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25 Edinburgh Attractions You Really Need To Visit

Edinburgh is teeming with attractions, no matter where you look. For the hidden gems and local secrets, though, we’re the experts. Our staff know the best spots in Edinburgh, and we’re sharing them with you.

 

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What is Edinburgh famous for?

Edinburgh is globally recognised for a whole host of different reasons. One of the big ones is our festival scene. Throughout the year, we celebrate everything in culture, music, art, books and more. One of our most famous festivals is Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We also have a big literary heritage, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studying at the University of Edinburgh, and the story of Harry Potter being born in the city. Last but not least, we have a huge whisky heritage, striking architecture and a brilliant castle. 

 

How do I spend a day in Edinburgh?

Where do we start? First things first, take a scroll down this list and highlight some of your favourite attractions. Then, take a look at the calendar and see what’s happening in our vibrant city during your visit. We have tons of choices for everyone, whether you fancy a spooky ghost tour or a wander around the historic sights and architecture. If you have more modern tastes, the Edinburgh shopping scene is unrivalled, our bars are lively, and our galleries and music venues are invigorating.

 

Is Edinburgh a walkable city?

It may surprise you, but Edinburgh city centre is smaller than many people think. It’s definitely easy to walk around the city, which can sometimes be quicker than getting a taxi or public transport. There are some beautiful sights around the city that you may not notice without walking the streets yourself. That said, if you struggle to walk, it may be easier for you to choose an alternative method of transport. Why not hop on a tour bus instead?

 

 

Edinburgh Attractions

Edinburgh Castle

Towering above the city, Edinburgh Castle might be Scotland’s most famous landmark. Did you know the rock it sits upon is actually an extinct volcano? Make your visit even more exciting by hearing the cannon fire for the One O’Clock Salute, and be sure to marvel over the Crown Jewels on display. Be aware: you need a ticket to enter so it’s good to book in advance.

 

Edinburgh Dungeon

A hair-raising experience, Edinburgh Dungeon leads you on a fascinating and gruesome tour of Edinburgh’s past. Audience participation is encouraged by the dedicated actors at their live shows, making a truly immersive experience. Be prepared for lifelike sets and grisly special effects. It’s not for the faint of heart.

 

Badger & Co.

Step into this Wind in the Willows-inspired cocktail bar, and be transported to the Wild Wood. Their mouthwatering food menu includes vegetarian, plant-based and gluten-free choices, and features the ultimate comfort food. Choose from their small plates to go with an evening of cocktails, or head there for a meal chased by their sweet treats.

 

Calton Hill

Calton Hill

For panoramic views of the city, castle, Arthur’s Seat, Leith and more, Calton Hill is breathtaking. Once you stop marvelling at the spectacular scenery, you can explore the numerous monuments up there. The iconic Scottish National Monument stands strong at the top of the hill after your climb. Other unmissable sights are the National Monument, Nelson’s Monument and the City Observatory.

 

Dynamic Earth

An intriguing name, Dynamic Earth is Edinburgh’s Science Centre. Travel back in their Deep Time Machine and witness the big bang first-hand. Then, take an exhilarating journey across 500 million years of the Earth’s history. You’ll see volcanoes, rainstorms, glaciers and more. If you want to venture beyond our home world, visit the Planetarium to explore the stars.

 

Princes Street Gardens

Separating the Old Town from the New Town, Princes Street Gardens features lots of monuments. The most famous include the Ross Fountain and the Scott Monument, which are perfect photo opportunities. Not many people know that the gardens were formed by draining Nor Loch in the late 18th century, revealing the valley that the gardens now lie in. 

 

Edinburgh Playhouse

Edinburgh Playhouse

The largest all-seated theatre in the UK, Edinburgh Playhouse is renowned for incredible shows and events. Opened in the 1920s as a ‘super cinema’, its annual lineup now includes touring West End shows, big comedic names, Disney and more. The best part? It’s a stone's throw from our boutique hotel in Edinburgh city centre.

 

Panda & Sons

Behind a vintage barbershop front lies this prohibition-style speakeasy, a hidden gem on Queen Street. Extraordinary, original cocktails are accompanied by a wide range of craft beers, with a strong focus on supporting local. The World's Best Bars recommend the location, calling it “cool and quirky”. All are welcome, as long as you keep it hush-hush.

 

St. James Quarter

Opening in 2021, St. James Quarter is a relatively recent addition to Edinburgh. This vibrant shopping centre has all your best-loved high-street brands, including Zara, John Lewis and Calvin Klein. There are also some great eats, like the Scottish-founded Bross Deli and fast food chains like Five Guys. It’s the ultimate place to shop til you drop.

 

The Stand Comedy Club

Get your giggle on with a night of lighthearted laughs at The Stand. Found on York Place (yes, the same street as us!), The Stand made its name as the first dedicated comedy club in Scotland. An intimate, laid-back venue, you can find international names or local Scottish comics. It’s open seven nights a week, and everyone is welcome.

 

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Immerse yourself in Scotland’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art. Beyond the outstanding displays of sculptures, paintings and more, you’ll find the gardens are also a work of art. The dramatic lawn at the front of Modern One was actually designed by landscape architect Charles Jencks. Art and culture lovers, this is your calling.

 

Victoria Street

Victoria Street

This curved street is lined with colourful, quirky shops, cafes and pubs. You could easily spend hours meandering the cobbled street, where you feel like you’re learning the heart of the city. Victoria Street rivals the Shambles in York to claim that it inspired J.K. Rowling to write about Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. We’ll let you make up your own mind…

 

The Real Mary Kings Close

Take a trip down this mysterious Close in Old Town, and you’ll discover a completely new perspective on Edinburgh. Beneath the bustling buildings of the Royal Mile lies an underground world, which was home to residents of Edinburgh for many years. On this guided tour, you’ll hear their stories and learn what life in Edinburgh was really like on the Close.

 

The Devil’s Advocate

Hidden away in Advocate’s Close, in an old Victorian pump house, lies The Devil’s Advocate. Don’t be scared, this mysteriously named location is actually an atmospheric bar and restaurant. Whisky fans will adore their 300-strong collection, and foodies can appreciate the monthly-changing, locally sourced menu. It’s also dog friendly on the terrace and bar.

 

Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat

An ancient volcano, Arthur’s Seat is the highest point of Holyrood Park sitting 25l metres above sea level. Unsurprisingly, it’s another opportunity for sweeping cityscape views. Arthur’s Seat has gained the title of a site with Special Scientific Interest, due to its unique and diverse range of flora and geology. It’s also home to a 2000-year-old hill fort from ancient Edinburgh.

 

Camera Obscura

Sat right next to Edinburgh Castle, the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is unmissable. This attraction has five floors filled with incredible illusions and promises “Britain’s most fun day out”. After exploring the marvellous interior (and snapping lots of pics), head up to the roof terrace for spectacular views of the whole city.

 

Edinburgh Gin Distillery

Edinburgh Gin are very proud of their heritage, and can’t wait to show it to everyone who enters. Visit their West End Distillery to see where they brew their limited-time gins and learn about their story. We recommend booking one of their enthralling tours, but true enthusiasts will love their gin-making workshops.

 

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Located just one mile outside of the city centre, The Royal Botanic Garden has 72 acres of picturesque scenery. World-leading in plant science, conservation, horticulture and education, their living collection of plants is over 350 years old. It’s easy to lose track of time inside, so we’d advise picking out the areas you want to go to in advance. 

 

Brewhemia

Self-labelled as “Scotland’s Beer Palace”, Brewhemia was born from a love of great drinks, delicious Scottish food and adventure. Inside, you’ll find opulence across all six of their themed areas, which range from relaxed lounge to lively beer hall to cocktail bar. In a recent TripAdvisor review, customer Kay A said Brewhemia was the “best first night in Edinburgh”, citing their “excellent service, exceptional food & fabulous live music & atmosphere”.

 

Leith

A thriving port area to the north of the city, Leith is a lively mix of young creatives and long standing residents. Creativity and cultural diversity are everywhere, shown through the sensational mix of restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops. It’s also the famed location of the Royal Yacht Britannia, where you can take a tour of the historic ship.

 

Multrees Walk

Need a little luxury in your life? Multrees Walk is home to a dazzling range of designer boutiques and shops. Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Canada Goose and more have made a home here. At the end of the walk stands Harvey Nichols, where you can shop even more big brand names under one roof. Multrees Walk prides itself on impeccable customer service for a truly indulgent experience.

 

Scottish Whisky Experience

Scotch Whisky Experience

At the crown of the Royal Mile, the Scotch Whisky Experience is first on the list for whisky enthusiasts. Offering tours, a shop and a restaurant, this attraction has been inspiring visitors for over 30 years. Every so often, they host events and tasting experiences, which offer a unique and invaluable insight into their vast collection.

 

Edinburgh Zoo

Come face to face with animals from all over the world, including pandas, giraffes, koalas and more. Fun fact: the zoo is home to the world’s only knighted penguin, Sir Nils Olav III. Visiting the zoo supports the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s conservation efforts worldwide. With frequent events, it’s a great day out for all ages.

 

National Museum of Scotland

Listed on Visit Scotland as one of the UK’s top 10 visitor attractions, the National Museum of Scotland is a must-see. Featuring a diverse collection, the museum covers nature, culture, art, science, technology and Scottish history. Check out their guide to the top ten things to see and do on your visit.

 

Aizle

Feeling adventurous? Aizle is a restaurant… without a menu. Upon arrival, you’ll simply be served whatever is local and seasonal on their six-course tasting experience. This means that dishes change every couple of weeks, or even daily depending on micro-climates, availability and quality assurance. Scared? Don’t worry, they’re Michelin Guide recommended and have 5 stars on TripAdvisor. A recent visitor, jenfleming2018, says “We had an amazing dinner. Everything was perfect”.

 

 

Where to stay in Edinburgh

If you’re looking for a hotel in Edinburgh city centre, Hotel Indigo Edinburgh - York Place is ideally located. Our boutique hotel is inspired by the culture and history of our city, and our staff are always on hand to give you a warm welcome. We also have parking nearby, making it easy for you to venture beyond the city. Discover our Edinburgh hotel deals here.

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Hotel Indigo Edinburgh Reviews

Sophie,

Cambridge

This hotel is such a great find. Its location cannot be beat and the rooms are incredibly nice. Great amenities (including complimentary mini bar) and great service. Would definitely stay here again!


Sue,

Newcastle upon Tyne

I stayed here overnight to see Justin Timberlake on his Man of The Woods Tour. We were greeted with the warmest welcome by the receptionist...genuinely helpful and friendly. We stayed in the Suite, which has everything I could possibly need. A FREE (well stocked) mini bar! Robes, Aveda toiletries, slippers, free calls, a very appreciated cafetiere with ground coffee and a lovely selection of teas. 30mins in and a welcome plate arrived with 5 good size desserts...gorgeous.

Room service was excellent and the breakfast was utterly delicious and brought to the room at no extra charge. The room was very large and spacious with a huge double bed, blissfully comfortable. When needed in the evening the staff pressed a button at reception and a taxi arrived within 2 minutes...Outstanding service!

I had such a fantastic stay here that I shall return in November and I'll be re-booking this Suite.


Micky,

Kingston upon Hull

Less than 10 mins walk from Waverley. Staff were very polite, helpful and friendly throughout our stay. Room was a good size with a great bathroom. Large shower, robes and Aveda products included. Fridge with free cold drinks. Good breakfast with plenty of choice. Both couples enjoyed and would stay again.


Daniel,

Bury

Really nice friendly boutique hotel. We didn't arrive until late but the hotel was more than happy to let us check in late. After checking in we also asked for some area recommendations, which again the staff were more than happy to give us. Our room was really nice and very clean, bed was comfortable and gave us a good night sleep. We stayed for two night and did not hear any noise from the hotel or any of the other guest. In a good location with only a short walk to the shops and restaurant/cinema ! If staying on Edinburgh I would highly recommend this hotel!


Ashley,

Sheffield

Stayed for one night, but very impressed. Receptionist was fantastic, very professional, helpful, good looking and immaculately presented. The room was excellent, very clean, bed comfortable and the shower was fantastic, hot and powerful.

Breakfast well worth the money, with attention to detail and served hot. The location is excellent with just a 10 minutes walk from the station and to Princess Street. I will definitely stay here again.

Great boutique hotel and great value for money. Wish I was staying for longer.


Dave,

Dunfermline

Had a one night stay here. The location is great, right beside a Tram Stop, 2 minute walk to St Andrews Square bus station, 15 min from Waverley Train station and short walk to main shopping and restaurants. Hotel was very clean & comfortable. Good Breakfast. Very friendly staff.


Lynn,

Falkirk

Really nice hotel in a fantastic location for train station, shopping and nightlife. Lovely rooms, with complimentary snacks and lovely Aveda toiletries in the room. Bed was really comfortable, breakfast was also excellent and the staff very friendly. Would definitely recommend this hotel to family and friends visiting Edinburgh.


Rob,

Melbourne

Visited the hotel and stayed 2 nights having stayed at the Indigo in London. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Lovely rooms, great service, very good location opposite the tram stop and bus routes.
Lovely bar and restaurant is on site if you prefer to stay close for dinner!


Scott,

Inverness

I stayed at Hotel Indigo for first time last week, the service from the reception, bar and restaurant staff was faultless. The room was very comfortable and the bed was the comfiest i have ever slept in. The Hotel is situated close to the Playhouse and only 5 minute walk from waverley station, there are several good bars and restaurants in the vicinity. A great Hotel in a good area.

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