Budget Travel,  City Guides,  Scotland

Places to visit in Edinburgh

The capital city of Scotland- Edinburgh has something to offer for everyone. If you’re a fan of history, you can get lost in the many museums, if you love exploring castles- it has loads of them, if you’re an adventure seeker- it has mountains for you to climb. Read on to see how you can explore the Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Museums, Arthur’s Seat and much more in the “Athens of the north”

 

How to reach Edinburgh


By road:

Edinburgh is 402 miles from London and can be reached in approximately 7 and a half hours. You can also book very cheap buses from National Express. Make sure you book in advance if you’re travelling during the summers and if you’re on a budget.

 

By train:

Trains from London take about 5 and a half hours to reach Edinburgh. You can book a national rail or buy a ticket for a private railway line online. Most trains depart from the King’s Cross Station, London. Trains are the most preferred way of travelling in Scotland as the scenic views you get during the journey are unbeatable. Due to this, rail tickets are the most expensive. If you’re travelling during the summers, make sure you book them well in advance or you might have to pay 100s of pounds for just a one-way journey.

 

By air:

A non-stop flight from London to Edinburgh will take about 1 hour 15 mins. Flying is also the second cheapest and the fastest way to get to Edinburgh from London irrespective of the season.

 

Best time to visit


June to August is the best time to visit Edinburgh as the temperatures are high, the days long and the nights short. Although the hotel and transport prices are at an all-time high and the streets are extremely crowded during this time, but the blue skies, cool nights and scotch surely make up for it.

 

Where to stay


We stayed at a lovely Airbnb at Hawkhill close which was £38 per night. The flat was about 20 minutes walk from the city centre but was also very cheap and super clean.

 

Places to visit


1. Edinburgh Castle:

Entry Fee: Check here.

Transport: Walkable from the Royal Mile road.

Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 5 pm

Scotland’s rich history is reflected perfectly in the Edinburgh castle and this makes the Edinburgh Castle one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland. This castle has been home to the kings, queens, prisoners, and has seen the downfall and rise of Scotland. This huge castle takes almost an entire day to explore. Of course, the time spent in it totally depends on you, but if you are a fan of history, spending an entire day at the Edinburgh Castle is the best thing to do. The castle has many parts like The Great Hall, The Stone of Destiny, The One o’clock gun, etc.

Tip: If you want to save up, do buy the tickets online here. The best way to explore the castle is by taking guided tours. If you’re on a budget, consider buying an audio guide which costs only £2-4.

Also, if you’re a student, make use of your student ID card EVERYWHERE and get concessions.

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2. Holyrood House:

Entry Fee: Check here.

Transport: Walkable from the Royal Mile road.

Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 6 pm

On one end of the Royal Mile, stands the Edinburgh castle, and on the other end, the Holyrood House. The palace is famous for being the royal residence of the queen herself and this is enough to make this one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of Scotland. She spends the first week of summer at the palace engaging with ceremonies, etc. The palace has been the house of the royal families of Scotland from centuries and is open for the public to view throughout the year except for the week when the royal family stays here.

The palace gives you a feel of how life must be for a member of the royal family with its huge halls, gardens, galleries and abbeys.

Tip: To save money, do buy your tickets online here. If you’re a student or are going in a group, you can save money on concessions or group bookings.

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3. Royal Mile:

Entry Fee: None

Transport: It is located in the centre of Edinburgh and is impossible to miss

Opening Hours: 24 hours

It is impossible to go to Edinburgh and not step on the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a long road that makes the backbone of the old town in Edinburgh and is the home of some of the most famous tourist attractions in Edinburgh. It remains one of the busiest roads in town for centuries as it serves the connecting road between the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood House Palace. The road has several cafes and restaurants famous for not just their food but for serving many successful authors as their writing place too. The most interesting part of the road is the presence of “Closes” all along with it. ” Close” refers to a small street that has a dead end and in this case, is also extremely narrow. One of the best things to do in Edinburgh is really just taking a walk on this road!

Tip: Take a walk on this road and you are sure to feel like you’re in a Harry Potter movie. Really, the resemblance is uncanny.

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4. Mary King’s Close:

Entry Fee: Check here.

Transport: Located at the centre of the Royal Mile. Thus, is walkable.

Opening Hours: First tour- 10:15 am; Last tour- 9 pm

Mary King’s Close is not a very popular tourist attraction like the Edinburgh Castle or the Holyrood House Palace. But I would strongly recommend this place. Visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. The Mary King’s Close is basically an underground city in Edinburgh. This was the original city of Edinburgh and due to the construction of new buildings on top, it became an underground world where most of the poor communities lived. The tour guide takes the group to show the original houses, lanes and much more. The underground world is also known to have been haunted and has a certain vibe to it which will definitely give you goosebumps.

Tip: Try visiting this place after dark, if you dare. The closed rooms, dark lanes and the restricted places are even more thrilling when it is dark outside. Book your tickets online here and save yourself some ££.

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5. Arthur’s Seat:

Entry Fee: None

Transport: None

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Arthur’s Seat is probably the most popular trek in Scotland. Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano and is very easy to be climbed on. The top of the mountain is great for beautiful panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh and it can be climbed easily from any direction. The easiest way to climb is to enter Holyrood Park and climb from the east. Taking a trek up Arthur’s Seat is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh.

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6. Royal Yacht Britannia:

Entry Fee: Check here.

Transport: Taxis and local buses

Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

The Royal Yacht has served as a residence for the queen for 40 years and now serves as a tourist attraction. The tour takes you to all parts of the ship including the rooms of the royal family. The yacht also has a tea room and a 5-star hotel inside it.

Tip: Don’t miss out on the student concession on the tickets. Book your tickets here.

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7. Museums:

If you’re into museums and art, Edinburgh is the place for you! Edinburgh has some of the best museums I have ever been to. Some of them are free, most have an entry fee but they’re all worth visiting. here’s a list of all the museums I went to and would highly recommend:

i. National Museum of Scotland

ii. National Portrait Gallery

iii. Museum of Childhood

iv. Writer’s Museum

v. Museum of Childhood

vi. Dynamic Earth

National Portrait Gallery

 

8. Saint Giles Cathedral:

Entry Fee: None

Transport: Walkable from Royal Mile

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Saint Giles Cathedral is one of the best free places to visit in Edinburgh and one of the most famous tourist attractions too. The cathedral is situated in the heart of the city. It is a 12th-century church and has an exceptional interior design. Don’t miss out the intricately designed colourful window glasses.

Tip: Keep a few pounds aside to buy a photography pass at the entrance. You might regret not clicking the pictures of those brightly coloured windows inside the cathedral.


 

9. Greyfriars Kirkyard and Greyfriars Bobby:

Entry Fee: None

Transport: Walkable from Royal Mile

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Bobby’s heartwarming story makes almost every tourist visiting Scotland visit Greyfriars to take a look at his statue. Bobby was John Gray, a night guard at the police station’s dog. He accompanied him everywhere and was with him 24×7. Unfortunately, John was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and couldn’t survive. He was buried at the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. Bobby being the loyal dog to his master, stayed near his grave for days. The guards and gardeners of the graveyard tried many times to evict him but he would come running right back to his master’s grave. The people of Edinburgh noticed him and decided to help him out. He was given a shelter to stay right beside John’s grave and was also given free meals every day at the same cafe he would go to with his late master. He stayed beside John’s grave till his death in 1872 and was given a statue right across the Greyfriars Kirkyard for his loyalty.

The Greyfriars Kirkyard is a huge graveyard with graves of some of the most important families of the UK. It is now well known for having Lord Voldemort’s grave. This is a grave that reads: “In the loving memory of Tom Riddle” and is known to be Voldemort’s grave. In reality, this is a complete sham. We visited this place in the hope of having a grave of a fictional character just for the sake of Harry Potter. But this is a grave of an actual person named Tom Riddle and is mistaken to be Voldemort.


 

10. Scotch Whiskey:

Scotland is known for its Scotch Whiskey. And if you are a fan of whiskey, you have several scotch whiskey tours to choose from in Edinburgh. As I couldn’t do this tour, I don’t really have a recommendation. Although, I would highly recommend buying a scotch whisky experience from Airbnb as it is least likely to be commercial and is also most likely to be authentic, local and cheap.

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A creative writer passionate about travelling. Aims to make travelling easy for the world.

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