is both Scotland's capital and Scotland's cultural capital, although Scot's would say that it
also wears Europe's cultural
crown. It is a delightful city to visit, but a day or
will cover most of what there is to see. During the
Festival at the end of summer, the city is alive with music, plays, ballets and
Edinburgh Castle sits above the city and is
Edinburgh's most visible attraction
majestically above the city on a
sheer, volcanic bluff, Edinburgh Castle is the most popular attraction in
Dating from the 12th century (parts added in the 16th and 17
centuries), the Castle houses the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone
of Destiny (Stone of the Scone - Scotland's coronation stone), the
National War Museum of Scotland and numerous antique cannons, including the
oversized Mons Meg.
This is the castle
where in the mid-16th century Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only child,
James, who later
became the first king of Scotland and England.
- The Edinburgh Military
Tattoo, a world famous event featuring military drum and marching
squads, is held in August. See this
site for more information.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
- The Palace of
is the official
residence of the British Monarch in Edinburgh. The complex was originally a
monastery (12th century) before it was converted to a royal palace.
For a time, Holyroodhouse was the
home of Mary Queen of Scots. In addition, Bonnie Prince Charlie
led the unsuccessful Jacobite siege of Edinburg Castle from
here in 1745. Click on this
for information on visiting.
The Royal Mile
- The "Royal Mile" runs east from the
Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is an
interesting street and one of the most walked lanes in Scotland.
Some of the shops are quaint, including more than one selling
- The streets signs for the Royal Mile
carry many names. It starts as Castle Hill, then changes to Lawnmarket, High Street and, finally Canongate.
In Edinburgh, you will find both an "Old
Town" and a "New Town" though both are old by present day standards.
- The Castle and The Royal Mile serve as a buffer for the old town, which extends to the south.
The Old Town has a crowded, disorganized look featuring curved lanes,
many alley ways and the streets are crowded during the weekend with
locals and visitors.
- The Grassmarket, Cowgate and
Candlemakers Row are filled with shops and good quality restaurants attractive to
many tourists. The University is in this area.
- To the North of the Royal Mile is the Georgian "New Town" marked by a regular grid pattern of streets and
- Princes Street along the south edge of
the "New Town" is the main "shopping" street in Edinburgh.
The National Gallery
of Scotland is quite impressive and a pleasant way to spend an hour
or two. It has several paintings by the Masters but its real
strength, of course, is its coverage of Scottish painters.
The National Gallery sits between the
New and Old Towns in Edinburgh. Details on visiting can
- Many tour books recommend a visit to Carlton Hill for a grand view of the city and to see the monuments the
area has to offer. Although the trip is short, we advise you to
skip it, unless you want a panoramic photo of Edinburgh. If you
have the energy and want a great photographic view of Edinburgh, head for Arthur's
Seat, instead, which is part of the hills around Holyrood Park It's a
modest climb but the view is worth it.
Local lore ties the hill to King Arthur, but this seems a bit of a
- The Queen's former Royal Yacht, the Britannia, is permanently on
display at the docks in nearby Leith (two miles from the
city center). Visit the
to see if this is a stop for you. The Britannia is
docked next to the Ocean Terminal, which can be accessed by bus from
Edinburgh's City Center.
Edinburgh and its surrounding
area is a part of Scotland's Lothian region. The region includes
many interesting attractions that can be combined on a day trip from
ruins of Linlithgow
Palace (in Linlithgow off the M-9 west of Edinburgh) mark the
ancestral home of the Stewarts from James I to James VII,
including Mary, Queen of Scots who was born at the palace in the
The building the remains today is only a shell, but is in relatively good shape and has many interesting
Informative plaques have been placed throughout the palace for those interested in
Historic Scotland (a website produced by the Scottish
government) for details on the amazing history of Linlithgow Palace.
Those who are fans of the DaVinci Code
might want to visit Rosslyn Chapel in the town of Roslin, less than
ten miles south of Edinburgh. Although the chapel has
interesting, even mysterious ornamentation, its links with the
Knights Templar, not to mention the Holy Grail, are tenuous and
misplaced by centuries. It is, however, a beautiful, well-preserved and ornate little gem that is worth visiting. See
ruins of Dirleton Castle
found along the coast, east of Edinburgh. Follow the A-198.
The castles bracket North Berwick.
- Tantallon Castle has a beautiful
setting overlooking a particularly fine area of the coast
and a small island called Bass Rock. The castle is famous
for its massive, well-preserved walls. See Historic
Scotland's website for more detail on
- Dirleton Castle, is less crowded
than Tantallon, but has an interesting layout and more
areas to explore. The
British attacked the castle on several occasions and it shows considerable
damage, but remains an attractive and evocative site.
Click here for Historic Scotland's page on
- Several small towns in the area are
fun to visit for shopping or a bite to eat. You might combine a stop at the castles with a tour
of the Borders
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
England, Scotland and
Wales are often referred to as Great Britain.
If you are planning a trip to
Scotland, you might want to consider purchasing the Great British Heritage Pass
to save money on admission fees to many of the UK's best
advertisement at the top right of this page for more information.
A street "piper" on the Royal Mile
The National Gallery
A doorway at Rosslyn Chapel