The Royal Mile is topped and tailed by a castle and a palace. While the former is a fortress drenched in military history and housing an arsenal of weapons, Holyrood, by comparison, is all lightness, grace, and charm. You have to "do" the castle — once. But as you leave Holyrood you'll probably be planning your next visit — with your one-year pass. If you get your ticket stamped by a warden as you exit you can come back as often as you like over the next 12 months, which helps to take the sting out of the price. The Queen's official residence in Scotland, Holyrood started life as an Augustinian abbey built by King David I of Scotland in 1128. It morphed over the centuries into the elegant building you see today. The complimentary audio tour takes about an hour as you wind through the State Apartments heavy with tapestries and still used for official functions, but it's Mary Queen of Scots' apartments and the Darnley rooms that give the biggest thrill (and cause a shiver as you see the place where her lover Rizzio was murdered). In terms of access, the Great Staircase has 27 steps and there's a steep spiral staircase up to Mary Queen of Scots bedchamber (with no wheelchair access), but other parts of the palace are accessible and there are manual wheelchairs available. There's a charming café in the Mews Courtyard, a shop, of course, and you can take a complimentary tour of the ruined abbey during the summer. If you want to visit the gardens and the Queen's Gallery there's a combined — and obviously more expensive – ticket.