Tourism

A women walking down a flight of stairs past historic buildings, with Edinburgh Castle in the near distance.
Walking down the Vennel towards Edinburgh Castle.

A combination of majestic architecture and stunning natural scenery; a variety of leading visitor attractions; delicious cuisine and a vibrant nightlife; and a rich year-round cultural offering make Edinburgh a popular visitor destination. 

Edinburgh is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Old and New Towns and the Forth Bridge. The Old Town is the medieval heart of Edinburgh, characterised by its traditional layout with many characterful closes and wynds and a wide selection of historic buildings. The New Town is the masterplanned Georgian expansion of Edinburgh, known for its carefully laid out streets and classical architecture. The Forth Bridge - a 2.5 kilometre cantilever rail bridge - is a world-renowned masterpiece of civil engineering, linking Edinburgh with Fife and beyond to the Scottish Highlands. A new visitor centre, the Forth Bridge Experience, is currently under development in the historic village of South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh is home to a wide variety of visitor attractions ranging from historic monuments to interactive exhibitions. Among the popular attractions in Edinburgh are:

  • Edinburgh Castle, a medieval castle overlooking the city centre which has played a key role in the history of Scotland, located upon Castle Rock at the top of the Royal Mile.
  • The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II, located at the foot of the Royal Mile. 
  • The National Museum of Scotland, home to collections ranging from prehistoric remnants to cutting-edge technology.
  • The Scottish National Gallery, an international collection of fine art featuring works by renowned artsists such as Botticelli, Constable, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Titian, housed in two buildings overlooking Princes Street Gardens in the Old Town.
  • Edinburgh Zoo, home to animals from around the world including penguins, rhinoceroses, giraffes, and giant pandas.
  • The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, a collection of portraits of key figures from Scottish history, housed in an iconic red sandstone neo-gothic building in the New Town.
  • St. Giles' Cathedral, a medieval church on the Royal Mile.
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia, formerly the royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II, now permanently berthed in Leith.
  • The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a large botanic garden featuring plants from around the world.
  • Edinburgh Dungeon, an immersive experience bringing to life the darkest episodes in Edinburgh's history.
  • The Johnnie Walker Experience, a flagship new visitor attraction showcasing Johnnie Walker whisky.
  • The Museum of Edinburgh, a collection of artefacts from Edinburgh's lengthy history.

Each August, the world-renowned Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe feature a staggering number of performances including opera, music, theatre, dance, and stand-up comedy. The city is also known for its extravagent Christmas and Hogamany celebrations. Other festivals include the Edinburgh Art Festival, the Royal Highland ShowEdinburgh Science, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Alongside its Festivals, Edinburgh has a rich year-round cultural offering with the city hosting multiple music halls, theatres, exhibition centres, and independent cinemas. 

There is a wide range of visitor accommodation in Edinburgh, ranging from traditional inns and guesthouses to full-service five star hotels, among them the world-famous Balmoral Hotel and the iconic new W Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh offers a rich variety of places to eat and drink, including several Michelin Star restaurants. Other nightlife attractions include casinos, clubs, and karaoke venues.

Edinburgh's tourism sector is supported by the city's strong connectivity, including air, rail, and cruise ship links.

Tourists

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