Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

Discover the best places to visit in Edinburgh, Scotland, and immerse yourself in its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes by learning about the top attractions inEdinburgh.

by Krishika M

Updated Jun 23, 2023

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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023
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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the vibrant capital of Scotland, is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. Nestled between rolling hills and the stunning coastline, it offers a captivating blend of ancient landmarks, captivating architecture, and a vibrant atmosphere. Here is the list of the best places to visit in Edinburgh:

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S.no.

Places

Location

1

Edinburgh Castle

Castlehill, Edinburgh

2

Arthur’s Seat

Holyrood Park

3

Calton Hill

East of Princes Street

4

National Museum Of Scotland

Chambers St, Edinburgh

5

Camera Obscura

Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

6

Edinburgh Zoo

Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh

7

Scott Monument

Princes Street Gardens

8

Museum Of Childhood

High St, Edinburgh

9

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Queen St, Edinburgh 

10

The Queen’s Gallery

Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh 

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh

When it comes to the best places to visit in Edinburgh, the choices are truly exceptional. From the imposing Edinburgh Castle that crowns the city's skyline to the bustling Royal Mile, there is a wealth of historical sites, museums, galleries, and cultural experiences waiting to be explored. Visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating exhibits at the National Museum of Scotland, witness the optical illusions at Camera Obscura, or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the picturesque Holyrood Park.

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For nature enthusiasts, the city offers a delightful escape with the majestic Arthur's Seat, a dormant volcano offering panoramic views of the city, and the tranquil Royal Botanic Garden, where vibrant flora thrives. Animal lovers can spend a day at the renowned Edinburgh Zoo, home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the beloved giant pandas.

Scroll down and continue reading for more information about the best places to visit in Edinburgh!

1. Edinburgh Castle (Castlehill, Edinburgh)

Situated at the pinnacle of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle stands as a truly iconic structure in the city. Built atop an extinct volcano, this majestic castle, along with its expansive esplanade, offers unparalleled panoramic views of the stunning Edinburgh skyline. It is undoubtedly one of the must-visit attractions in Edinburgh, providing an opportunity to delve into the rich history and heritage of the city.

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Visitors to Edinburgh Castle can immerse themselves in the exploration of some of the oldest and most significant buildings within the city's walls. Among the notable structures are St. Margaret's Chapel, a charming and historically significant chapel believed to be the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh; the National War Memorial, a poignant tribute to the Scottish soldiers who sacrificed their lives in various conflicts; and the Half Moon Battery, a formidable artillery fortification offering insights into the castle's defensive capabilities throughout history.

Located at Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom, the castle stands as a powerful testament to the grandeur and resilience of Scottish history. Opening its gates from Monday to Sunday between 9:30 AM and 6 PM, Edinburgh Castle eagerly awaits visitors who seek to immerse themselves in the captivating tales and architectural wonders that abound within its ancient walls.

Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

2. Arthur’s Seat (Holyrood Park)

Nestled within the verdant Holyrood Park, Arthur's Seat emerges as a renowned highlight among the attractions in Edinburgh. Towering at an elevation of 800 feet above sea level, this majestic landmark reigns as the highest point within the park, treating visitors to awe-inspiring vistas of the sea and nearby notable sites, such as the iconic Edinburgh Castle and the distinguished Scott Monument.

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The allure of Arthur's Seat lies not only in its commanding height but also in its natural splendor and captivating surroundings. As visitors embark on the ascent to the summit, they are rewarded with panoramic views that showcase the city's magnificent skyline, the sparkling waters, and the picturesque landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Located within Holyrood Park, Arthur's Seat provides an ideal escape from the bustling city streets, offering a tranquil oasis where one can revel in the beauty of nature and marvel at the juxtaposition of urban and natural elements. Whether it's a leisurely stroll, an invigorating hike, or simply finding a peaceful spot to soak in the surroundings, Arthur's Seat offers an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and admirers of breathtaking vistas alike.

Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

3. Calton Hill (East of Princes Street)

If you're looking for sights to behold in Edinburgh, a visit to Calton Hill should be at the top of your list. From this vantage point, you can soak in picturesque views of the city that are sure to leave you enchanted. Calton Hill presents a unique blend of vibrant commercial areas and tranquil residential streets, creating a diverse and captivating atmosphere.

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One of the notable features on Calton Hill is the combined contemporary art gallery, where you can immerse yourself in the world of modern artistic expressions. Additionally, you'll come across the unfinished national monument, a fascinating structure that serves as a reminder of Edinburgh's architectural heritage.

As you explore Calton Hill, you'll discover a vibrant scene of bars and casual eateries clustered around the bustling Leith Walk. This lively area is home to the Edinburgh Playhouse, a renowned venue that hosts captivating musicals and side-splitting comedy shows, offering entertainment for all tastes.

Whether you're seeking breathtaking views, artistic inspiration, or a lively atmosphere, Calton Hill has it all. It's a place where you can appreciate the juxtaposition of contemporary urban life with the tranquility of its surroundings, making it a must-visit destination during your time in Edinburgh.

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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

4. National Museum Of Scotland (Chambers St, Edinburgh)

Immerse yourself in the wonders of the natural world, embark on a journey through diverse world cultures, and marvel at treasures from around the globe at the National Museum of Scotland. This renowned attraction stands proudly among the famous sights in Edinburgh, offering a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.

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At the National Museum of Scotland, you will encounter a rich tapestry of art and design exhibits that showcase the creativity and ingenuity of human expression. From ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum's collection spans a wide range of artistic styles and periods, ensuring there is something to captivate every art enthusiast.

Interactive displays and games add an element of excitement and engagement, allowing visitors to actively participate in the exploration of various topics and themes. Whether you're uncovering the mysteries of ancient civilizations, delving into the wonders of the natural world, or embarking on a journey through Scotland's rich history, the museum provides an immersive and educational experience that will leave you enthralled.

With its visually stunning architecture, the National Museum of Scotland serves as an awe-inspiring backdrop to the treasures it holds. Its galleries and exhibitions provide a captivating space where you can delve into the depths of human knowledge and appreciate the beauty and diversity of our world.

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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

5. Camera Obscura (Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh)

Capturing the essence of Edinburgh's Old Town, Camera Obscura emerges as a captivating and intriguing destination for visitors. This unique attraction exudes a suitably gothic charm and offers an experience like no other. It proudly stands as one of the most interesting places to visit in Edinburgh, drawing in curious minds from near and far.

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At Camera Obscura, you can immerse yourself in a visual live "tour" of the city, thanks to the renowned Camera Obscura optical illusion. This fascinating device allows visitors to witness a panoramic view of the surrounding area, providing a unique perspective that unveils the hidden beauty of Edinburgh. Prepare to be captivated by the clever interplay of light and mirrors that brings this enchanting display to life.

As you ascend to the turret atop the building, a breathtaking vista of the city unfolds before your eyes. The view from this vantage point offers a picturesque backdrop, perfect for capturing special moments and creating lasting memories.

Located at Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, United Kingdom, Camera Obscura invites you to step into a world where reality and illusion intertwine. The attraction is open from Friday to Monday between 9 AM and 9 PM, and from Tuesday to Thursday between 9:30 AM and 7 PM, ensuring ample opportunity for visitors to explore its wonders.

Prepare to be enchanted by the spellbinding illusions, intriguing exhibits, and the unique perspective on offer at Camera Obscura. It is a destination that invites you to indulge your curiosity and embrace the magic of Edinburgh's Old Town in a truly unforgettable way.

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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

6. Edinburgh Zoo (Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh)

Nestled amidst picturesque parkland, Edinburgh Zoo stands as a premier destination among the top attractions in Edinburgh. With a diverse collection of over 1,000 magnificent animals, including the beloved giant pandas, it offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

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Ideal for a delightful day out, particularly for families, Edinburgh Zoo is conveniently located just a short bus ride away from the city center. Upon arrival, you'll find yourself immersed in a beautiful natural setting that serves as the backdrop for a captivating encounter with wildlife.

As you explore the zoo, be prepared to be mesmerized by the array of fascinating creatures that call it home. From graceful flamingos to adorable koalas, from cheeky chimpanzees to a myriad of other remarkable animal species, the zoo presents a vibrant tapestry of biodiversity. Each enclosure is thoughtfully designed to provide a safe and enriching environment for the animals, allowing you to observe them in their natural habitats.

Located at 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, United Kingdom, Edinburgh Zoo welcomes visitors from all walks of life. It operates from 10 AM to 6 PM every day, providing ample time to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of the animal kingdom.

As you venture through the zoo's pathways, you'll not only witness the beauty of wildlife but also contribute to conservation efforts. Edinburgh Zoo is renowned for its commitment to protecting endangered species and supporting conservation initiatives globally.

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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

7. Scott Monument (Princes Street Gardens)

Erected as a magnificent tribute to the renowned Scottish novelist, Sir Walter Scott, the Scott Monument proudly stands as the world's largest monument dedicated to a writer. This awe-inspiring structure, with its striking gothic design, dominates the skyline of Edinburgh and is an absolute must-visit during any sightseeing tour of the city.

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The Scott Monument offers a captivating presence that commands attention and admiration. Whether you choose to marvel at its grandeur from below, taking in its intricate architectural details, or decide to embark on a memorable ascent, this iconic landmark promises a remarkable experience.

For a nominal fee, visitors are invited to climb the 287 steps that wind their way up to the top of the monument. As you ascend, each step brings you closer to breathtaking panoramic views that unfold before your eyes. From the pinnacle of the Scott Monument, you can feast your gaze upon the enchanting cityscape of Edinburgh, with its historic landmarks, sprawling gardens, and the picturesque beauty that surrounds it.

Located at E. Princes St Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ, United Kingdom, the Scott Monument beckons you to embrace its magnificence. It welcomes visitors from April to September between 10 AM and 7 PM, and from October to March between 10 AM and 4 PM, ensuring ample opportunity to experience its allure.

Prepare to be captivated by the imposing presence of the Scott Monument as it pays homage to one of Scotland's literary giants. Whether you choose to appreciate its grandeur from the ground or embark on an ascent to its pinnacle, the Scott Monument promises an unforgettable encounter with history, literature, and breathtaking views that will leave an indelible impression on your Edinburgh adventure.

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Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

8. Museum Of Childhood (High St, Edinburgh)

As the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of childhood, the Museum of Childhood holds a special place among the notable attractions in Edinburgh. Its unique focus on children's experiences throughout history makes it a captivating destination for visitors of all ages.

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Step into this fascinating museum and immerse yourself in a delightful collection of children's toys and playthings. From vintage dolls and teddy bears to classic board games and interactive exhibits, the museum offers a nostalgic journey into the world of childhood. It provides a perfect opportunity to learn about the lives of children in the past and gain insight into the toys and games that brought them joy and imagination.

While children are sure to be enchanted by the colorful displays and interactive elements, adults too will find themselves transported back in time as they stroll through the museum's halls. It's a chance to reminisce and share in the collective memories of childhood, allowing visitors to embark on a delightful trip down memory lane.

Situated at 42 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1TG, United Kingdom, the Museum of Childhood invites you to explore its captivating exhibits. It operates from Monday and Thursday to Saturday between 10 AM and 5 PM, and on Sundays from 12 noon to 5 PM. Please note that the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

9. Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Queen St, Edinburgh) 

Ranked among the top 10 must-visit destinations in Edinburgh, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery stands as a prominent art museum located on Queen Street. This gallery proudly houses the national collections of portraits, making it a treasure trove of artistic representations and cultural heritage. Additionally, it is home to the Scottish National Photography Collection, further enriching its offerings.

Situated within the esteemed National Galleries of Scotland, a public institution responsible for preserving and showcasing Scotland's artistic heritage, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a captivating venue for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Its location in the heart of Edinburgh adds to its accessibility and makes it a convenient stop during your exploration of the city.

Step into the gallery, and you'll be greeted by a diverse array of portraits that offer glimpses into the lives and legacies of notable figures from Scotland and beyond. From renowned historical figures to contemporary personalities, each portrait tells a unique story, inviting you to delve into the rich tapestry of human experiences.

In addition to its extensive collection, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery features engaging exhibitions, informative displays, and educational programs that provide valuable insights into the world of portraiture and its significance in capturing individual and collective identities.

Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

10. The Queen’s Gallery (Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh) 

Among the captivating attractions in Edinburgh, the Queen's Gallery holds a special place. Located within the historic Palace of Holyroodhouse, this gallery was inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen in November 2002, marking a significant moment during the Golden Jubilee celebrations. Today, it stands as a cultural gem, hosting a dynamic program of changing exhibitions that showcase treasures from the Royal Collection.

As you step into the Queen's Gallery, you'll find yourself surrounded by a carefully curated selection of artworks and artifacts, offering a glimpse into the rich heritage of the British monarchy. Each exhibition is thoughtfully designed to highlight different aspects of the Royal Collection, providing visitors with a unique and immersive experience.

Situated at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8DX, United Kingdom, the Queen's Gallery is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts, history lovers, and anyone seeking a deeper connection with the royal legacy. Its location within the palace complex adds to its allure, offering a captivating blend of regal grandeur and artistic excellence.

To accommodate visitors, the Queen's Gallery opens its doors to the public on a daily basis. From Thursday to Sunday, you can explore its treasures and exhibitions between 9:30 AM and 6 PM. Please note that the gallery is closed from Monday to Wednesday, so plan your visit accordingly.

Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - Top-Rated Tourist Spots 2023

Top 10 Things To Do in Edinburgh

Explore Edinburgh Castle: Discover the iconic Edinburgh Castle perched atop an ancient volcano and delve into its rich history while enjoying panoramic views of the city.

Wander the Royal Mile: Stroll along the historic Royal Mile, a bustling street connecting Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and explore its charming shops, pubs, and landmarks.

Climb Arthur's Seat: Hike up to Arthur's Seat, an ancient volcanic hill in Holyrood Park, for breathtaking views of Edinburgh's skyline and the surrounding natural beauty.

Visit the National Museum of Scotland: Immerse yourself in the wonders of the National Museum of Scotland, where you can delve into the realms of history, culture, science, and art through captivating exhibitions and interactive displays.

Experience Camera Obscura and World of Illusions: Delight in the mind-bending optical illusions and interactive exhibits at Camera Obscura, offering a unique perspective of Edinburgh and a fun-filled experience for all ages.

Encounter wildlife at Edinburgh Zoo: Embark on a memorable journey through Edinburgh Zoo, home to a diverse range of animals, including the beloved giant pandas, and immerse yourself in the wonders of the natural world.

Marvel at the Scott Monument: Admire the gothic grandeur of the Scott Monument, the world's largest monument dedicated to a writer, and ascend its 287 steps for panoramic views of the city.

Step back in time at the Museum of Childhood: Discover the Museum of Childhood, the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of childhood, and indulge in nostalgia as you explore its collection of toys, games, and exhibitions.

Appreciate art at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery: Visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, showcasing a remarkable collection of portraits and photography, providing insights into the lives and legacies of notable individuals throughout history.

Explore the Queen's Gallery: Venture into the Queen's Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse to witness changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection, offering a glimpse into the artistic and cultural heritage of the British monarchy.



Disclaimer: The above information is for general informational purposes only. All information on the Site is provided in good faith, however we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information on the Site.

Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh - FAQs

1. What is the best time to visit Edinburgh?

The best time to visit Edinburgh is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is generally mild and the city comes alive with festivals and events. Spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) can offer pleasant weather and fewer tourists, making them good alternatives for a visit.

2. How much time should I allocate to explore Edinburgh's top attractions?

To fully experience Edinburgh's top attractions, it is recommended to allocate at least three to four days. This will allow you to explore iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, visit museums and galleries, take in the natural beauty of Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park, and immerse yourself in the city's vibrant atmosphere.

3. Are there any free attractions or activities in Edinburgh?

Yes, Edinburgh offers several free attractions and activities. For example, you can explore the historic streets of the Old Town and stroll along the Royal Mile without any entrance fees. Many museums and galleries, including the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery, offer free admission to their permanent collections.

4. Is it necessary to book tickets in advance for popular attractions in Edinburgh?

It is advisable to book tickets in advance for popular attractions in Edinburgh, especially during the peak tourist season. This will help you secure your preferred date and time for visiting attractions like Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura, or special exhibitions at museums and galleries.

5. Are there day trips or excursions from Edinburgh worth considering?

Yes, there are several day trips and excursions from Edinburgh that offer unique experiences. You can explore the historic city of Stirling and visit Stirling Castle, venture into the Scottish Highlands to see breathtaking landscapes and visit iconic sites like Loch Ness and Glencoe, or take a trip to the picturesque coastal town of St. Andrews, known for its golf heritage and medieval ruins.

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