12 Best Attractions in Edinburgh + 5 Awesome Extensions EUROPE | UK TRAVEL GUIDE

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If you are heading to the UK then Scotland simply has to be on your list and its capital city Edinburgh deserves a good chunk of your time.

Come rain or shine, this city powers on with a whole host of indoor and outdoor attractions. I’ve picked out a few of my favourites to give you some tips to plan your visit from.

1. Edinburgh Festivals

Well, when a city is known as the Worlds Festival City this had to be number one right?

I was lucky to spend this August exploring all the Summer Festivals that Edinburgh has to offer, including the Book, Art and Famous Fringe but there are actually 12 Edinburgh Festivals throughout the year so timing your visit up to match one shouldn’t be too hard, especially the unique Hogmanay celebrations over new year and the incredible Royal Tattoo.

Worried it will cost a fortune? I’ve written a handy guide to Edinburgh Festivals on a Budget and even made a video to show you how awesome they are!

2. Edinburgh Castle

The obvious number two on this list is Edinburgh castle which is open to visitors (at a fee). Towering over the city it is breathtaking both from afar and inside. This unique castle is actually a whole host of smaller buildings within a courtyard and is still equipped with cannons and fascinating stories of the Scottish capital’s past.

3. Dean Street Village

A great little walk from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh central is the charming and quaint Dean Village. It was raining like crazy when I went (Ahhh the Scottish weather!) but luckily my friend Sonja had this colourful photo to hand. Take an early morning walk along the river before anyone is about and catch the mirror like reflections of these old houses in the water, it’s a postcard-perfect moment.

4. Gilmerton Cove

Easily accessed by a 20-minute bus journey are the fascinating Gilmerton Cove caves. The reason for these being such a place of interest is no one is quite sure what they were used for. As with most things in Edinburgh the historical tales and interesting stories have all been spun but take a visit yourself and try to work out what the hollowed out stone bowls or long bench-like chairs were actually used for. Call in advance to make sure a tour is running.

5. The Real Mary Kings Close

Another underground treat can be found right in the heart of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile. The Real Mary Kings Close is history at its best though I expected any tour led by a character actor would be naff.

It actually wasn’t. I found it to be a really in-depth history lesson in the plague, how people lived in days gone by and even how sewerage would have been discarded. These small rooms with their low ceilings and even original beams are rich in tales and the street between the buildings makes you realise just how tight the living quarters were. The tour may cost you some dime but to head underneath the street with so many people milling above is a real treat for any history buff.

7. The Gardens and Arthurs Seat

Edinburgh is a very green city and the clear Scottish air is the perfect excuse to get outside. Whether you are admiring the view of the castle with a picnic in Princes Street Gardens or appreciating the green efforts of the Royal Botanic Gardens, getting lost in nature is easy here. The trek up to Arthurs Seat, the mountain peak looking down on the city is the perfect way to watch the sun rise or set.

8. The Galleries and Museums

Edinburgh is an art filled city all year round, you can’t help but notice the various sculptures dotted around the city. With a whole host of museums and galleries to take your pick from you are spoilt for choice.

The National Museum of Scotland and the portrait gallery are well worth a visit if the rain does (or doesn’t strike) and with both offering free entrance you would be mad not to at least pop your head in.

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