Top-5 Things to do in Edinburgh

Street performers at Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh is always voted in the UK’s Top-10 cities to visit by readers of influential media like The Guardian newspaper or by travel review websites like TripAdvisor.

To help you enjoy your stay at Cityroomz Edinburgh, our hotel manager Dani Downs – born and bred in the “burgh” – has picked out her Top-5 things to do in Edinburgh.

1.      Feel the festival vibe

August is “festival” time in Edinburgh. A cultural explosion takes over the city and is known simply as ‘the Festival.’ It’s not one festival though, it’s made up of lots of different events and festivals.

Edinburgh has festivals for film, books, jazz, politics, and the world famous Edinburgh Fringe, which went solo in 1998 and starts one week earlier is a completely different kettle of fish, packed with comedy, performance arts and street theatre.

Edinburgh Festival is a great time to visit the Scottish Capital

The Festival is made up of lots of smaller events and festivals in Edinburgh

You can plan your schedule using the Edinburgh Festivals website, look out for the June release of the festival brochure or get a copy of The List

2. Take cover at 1pm

There’s one attraction you won’t be able to miss when wandering around Edinburgh’s streets, especially Prince’s Street – close to Cityroomz Edinburgh – and that’s Edinburgh Castle.

This imposing fortress sits on a hilltop high above the city at the end of the Royal Mile. Over the centuries it’s been home to Scottish royalty, the site of an Iron Age Fort and in the late 1600’s was turned into a military base, garrison and gaol.

At 1pm daily (except Sundays) a field gun fires a burst of shellfire, so be careful you’re not sipping a hot coffee on Prince’s Street when it goes off.

Edinburgh Castle tourist attraction

Listen for the guns at 1pm and admire Scotland’s most famous tourist attraction

Take a pew at the memorial bench commemorating the late Tam the Gun, who fired the piece for 27 years.

It’s now Scotland’s leading tourist attraction and a major part of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.

You can walk to Edinburgh Castle in less than 15 mins from Shandwick Place and Cityroomz Edinburgh, but be warned it’s all uphill.

3. Discover Edinburgh’s dark side

If you like to be scared, you’ll love the ghoulish and ghastly walking tours that take visitors around the supposedly haunted sites of Edinburgh’s old town.

The streets, and adjoining alleys called ‘wynds’ and ‘closes,’ are windy, cobbled, windswept and hilly and walking them after dark is not for the faint hearted.

It’s best to go with one of the many tour companies that specialise in ghost walks, like City of the Dead Tours or Auld Reekie Tours.

ghost walks in Edinburgh

Explore the dark side of Edinburgh on a guided ghost walk or underground tour

There are some tours which take you underground like the one which takes you beneath the Royal Mile to see Mary King’s Close, a warren of 17th century streets which were closed off due to a plague outbreak.

4. Yomp up a Volcano

Believe it or not, Edinburgh has an extinct volcano in the city and you reach it by yomping up to Arthur’s Seat, the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills.

If you are planning on eating a lot of Haggis, lorne sausage, bridies (Scottish pasties), stovies and drinking Irn-Bru, then this will be a good calorie burning workout for you.

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

A walk well worth the exertion – Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

While you’re there, visit Our Dynamic Earth, which has all the information on how this unusual rock formation was formed, as well as a scientific exhibition on the history of planet earth.

5. Wile away the hours with a Whisky

You can’t visit Scotland and not try the national drink. Edinburgh is awash with Whisky and it’s a great idea to take a liquid tour to familiarise yourself with the amber nectar and help you sort out your blends from your malts.

The Scotch Whisky Experience at 354 Castlehill is a good place to start and will take you through a replica distillery and show you how whisky changed from a tiny cottage industry into a global export success story.

The Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh

The Golden Elixir – Whisky – Scotland’s national drink

There are some superb places to buy premium Scotch Whisky, including Royal Mile Whiskies, Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop, Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, or Whiski Bar and Restaurant, also on the Royal Mile.

This little gem of a place was awarded Whisky Bar of the Year 2011/12 at the Dram Awards.

It has over 300 whiskies and live Scottish music seven nights a week.

 

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