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Edinburgh is the cultural heart of Scotland and home to many of its most famous attractions. From the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle you’ll never be stuck for things to do in Edinburgh, with lots to see for both visitors and locals alike. Looking to discover (or rediscover) the very best that Edinburgh has to offer? At Groupon we’ve got you covered with everything from a tour of the Edinburgh Whisky Experience to an afternoon with the penguins at the Edinburgh Zoo.

#1 edinburgh castle

Historic Royal Castle

Edinburgh Castle casts an impressive shadow over Edinburgh and can be clearly seen from almost any spot in the city centre. The castle has been the home of Scottish royalty, including Mary Queen of Scots, and tours throughout the castle offer a fascinating insight into its history. Be sure to catch the artillery gun salute (1pm every day).

Edinburgh Castle


#2 old town

Oldest Area of Edinburgh

This historic area of the city is home to some of Edinburgh’s oldest architecture, shops and streets. The Old Town in Edinburgh contains the famous main street known as The Royal Mile, which makes for an attractive walk through the medieval heart of the city. Make sure to pay a visit to some of the area’s fascinating museums and cosy cafes.


#3 holyrood palace

Royal Scottish Palace

Holyrood Palace is the current and historic seat of Scottish royalty, with a legacy stretching back to the middle ages. The palace is constructed in the Renaissance style and is stunningly beautiful both inside and out. You can explore the inside for yourself or follow the detailed audio tour to learn even more about its (and Edinburgh’s) history.

Holyrood Palace


#4 Princes Street

Central Shopping Street

Princes Street is the main shopping hub of Edinburgh and the perfect place to enjoy some retail therapy in the Scottish capital. With trams running up and down the whole street, it’s easy to get about and do your shopping or travel to another area of the city. The adjacent Princes Street Gardens are also one of the city’s most attractive public parks.

Princes Street


#5 Arthur’s Seat

Picturesque Hilltop Viewpoint

Overlooking the entire city of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers tremendous views of the surrounding area. A favourite destination of hillwalkers and tourists alike, the climb up the hill is relatively easy going and well worth the effort. There are also some more difficult routes for those who like a challenge and even rock climbing at the South Quarry.

Arthur's Seat


#6 calton hill

Hill with National Monuments

Calton Hill is one of the most prominent hills within Edinburgh and is the home of some of the city’s more impressive national monuments. The hill is also the site of the Scottish government and parliament buildings which add to its stately atmosphere. Calton Hill plays host to a number of Edinburgh’s events.

Calton Hill


#7 St. Giles’ Cathedral

Grand Cathedral in Edinburgh

St. Giles’ Cathedral has long been a famous silhouette in Edinburgh’s evening skyline. Its impressive architecture and crowned dome are both imposing and beautiful, making it an essential addition to any tourist snaps of Edinburgh. The inside of the Cathedral is equally as striking, with the Thistle Chapel and stained glass windows a highlight.

St. Giles' Cathedral


#8 museum of scotland

Scottish Museum & Gallery

The National Museum of Scotland is one of the foremost museums in the country. Its collections cover everything from the artefacts of Ancient Egypt to the life and times of Dolly the Sheep, so there’ll be something to interest everyone. The Museum is the perfect place in Edinburgh to learn about the history of Scotland and the world.

Museum of Scotland


#9 see the scott monument

National Monument

This monument to Sir Walter Scott, the father of Scottish Romanticism, is a striking example of Scottish Gothic architecture. The Scott Monument is a favourite location for photography and its surrounding benches and greenery make it the perfect choice for a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh.

Scott Monument


#10 visit the edinburgh zoo

Metropolitan Zoo

Scotland’s biggest tourist attraction after Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Zoo is loved by both children and adults. Featuring the UK’s only pair of giant pandas, Edinburgh Zoo is an essential destination for all animal lovers or anyone looking for a fun family day out. Make sure you remember to catch the daily penguin parade!

Edinburgh Zoo


#11 Royal Botanic Garden

Public Park and Glasshouses

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh spans 70 acres and contains over 100,000 beautiful plants. The gardens and their 10 glasshouses cover a wide range of different environments and ecosystems, including deserts and tropical palms. The Royal Botanic Garden is one of Edinburgh’s best highlights - you’ll find yourself snapping lots of pictures there!

Royal Botanic Garden


#12 Scottish Highlands Tour

Day Trips from Edinburgh

Visiting Edinburgh doesn’t mean being restricted to the metropolitan confines of the city. Day trips away from Edinburgh with a Scottish Highlands tour are a great way to see more of the natural beauty of Scotland. These trips can cover anything from a single day to a multi-week getaway, so you can always squeeze one into your schedule.

Scottish Highlands



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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a native of the capital or if this is your first time visiting, Edinburgh has something to offer everyone. With so many things to do in Edinburgh today, from meeting the animals at the zoo to walking the walls of the castle, at Groupon we’ll get you pointed in the right direction for a fun time out.

Free things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh might be one of Scotland’s most up-scale cities, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of free things to do in Edinburgh. Access to the city’s many picturesque parks is completely free and even some of the museums offer free entry, like the Scottish National Gallery and the National Museum of Scotland.

You could also pay a visit to one of the city’s more famous landmarks at Greyfriars Kirkyard. This small kirkyard is home of a monument to one of Scotland’s most loved animal companions, known as Greyfriars Bobby. The Kirkyard is an extremely pretty spot, and the history of the location is enough to draw lots of visitors every day.

What to do at the weekend in Edinburgh?

The Scotch Whisky Experience is an essential stop for any weekend in Edinburgh. Hosting in-depth tours about the whisky industry – including tastings and events – the Scotch Whisky Experience is a must for any lover of Scotland’s national export.

Heading to the New Town in Edinburgh on the weekend is always a solid bet, with lots of great shopping to be found on Princes Street during the day. When it gets dark you can head to the area’s many chic cocktail bars, restaurants and comedy clubs for things to do in Edinburgh at night.

If the weekend hustle and bustle of the town gets a little too much, then this is also a great opportunity to head out into Edinburgh’s surrounding area to see the beautiful scenery of the local Lothian countryside in Holyrood Park. This could even be your chance to head further north and see the great wilds, with a Scottish Highlands Tours day trip.

What can I do in Edinburgh with kids?

Keeping the kids happy in Edinburgh is always easy, with lots of family-friendly attractions and sights to see. The Edinburgh Zoo is a long-lasting favourite for children – especially animal lovers. Dynamic Earth is another much-loved attraction, offering interactive exhibits on nature and how our planet works – make sure to give the volcano room a try.

Older children might also appreciate a visit to The Edinburgh Dungeon to learn about the city’s darker past and experience the interactive shows and underground rides.

Things to do in Edinburgh’s Old Town

The Old Town is fit to burst with lots of fantastic things to do, from restaurants and cafes to shops and attractions. The Royal Mile is the natural place to start, especially if you’re looking for some tartan or shortbread souvenirs, but there’s more to be seen in the closes that run off the street. One example is Mary King’s Close, a perfectly preserved subterranean 17th-century street and a fascinating insight into how people used to live in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s Old Town is also the perfect spot if you’re looking for romantic things to do in Edinburgh, with cosy places to eat and romantic little streets ideal for an evening stroll. The Edinburgh Filmhouse cinema on Lothian Road is the ideal location for an impromptu date, with its snug interior and romantic ambiance.

Essential travel hacks for Edinburgh

If this is your first foray into Edinburgh, you might like to follow some of our essential travel tips and hacks:

  • A lot of the central areas still have their wonderful cobbled streets, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear when walking around town
  • For convenience make sure to pay before getting on a tram. Tickets can be purchased from the machines at any tram stop
  • Keep an ear open for the 1pm artillery gun salute from Edinburgh Castle
  • If you’re visiting in August, just know that the streets get incredibly busy as thousands descend upon the city for The Fringe

What’s the weather like in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s weather is very typically Scottish, with a tendency to be overcast with light rain showers. Since the weather can change throughout the day, it is best to keep up to date with the most recent forecasts.


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How do I get around Edinburgh?

Getting from place to place in Edinburgh is easy. Most of the Old Town can be explored by foot, but don’t be shy to jump in one of the many local black cabs. Trams are one of the best ways to get from one side of Edinburgh to the other, with a stop right outside of Edinburgh Central Train Station for convenience.

Most visitors will arrive in the city via Edinburgh Central Train Station or Edinburgh Airport, and these hubs offer very easy connections. Edinburgh Central Train Station runs right alongside Princes Street and you can catch a tram or the Airlink/Skylink buses straight from the airport into the city centre.

We hope these tips help you out when you’re getting about Edinburgh. With a little help from Groupon you can now look forward to getting the very most out of your time in Edinburgh.