Scotland is home to seven cities, each with its own distinct character. 

Our capital, Edinburgh, needs no introduction, with the iconic Edinburgh Castle overlooking the city centre, and with the Medieval Old Town and the elegant Georgian New Town sitting side by side. It is a city that offers something for everyone, from historic sites to picturesque walks up Arthur’s Seat or along the Water of Leith.

Compact and easy to walk around, let us take you on an adventure of discovery in Edinburgh this autumn……Whether a first-time visitor, for a day trip or short break, Scotland’s capital city has something for everyone. Scotland is gradually reopening as restrictions ease and new measures are in place to ensure everyone’s safety. However, we continue to live in uncertain times and so we ask that responsible travel is considered paramount for anyone planning a trip in Scotland, and booking in advance is essential. 

If you haven’t already visited Edinburgh Castle, it is a must for every visitor. It is one of the most exciting historic sites in the city, and must be one of the most photographed! Whether admiring from Princes Street Gardens below, to close quarters, it is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourism attraction. It is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny and the famous 15th-century gun, Mons Meg, which is fired every day at one o’clock. The castle reopened with safety precautions in place from August 1 and some interior spaces will not be accessible at this time – advance bookings are accepted. 

Just a short walk down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle is the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. With five floors and over 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits, there is something to entertain all ages and it offers a wonderful insight into some of Edinburgh’s streets and neighbourhoods, all without moving! The view from the Rooftop Terrace is also well worth seeing, in addition to the spectacular cityscape photographs. 

Other historic attractions that are well worth a visit include the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Real Mary King’s Close. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh and the home of Scottish royal history, offering insights into the Palace’s close associations with some of Scotland’s well-known historic figures such as Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Beneath the City Chambers on the Royal Mile lies a warren of hidden streets where real people lived, worked and died between the 17th and the 19th centuries. The Real Mary King’s Close offers an unrivalled opportunity to learn the real stories from Edinburgh’s past and a unique look at the streets and houses that have been preserved in time. 

Situated just five minutes from Princes Street is Dean Village, a former milling district, described as a ‘beautiful oasis right by the Water of Leith’. Dean Bridge and St Bernard’s Well – both designed by Thomas Telford – can be viewed before heading along the riverside path from Dean Village through to Leith, taking in the quaint areas of Stockbridge and Canonmills. There is an abundance of cafés, pubs and restaurants awaiting the walker in Leith, a hub of lively eating and drinking spots. 

For those looking for some guided tours of Edinburgh, there is a wide range of subject areas that can be explored, from an architectural walking tour with Cobble Tales that offers an insight into Edinburgh’s New Town, the largest Georgian planned town development in the world, to Invisible Cities’ tours of the historical landmarks and social projects of Edinburgh by tour guides who have been affected by homelessness. Mercat Tours has also adapted its tour offerings to ensure the safety of its staff and visitors, offering relaxed and safe tours taking in Edinburgh’s sights and stories. 

And for those who would prefer to sit back and relax whilst taking in the sights, there is a series of bus tours offering an insight into some of the finest destinations and attractions across the city. 

The wildest visitor attraction in Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, is home to more than 1,000 animals from around the world and home to the UK’s only giant pandas and koalas. As well as the animals – including the famous penguin parade – the Zoo enjoys 82 acres of parkland and spectacular views over the city. 

And from land to sea, the Royal Yacht Britannia is a floating royal residence berthed on the shores of Leith. An audio tour of the five decks allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of royalty, from the Royal Apartments to the Crew’s Quarters, it is all there to be discovered on the five-star visitor attraction. 

For the whisky lover, no visit to Edinburgh is complete without a trip to the Scotch Whisky Experience. And for those looking for peace and tranquillity, the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh offers 72 acres of stunning scenery, or Calton Hill is well worth the climb for its stunning panoramic city views.

VisitScotland encourages visitors to respect local communities and plan ahead with the help of Helpful guidance can be found in VisitScotland’s new Visitor Charter and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which offers practical advice for all when enjoying Scotland’s beautiful countryside.

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