The top 5 Edinburgh attractions

Edinburgh's not all about the Castle. Visitors at Hogmanay or during the Festival, or just for a weekend city break will discover a host of Edinburgh attractions that reflect the city's illustrious and occasionally violent history. We picked five highlights of one of the UK's most elegant and well-preserved cities.

  1. The Real Mary King's Close (realmarykingsclose.com) lies beneath the Royal Mile in a warren of old streets and closes unchanged since the 17th century, and is one of the most fascinating Edinburgh attractions. Colourful tour guides take you back in time and recount sinister tales of the old city. Admission is £12 for adults, £6.50 for children.
  2. The New Town is "new" in the sense that it was built in the early 19th century and vies with Bath for the title of Britain's most magnificent Georgian quarter. Wander the streets and squares immediately north of Princes Street, with great views down to the Firth of Forth.
  3. The Edinburgh Dungeon is the place to take the kids on those frequent rainy days. The emphasis is on the sort of gore and grisly tales that delight children. There are actor-led shows and two scary rides, and visitors might even pick up a few historic facts along the way. Online tickets at the-dungeons.co.uk/edinburgh start at £11.20 for adults. £7 for children.
  4. Holyrood Park is great for sunny days, an expanse of green surrounding the Queen's Palace. Climb to the peak of Arthur's Seat for great views out to sea, or hike over to pretty Duddingston village.
  5. Oh, yes, nearly forgot the most famous of Edinburgh attractions, the Castle, an impressive fortress rising straight out of the volcanic rock at the top of the Royal Mile. Book tickets online at tickets.historic-scotland.gov.uk. Adult admission starts at £14, and children £8.20, with higher prices in operation between June and September.

Try to avoid mentioning the controversial tram project to a local, but take advantage of reliable buses to get around town, and see as many Edinburgh attractions as possible. All-day tickets on the city buses are just £3.20, and will offer you some respite from Edinburgh's steep streets and unpredictable weather.

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