This is probably the most famous landmark in Edinburgh. It sits on Castle Rock, which is volcanic rock. This castle has been in use since the 12th century but has not been occupied since the 17th The Crown Jewels of Scotland are displayed here, which are a sight to see. The rich history and majestic beauty of this castle make it a must-see while in Edinburgh.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is situated on the opposite end of the Royal Mile from the castle. It is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II when she visits Scotland. This, like most things in Scotland, has a deep history with the royals. Mary, Queen of Scots resided here during her reign and Bonnie Prince Charlie took up residence here during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Since this is the official residence of the Royal Family, be sure to look for when the flag is raised to see if they are home.
Another old volcano, this hill (what the Scottish call a mountain) is worth a climb. It is not an easy hike up, but if you are able, you should do it. Once at the top, the views of Edinburgh are breathtaking. Speaking from experience, go during the day. If you go at night, it may start raining. In the dark and rain, this hike may feel like a near death experience.
If you are not able to climb up Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill may be a better choice. This hill (an actual hill) also gives stunning views of Edinburgh, without being so physically taxing on the body like Arthur’s Seat.
This area is one of my favorite places in Edinburgh. It used to be the site of the gallows, but now it has lots of great pubs and shops. A few places to visit while in the Grassmarket include: Mary’s Milk Bar (great gelato and great view of the Castle), Armchair books (a very cool secondhand bookshop), and the White Hart Inn (a haunted pub which claims to be the oldest pub in Edinburgh).
Just off Grassmarket lies Victoria Street. This street is full of cute shops with colorful facades. This street’s true claim to fame is that is serves as the inspiration for Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, visiting this street is a must.
This is an old village which is just a short walk from Edinburgh’s City center. It is well-preserved old milling village. It is very scenic, with a beautiful creek running through the center of the village.
The Royal Mile, or Edinburgh’s High Street, runs between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It has many gift shops and restaurants and is where St. Giles Cathedral is located. If you have seen Avengers Infinity War, this is one of the locations used while the crew was in Scotland.
Another place for any Harry Potter nerd. This is the café where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Many people flock here, but despite the crowds, it is a place worth visiting. I recommend getting a tea or coffee and maybe a slice of cake, the food here is a tad overpriced. This café has a great view of the castle, which served as the inspiration for Hogwarts. If you do come here, make sure to go to the bathroom and check out all the Harry Potter inspired graffiti.
Caffe Nero (Princes Street)
While this café is a chain, I still recommend visiting. They have good coffee, but this location has become my favorite in Edinburgh. While visiting, you should go up to the second-floor seating area, because it has wonderful views of the castle. If you can tell from the places I’ve recommended, any place with a good view of the castle is a good place to visit.