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The Ultimate Edinburgh Travel Guide

If you’re looking to get truly spoiled on your staycation, look no further than Edinburgh – the perfect place to lose yourself on ancient cobbled streets while soaking up the very best of Scottish culture.

Home to the Fringe, ceilidhs, medieval castles, MICHELIN-starred restaurants and of course, haggis, Edinburgh offers an unforgettable UK escape for the whole family.

Here, we’ve done our research to create the ultimate Edinburgh travel guide for your staycation satisfaction. From where to stay, things to see and do, romantic experiences and the best time to visit Scotland’s capital, we’ve got you covered.

Places to visit in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has everything you could ever ask for from a staycation. We’re talking history by the castle-load, a thriving foodie and arts scene, internationally renowned festivals, breathtaking landscapes and much, much more. But with so many incredible things to see in Edinburgh, where should you start?

Panoramic view of Edinburgh Castle

1. Explore Edinburgh Castle Overlooking the iconic Princes Street Gardens at the top of Castle Hills, lies a castle steeped in history, just waiting to be explored. Edinburgh Castle is undoubtedly the most famous castle in Scotland and has a rich history as a royal residence, military garrison and prison. Marvel in the mystique of the oldest Crown Jewels in Britain, listen to exciting stories in the Prisoners of War Exhibition and watch the firing of the famous One o'Clock Gun. A part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site, Edinburgh Castle also provides a unique view of the beautiful city of Edinburgh below. 

Looking up at the National Scottish Museum of Modern Art, Edinburgh , Scotland

2. Visit a museum Edinburgh is blessed with an impressive array of museums that cater for all curiosities. If you're in town for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, head over to The Writers' Museum for a cultural tribute to the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns. Or why not satisfy your arty side with a trip to the Scottish National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery where you’ll find works from the likes of Claude Monet to Dora Maar. You could also get closer to the capital with a jaunt around the Museum of Edinburgh or head to the People's Story Museum for a cultural education all about the inhabitants of this amazing city.

Artist performing on Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile, the main street of Edinburgh

3. Go to Edinburgh Festival Fringe There’s no better place in the world to be in August than in Edinburgh – the Fringe is in town! From the weird to the wonderful, the absurd to the arty, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a celebration of international arts and culture, with comedians, artists, dance troupes and musicals travelling from all over the globe to showcase their talent for a rip-roaring three weeks. Why not see a Mexican comic, followed by some theatre from Japan and maybe a Croatian jazz band to finish? The world really is your oyster at this unforgettable event. It’s also an amazing place to indulge in a little bit of celeb spotting in-between acts – who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of Nicola Sturgeon herself!

Person sitting on Arthur's Seat, Scotland, looking down at the view

4. Walk up to Arthur’s Seat Well worth an early wake up, Arthur’s Seat is one of the best places in Edinburgh to watch the sunrise over the ancient city. Offering unrivalled panoramic views of the castle and East Lothian, this dormant yet dignified volcano stands at an impressive 251 metres above sea level and is said to be over 350 million years old. It’s not hard to see why this awe-inspiring mountain has been romanticised in modern literature such as the brilliant One Day by David Nicholls and entwined with many mythological narratives dating back to King Arthur in tales as old as time. 

Things to do in Edinburgh

Auld Reekie really does have something for everyone, the old charmer. The history buffs have Edinburgh Castle, the foodies have haggis, the adventurers have Arthur’s Seat and the arty types have countless museums, from the National Gallery to the Royal Scottish Academy. Need a little more inspiration for your Scottish bucket list? Say no more.

Rosslyn Chapel, Scottish Borders and Whiskey Tour from Edinburgh for Two

Rosslyn Chapel, Scottish Borders and Whiskey Tour from Edinburgh for Two

Soak up all the sights from Edinburgh's surroundings as you embark on an eight-hour guided tour. Setting off from the city centre on a comfy tour bus, you'll travel through the Scottish Borders and take in the spellbinding scenery synonymous with the majestic Scottish countryside. Next, you’ll walk in the footsteps of Tom Hanks at the stunning Rosslyn Chapel, founded in 1446 and featured in the 2008 The Da Vinci Code blockbuster. And it wouldn’t be a Scottish tour without a dram or two, would it? Discover the secrets of traditional Scottish whisky as you tour around the iconic Glenkinchie Distillery. If you're looking for an experience that gives you a bit of everything that Scotland has to offer, this is it.

£84
A scenic golf course in the Scottish countryside

One Hour Golf Lesson with a PGA Professional and Lunch for Two at Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club

Just seven miles from Edinburgh's bustling city centre lies the idyllic Dalmahoy Hotel, home to two stunning golf courses set in 1,000 acres of beautiful parkland and the perfect place to practise your swing. Buddy up and pick the brains of a PGA Professional in a one-hour lesson, as you and a friend work on improving your drive. You’ll then get a chance to put your new techniques to the test on either the West Course or the Championship East Course, before refuelling at the Brasserie with £10 each to spend on food and drink. Fore!

£165
Two plates of food

Edinburgh British Food Tour for Two

Team up with a passionate foodie guide as you wander the serene streets of Edinburgh's Old Town, taking in its eclectic mix of old and new architecture. As you lap up the history of the capital and grab some pictures for the memory book along the way, you'll indulge in some traditional Scottish treats – and yes, that does include some haggis sampling! With a classic Lowland whisky waiting for you at the end, this is the perfect way to unlock Edinburgh and sample Scotland’s culinary offerings. 

£127
(1)
Triple Supercar Driving Blast with High Speed Passenger Ride

Triple Supercar Driving Blast with High Speed Passenger Ride

It's time to take your trip to Edinburgh up a gear and buckle up as you set off on the ultimate driving experience. Get behind the wheel of three supercars and put your driving skills to the test as you enjoy three miles in each speed demon, from Aston Martins to Ferraris, Porsches and many more models to choose from! Once you’ve completed your exhilarating laps, you’ll hand back the keys to a qualified instructor who’ll whizz you around in a high-speed passenger ride that’s sure to be the drive of a lifetime.

£237
£119
(886)

Things to do in Edinburgh with kids

After you’ve ticked off all the main family activities in Edinburgh (checked out the museums, tried and failed at the bagpipes and been to the zoo), it’s time to get creative and think outside the box to keep the kids entertained. Here’s our top pick of the best family activities in Edinburgh.

People enjoying riding the segway through the forest

Two for One 60-Minute Segway Experience

Strap on your helmets and get ready for a fun-fuelled family day out with this unforgettable two-wheeled adventure experience. After a safety briefing, you'll be in control of an iconic self-balancing Segway and learn how to get to grips with this high-tech beast in a dedicated training session. Once you’re all set up, put your handling skills to the test as you head out to the Segway Rally Course where nothing but good times (and bragging rights) await!

£78
£29
(489)
A child swining on the zip line through the trees in Go Ape

Junior Treetop Adventure for Two at Go Ape

Time to let your little monkeys be little monkeys! At Go Ape, your kids are let loose and free to express their adventurous sides in the outdoors with this thrilling treetop experience. After a safety briefing, they'll head out into the forest to jump from tree to tree, navigate wobbly bridges and pick up speed in an exhilarating zip wire finish. Perfect for getting your kids excited about the great outdoors, this family activity is sure to be a winner. 

£36
(5)
Parent and child taking part in an activity at Yorkshire activity centre

Entry to the Scottish Owl Centre for Two Adults – Kids Go Free

Hosting the largest collection of owls in the world, the Scottish Owl Centre is a guaranteed hoot! This fun-filled family exploration day offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with over 150 owls. Discover the quirks and backgrounds of these fascinating creatures from around the globe, from the majestic Western Siberian Eagle Owl to the dainty Brown Wood Owl and learn all about their conservation. Plus, kids go free – result!

£29
£15
(16)

Romantic things to do in Edinburgh

Move aside Gay Paree, Edinburgh has arrived. Packed with medieval charm, an incredible foodie scene and all the culture you could ever wish for from a city, Edinburgh is the perfect romantic escape for loved up couples on the lookout for an adventure.

Helicopter take off in Edinburgh

12-Mile Helicopter Tour with Bubbly for Two

If you want to pull out all the stops to impress your date, what better way than to whisk them up, up and away for a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of Auld Reekie. After a safety briefing with your friendly pilot, you’ll soar over Edinburgh’s stunning sights, such as Edinburgh Castle and Forth Bridge, before landing back on solid ground for a chilled glass of bubbly to celebrate your sky-high adventure.

£119
The grounds of the Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club

Afternoon Tea for Two at Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club

Nothing says “I love you” quite like finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones. Treat your other half to a gorgeous afternoon tea experience at the opulent Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club – Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey. As romantic breaks in Edinburgh go, this countryside experience tops the bill. Tuck into scrumptious cakes, pastries and specialist teas amidst roaring fires and elegant furnishings, before strolling hand in hand through the hotel’s incredible grounds. Yes, that is the sound of brownie points you can hear.

£39
Doorsteps of The Bonham Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Boutique Getaway with Dinner for Two at The Bonham Hotel

The love of your life deserves only the best and The Bonham Hotel is most happy to provide. The Bonham is an elegant and sophisticated 5-star historic townhouse in Edinburgh's West End that has luxury at the heart of everything they do, from decor to dining. Treat yourselves to a delicious dinner for two at the hotel’s renowned restaurant No.35 at The Bonham and savour the taste of inventive European cuisine with a hint of Scottish inspiration, before retiring to your opulent room for a restful night’s sleep. 

£230
Sightseeing cruise on a bus in Edinburgh, with afternoon tea

Sparkling Afternoon Tea Edinburgh Bus Tour with Red Bus Bistro

For something a little bit quirky, why not cosy up with your crush over an afternoon tea on a lovingly restored 1966 Routemaster? Kitted out as a vintage diner, Red Bus Bistro’s incredible interiors are the perfect setting for a sparkling afternoon tea as you tour the awe-inspiring sights of Edinburgh. Sip on a crisp glass of prosecco and indulge in a delicious selection of sandwiches, pastries and scones as the friendly staff ensure you’re both as comfortable and as happy as can be on this unique experience to remember. All aboard!

£78
(5)

When to visit Edinburgh

Edinburgh is truly an all-year-round destination, the city offering visitors something different with every season.

Spring is an ideal time to take in the idyllic surrounds of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh or ramble through Princes Street Gardens. It's also a great season to visit with kids in tow as the Edinburgh Science Festival and Edinburgh International Children's Festival come to town. But it's summertime when the city’s festival season comes into full swing, with the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival taking centre stage in August. Summer is one of the busiest times for footfall in Edinburgh, as tourists, comedy lovers and theatregoers all flock to the capital for some laughs in the sunshine.

When things get a little quieter come autumn time, there’s plenty of space to discover the stunning scenery of Scotland’s capital. With the heat dying down, autumn offers the perfect time to climb Arthur's Seat for unrivalled views of Edinburgh or to explore the charm of the Old Town. And in the winter, the frosty weather makes the capital's beautiful setting appear more magical and delightful than ever as Edinburgh gears up for Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations with swathes of the city overtaken with winter wonderland activities.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

Now your itinerary’s sorted and your bags are packed, it’s time to check-in at one of the best hotels in Edinburgh. Whether you’re after something luxurious, boutique or country chic, Scotland’s crowning jewel has it all.