Top Edinburgh's landmarks
Edinburgh is a mecca of history, entertainment and intrigue. From its underground vaults to the towering peak of Arthur's Seat, this destination has an endless range of attractions to offer. One of the most difficult parts about visiting Edinburgh is figuring out what to do while you're there. This guide to some of the area's top highlights will give you an idea of where to start.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Forth Bridge is both functional and fascinating. The bridge connects Edinburgh to Fife. The first multispan cantilever bridge in the world, this marvel of engineering opened in 1890. Spanning 2,529 meters, this is still one of the longest bridges of its type in the world. Three double cantilever towers soaring over 100 meters in height support the bridge, which is constructed from roughly 54,000 tons of steel plate. The Forth Bridge is designed for railway travel and continues to support passenger and freight cars crossing its length today. An engineering marvel, this is a sight you must see during your visit to Edinburgh.
The top paid tourist attraction in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic sights in the city. The oldest part of the castle, St Margaret's Chapel, was constructed in the 12th century. The Crown Square, home of the Royal Palace, was built over many years, reaching completion in the 1500s. The Great Hall was constructed at this time as well. Touring the castle, you can still see these historic areas.
The National War Museum of Scotland is housed within the castle as well. Here you'll find wartime artifacts that span the centuries, including Highland broadswords, chemical warfare suits, and the famous painting, The Thin Red Line.
Guided tours are available to help you take in all the highlights of the castle, including the crown jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, and the Mons Meg, a famous 15th-century gun. If you prefer to explore on your own, an audio tour can serve as your guide. Work up an appetite exploring this destination and you can stop in for a meal at the Redcoat Cafe or enjoy a sweet treat at The Tea Rooms in Crown Square. Allow plenty of time to appreciate all that the castle has to offer.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is more than just a historic highlight. This still serves as the home for Scottish royalty and is the official residence of the queen when she's in Edinburgh. Touring the palace, you can view 14 state apartments which boast an unparalleled collection of Flemish and French tapestries.
Some of the most famous of these chambers are those that formerly belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. Ascend the winding staircase to the oldest section of the palace. See the supper room where Mary witnessed the murder of her private secretary and explore the Outer Chamber where she took her visitors.
The expansive Great Gallery features an extensive collection of portraits featuring 95 kings and a single queen. In the Throne Room, you can view the two thrones commissioned by King George V in 1911.
Beyond the walls of Holyroodhouse, you can stroll the Palace Gardens or take in the sights in Holyrood Abbey.
St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles' Cathedral, founded in 1124, is a richly historic destination. Situated on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, this destination has a central location that makes it impossible to miss. It served John Knox during the Scottish Reformation and became known as the Cradle of Presbyterianism. In 1911, Thistle Chapel was added to the cathedral. This serves as the home of the Knights of the Order of the Thistle.
You can attend daily services in the chapel or take one of the 20-minute tours which are offered throughout the day. Small groups may even access the rooftop on special tours. The cathedral's shop offers souvenirs to take home as mementos from your visit.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has a rich history dating back 350 years. Covering 70 acres, this breathtaking landscape features 100,000 plants and 10 glasshouses. A beautiful choice for the entire family, this attraction is ideal when you want a laid-back opportunity to stroll. While you'll see many delights that are native to Edinburgh, you can also explore plants from 10 climatic zones around the globe. Enjoy highlights like the Rock Garden, Chinese Hillside and Heath Garden on your visit.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is an iconic street that stretches down Old Town from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The main stretch boasts numerous highlights, including Parliament Hall, the Scotch Whisky Experience, the Museum of Childhood and the Real Mary King's Close. The alleys branching off the Royal Mile are intriguing as well. Don't miss the opportunity to ramble off the beaten path and explore the boutiques and pubs hidden along the cobblestone streets.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is a treasure trove of fascinating galleries. You'll find more than 800 objects in the Window on the World exhibit alone. Other highlights include the Natural World galleries, Science and Technology galleries and Art, Design and Fashion Galleries. You can watch the Millennium clock chime the hour, see a cast of a towering T. rex skeleton and even run on a human hamster wheel. This museum is filled with hands-on exhibits and playful experiences that can keep you engaged all day long.
Make sure to include some, if not all, of these attractions in your visit to Edinburgh. Such highlights are not to be missed. Don't be surprised as you're exploring the city if you find dozens more that are just as enticing. Edinburgh is truly a destination for all, whether you're planning a family vacation or taking a honeymoon abroad. Start planning your unforgettable trip to Edinburgh with an itinerary of these highlights now.