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Edinburgh is the United Kingdom’s second most popular tourist destination, and it’s not hard to understand why! Situated on the beautiful grassy hills of Edinburgh, the medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town are together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you want great views of the city, check out Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill, the top of Scott Monument, or climb all the way up to Arthur’s Seat. In August, the largest art festival in the world is held right here in Edinburgh, called Fringe. If you just love beautiful streets, historic buildings, and unique architecture, then Edinburgh is the place for you! Read through our top 10 favorite things to do in Edinburgh and then book the most groovy tour to see all these great sights - The Silent Disco Adventures Tour! You can jam out to your favorite songs while you learn about the history, culture, and landmarks of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is also a great place to start a road trip around Scotland.
The Edinburgh Castle is built into the Castle Rock, a dormant volcano with extraordinary views of Edinburgh's skyline. Here you can visit St. Margaret’s Chapel, which is the oldest surviving structure in Edinburgh, built in the 12th century. In addition, you can see the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, traditionally used for knighting kings of Scotland. Also, don't miss the traditional firing of the gun every day at 1:00 pm! Starting in1861, a muzzle-loading cannon was fired every day at 1:00 pm in order to serve as a vital timekeeping device for ships in the harbor. Today, a gun is still fired every day at 1:00 pm (except for Sundays and holidays), but it’s just for tradition and show. The walk up to Edinburgh Castle is along the Royal Mile road, which is about one-mile long.
The Royal Miles runs through the heart of Edinburgh and is part of the medieval Old Town. The road begins at Holyrood Palace and continues almost a mile to the top of the hill at the Edinburgh Castle. Along the way, you will find plenty of cafés, shops, and museums. The Royal Mile is the busiest tourist street in Edinburgh, so you're bound to find yourself on this street many times during your visit. Along the way, you can stop and see the Heart of Midlothian, which is a heart-shaped pattern built into the road. It marks the site of the Old Tolbooth, formerly the center of administration, taxation, and justice between 1630 and 1707.
In the 16th century, the Holyrood Palace was constructed for the kings and queens of Scotland. Once James I also became the King of England, the palace was no longer regularly used. It was King George V who transformed Holyrood into a 20th-century palace. Today, the Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland. Queen Elizabeth II spends one week at the Holyrood Palace during the summer. The Holyrood Palace gets its name from the Holyrood Abbey, which was built on this site in the 12th century. You can still walk among these beautiful ruins.
The Scott Monument was created in August 1846 and since then has been a prominent feature of the Edinburgh skyline. This gothic structure is dedicated to the memory of Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most acclaimed writers. The monument holds 64 figures of characters from Scott's novels as well as a sculpture of Scott and his dog. It stands in the Princes Street Gardens, where you can enjoy a nice picnic with a terrific view. You can also climb 287 steps to the top to see the stunning views of the city(as seen in the above right-hand picture).
Circus Lane is an attractive, narrow, winding road in the Georgian New Town of Edinburgh. Built in the 18th-century, Circus Lane used to be a row of stables and carriage houses. Today, these colorful mews homes are highly sought after. The cobblestone streets are lined with lovely flowers and adorable front doors. This is a perfect street to wander down and snap some cute pictures.
Calton Hill is located in the New Town of Edinburgh and is the headquarters of the Scottish Government. At the base of the hill are Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament building. There are also plenty of iconic monuments on Calton Hill such as the Dugald Steward Monument (pictured above), the National Monument, and the Nelson Monument. It is a relatively easy hike to the top and the views from up here are so beautiful, especially at sunset.
Rising above the city of Edinburgh is the peak of an extinct volcano, known as Arthur’s Seat. A short, yet strenuous, hike to the top takes about 30 to 60 minutes to reach the peak. Once you are at the top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views of Edinburgh’s skyline. The name of this mountain comes from legends pertaining to King Arthur. Arthur’s Seat is often mentioned as one of the possible locations for Camelot. Allow two to three hours for your visit and be sure to bring water.
The crown steeple of St. Giles Cathedral is the main fixture in Edinburgh’s skyline. It was constructed in the 14th century and has been a principal place of worship for the Church of Scotland. The church is located about a third of the way down the Royal Mile. Rooftop tours are available for some great city views.
Dean Village is a quaint village in a small, quiet, residential area of Edinburgh. And yet, it is truly a must-see if you are visiting this great city. The Water of Leith is the main river that runs through Edinburgh and there is a trail that goes alongside it for approximately 18 miles. The path passes through this beautiful village and the unique architecture of Dean Village makes for incredibly picturesque views.
The Royal Botanic Garden houses 3,000 exotic plants and covers 80 acres. This garden is free to enter and stroll around. There are giant redwood trees here in the Woodland Garden as well as the world’s richest collection of rhododendron flowers. No matter what season it is, there is always something in bloom. After a long day of walking around, this is the perfect spot to revel in peace and serenity.
Silent Disco Adventures offers you a truly unforgettable hour of fun and silliness, while learning fun facts about Edinburgh along the way! Via hi-tech headsets, you will dance your way through Edinburgh’s best sightseeing tour as you listen to some of the best sing-along hits and theme songs from past decades. Enjoy the reactions of passers-by as you take part in flash mobs at iconic Edinburgh landmarks. Silent Disco Adventures has wonderfully enthusiastic tour guides that really make this experience a success. They will teach you the important dance moves and ensure everyone is having a great time. This is a tour you do not want to miss!
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.