Dominating the city is Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s most visited paid tourist attraction. The historic Scottish castle built on volcanic rock easily dominates the skyline of the city. The castle dates to at least the 12th century and had been the royal residence until 1633. It houses many buildings and regalia including the oldest, St. Margaret’s Chapel from the 12th century, as well as the Royal Palace, the Great Hall, the Crown Jewels, and the Scottish National War Memorial from after WWI.
It is a most fascinating fortress and one can spend many hours taking it all in, as well as checking out it’s marvelous views of the city. History and movie buffs will enjoy seeing the statues of Scottish heroes King Robert the Bruce and Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) are on either side of the Gatehouse entrance walls which were added in 1929.
From the Castle you can head down on the famous Royal Mile, full of shops, restaurants and pubs as well as historic buildings, churches and monumental statues. At the bottom of the Royal Mile you’ll find the 17th century Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is The Queen’s official residence while in Scotland.
The most well known was Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived in the palace for her short reign. You can tour the ground’s gardens and the ornate rooms of the castle. Located across the street is the very modern parliament building.
Climbing to the top of Canton Hill or to the larger volcanic mountain known as Arthur’s Seat gives you a fantastic panoramic view of the city and towards the river and bay. The bay is known by the interesting name of the Firth of Forth (Firth meaning water and Forth meaning black), it eventually flows into the North Sea.
History and art lovers will also enjoy visiting the National Museum of Scotland, a world class museum full of natural Scottish heritage, world cultures and technological innovations through the ages. The museum is housed in two connecting buildings, a historic front building on the Chambers Street entrance and a more modern entrance at the end of the block. It houses the Tower Restaurant in that corner.
It also has an interesting grand central hall inspired by the Crystal House, with a Victorian style cast iron shell interior that rises the three stories of the building and features glass skylights at the top. The free museum is definitely one to take in if one has the time to spend a few hours wondering inside.
Near the museum where Chambers Street meets Forest Street and Candlemaker Row you’ll find Greyfriars Kirk (church) and the adjacent graveyard where many notable Edinburgh residents from the 16th century and later are buried. A Restaurant Bar just outside of the Kirk called Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar also features a small statue monument out front of a loyal little dog who guarded his master’s grave for 14 years.