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As far as incredible scenery goes, Scotland plays in a league of its own! Who can say no to craggy gloomy castles, wild lochs and beaches, spectacular highlands, bagpipes and kilts, whiskey, and fascinating legends? Never mind the fact that somehow it makes even foggy weather seem romantic.

I am not even a bit surprised that Scotland is considered one of the best travel destinations in the world. Nor am I surprised that its capital, Edinburgh, is right there in the top spots along with the UK’s capital London.

It’s hard to find something that you can’t enjoy while in Edinburgh!
It’s one thing to have a rich history to flaunt, and another to transform the beautiful heritage into a proud tradition. Stunning old architecture, an impressive castle, and mesmerizing views from all around the city’s landmarks mix with the “new” – in the form of art galleries, museums, and the famous cultural and musical festivals Edinburgh houses. 

The somber theatrical vibe of the city can be found especially in the Old Town with its narrow streets and steep stairs, while the New Town feels a little lighter in spirit and elegant. Nonetheless, both of them are exquisite and worthy of the Unesco Heritage site status. So, let’s start discovering what are the 25 Best Things to see in Edinburgh, Scotland:

1. Edinburgh Castle

Start the Edinburgh tour by taking in the imposing views of the famous Edinburgh Castle. Standing on Castle Rock, the mighty defensive fortress, has been guarding the city for centuries. Climbing the steps of Castle Hill feels like a walk through history as the Castle has changed a lot from a fortress, royal residence, prison, and garrison to the museum and landmark that it is today. 

There are so many fascinating details about this place! For instance, did you know that the ships on the Firth of Forth synchronize their clock with the famous cannon One O’clock Salute? Or that the stunning Crown Jewels and the famous Stone of Destiny, the symbol of Scots Monarchy can be seen here? 

A true gem of Edinburgh, the Castle is both perfect for featuring in your photo collection and the perfect place to capture the city’s spirit!

2. Dean Village

Edinburgh has quite a few must-have experiences like seeing the Old Town with its Castle, Arthur’s Seat, and enjoying a glass of old whiskey or a play. I would add visiting Dean Village to the list of the category of lesser-known experiences but it would be a real pity to miss this old So-Edinburgh part of the city. 

By the Leigh Waters, you can still discover hidden mill stones and water mills as well as the Well Court, where the mill workers lived. 

3. Arthur’s Seat

A climb to the highest spot in Holyrood Park, to Arthur’s Seat, is not something to skip. 

The ancient dormant volcano will grant you a panoramic view like you couldn’t imagine!

Never mind the fact that the entire trip through Holyrood Park is something you should try regardless of the season as it is always spectacular!

4. Royal Yacht Britannia

Fancy seeing what a Royal floating home looks like? Here is your chance as the Royal Yacht Britannia docked in Leigh and morphed into one of Edinburgh’s main tourist attractions since 1998. 

You can see the Royal Family chambers, and the crew quarters or stop for a tea and cookie break at the Royal Deck Tea Room.

5. National Museum of Scotland

You will never be disappointed by choosing to spend some good hours at the National Museum of Scotland. And expect to see a bit of everything from medieval artifacts, ancient Egypt collections, and the infamous Dolly the cloned sheep. No less than 16 galleries and more than 8000 pieces will make for a most interesting and surprising visit.

6. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

How does a fun day look in Edinburgh? And it doesn’t involve any whiskey drinking! Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions is the kind of mind-bending fun you can safely have with the entire family. Optical illusions, the hall of mirrors, and the fascinating views you get from the camera in the rooftop room. It’s something you don’t want to miss!

7. Palace of Holyroodhouse

There is no better way to describe Holyroodhouse Palace than saying that when in Edinburgh, this is the official residence of the Queen. You might not get a lot of chances to see her, as she is in the city just for a week each summer, but for the rest of the year, you get the chance to visit the Palace and admire all the luxury and beauty this castle holds. 

For other enchanting spots to visit, Framey has created a lovely collection to inspire you: Charming castles and museums in Edinburgh.

8. Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Church and the oldest graveyard in Edinburgh are worth your time and definitely Edinburghesque places to check. But the most heartwarming fact about this picturesque location is the statue of the loyal Skye Terrier Bobby, who followed his master to the grave and refuse to leave his side. 

9. Forth Road Bridge

Another Unesco World Heritage site in Edinburgh is the Forth Road Bridge. 

The architectural 541-meter-long masterpiece was back in 1890 when it opened, the longest railway bridge, crossing the Forth estuary. Its striking industrial shape with its reddish silhouette was and still is an engineering masterpiece. 

10. Hopetoun House

If you want to see how does the Scottish finest stately home looks like, you need to check the Hopetoun House. It is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh and the charity looking after it makes sure that the entire house and the estate are well preserved and protected. The beautiful building, the manicured English garden, and the lake all create such an amazing atmosphere that it is no wonder why this place is such an attraction as a wedding venue and movie set as well as the occasional summer classical music performances.

11. St Giles’ Cathedral

In the heart of the Old Town, on the Royal Mile lies Edinburgh’s main worship place, St. Giles’ Cathedral. It is not just the most important Cathedral but also one of the most famous landmarks in the city. A look at the Gothic masterpiece and its architecture, the stained glass windows, and the clock tower are just some of the features you can admire here!

12. Grassmarket

One of the oldest parts of Edinburgh, the Grassmarket, has been a market ever since 14 the century. But it’s not cattle and corn selling that made this place infamous: this part of the city where the public executions took place as well as riots. Looking around the square, admiring the mix of architecture, pubs, and shops you can feel the turn back the time and imagine how this place looked with medieval taverns and inns and carriages and cattle.

13. Leith

The historic port of Leith is considered to be one of the best places to live in Edinburgh! The cool area is buzzing with life and good restaurants as well as the traditional pubs and bars. Add in the parks and thrift shops and you will see why this area is one of the best to live in, buy a property or simply spend time in, while in Edinburgh.

14. Nelson Monument

Located on Carlton Hill, the Nelson Monument is yet another one of the city’s touristic spots, you do not want to miss. It is a commemorative tower monument dedicated to Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar Square.

15. St. Cuthbert’s Parish Church

Believed to be the oldest Christian church in Edinburgh, St. Cuthbert’s Parish is a lively and interesting part of the city’s history and culture. Looking at its imposing presence you can feel the importance it had throughout history. And though there is a lot to admire, I suggest you have a look at the ceiling paintings or the famous David and Goliath stained glass window. 

16. Royal Mile

One of the best places to visit in Edinburgh lies in between two of its most famous landmarks, the Edinburgh Castle and the Hollyrood Palace. The Royal Mile is actually the very heart of the historic part of the city and it is worth taking the time to leisurely walk it while getting a deeper knowledge of Edinburgh’s vibe. 

PS: This is also one of the best places to go souvenir-hunting. 

17. William Wallace Statue

Does Braveheart ring any bells? 

If the answer is yes, this is one of the statues commemorating him. And if the answer is no, know that William Wallace is one of Scotland’s most beloved heroes and his statue stands guard to the Castle and with the statue of Robert Bruce. 

18. Water of Leith Walkway

The city of Edinburgh is a city to be taken on foot and admired in depth. And if you do not mind a little exercise you should take the Water of Leigh Walkway and get the time to enjoy the peaceful stroll. Anyone is welcome to enjoy the city trail from tourists to locals, from runners to bikers and dog walkers. 

19. Princes Street

If the Royal Mile was the main street attraction in the Old City, Princes Street is the main shopping venue in New Town. But it’s not just that it’s an attraction for shopping enthusiasts, as there is something special like hidden architecture that gives it character and substance. It is quite worth it to have a deeper look at all the buildings!

20. New Town

The word that best describes the New Town in Edinburgh is elegance. 

All around the New Town you will discover Georgian Architecture, large venues, and wide, open squares. Quite the opposite of the Old Town. But it’s not a matter of what is best, it’s a matter of being such a delightful combination that gives Edinburgh its mixed style. And come to think of it. New Town is kind of not so “new” anymore, as most of the Georgian city was built before 1850. 

21. Holyrood Abbey

The visit to the 12-century abbey, Holyrood is like walking in the footsteps of the royal family. A visit to Holyrood Abbey’s ruins includes sights of the first processional doorway, the famous Gothic facade of the rebuilt church, and the Royal Vault. 

22. Dalmeny House

Are you already into the Scottish Stately homes? Dalmeny House is yet another one to add to your list. Mind you that it is still a very family-lived home, it is also open to public view. 

Dalmeny house will impress you alright with a Tudor-style great house as well as a vast collection of artwork and furniture. 

23. Scott Monument

The Princes Street Gardens is the place where you get to discover the of the most emblematic landmarks in Edinburgh, the Scott Monument.

The impressive monument is dedicated to the writer Walter Scott and mind you that is a sight to admire as well as a place from where you get to admire the beautiful garden, as it also had a viewing platform located on the third floor. 

And since there are quite a lot of monuments to see in Edinburgh, you might want to check Framey’s collection: Top sights in Edinburgh, and see what inspires you next!

24. Craigmillar Castle

For sure Edinburgh Castle is the most famous one in the city. But Craigmillar Castle is the one you might want to visit as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the tourist path. 

You can admire the city from the Tower, wander through Craigmillar Castle’s little stone paths and just enjoy the medieval vibe of the old building.

25. Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery is rightfully considered one of the best in the world. It contains works of some of the best artists such as Raphael, Monet, and Van Gogh as well as all the most representative Scottish art. 

And it is not just informational and cultural. It is something you can enjoy on your own, with family,  and as a bonus, it is surprisingly a free-of-charge visit!

Don’t think for a moment that you will not fall in love with Edinburgh’s breathtaking architecture and city! But what I love most is its distinct style. Strong like an excellent old whiskey but with a touch of artistic and classy vibe, like its most popular festivals that you should check. 

And for the record, I do hope you enjoyed my selection of the 25 Best things to see in Edinburgh, Scotland. I sure did.

So, remember that if ever in need of other splendid travel destination ideas, just download the Framey App (available both on Google Play and App Store). 

It will work wonders for your inspiration!

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