Don’t yoy know what to see in Edinburgh? It’s a city full of magic and enchantment. For this reason, Nathalie Language Experiences organises one of their linguistic immersion stays on these Scottish soils.
The capital of Scotland offers visitors endless special sites that are worth discovering.
Do you have time to travel? Get to know Edinburgh. Enjoy this beautiful city and be transported back to the Middle Ages.
In this blog you will discover 10 places that we recommend visiting in Edinburgh.
This castle is in the centre of the city. It can be seen from any part of the city since it is located on a volcanic hill.
Initially it was a military fort used to protect the town from invasions.
The castle dates from the 17th century, yet King David I converted this fort into the main residence of the Scottish Kings.
The views from Edinburgh Castle are absolutely marvelous.
From the walkway, you will be able to see the turquoise sea and lots of green hills.
During the War of Independence, this castle was a key piece for the Scots.
2. Holyroodhouse Palace
Another place to visit in Edinburgh is this incredible palace, that is situated on the Royal Mile. Here is where the Queen of England stays when she visits Scotland.
At first it was a monastery. It was constructed in 1128 and had this purpose until the end of the Middle Ages.
King Jacob I decided to convert it into a luxury palace.
Visiting Holyroodhouse is a unique experience, since it was the home of the most important Scottish Kings.
One of the most famous characteristics of this building is the plaster ceilings and the tapestries from Brussels that hang on the walls.
In the State apartment, you will also be able to discover the Throne Room.
In this place they celebrate lunches for the Order of the Thistle, an event to choose the new Knights. It is also the place where the Queen receives visits.
The Queen´s Gallery is a room full of portraits of Kings and Legendary Heroes. This is a place that you should visit, and it is next to the King of England´s Grande Suite.
We also recommend that you visit the gardens of this beautiful palace in order to surround yourself in a beautiful, colourful and luminous environment.
3. Saint Giles´Cathedral
If you are thinking what to see in Edinburgh, you have to discover Saint Giles’s Cathedral. It was constructed in the XV century on top of an old church and it is the most important Cathedral in Edinburgh.
The name comes from a French saint, to commemorate the time when the French and Scottish united to fight against the English.
The Saint Giles Cathedral has great artistic and architectural value and has been crucial throughout the history of Edinburgh.
John Knox along with other activists, planed the great protestant reform in the 16th century.
We recommend that you visit the Cathedral during the day; it is better lit up them. Its immense windows let natural light in, and this creates amazing tricks with light. A truly beautiful spectacle.
Discover its amazing stained glass windows and walk through its corridors decorated with paintings and prints.
Upon entering the cathedral, above the main door there is a printing of an angel playing the bagpipes, very typical Scottish culture.
You shouldn´t miss the statue of John Knox and the image in glass of the poet Robert Burns.
The most impressive thing in the St Giles´ Cathedral is its organ; one of the best in the whole of Europe, with 4,000 tubes.
An instrument designed to be admired by collectors and music lovers across the world.
4. Calton Hill
What to see in Edimburgh? Without doubt, Calton Hill. It is one of the highest points in Edinburgh. From it, you will be able to get great views of the city.
To get to the top, you have to do a long walk, but it is worth it. With every step you will be able to enjoy very rewarding views of the city.
On this hill you will find the National Monument. This was constructed in 1826 by William Henry Playfair, with the aim of creating a replica of the famous Parthenon in Athens.
It is dedicated to those who died during the Napoleonic wars.
The curious thing about this monument is that it is unfinished; they ran out of funds and left it half done.
Lots of people have described it as the “Great Failure of Edinburgh”, but in fact it is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit.
Another monument that you will find on this route is the dedication to vice admiral Nelson, winner of the Battle of Trafalgar.
It is a tall tower that has been converted into a honey pot for travelers, who climb to its top to get the most incredible views.
The star observatory is another place to visit on Calton Hill. It dates from 1792 and was designed by James Craig. Since 1818, it has been the observatory of the city.
5. Mary King´s Close
It is a curious street that in its time was one of the main commercial centres in Edinburgh. It is in the old town and is composed of a few small streets that form a labyrinth.
It functioned for a long time as a commercial zone, but one day it closed for unknown reasons.
This has been a recurring mystery of the area, and there have been loads of stories floating around about it.
If you visit Mary King´s close, you will be able to experience at first hand these blood curdling tales.
The most popular tale is related to the black death epidemic that took over Edinburgh in the 14th century.
It threatened the busiest and most central areas, bearing in mind that Mary King´s close is very central, it could have been one of the most contagious places.
In 2003 this whole area was re-opened, with the intention of establishing a corner in which life from the 17th century could be recreated.
They have constructed a space for history to be remembered, and every week thousands of tourists visit it.
6. Scott Monument
Are you still thinking of what to see in Edinburgh? One of the obligatory sites to visit it’s a Gothic Victorian structure, built in homage of the romantic author Walter Scott, author of “Ivanhoe”.
When he died, there was a public competition for different artists to present their projects.
The winner was George MeikleKemp, a lathe operator who gave a different name so as not to be disqualified.
This monument is composed of George MeikleKemp´s construction and a statue made by John Steel.
To reach this figure, you must climb 287 steps up a spiral staircase.
Once you arrive, keep climbing until the top to enjoy the impressive views.
7. Camera Obscura
Camera Obscure is a fascinating place. It is a space that was constructed in 1850 by Maria Short. She was the heir of Thomas Short, a creator of scientific gadgets.
When her father died, she used her inheritance to create an astronomical observatory on Calton Hill.
In 1850, she bought a terrace and on it build the camera obscura. A space to create a unique experience of three-dimensional images and full of colour.
Few people knew about this peculiar invention. But in 1895 Peter Geddes bought the Outlook Tower and installed Maria Short´s Camera Obscura in the middle of the city.
If you visit this very special place, you will see it in all its glory, and will learn about the history of Edinburgh.
In this site you will find 5 floors filled with 3D images, impressive holograms, and mirrors capable of deforming your face.
Discover a different side to the capital of Scotland, a three-dimensional side.
Enjoy a fun experience that will leave you changed.
8. National Museum of Scotland
If you ask what to see in Scotland, this place is a must-see. Visiting this museum is a step into prehistoric times up to the most recent history of the country, including the most important histories of Europe.
One aspect that defines this museum is that it captures the attention of all types of travelers, since it focuses on history across diverse subjects.
A space for learning from a fun point of view that challenges its visitors.
In this museum there are five main sections: Art, Scotland, Cultures around the World, Science and Technology, and Nature.
Throughout each area you will be able to discover the evolutional history of Scotland.
Inside the walls of the National Museum you will be able to find many curiosities, such as Dolly the sheep: the first cloned sheep in the world, whose body is embalmed.
9. Water of Leith
One of the most beautiful walks that you can do in Edinburgh. A 15km stroll that follows the course of the river Leith up to the port zone.
It is a route that is worth spending your time doing. Did you know that Leith wasn´t always part of Edinburgh?
It was a periphery town, that was separated from the city by a big rural zone. But the capital grew, and the green areas were disappearing as Edinburgh was expanding.
As you enter Water of Leith, you will fall in love with the impressive corners of the town that decorates the sides of the river.
The contrast between urban and nature is a truly powerful beauty.
One of the most interesting parts of the area is Dean Village. A precious suburb in Edinburgh consisting of abbots in the 12th century, that during many years was a zone of great prosperity.
Walk through its small streets quietly and enjoy its stone houses from the 17th century. It is like a scene from a film, full of fantasy and colour unlike anywhere else.
At the end of the walk, you will reach the port of Water of Leith.
There you will enjoy an impressive panorama of the river, surrounded by houses and the famous Royal Brittania Yacht.
10. Botanical Gardens
Still don´t have enough to see in Edinburgh? Well, one of the most recommendable places to visit in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. It was created in 1670 to cultivate healing plants.
Originally it was located elsewhere, but in 1820 it was moved to its current position.
It is a very touristic destination due to its beauty and peace that it instills, as well as frequented by Scots walking, playing sport or escaping the city.
It is a garden that homes a wide selection of species, one of the widest in the continent.
If you have a bit of time to enjoy this space, we recommend that you visit the Chinese garden, the Tree garden, the Rockery, the Queen´s mother garden, and the greenhouses.
When you visit Edinburgh, you will fall in love with the city. Enjoy your trip with these suggestions from Nathalie Language Experiences.