FUN Things to Do in Edinburgh

There are plenty of fun things to do in Edinburgh. It’s an enchanting destination, eminating a fascinating and somewhat gruesome history. Like York, the architecture and structure of the city is reminiscent of the world of Harry Potter, making it a popular place for would-be wizards and muggles alike. Here are my favourite things to do in Edinburgh:

Visit Edinburgh Castle

I mean, this is an obvious one, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to visit a castle perched on a rocky volcanic plug dating back millions of years? There has been a royal castle of sorts on this site since around the 12th century. The rock itself was creatively named Castle Rock and has been inhabited in one way or another, since approximately 850 BC.

Edinburgh Castle high up on a rocky hill

Entry into the castle isn’t particularly cheap, but you get your money’s worth. There’s plenty to see inside, including the Royal Palace, the Crown Jewels and Stone of Destiny, St. Margaret’s Chapel (Edinburgh’s oldest building), the One O’clock Gun, the National War Museum, some creepy prison quarters and the Scottish National War Museum.

I would recommend tagging along on one of the free walking tours because they set off regularly and give you a brief but interesting introduction into its rich history.

View over Edinburgh from castle

Explore the Royal Mile and surrounds

As well as having a fascinating history, Edinburgh also has some splendid architecture. You’ll feel transported back in time as you walk around Old Town. Don’t forget to meander down the old closes (alleyways). Each are named after memorable occupants or trades, such as Fisher’s Close, Writer’s Close and Bakehouse Close, to name a few.

Park lined with wooden benches in Edinburgh

Also, be sure to look upwards to admire the higgledy-piggledy roofs, windows and turrets of each unique building.

Church

Steep cobbled Edinburgh street and stone building

Townhouses and stone steps

Edinburgh Royal Mile church

Edinburgh Tartan scarves

Edinburgh tawny owl

Church on Edinburgh's Royal Mile

The Canongate Tolbooth (built in 1591) is one of the more iconic buildings in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Canongate Tolbooth

Climb Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is actually an extinct volcano. Rising jaggedly above the urban sprawl of Edinburgh, it provides amazing panoramic views of the coast, distant mountains and the city itself. Located in Holyrood Park, around just one mile from the castle, it is easy to reach by foot.

Holyrood Park is usually teeming with keen walkers and the numerous paths around the park are well-trodden. The most popular route loops around Sailsbury Crags. It’s a long, slow burn, followed by a climb up the steep, uneven stone steps towards the summit of Arthur’s Seat.

Edinburgh Arthur's Seat views over city

Arthur's Seat Summit overlooking hills, city and ocean

My favourite thing about Arthur’s Seat is its accessibility from the city. Within a few hours, you can go from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile, summit an old volcano, scramble back down and rewarded yourself with tea and cake! Indeed, it’s not very often that you get to combine both urban and rural escapades in a mere morning!

Hop on an open top bus tour

I think bus tours are a great way of seeing a new city from a different perspective. What’s more, they also mean you get to sit down and relax for an hour or so. I hopped on the Edinburgh Tour bus. The tour comes complete with a live guide and went on a fun-filled hour-long trundle around Old and New Town.

Discover the Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close is a warren of passageways buried beneath the bustling Royal Mile. People lived, worked and died down here, and the labyrinth of alleyways hold 400 years of fascinating history – some not so pleasant!

Edinburgh Mary King's Close

Be traumatised on a ghost tour

I love a bit of horrible history, which is just as well with this tour being named Doomed, Dead and Buried.

You’ll skulk around the dark streets and along alleyways, stopping regularly to hear about grizzly tales of murder and suffering; before descending into the terrifying Underground Vaults and then on to an eerie graveyard. Mercat Tours offer a wide range of tours and are well worth checking out.

Mercat Tours Edinburgh
Photo: Mercat Tours

I stayed at The Inn Place, just off the Royal Mile. It’s a fab little hotel and I got a cheap deal by booking online in advance.

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