while Lothian Country Buses go to the outskirts. The city centre is fairly walkable but buses are good for getting from one side to the other. A single ticket in the City Zone will cost GBP 1.50 and a day ticket GBP 4. You can also purchase a Ridacard, a weekly travel card costing GBP 17 which offers unlimited travel on all forms of transport. Nightbuses run hourly from around midnight.

Tram

The city's 14 km-long tram route goes between York Place and Edinburgh Airport and feeds into a network of over 70 bus routes. Stops include Haymarket, Murrayfield Rugby Stadium, Princes Street and the Gyle Shopping Centre. The service runs 7 days a week, from approximately 06:00 to 22:45. Unlimited travel tickets, including the week-long Ridacard (GBP 17), can be used across the whole public transport network.

Taxi

Black cabs can be picked up around the city centre, or hailed at taxi ranks, and there's no need to pre-book. They are, however, generally quite expensive costing about GBP 15 for a cross-town trip. They can seat 5-6 people.

Car

Driving in central Edinburgh is tricky in the old town and around Princes Street. There are a few 24-hour multi-storey car parks which will cost about GBP 3 an hour, or GBP 15 a day. You can't park on main roads between 08:30 and 18:30 Monday - Saturday and at all other times you must pay at a ticket machine, where rates are about GBP 1.60 per hour. Traffic wardens can impose a GBP 60 fine on cars without tickets. Remember not to park on double yellow lines!

Food in Edinburgh

Top Restaurants in Edinburgh

Mid-Range Fare
Mexican
Mariachi's
Mid-Range Fare
Scottish
Frankenstein
Cheap Eats
Scottish
The Elephant House
  • 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EN
  • Open Monday–Thursday 08:00–22:00, Friday 08:00–23:00, Saturday 09:00–23:00, Sunday 09:00–22:00
  • www.elephanthouse.biz
  • 0044 1312205355
Cheap Eats
Bar Bites
Under the Stairs
Mid-Range Fare
Middle Eastern
Hanam's
Cheap Eats
Italian
Vittoria on the Bridge
  • 19 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EN
  • Open Sunday–Tuesday 10:00–22:00, Wednesday–Saturday 10:00–23:00
  • 0044 1312251740
Upscale Dining
Italian
El Divino
Upscale Dining
Seafood
Ondine
Upscale Dining
Scottish
The Grain Store
Mid-Range Fare
Thai
Thai Orchid
Upscale Dining
Scottish
Howie's
Cheap Eats
International
Oink
Upscale Dining
Scottish
The Witchery by the Castle
Mid-Range Fare
Bar Bites
BrewDog Bar
  • 143 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JS
  • Open Monday–Saturday 12:00–01:00, Sunday 12:30–01:00
  • www.brewdog.com
Cheap Eats
American
City Café
Mid-Range Fare
Mexican
Viva Mexico
  • 41 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1BS
  • Open Monday–Friday 12:00–14:00 and 18:00–22:30, Saturday 12:00–22:30
  • 0044 1312265145
Mid-Range Fare
Thai
Ting Thai Caravan
  • 8-9 Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2QZ
  • Open Monday–Sunday 12:00–22:00
  • 0044 1312259801
Cheap Eats
Asian
Paradise Palms
Mid-Range Fare
British
Mum's
Cheap Eats
Desserts
Mary's Milk Bar
  • Mary's Milk Bar, 19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2HS
  • Open Tuesday–Sunday 11:00–19:00
  • www.marysmilkbar.com
Upscale Dining
Scottish
Union of Genius
Mid-Range Fare
Scottish
Albanach
Cheap Eats
Brazilian
Tupiniquim
Cheap Eats
Cafe
The Edinburgh Larder
Cheap Eats
International
Urban Angel
Find accommodations in Edinburgh

Enter your email address and we'll resend your confirmation

Please enter a valid email address.

We've resent your requested confirmations to

Please note that email delivery can take up to 10 minutes

Sorry, we were unable to resend your requested confirmations

Manage An Existing Booking

  • Change dates
  • Edit guest details
  • Contact the property
  • Upgrade room
  • Cancel booking
  • And more...