Top 15

Edinburgh Castle for the one o'clock gun

It will come as no surprise that Edinburgh Castle is Scotland's most visited tourist attraction. Built upon volcanic rock that rises up 80 metres from the surrounding land, it dominates the skyline and offers fine views over the city and beyond. Parts of the castle date back to the 12th century and there is lots to discover about its colourful history. Be there for 1pm and witness the firing of the one o'clock gun; a daily event since 1851.

Pick a clear day to climb Arthur's Seat

Like the rock on which the castle sits, Arthur's Seat is an extinct volcano. It was formed millions of years ago, its unique shape moulded by a glacier. It is a popular walk and an easy climb for all abilities. Due to its height (251 metres) and close proximity to the city centre, Arthur's Seat offers some of the best views of Edinburgh.

Clap along to the bagpipes at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Tattoo is a breathtaking spectacle of music, dance and military demonstrations, performed on the castle esplanade in the summer for a period of 4 weeks. About 217,000 people attend every year and a further 100 million watch it on television. The massed bands of pipes and drums is one of the highlights and a truly memorable Scottish experience.

Admire the rhododendrons in full springtime bloom at the Royal Botanics

The Royal Botanics is an impressive 70 acres of beautifully-sculpted gardens, located right on the edge of Edinburgh's town centre. With wonderful horticulture and striking scenery, the Botanics is great place to come and relax at any time of year. The blooming flowers make the gardens particularly scenic in the spring.

Cheer on your team in the Six Nations at Murrayfield Stadium

Murrayfield Stadium is the home of the Scotland rugby union side, and hosts all their home games as well as numerous other sport and entertainment events. The Six Nations Championship is the hotly-contested annual tournament between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Wales and, of course, Scotland! Murrayfield hosts two or three games every year between February and March.

Be a tourist and take an open-top bus tour

Grab your camera and your waterproof jacket, and do some unashamed sightseeing! Open-top bus tours are one of the best ways to see Edinburgh whilst benefiting from the extensive knowledge of your local tour guide. There are a number of different bus companies offering this service, which incorporate slightly varying routes. All tours begin at Waverley Bridge.

Take a walk down the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festival

The Royal Mile is Edinburgh's most famous street, running from the Castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is the location of many other tourist attractions, in addition to plenty of shops, cafes and pubs. The Royal Mile is picturesque and full of character, and very popular with tourists all year round. The atmosphere here in August, during the Edinburgh Festival, is particularly unforgettable.

Ice-skate around Princes Street Gardens at Christmas

Over the festive period, the Winter Wonderland comes to Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens. Highlights include an open air ice rink, German Christmas market and a Ferris wheel. A perfect opportunity to take a break from the Christmas shopping!

Go for a dram in the Grassmarket

The Grassmarket lies at the foot of the castle rock. In the olden days it was the site of many public executions but now it is a popular night spot, with several traditional Scottish pubs. An essential part of any visit to Scotland is the tasting of local specialities, and nobody should leave without trying at least one of Scotland's many malt whiskies.

Take the kids for fun and learning at Our Dynamic Earth

Situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament building, Our Dynamic Earth is a fun and interactive learning experience. It is a great opportunity for the kids to discover more about the Earth's past, present and future, in an exciting and stimulating environment. Mum and Dad will enjoy it too!

Visit the scene of a brutal royal murder at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse was established as a monastery in 1128 but most of the building that now stands was built in the 17th century. It has been used as a royal residence for centuries and still to this day is the official Scottish home of the British royal family. In 1566, the Italian secretary of Mary Queen of Scots was stabbed to death in a corridor of the palace. (Photo courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust)

Listen to a concert by the RSNO at the Usher Hall

Usher Hall is a grand concert hall and entertainment venue, located in the heart of Edinburgh. It is home to Royal Scottish National Orchestra which performs here throughout the year, but also hosts visiting acts that includes jazz bands, rock and pop artists and comedians. The Usher Hall recently underwent an ambitious rejuvenation project that has made the venue even more stunningly elegant and beautiful. 

Emulate the pros with a round of golf at a Championship course

There are several Links courses in Edinburgh and the Lothians, two of which have hosted the world-famous Open Championship. Some of the courses and the Scottish weather conditions can conspire to conjure up quite a challenge, as the golfing pros have discovered on occasion. Have a shot yourself with a round of golf at one of the region's many exceptional courses.

Discover Edinburgh's fascinating (and sometimes haunted) past

Edinburgh boasts a history packed full with villainy, supernatural folklore and inspiring tales. Many popular stories still excite and interest visitors today, such as Burke and Hare, Deacon Brodie (Jekyll and Hyde) and Greyfriars Bobby. Discover more and visit the settings of these tales with a guided tour around the Old Town.

Go to the Hogmany Party

If you are in town over the festive period, the chances are you will be joining in on the festivities of one of the worlds biggest New Year Parties. The Party starts on the 30th December with a torchlight procession from the Royal Mile to Calton Hill, culminating in a magnificent fireworks display. The following evening is the big one, the Street Party itself. This has everthing from muti-stage venues with giant screens to an traditional outdoor ceilidh event set beneath the historic Edinburgh skyline. The evening finishes off with arguably the best fireworks display on the planet. (Photo by asturdesign)