Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and its second largest city; home to a population of over a 450,000 and known for a charm that combines the ancient and the modern in an atmosphere that is uniquely Scottish. Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Parliament and the one of the major centers of the Enlightenment which has earned it the nickname the “Athens of the North.” Its Old Town and New Town districts have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage sites, with a total of 4,500 buildings and at least 40 conservation areas. Edinburgh is well known for its medieval architecture, most notably its castles, and is also host to the annual Edinburgh Festival which is a collection of official and individual festivals which are celebrated for over four weeks starting early August. Edinburgh draws in over 1 million visitors a year which makes it the second most visited tourist destination next to London.
If you’re planning your first visit to this beautiful city, here is a handy guide to what to do and see in Edinburgh:
- Get the Edinburgh Pass-The Edinburgh pass offers a maximum of £155 worth of entry to Edinburgh’s top 27 attractions and also comes with a 90-page guidebook and discounts on restaurants and retails. There one and two day passes available too. The pass gives free public transport within the city and free airport transfers. The Edinburgh pass can be bought online, and is also available in most Tourist Information Centers.
- Visit the Edinburgh Castle-Edinburgh castle is considered to be one of the most important fortresses in the Kingdom of Scotland, and has been part of numerous historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence up to the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
- Visit the Museum of Scotland and the Royal Museum- the Museum of Scotland and the Royal Museum together, make up the National Museum of Scotland. The Museum is dedicated to the history, people, and culture of Scotland. Its collections include Scottish pottery and weapons dating back to the Roman era and the Renaissance.
- Visit the Old Calton Cemetery- the Old Calton Burial Ground is a graveyard in Edinburgh, located on Calton Hill, northeast of the city center. The cemetery was opened in 1718 and is famous for being the resting place of several of Edinburgh’s renowned personas including philosopher David Hume, clergyman Dr. Robert Candlish, and publisher William Blackwood.
- Visit the Edinburgh Zoo- the Edinburgh zoo is a non-profit zoological park which receives over 600,000 visitors annually, making it Scotland’s second most popular paid-for attraction next to the Edinburgh Castle. One of Edinburgh Zoo’s main attractions is its penguin parade.
- Attend the Edinburgh National Festival- the famous Edinburgh International Festival is a festival of performing arts and spans three weeks starting from the middle of august. The International Festival features top class music, theatre, opera, and dance performers around the world. It also features a series of visual art exhibitions, talks and workshops.