Have you ever visited somewhere and expected to have a nice time but weren’t expecting a spectacular experience? There were so many places to visit in Edinburgh, Scotland- it completely took us by surprise! We have now visited twice and both were equally amazing holidays. We visited in both the spring and summer months.
There’s no shortage of sights to see, things to do and places to eat. The added bonus for us was that it was nice to see the changes in the landscape within the seasons of spring and late summer.
Scotland as a whole has captured has our hearts. And because we enjoyed Edinburgh so much, we also ended up taking some time to spend in Aberdeen. We had a wonderful time there, as well.
The Best Places To Visit In Edinburgh, Scotland
Located only a few minutes away from the busy and bustling Princes Street, Dean Village is a quiet area that’s worth the detour.
While its not large in size it is nice for a peaceful jaunt.
The area milled grain for over 800 years and some of the buildings still remain today. The Water of Leith Walkway runs parallel to the river and is nice for both walking and cycling.
Do you like cemeteries? I have a great love for them. Dean Cemetery has been around since 1847 and it sits on the site of Dean House. The mansion, itself, is long gone but there are surviving panels from a painted ceiling that one hung in its great hall in the National Museum of Scotland.
It was really something to see Arthurs Seat in May when the gourse was in bloom.
It was absolutely stunning. And it was equally beautiful to see it up close while climbing it when the Heather was in bloom, in August.
This is going to sound vain. Because it kind of is. The sole reason I wanted to climb Arthurs Seat was so I could get my picture taken in the Heather. For those who don’t already know, my name is Heather.
Arthurs Seat is actually an ancient volcano with spectacular views of Edinburgh. It’s well worth all of the effort it takes to make the climb to the top.
Queen Elizabeth certainly has a beautiful home in Edinburgh.
No pictures are allowed inside but the staterooms are gorgeous. And the grounds were absolutely breathtaking. They are perfect for a leisurely stroll.
The landscape reminded me of the work of Capability Brown.
A big highlight for me visiting Holyrood House was stopping by The Queen’s Gallery, located on the property, and seeing the amazing paintings of Venice by the artist Canaletto. I loved getting lost in the sheer magic of the paintings and when I visited Venice earlier this year I was able to further appreciate why Canaletto enjoyed painting this particular subject so much.
Edinburgh Castle was much larger than I expected it to be; it was really more like a compound.
A compound with great views!
And lots of cannons. There is a long standing tradition called the firing of the One o’clock Gun that dates back to 1861.
Every day at One o’clock a a 105mm field gun gets shot and if you’re not expecting the boom it can be pretty surprising. Fortunately we knew about it. We were told the locals love when it scares the tourists, though!
St. Margaret’s Chapel is probably the tiniest chapel that I have ever been in. It was so wee! Not to mention it is the oldest building in Edinburgh.
It was worth waiting in the queue to view the Scottish crown jewels.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Edinburgh has a lovely botanical garden that we visited briefly on our travels.
It started to rain while we were there and sadly we didn’t end up staying very long and stuck mainly to the conservatory.
It kind of reminded me of a botanical garden called Longwood Gardens that’s not far from my home in the United States.
Hearing this tiny little robin sing was such a treat. And he didn’t seem to be afraid of people because I was able to get quite close to it.
H.M. Yacht Britannia
Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II. The yacht was in service from 1954 until it was retired from royal service in 1997. During its tenure, it sailed over a million nautical miles around the world.
Today the yacht is moored in the historic Port of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland and can be toured.
It’s an interesting look into how life was for the Queen and her crew when on royal duties.
But this yacht wasn’t only for work- the royal family used it for leisure, as well. Princess Diana and Prince Charles as well as Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips both honeymooned on the ship.
The Royal Mile
I’m not going to lie, we were a bit disappointed in the Royal Mile. It is crowded and just full of touristy shops and restaurants.
But it is necessary to navigate it if visiting Edinburgh Castle. It’s at the very top of the street.
Grassmarket and Victoria Street
In addition to the popular George Street and Multrees Walk, some wonderful shops and food can be found in Grassmarket and Victoria Street.
From independent designer boutiques to vintage clothing and antique books, this area has so much charm and personality. It truly is one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh, Scotland, for those who like quirky, fun shops. Grassmarket has a really great market on Saturdays, as well. I picked up a beautiful tweed blazer at Walker Slater on Victoria Street. They also make gorgeous made to measure suits.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Every year in the month of August, Edinburgh Castle holds their world famous military tattoo during the Edinburgh Festival. I have to say this is definitely one of my top favorite experiences that I’ve had since moving overseas.
If you plan on going to Edinburgh and can hold out until August, do so and see this spectacular performance by military bands from all over the world. You will not regret it for even a second. There is music, dancing, fireworks and the occasional horse. It is truly a unique experience. Be sure to get your tickets well in advance!
Places to Eat and Drink in Edinburgh
The food at The Witchery is excellent and the atmosphere is really unusual. It’s worth making a reservation to experience it. They also have lodging and I would have loved to have stayed there, as well, but they don’t allow children.
The Scran and Scallie
The Scran and Scallie was my absolute favorite place that we ate while in Edinburgh.
The day we were there was cool and rainy and the hearty and comforting food deliciously carried us through the rest of our day.
Fishers In The City
Fishers has beautifully, fresh seafood but they also have other items on the menu for those who don’t eat it. They have fabulous oysters, really nice fish and chips and their bar has a great selection of wines and whiskies.
Things To Do Outside Of Edinburgh, Scotland
The first time were in Edinburgh, we were visiting with family. To do something a bit special, we hired a driver to take us to visit some of the sites outside of Edinburgh. It was nice to see some of the sites in the surrounding area. I always highly recommend hiring a driver because its just so nice to come back to a comfortable vehicle after being on your feet for most of the day.
Stirling Castle is located a little over an hour outside of London but is worth the drive. In fact, I much preferred Stirling to Edinburgh Castle because it wasn’t as crowded. That’s not to say it had no crowds; it just wasn’t as crazy.
And the property has lovely views, as well.
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time at the loch but it was nice to stop by for look at the view. I’d love to get back for a visit to at the Highlands and Loch Ness at some point. Any Highlands recommendations? Tell me about them in the comments area below or contact me privately!
Up until this visit I had not been a whisky drinker…at all, really. But that was before I had the whisky at Glengoyne. I never knew I liked the stuff.
Located at the base of the highlands, Glengoyne has a history going all the way back to 1820 so they know what they’re doing!
They have a really interesting tour and tasting with staff that are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.
These 30-metre-high, massive horse-head sculptures are located by the Forth and Clyde Canal and River Carron. They make a fantastic backdrop for family photos.
Are there any countries that you have visited that took you by complete surprise whether it be good or bad? Talk to me about it in the comments area below.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the best places to visit in Edinburgh, Scotland! Thanks for reading! Cheers!