Few British cities offer the charm and diversity of Edinburgh. The compact city centre is bursting with museums, galleries and visitor attractions. There really is something for everyone all year round. The history, architecture and setting of the city all add to the unique atmosphere of this remarkable place. Evening entertainment is equally varied and could involve a concert, theatre visit or ghost tour around one of the most haunted cities in Scotland.
This majestic landmark with its commanding position high above the city offers stunning panoramic views over the city and beyond. In its history Edinburgh Castle has withstood many sieges and occupations, recent excavations have shown there to have been a fort on the site since the Iron-Age. Today’s castle is a rich architectural mix reflecting the castles varied uses as a palace, fortress and barracks.
Edinburgh Castle is home to The Scottish Crown Jewels; the Scottish crown is one of the oldest in Europe. Displayed alongside The Crown Jewels is the Stone of Destiny, the coronation stone for Scottish monarchs stolen by the English 700 years ago and not returned until 1996.One of the best-known and loudest attractions of the castle is the One O’clock Gun, fired from the ramparts daily at 1pm (except Sundays).
Within the Castle is the Scottish National War Museum with exhibitions
detailing 400 years of the nations military history. The world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held on the castle esplanade each August and is one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Festival Season.
Excellent guided and audio tours are available and the castle is open daily. To make the most of your visit it is best to allow 2-3 hours exploring time.
October- March 9.30am-5pm
New Scottish Parliament Building
Designed by architect Enric Miralles this award winning building opened in 2004.This super modern structure sits within historic Holyrood at the foot of The Royal Mile. Exhibitions detail the workings of the Scottish Parliament and guided tours of the building include the main hall and debating chamber. Gallery tickets can be booked in advance for business days when visitors can spectate parliament in progress debating the issues effecting the people of Scotland. Scottish parliament giftware can be purchased in the shop and there is also a spacious café. A crèche is available for children aged 0-5yrs.This crèche is for public use and there is no charge. Children may be left for a maximum of 3 hours and places can be booked by calling 0131 348 6192.
The Parliament is open throughout the year business days 9am – 7pm.Non-business days April to October 10am-6pm, November to March 10am-4pm (closed December 25th/26th and January 1st/2nd).
Palace of Holyrood House
The Queen’s Edinburgh home was built as an Abbey for Augustinian canons and then transformed into a royal palace in the 16th Century. Built in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat and bordered by Holyrood Park the Palace enjoys a unique position almost urban and rural. Holyrood is best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots. The palace has a romantic and atmospheric feel and it really is worth taking the time to experience this. Today the Royal apartments are used by the Queen for state and ceremonial entertaining. As well as touring the Palace visitors can visit The Queen’s Gallery where magnificent works of art from The Royal Collections can be seen. Holyrood House is open daily except 25th March, 25-26 December and during Royal visits. There is a spacious café with a terraced area for sunny weather.
Just like Arthur’s Seat and Castle Rock, Calton Hill is a volcanic outcrop. Sitting at the east end of the New Town Calton Hill offers spectacular panoramic views of the Old and New Towns, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat and the Firth of Forth. Although the climb up the steep cobbled lane is hard going, on a clear day Calton Hill is the perfect spot to relax and observe the cities hustle and bustle.
On the south side of the hill is the Nelson Monument erected in 1807 to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. On the centre of the hill the dozen pillars of the National Monument honour the soldiers killed in the Napoleonic Wars. Intended to be a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens construction ceased when funds ran-out, earning it the nickname Edinburgh’s disgrace.
Calton Hill is also home to the former City Observatory which now houses the Edinburgh Experience- a twenty minute 3-D show on the city’s history.