What to know before travelling to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a fantastic place to visit. Whether you’re interested in the culture, history, architecture, attractions, or food, it has something to offer everyone.
Is Edinburgh worth visiting?
There are many reasons why you should book a city break in Edinburgh. Here are 10 of them…
- The walkable city centre is attractive throughout each season
- The locals are very friendly
- There are plenty of free things to see and do in Edinburgh
- Both its architecture and natural surroundings are stunning
- It’s famous for its festivals and events
- Edinburgh is home to some of the UK’s top Michelin star restaurants
- There are lots of interesting and picturesque routes for walkers
- Edinburgh’s full of beautiful viewpoints, from Arthur’s Seat to Edinburgh Castle
- It has a fascinating history featuring Romans, Vikings and powerful ruling monarchs
- It’s got some of the best attractions in Scotland and even the UK
Top Attractions in Edinburgh
When it comes to planning your Edinburgh itinerary, you won’t be short of things to see and do. Edinburgh has a wealth of top attractions to satisfy all tastes. So, whether you’re visiting Edinburgh with children, interested in the capital’s vast history or a fan of its architecture, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Here’s a quick list of some of the places you might want to visit:
Perched on top of an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is the number one visitor attraction in Scotland and the most famous building in the city. While the outside is impressive, and the views across the capital are stunning, it’s well worth a trip inside to see St Margaret’s Chapel, The National War Memorial and the Crown Square, home to the castle’s magnificent Grand Hall and Scotland’s Crown Jewels.
Fun fact - In the castle’s Great Hall, you’ll spot a small window high above the fireplace. This window was known as ‘laird’s lug,’ or ‘the Lord’s ear’ and allowed castle residents to eavesdrop on conversations taking place in the Great Hall.
Whether you’re visiting Edinburgh with children or you just love animals, Edinburgh Zoo is the perfect place for a fun day out. It’s easy to get to (just a short bus ride from the city centre), and there are over 1000 beautiful animals to meet, including the UK’s only Giant Pandas. What’s more, there are lots of zoo keeper talks every day - fusing fun with an educational experience for kids and grown-ups alike!
The Real Mary King’s Close
If it’s Edinburgh’s hidden history that interests you, make sure your visit to the Scottish capital includes a trip to The Real Mary King’s Close. Voted Scotland’s Best Heritage Tourism Experience, this one-hour character-guided underground tour will take you on a journey through over 400 years of social history, including the deadly plague.
National Museum of Scotland
Planning a city break to Edinburgh? The National Museum of Scotland has a huge variety of galleries and museums to explore, along with interactive displays and games that will appeal to all ages. Discover the history of Scotland through its diverse collections and immerse yourself in the wonders of nature, science, technology and world cultures, all in one place. With so much to see and do, we recommend spending a whole day at the National Museum of Scotland, and you’ll be pleased to hear entry is 100% free!
Arthur’s Seat is a 2000-year-old hillfort towering high above the Edinburgh skyline in Holyrood Park, a short walk from The Royal Mile. The large, jagged, grass-covered hill is the remains of an extinct volcano and a great vantage point for panoramic views across the city.
While no one knows the exact origin of its name, Arthur’s Seat is thought to be associated with King Arthur and may have even been the location of the legendary Camelot. There are several routes up to the summit, with some a more strenuous hike than others, so it’s worth doing a little research to see which is the best one for you.
Is Edinburgh a good place for families?
While Edinburgh is a great city break destination for couples and groups, it’s equally as fun for families with children. We’ve already mentioned some of Edinburgh’s child-friendly tourist attractions, like Edinburgh Zoo and The National Museum of Scotland, but another fantastic place is The Museum of Childhood. A fun day out for the whole family, the museum provides an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about children of the past and see some of the toys they would have played with. Additionally, there are lots of interactive activities, including a puppet theatre and dressing up area, which little ones are sure to love!
You’ll also find a vast range of family-friendly hotels in Edinburgh to suit all budgets, such as Yotel Edinburgh, the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel and The Edinburgh Grand. Search and book a hotel through PlansChange to secure a fantastic deal.
What is the best part of Edinburgh to stay in?
When it comes to booking the best hotels in Edinburgh, you will be spoilt for choice! There are lots of wonderful neighbourhoods across the city, and each has something unique to offer.
Old Town & Royal Mile
If it’s your first visit to Edinburgh, we recommend staying in the Old Town. It’s great for sightseeing, and as the most haunted part of Edinburgh, you might even bump into a face from the past. We’re sure that’ll either make you want to stay there or put you off entirely! But don’t worry, there’s a lot more to see than ghosts. The Old Town is full of amazing architecture and includes the Royal Mile, stretching from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Along the way, you’ll find free museums, cosy pubs, and places of interest like The Elephant House - a gourmet tea house which found fame as the place where J K Rowling wrote some of the early Harry Potter books.
Hotels in Edinburgh Old Town
Popular hotels include the Radisson Collection Hotel on the Royal Mile, The Grassmarket Hotel and ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge.
If you’re visiting Edinburgh for a shopping spree or to sample Scottish gastronomy, stay in the New Town. Built after the great fire in 1824, it is home to some of the most famous Edinburgh attractions, including Princes Street Gardens. There’s also nightlife aplenty, with some fantastic pubs dotted along Rose Street and upmarket bars on George Street.
Best hotels in Edinburgh New Town
Top hotel picks include The Balmoral, Le Monde Hotel, Intercontinental Edinburgh The George.
Leith is another interesting neighbourhood known for its international cuisine and character. While Leith Docks was once regarded as one of the less favourable parts of the capital, it’s now home to luxury apartments and even the Royal Yacht Britannia! All in all, it’s a great area to base yourself on a trip to Edinburgh, and more likely to have cheap hotel rooms compared to other areas of the city.
Hotel rooms in Leith, Edinburgh
Book a hotel room in Leith at hotels such as Malmaison Edinburgh and Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh on Leith’s waterfront.
Book Edinburgh hotels with PlansChange
You will also find all of the familiar hotel chains in Edinburgh, including Premier Inn, Travelodge and EasyHotel, many of which are available to book through PlansChange. It’s also worth checking out our resale deals page to see if anyone is reselling hotel rooms in Edinburgh at a next to nothing price!