Things to See in Edinburgh, Scotland
Climb One of Edinburgh's Atmospheric Hills
Calton Hill, on the edge of Edinburgh's New Town, was author Robert Louis Stevenson's favorite spot to overlook Scotland's capital. Rising 106m (348 ft.), you can get even higher by climbing the Nelson Monument, shaped like an inverted telescope, which towers above the National Monument, an unfinished replica of the Parthenon.
Tour Edinburgh Castle
Originally built 1,000 years ago, the Edinburgh Castle has served as a military barracks rather than a royal residence since the 16th century. Built atop volcanic crags and overlooking Princes Gardens, Edinburgh Castle dominates the Scottish capital's skyline. Tours take visitors to the Great Hall, the Scottish National War Museum, and the Honours of Scotland, home to the Scottish crown jewels.
Sample a Wee Dram of the "Water of Life"
Don't leave Edinburgh without sampling the local whiskey, commonly called the "water of life." The Scotch Whiskey Experience is the place to go for classic single malts. Each has its own distinctive flavor--from light and flowery to peat-smoked earthiness--and here you have hundreds to choose from.
Behold Edinburgh's Skyline from the Castle Ramparts
From Edinburgh Castle's crenelated ramparts, enjoy sweeping views of the city skyline: look down on The Mound, which is home to the Scottish National Gallery and Royal Scottish Academy; the Scott Monument, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, in Princes Street Gardens; Princes Street, with its big-name shopping; Waverley Station; and in the far distance the Firth of Forth.
Stroll Edinburgh's High Street (the Royal Mile) and Admire St Giles Cathedral
Destroyed by the English in 1385 and subsequently rebuilt over the years, the High Kirk of St Giles (St Giles Cathedral) is located in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, on the historic stretch of High Street known as the Royal Mile, which runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyroodhouse. Outside the church is a heart-shaped pattern of cobblestones; spitting in it supposedly brings good luck.
Marvel at the Audacious Scottish Parliament Building
At the bottom of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, opposite Holyroodhouse Palace, is the Scottish Parliament. Designed by Barcelona-based architect Enric Miralles, it proved controversial both in its look and its cost. But you can't argue against its boldness; it's one of the most audacious modern buildings in Britain.
Turn back the clocks 250 years in Edinburgh's New Town
Go back in time and explore Edinburgh's New Town development, one of the marvels of the Georgian age. Started in 1767, its buildings embody neoclassical poise and grandeur. Most of the sandstone facades are made from the local Craigleith Quarry. Admire the Georgian House on Charlotte Square at the New Town's western end.
Leave Edinburgh's Hustle and Bustle Behind in the Royal Botanic Garden
Sprawling across some 28 hectares (69 acres), Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden, beyond the northeast corner of the New Town, was inaugurated in the late 17th century as a place for studying plants with medical uses. In spring, the various rhododendrons are almost reason alone to visit.
Follow the Water of Leith from the Royal Botanic Garden to Dean Village
West of Edinburgh's New Town is Dean Village, nestled on the banks of the Water of Leith (from which the town took its original name). A once-thriving milling village dating back 900 years, its new name (alternatively 'dene') means deep valley. Restored and conserved, the village is now a charming retreat.
Listen to Classical Music
Enjoy classical music performances from both the Scottish Chamber and Royal Scottish National Orchestras at Edinburgh's Usher Hall. Restored to its original glory, the Usher Hall is flanked by two theaters: the Traverse, pinnacle of the Fringe, and the Royal Lyceum, one of the country's few remaining repertory companies.