Top 10 Things to Do in Edinburgh
On a recent trip to Europe with my sister, we took a train from London to Edinburgh, Scotland. I really wanted to visit Edinburgh because the author J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh while she was writing the Harry Potter series and she drew a lot of her inspiration from the city. My sister and I are both obsessed with Harry Potter and we loved visiting the spots that inspired the books. Edinburgh is such a charming, medieval city that makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Scotland has been on my travel bucket list for awhile and I am so glad I got to experience it! Here is my list of the top ten things to do in Edinburgh.
The Royal Mile is the main street in Edinburgh that connects the Palace of Holyrood House and the Edinburgh Castle. The cool thing about Edinburgh is that it’s so easy to get around and most of the tourist attractions are located off of the Royal Mile. This is the area that you would consider to be “Old Town” and it really has that feeling. The buildings lining this main street are so old and beautiful.
Palace of Holyrood House
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II when she visit Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful old palace with gorgeous green grounds. We did an awesome audio tour of the palace for 14 euros. You can buy tickets online here. I loved learning about the background of the palace and the royal family. There is a great hike behind the palace grounds on a hill called Arthur’s Seat with amazing views of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle, a historic fortress sitting a top castle rock dominates the city sky line. It’s easily accessible from the Royal Mile and a main tourist attraction. This castle was actually J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for the Hogwarts castle! We didn’t pay to go inside but we admired it from the courtyard. If you would like to tour the castle you can book tickets for 17 euros here.
St. Giles’s Cathedral
St. Giles Cathedral is the main place of worship in Edinburgh. It’s a gorgeous old cathedral dating all the way back to the 14th century. It was one of the first buildings we saw when we arrived in Edinburgh because it is very distinctive. The city was so busy when we visited so we didn’t go inside but I wish we would have because it is absolutely beautiful! Entrance is free for all.
The story behind the statue of this little dog is beautiful; Greyfriar’s Bobby was a terrier that was said to have guarded the grave of his deceased owner for 14 years! Whether or not the story is accurate, it’s still very heart warming. The statue of the this little terrier is kind of like a mascot for the city. Tourists rub the statue’s nose for good luck! Bobby’s nose is shiny from all his visitors. This statue is also the meeting place for The Potter Trail. The cemetery behind Greyfriar’s Bobby was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for the cemetery where Cedric is murdered and Voldemort is resurrected in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Victoria Street is the most colorful street in Edinburgh lined with shops and restaurants. For all my Harry Potter fans out there, it’s actually the street that J.K. Rowling drew her inspiration for Diagon Alley from! Walking through this colorful street I could instantly see why. J.K. Rowling even sketched this street as her inspiration for the set in the movies (a fun little fact I learned on The Potter Trail). There are a lot of Harry Potter themed shops along this street too. It’s a must see on a visit to Edinburgh.
Princes St. Gardens
The Princes St. Gardens is a public Park off of Princes St, in the center of Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful green space with flower beds and benches. The Edinburgh Castle sits right above the park making for some beautiful views. This would be a beautiful spot for a picnic if you are lucky enough to have a sunny day!
Beautiful Dean Village in Edinburgh is definitely worth a visit! It’s not far from the busy Princes Street yet this charming village feels like a quiet escape from the city. It’s very picturesque with gardens and a tranquil stream running through the village. The view of the village from Dean Bridge is so quaint. We loved strolling through this area.
Hill of Monuments
The Hill of Monuments or Calton Hill is another great spot for beautiful, panoramic views of the city. This hill is home to Edinburgh’s unfinished national monument among others, hence the name The Hill of Monuments. You can easily spot major city landmarks from this hill. It’s a ten minute walk from Princes Street and worth every step for the views.
The Potter Trail
This is a must for Harry Potter fans visiting Edinburgh! Our guide Jodi did an amazing job walking us through J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for the series. She also had a ton of fun facts to share with the crowd about the author, series, and movies. You can tell she is a true fan! The tour is free (but donations are appreciated) and meets at the Greyfriar’s Bobby statue. You can check the website for times here. My sister and I loved this walking tour and highly recommend it!
We ended up visiting on the busiest weekend in Edinburgh, the Fringe art festival. We had no idea! The city was very busy because of this but I would love to go back someday during a quieter time. Edinburgh is such a charming city and definitely worth visiting.
Are any of you Harry Potter fans? 🙂
Also, check out my Edinburgh Travel Diary on YouTube here!