Edinburgh Things To Do
Edinburgh hosts this world famous festival once a year, and presents a rich selection of classical music, theatre, opera and dance, in six major theatres and concert halls throughout the city. The festival takes place over a three-week period in late summer.
The medieval castle sits on the volcanic Castle Rock and dominates the city skyline. With over 1,000 years of history, the castle has plenty to see, including the Scottish Crown Jewels, the One o'clock Gun and the Stone of Destiny, which dates back to biblical times. Highlights include the Military Tattoo held on the esplanade in the summer, and the frequent re-enactments and mock battles in the castle grounds.
The zoo is a major tourist attraction, and is most famous for the penguin enclosure, the largest in the world, and the daily Penguin Parade, held daily. With over 1,000 animals set over 80 acres of parkland, there is plenty to see, from sun bears and rare giant cloud rats, to the only koala bears in the country, with other highlights including a 200-year old mansion house and interactive touch tables.
Edinburgh Christmas Markets
The city hosts a number of seasonal markets, from the Highland Village Market boasting traditional tartan, pewter and basket ware, and the German market in the Mound, where you'll find handicrafts, toys and decorations, to the farmer's market at Castle Terrace, packed with gastonomic treats such as venison, smoked salmon and shortbread.
The Queen's official home when in Scotland, Holyrood Palace has been at the forefront of Scottish royal history for several centuries. The home of Mary Queen of Scots, and a refuge for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 18th century, this elegant palace is a popular attraction with visitors.
Museum of Childhood
The very first museum dedicated to the history of childhood is home to a collection of toys, games, books and costumes, and offers a colourful trip down memory lane. Five floors of fascinating exhibits create a wonderful setting and the museum offers a fantastic day out for all ages.
National Library of Scotland
A treasure trove of information, the National Library is the largest in Scotland, housing over 14 million printed items. The most popular area is the genealogy centre, with many visitors coming to research their family tree. Other features include the many workshops on Scottish culture and history, map rooms, posters and a huge comic collection.
Royal Botanic Garden
Dating back to 1670, the garden houses over 15,000 plants, and offers a tranquil green area covering 30 hectares, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Home to a herbarium, Victorian Palm Houses and a Chinese Collection, there's plenty for visitors to see, and is a great space for walks and bird watching.
Saint Giles Cathedral
The Cathedral, or High Kirk of Edinburgh, has stood on the Royal Mile for over 900 years, and still functions as a parish church, with regular services each day. Important features include the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle, the Burns Window and the Rieger organ, and the church choir is highly regarded, having toured the UK and Europe.
The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre
This is a must-see for anyone interested in the history, science and culture of whisky drinking. You'll gain an insight into its origins, including distilling and smuggling, and can get a hands-on approach to blending whisky. The Centre is home to the largest collection of malt whiskies, and tasting sessions are the most popular feature.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The gallery offers a visual history of Scotland and its most prominent citizens through the ages. From royalty and politicians, to rebels and rogues, and sporting stars and actors, you'll find plenty of recognisable figures here, with works from celebrated artists such as Rodin and Gainsborough.
New Year Celebrations & Public Holidays
Edinburgh is an essential stop off for anyone planning to celebrate Christmas and New Year, Scottish-style. New Year in Edinburgh will take in the world famous Hogmanay street party on the 31st December, whilst Burns Night can be enjoyed on 25th January. Scotland is an immensely patriotic nations and St. Andrew's Day is routinely celebrated in the capital on November 30th.
The spectacular scenery of the Lothian countryside is close by, and for a timeout, take a break from the city and head out of town for a relaxing walk. In just under an hour you can be exploring the woodlands, or taking in the stunning views of the city from the Pentland Hills near Hillend.