11 Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland
If you take the high road to Scotland, you'll arrive at the capital of Edinburgh. This medieval city is full of history, beautiful buildings, and infinite landscapes and could partially be considered the birthplace of Harry Potter as J.K. Rowling spent many of her days writing the books in a cafe right in the heart of the town. London gets most of the love in the United Kingdom from tourists, but if you venture up north, you'll find that this Scottish treasure deserves just as much attention. At the base of the Highlands, you'll find so many things to do and perhaps be inspired by the literary giants, war heroes, and historical figures who once called this city home. These are 11 things you'll want to experience in Edinburgh.
The Royal Mile
This is a royal mile indeed. This main street of sorts runs the entirety of the old town and makes its way up to the castle on top of the hill. It's a bit of a hike, but there are lots of things to entertain you as you walk along. This is the main hub of shops and tours so you can peruse all that the street has to offer. There's The Scotch Whiskey Experience, the Real Mary King's Close, and the Camera Obscura.
As you look into the distance from Edinburgh, you'll see large rolling hills surrounding the city. The main one, which is a very popular hike, is Arthur's Seat. This extinct volcano is said to have the best views of the town below and extremely worth the trek. The path is paved to make it easier to climb and will fulfill your scenic Scottish desires.
This hidden suburb of Edinburgh is like stepping into a storybook. This little haven away from the city is a medieval-like village just a 10-minute walk down to the river Leith. It's a quiet spot to escape to and feels entirely like you stepped back in time.
If you need your royal fix, the castle on the top of the hill is the place to get it. Steeped with history, this huge dwelling could potentially take up an entire day to explore. This fortress was built high up to protect it from the historic years of war and pillaging. Upon arrival, you'll learn so much about the background of the castle and its place in the Edinburgh skyline.
The Elephant House
J.K. Rowling spent much of her time in this little cafe as she wrote the early Harry Potter series. This is the eatery's claim to fame, and it certainly takes advantage of that. Go inside and you'll find traces of the boy wizard everywhere, including the toilet. The menu is worth a try, and it feels incredibly special to sit where a great author was inspired to write her masterpiece.
Right outside of the city lies the Forth Bridge, which is considered one of the greatest man-made structures in the world. It connects South Queensferry to North Queensferry and is still one of the largest bridge spans in existence. If you stop nearby, you can get a panoramic view of the bridge and learn some history about how the people of the land used to cross the firth before modern technology.
Take a Ghost Tour
If you walk along the Royal Mile, you can find a myriad of tour booths ready to get you to join their ghost tour for the evening. This is a spooky and interesting way to learn the spiritual history of the city. The storytellers are well-trained and ready to scare you with true stories of the ghouls that haunt the local dwellings and street.
If you want to see where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for Voldemort aka Tom Riddle, this cemetery in the middle of the city has a tombstone for a Thomas Riddell, who died all the way back in 1806. And for those who just like graveyards, this hallowed ground is fascinating to walk around and peruse all the ancient burials (with respect, of course).
Princes Street Gardens
Below the castle and on the other side of the famous Princes Street shopping district is a large green space. With views of all the buildings around you, this is a great place to have a picnic, relax, and enjoy the Scottish city. Within the gardens lie the Scott Monument, Scottish National Gallery, and easy access to the train station.
The most colorful street in Edinburgh lies right below the castle. This rainbow row of shops is perfect for Instagram and follows a curve down the hill. In a city full of grays and browns, this is a lovely pop of color.
Day Trip to the Highlands
If you have time, going on a day trip to the Highlands will make you fall in love with the diverse landscape of Scotland. There are many tour groups that will take you up into the mountains and show you a bit of the lochs and Highland cows that make this country so amazing. If you go in the Winter, it's snowy and beautiful and feels very otherworldly as you drive through the valleys to the north.