Discover the Best of Edinburgh: A Guide to Must-Visit Sites

Discover the Best of Edinburgh: A Guide to Must-Visit Sites

Edinburgh is a vibrant, bustling city in Scotland filled with a plethora of activities that will fit the needs and interests of most visitors and locals alike. From its picturesque streets steeped in history to its delightful cafes and restaurants.

Visitors to the city can experience a variety of activities, festivals, exhibitions, and more—all packaged into one of the world's most beautiful ancient cities. Whether you are here to explore its rich cultural heritage, visit the city’s incredible array of museums, or just simply spend an afternoon lunch in one of its renowned bakeries, Edinburgh has something for everyone. Here are some of the must-see places in Edinburgh.

1. Greyfriars Kirk

In the center of Edinburgh, Greyfriars Kirk has stood since 1620. For centuries, it has been a popular place of worship and a significant part of the city's history. Schedule a tour to learn more about the church's history, including its significance to the Scottish Covenanters and its use as a barracks during Cromwell's invasion of Scotland in the 17th century. As the church is also used as a venue for music and performance, you can still attend a Sunday service or visit the Kirk when a concert is on.

In this one-of-a-kind setting, you'll be sure to catch some culture thanks to the diverse and ever-changing schedule of events. Make sure to visit the Greyfriars Museum and Shop to see a copy of the original National Covenant that was signed in 1638.

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2. Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is housed in a recognizable Gothic-style building in the heart of the city. The building was constructed in 1889 as the first dedicated portrait gallery in the world. It has large, open galleries and small, intimate spaces. The gallery has a large number of portraits that show the people of Scotland and its history.

Discover works by Sir Henry Raeburn, Allan Ramsay, and William Brodie, as well as portraits of Mary Queen of Scots and Robert Burns. At the National Portrait Gallery, there is always something new to see because there are many temporary exhibits that look at important aspects of Scottish culture, history, and people.

3. Gladstone’s Land

Gladstone’s Land is situated in Edinburgh's Old Town. It is a six-story tenement house from the 17th century that stands tall above the street. The structure has been all around protected and reestablished to offer guests an understanding of life in Edinburgh during the 1600s. Take a look at the historic rooms and narrow staircases where people once lived and worked. Gladstone’s Land has been finished with period parts of grandstand various ways of life: from the shopkeeper to the wealthy resident to the poor's cramped conditions.

The best way to learn more about Scottish culture is to take a fascinating and immersive tour of the Old Town. Check the listings for the gallery, which is on the second floor and is often used by local artists to show off their work in a beautiful, eye-catching place.

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4. National War Museum

The National War Museum examines Scotland's wartime history and is housed within Edinburgh Castle. The assortments here grandstand military relics and wartime materials, like decorations, garbs, standards, and banners. From Highland-Lowland battles in the 17th and 18th centuries to Scotland's current military presence, the museum examines Scotland's role in the war.

See how recruitment materials have evolved over time and learn about war from the perspective of Scottish soldiers. In addition, the museum hosts regular events and exciting temporary exhibitions to provide a uniquely Scottish perspective on the experience and effects of war throughout history.

5. Edinburgh Zoo

The Edinburgh Zoo, which covers an area of 82 acres, is a great place to see exotic animals. Edinburgh Zoo is a wonderful and entertaining family outing with stunning views of the city. The only British zoo with koalas and giant pandas is the zoo, which was the first in the world to have penguins. Watch charming creatures in their nooks, or book a guardian experience to get very close, and to realize what it's preferred to be an animal handler. There are everyday discussions on offer and various occasions every week including photography studios, taking care of shows, and film screenings. In historic Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Zoo is ideal for animal lovers and a taste of exotic nature.

6. Craigmillar Castle

One of Scotland's most stunning and well-preserved castles is Craigmillar Castle, which is a must-see. Since the 15th century, royals, including Mary Queen of Scots, have lived in the castle. A pair of yew trees that once supplied weapons with wood are still standing in the same spot at the castle's entrance. Take in the grand halls, living rooms, and stunning stone architecture of the castle. For stunning views of Edinburgh and Queen Mary's Room, where Mary Queen of Scots once resided, climb the castle tower. Craigmillar Palace is an optimal spot to find out about Scottish history and culture and to go through a day in perfect environmental factors.

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7. The Georgian House

The Georgian House is a piece of 18th-century Edinburgh. It stands tall in the bustling city center. The Georgian House in Edinburgh's New Town, built in 1796, is a fine example of fashionable architecture. The New Town was constructed so that the city's wealthier residents could live in more comfortable surroundings than the Old Town could. In order to provide a glimpse into the life of its affluent Edinburgh residents, the House has been exquisitely decorated with period pieces. Beautiful furniture, exquisite silverware, and works of fine art are on display. You can explore on your own or as part of a costumed tour with guides reenacting the day-to-day activities of a noble family.

8. Museum of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh is still exhibiting toys and games from the 18th century to the present day. It was the first museum of its kind in the world. The museum gives a fascinating look at how different generations have defined childhood and how toy trends have changed over time. This is a great attraction for kids and adults alike because it teaches about the history of "fun" and makes adults feel nostalgic! Make your way over to the shop and pick up some toys or retro goods to take home.

9. Heart of Midlothian

In the downtown area, search out the Core of Midlothian for an exceptionally Scottish piece of history. The Heart of Midlothian is made of colored granite blocks that look like a heart and a cross and are set into the Royal Mile's pavement. The Old Tolbooth, the town's "heart" from the 15th century, is marked by this landmark. Although it is no longer in use, this building was once used as a prison and execution site in addition to running the city.

This is where the local tradition of spitting on the heart got its start. This action was initially carried out in disdain for the former prison that stood on this site; Currently, it is thought to bring luck. If you don't pay attention, you might miss the Heart of Midlothian, but the locals who spit as they go by should tell you where it is.

10. Museum of Edinburgh

The Museum of Edinburgh is the best place to learn about Edinburgh's history from ancient times. You can learn about the city's people, its trade, and how it came to be at the museum. Take a look at the National Covenant, the original city plans, and a lot of the decorative art in Edinburgh. The museum has a number of immersive exhibits designed to entertain and inform visitors about the city's origins and development. Make sure to check out the "hidden" courtyard behind the museum, which has stonework and engravings from centuries ago.


Edinburgh is a vibrant city full of interesting and dynamic attractions, offering something for everyone. Whether you're looking to take in a museum and gallery exhibit, soak in the atmosphere of a bustling festival, or marvel at the stunning architecture that has been standing for centuries, visiting Edinburgh is sure to be a memorable experience.

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