Things to do in
Edinburgh Castle

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Edinburgh Castle: Our most recommended tours and activities

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

1. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

The tour begins by the statue of Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Walk towards Edinburgh Castle as your guide sets the scene, explaining the significance of the Castle and mentioning some of the key characters who have helped shape it. As you reach the Castle complex your guide will share skip-the-line passes, giving you direct access to Scotland's most visited paid attraction.  Once inside your guide will walk you through the Castle complex sharing their in-depth knowledge of all the Castle's main buildings and attractions, including, but not limited to, the Argyle Battery and One O'clock Gun, the Hospital Square and Western Panorama, the Castle dungeons and military prison, the Black Banquet and Thomas Randolph's daring castle raid, St Margret's Chapel, Mons Meg, the Crown Square and The Honors of Scotland. Please note that whilst the tour guide will walk you around the castle grounds and take you through the 3,000 yeas worth of castle history, they cannot take you into any of the castle museums. When the tour ends, you will be left to explore the various castle buildings and museums at your own leisure - hopefully with more knowledge than if you had simply arrived on your own!

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Edinburgh: Royal Attractions with Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

2. Edinburgh: Royal Attractions with Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

Experience stunning city views and natural vistas with this 48-hour Royal Edinburgh Ticket, and learn Edinburgh's history and culture as your tour. Easy to use, the all-inclusive ticket is fantastic value if you want to go to Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the Royal Yacht Britannia. The ticket also includes 48-hour unlimited travel on three of Edinburgh's hop-on-hop-off bus tours; Edinburgh City Sightseeing, Edinburgh Tour and Majestic Tour. Use the bus to reach the attractions, leaving the city behind and heading to the coast at Newhaven through Edinburgh’s New Town. With stops for the Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Yacht Britannia, it couldn’t be simpler. As the bus returns to the city center, you can jump off at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Canongate section of the Royal Mile to walk up to Edinburgh Castle. A multi-language audio commentary in English, Gaelic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian is available on board.

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Edinburgh: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

3. Edinburgh: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

Download an MP3 audio guide and explore Edinburgh's famous attractions at your own pace. Begin your tour at Edinburgh Castle, a building that dates back to the 12th century. See the Scottish Crown Jewels, the magnificent St Giles' Cathedral, Mary King's Close, and walk past underground alleys with a layered history. See the Princes Street Gardens, the Royal Mile, Tolbooth Kirk, the George IV Bridge, Edinburgh City Chambers, Tron Kirk, and the Scottish Parliament Building. Drop by at Deacon Brodie's tavern and try Edinburgh's best haggis, a national delicacy immortalized in poetry by Robbie Burns (the National Bard of Scotland). 

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Edinburgh: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with 3 City Tours

4. Edinburgh: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with 3 City Tours

Save money and explore Edinburgh at your own pace with a 3-route tour ticket. Tour for 24 or 48 hours, to contrast the Old and New Towns, see the royal attractions of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia (entrances not included). Live guides provide English commentary on the Edinburgh Tour, while audio guides are available in up to 9 languages on the City Sightseeing Tour and the Majestic Tour. Hop on and off as often as you like at dozens of attractions, and enjoy unique, scenic views from the open-top upper decks. City Sightseeing Tour: Hear about the people and events that shaped Edinburgh, from the cramped conditions of the Old Town to spacious Holyrood Park, on a classic sightseeing tour in 9 languages. Enjoy Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories with the on board Horrible Histories Children’s Channel - history with all the gory bits left in! • Hanover Street • Princes Street Gardens • St. John’s Church • Grassmarket • Johnston Terrace • Edinburgh Castle • National Museum of Scotland • Museum of Childhood • Scottish Parliament • Our Dynamic Earth • Palace of Holyrood House • Burns Monument Edinburgh Tour: Enjoy the best views aboard an open-top bus, as live commentary in English brings Edinburgh’s history to life. Explore the Old Town and Georgian New Town, hopping off at 9 strategic stops. • Hanover Street • George Street • Charlotte Square • The Mound • Lawnmarket • Grassmarket • Our Dynamic Earth • Scottish Parliament • Canongate Kirk Majestic Tour: Leave the city center and head to the coast at Newhaven, with stops for the Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Yacht Britannia. This multi-language tour offers commentary through headphones in English, Gaelic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Russian. Return via the Palace of Holyrood House and the Canongate section of the Royal Mile. • Hanover Street • George Street • Royal Botanic Gardens • Ferry Road • Newhaven Harbour • Cruise Terminal • Ocean Terminal (Royal Yacht Britannia) • Leith Mills • Elm Row • Queen Mary’s Bath House • Queensberry House • Canongate Kirk

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Edinburgh: Haunted City Exploration Game & Self-Guided Tour

5. Edinburgh: Haunted City Exploration Game & Self-Guided Tour

Be led on an exciting self-guided tour around Edinburgh while playing a mobile-based quest with your friends and family. See many of Edinburgh’s most famous attractions and go on a journey through some of the city’s most haunted places. Download the app, go to the starting point, and begin the adventure. Follow clues and visit ghostly locations including Greyfriars Kirkyard, the site of the Nor’ Loch and West Bow, and sites where public executions were held. Unlock secrets about the places you visit as you solve puzzles and guess the answers. Learn about the Scottish Witch Hunts and the Burke and Hare murders and view the hall containing a book made of William Burke’s flesh. Use the clues to lead you from one site to another. Each clue provides you with exact directions so you won't need a map, GPS, or guide. Complete the tour in about 1.5 hours, however, there’s no time limit, allowing you to go at your own pace. Play as a group or split into smaller groups/teams and compete against the others. Each person can also play on their own, separate from the group, and meet the group at the end of the tour. Take part in a special Halloween event on October 30 featuring live actors. Wear your best costume to win a contest with prizes such as a $1000 GetYourGuide gift card, a (real) coffin, and much more.

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Edinburgh: Scotland's Dark Secrets Walking Tour

6. Edinburgh: Scotland's Dark Secrets Walking Tour

Marvel at the mysteries lurking behind Edinburgh on a walking tour focusing on the city's darker side. Visit Edinburgh Castle, Grey Friars Kirkyard, and the Old Tollbooth Prison. Let your guide thrill you with macabre, twisted tales from days gone by. Learn about witches and ghosts from the city's past and find out which ones are still lurking around today. Soak up every creaky nook and cranny while you search for signs of ghosts and ghouls on this unforgettable walking tour of Edinburgh.

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Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

7. Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

Discover Edinburgh’s historical, cultural, and architectural heritage on a small and intimate walking tour guided by one of the most knowledgeable locals possible. Stuart or Richard Usher, of Scotland's famous and historic House of Usher, or Dr. Alison Duncan, Scotland expert and professional historian, will guide you through this beautiful city. You’ll see many of the city’s highlights, including Usher Hall and Edinburgh Castle. You’ll walk along the Royal Mile, tour the interior of St. Giles Cathedral, and visit several of Edinburgh's famous landmarks. Your guide, has an extensive knowledge of Edinburgh's history and architecture and the many famous people that the city has produced over the centuries. They will share their knowledge of Edinburgh with you in an informative, personable, and enjoyable manner. Have no fear, as it won't all be serious stuff! Your guide will also show you the Mound, and take you on a tour of the National Galleries of Scotland. At the gallery you’ll see paintings by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, and many others. Also, typically you will see Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens, the Scott Monument, George Street, and Charlotte Square.

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Edinburgh: Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt and City Walking Tour

8. Edinburgh: Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt and City Walking Tour

Solve riddles on your smartphone as you explore some of the main tourist sights in Edinburg. Learn about the city as you go. Download the app and head over to the starting point at the Scott Monument. Use the map to navigate to each location as you complete challenges. Pause at any time to take a break or do some sightseeing.

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Edinburgh: City Highlights Self-Guided Smartphone Tour

9. Edinburgh: City Highlights Self-Guided Smartphone Tour

Make the most of your time in Edinburgh with a smartphone tour. Take advantage of the unique navigation function which suggests plenty of walking routes to explore. Tune into the audio commentary to hear about tourist hotspots. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of the city, as you approach iconic landmarks. View the imposing Edinburgh Castle perched on Castle Rock. Admire the palace where the Queen spends a week every summer at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Marvel at the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of the British monarchy. Head to the Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to the author Sir Walter Scott.  Have the freedom to start or stop the tour whenever you wish. Pinpoint your favorite sights and source the best photo hotspots.

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Edinburgh: Old Town Historical Walking Tour

10. Edinburgh: Old Town Historical Walking Tour

Hidden gems are waiting to be discovered. The best way to explore Edinburgh is to follow your feet. Where the buses can’t take you and the guide books don’t show you is where the city’s stories lie, in the closes, wynds, courtyards and homes of Old Edinburgh. You will visit the sites that are tucked away to see the secrets and hear the tales. Your guide will help you unlock Edinburgh's fascinating past, the culture, crime, politics and people of Scotland’s capital.

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Planning Your Visit

  • Sunset over Edinburgh Castle

    For a view that you'll remember for the rest of your life, watch the sun set over Edinburgh Castle. The best spots for this are Arthur's Seat and Calton Hill, both located to the East of the city center. The deep-red sun, the colors in the sky, and the black silhouette of the castle come together in an absolutely magnificent panorama.

  • Fireworks

    If you're lucky enough to be in Edinburgh when there are fireworks going off over Edinburgh Castle, for example on Hogmanay or at the end of the Edinburgh Festival, then make sure to head to one of these viewpoints to admire the show and snap some amazing photographs. Princes Street Gardens and Calton Hill are likely to be the most popular spots to watch the fireworks, so if you're looking for a less crowded experience, Blackford Hill and Arthur's Seat are better bets.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Opening hours from 9:30AM - 6PM year-round, except for December 25th and 26th.
  • Is it expensive?
    Free to look at from the outside, £17 for adult entry.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Only if you want one.
  • How to get there
    Hop-on-hop-off buses stop at the Castle. You can make your own way by taking bus 24 to Waverly Bridge and walking.
  • Additional information

    • It never hurts to carry an umbrella when in Scotland!

    • Since you'll be climbing hills, good walking shoes are a must.

Other Sightseeing Options in Edinburgh Castle

Want to discover all there is to do in Edinburgh Castle? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Edinburgh Castle

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 10,795 reviews

Doug provided a great summary of the process of distillery, aging and distribution of whiskies. Then we enjoyed a "flight" of 4 whiskies at one historic bar in Old Town, then moved on to another lovely bar to try a couple more whiskies (more aged...21 and 34 years old). Explanations, ratings and methods of tasting.... All in all, a wonderful, entertaining, educational and tasty experience!

We had so much fun on our self guided tour! We did it in the evening to make it more atmospheric and really enjoyed ourselves while learning a lot of interesting stories about Edinburgh’s brutal past.

An interesting, complete narrative for a fantastic city. Saw parts of the city never seen or explored before. The tour guide was great, knowledgeable and charming.

Our guide was excellent! He was entertaining and very informative and I learned a lot about the history of the castle in Scotland in general

Fab bus tour that can get you all around the city with history learning as well.