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VisitScotland Edinburgh and Lothians What to See and Do Guides
Download the brochures for more on Edinburgh & The Lothians ››

Download the brochures for more on Edinburgh & The Lothians

  • A family at the edge of the loch at Beecraigs Country Park, near Linlithgow
    The loch at Beecraigs Country Park, near Linlithgow
  • Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
    Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
  • Packed crowds on stands watch military bands performing on the Esplanade in front of Edinburgh Castle
    The Tattoo is a huge hit with visitors from across the world and sells out almost every year
  • Looking across the loch to the ruined Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church
    Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church
  • A couple walk on Yellowcraig Beach with the lighthouse on the island of Fidra in the distance, North Berwick
    Yellowcraig Beach, North Berwick

Boasting one of the most beautiful and culturally exciting cities in the world, miles of unspoilt countryside and a picturesque coastline, Edinburgh & The Lothians offers visitors an irresistible blend of history, natural beauty and adventure. Explore the ancient city and World Heritage Site of Edinburgh, and uncover a whole host of attractions and activities in the Lothians.

Edinburgh

A compact city that is easily accessible on foot, Edinburgh is comprised of different 'villages', each with their own distinctive character.

At the heart of the city lies the Royal Mile, succession of streets lined on either side by towering tenements that are among the busiest in Edinburgh. Nearby you'll find the Grassmarket, a former medieval market place that sits in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, now filled with lively drinking holes and restaurants.

Explore the city's cultural hub in the West End, home to many of its top arts venues including the Usher Hall, The Filmhouse and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, and find some of Edinburgh's best attractions located just a short distance from Haymarket including Murrayfield Stadium and Edinburgh Zoo.

Uncover a myriad of cafés, boutiques and galleries in the bohemian enclave of Stockbridge situated by the Water of Leith, and follow the route of the river to reach the vibrant district of Leith. Resting on the shores of the Firth of Forth, the Royal Yacht Britannia is now berthed here beside Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre.

From the atmospheric cobbled streets of the Old Town to the beautiful Georgian avenues of the New Town, Edinburgh’s architectural landscape is one of dramatic contrasts which reflect its rich and intriguing past. Allow yourself to be transported back in time as you wander its atmospheric streets, from the iconic Royal Mile leading to the medieval fortress of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to bustling Princes Street where the towering Scott Monument stands. You can learn more about the city’s fascinating past at countless world-class museums and historic attractions such as the National Museum of Scotland and The Real Mary King's Close.

A fantastic shopping destination, Edinburgh is perfect for those looking to indulge in a spot of retail therapy. Find all your favourite high street brands on Princes Street, browse in upmarket department stores like Jenners and Harvey Nichols, and uncover quirky independent shops in the Grassmarket.

Enjoy a drink in one of the traditional pubs found in the Old Town or at one of the many chic bars located across the city. Afterwards you can experience its superb culinary scene at acclaimed restaurants, some Michelin-starred, which offer mouthwatering dishes prepared by talented chefs using the finest local ingredients.

Visit in August when the city gets swept up in the energy and excitement of the Edinburgh Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. Witness the breathtaking spectacle of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and choose from a dazzling array of entertainment encompassing comedy, theatre, dance, opera, art exhibitions and much more.

There are few destinations that can promise a New Year’s Eve experience as unforgettable as Edinburgh. Celebrate the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay at the Scottish capital’s world famous street party which culminates in a spectacular fireworks display against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

West Lothian

Set in beautiful rolling countryside, West Lothian boasts a rich heritage that can be appreciated at an array of attractions ranging from stunning castles and prehistoric sites, and in charming towns and villages. Get active and enjoy long walks through this scenic area, or spend a day in one of the expansive country parks.

Follow the Linlithgow Heritage Trail to find out more about the history of this Royal Burgh. Take in the beautiful 15th century St Michael’s Parish Church with its distinctive aluminium crown and the Peel, one of only two royal parks in Scotland. The trail also includes Linlithgow Palace, the ruins of the 12th century ‘pleasure palace’ of the Stewart dynasty where Mary Queen of Scots was born.

Other historical highlights include Scotland’s finest stately home, Hopetoun House, the imposing fortress of Blackness Castle, the turreted House of the Binns and Cairnpapple Hill – the site of a 4,000 year-old temple and burial site with breathtaking views that stretch as far as Arran.

Spend a day in the great outdoors at one of West Lothian’s fantastic country parks such as Beecraigs near Linlithgow where you can choose from a wide range of outdoor pursuits such as biking along the park’s beautiful forest routes and fishing for rainbow trout on the sheltered 20 acre loch. Spend a family day out at Almond Valley Heritage Centre and enjoy a range of fun activities. Get up close to farm animals and race each other on pedal carts. See a variety of unique animals at Five Sisters Zoo, from West African dwarf crocodiles to pygmy marmosets, the world’s smallest monkeys.

Why not bring a busy day filled with sightseeing and outdoor activities to a close with a visit to Livingston Designer Outlet? Perfect for some much needed retail therapy, spend a few hours perusing the fantastic selection of shops in the centre.

Midlothian

Located just south of Edinburgh, Midlothian is best known as the home of beautiful Rosslyn Chapel. It also boasts river valleys, woods and hills making it an ideal setting for all kinds of outdoor activities.

Keen walkers should head to the Pentland Hills Regional Park, a wild and secluded area right on the doorstep of Scotland’s capital city in Midlothian. Walk across rugged moorland to reach Crichton Castle where you can see one of the oldest tower houses in the country which dates back to the 14th century. The castle sits in a wonderfully isolated spot overlooking the River Tyne. Another popular walking route follows the River South Esk and offers the chance to spot deer, dippers, woodpeckers and even otters.

Midlothian’s must-see attraction, Rosslyn Chapel, lies within the sleepy village of Roslin, close to Roslin Glen. Catapulted to fame by Dan Brown’s wildly popular novel and film The Da Vinci Code, marvel at its flying buttresses and gargoyles, and learn about the symbolic significance of its ornate carvings.

Visit Arniston House, a wonderful Palladian style mansion, which has been home to the Dundas family for more than 400 years. See the work of Scottish artists including Sir Henry Raeburn, famed for his painting Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, before touring its magnificent interior.

The whole family will enjoy a day out at the National Mining Museum Scotland where Multi Media Tours bring the story of the country's coal mining industry to life. You can even experience a tropical rainstorm at the enchanting Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World as well as getting close to tarantulas, snakes, millipedes and other exotic insects and reptiles.

East Lothian

With its beautiful towns, sandy beaches and varied attractions, East Lothian is ideal for touring. Its picturesque countryside and charming coastline make it a fantastic place to enjoy a range of outdoor activities from walking and cycling, to golf and even kite surfing.

Take the time to explore the area's historic towns such as Dunbar, the birthplace of John Muir, Haddington, a small market town, and North Berwick which boasts stunning coastal scenery. Take a trip to Athelstaneford where the original Scottish Saltire flag is said to have been first adopted. Visit the National Flag Heritage Centre to find out more about how the distinctive blue and white St Andrew’s Cross helped the Picts to win a crucial battle in AD 832.

Admire grandeur of stately homes and romantic castles such as Lennoxlove House and Dirleton Castle. A great way to explore East Lothian’s magnificent historical attractions is by bike. Follow extensive cycle routes through the area for an invigorating tour. Or, for a more relaxing ride, follow the John Muir Way from Musselburgh to Dunbar and take in the breathtaking scenery.

Spend a family day out at the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre where you can witness around 150,000 gannets nesting on the spectacular Bass Rock. Watch from the comfort of the centre’s state-of-the-art Discovery Centre, observe live footage of the nesting areas via CCTV, or take a thrilling boat ride out to the huge granite Bass Rock, described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘one of the 12 Wildlife Wonders of the World’.

Relax and unwind at pristine beaches including Seacliff, Yellowcraig and Gullane, a favourite with kite surfers. Or enjoy a few rounds of golf on links courses that rank among the best in the world. Play on the famous Muirfield Green which has hosted 15 Open Championships and be sure to visit the historic North Berwick Golf Club, established in 1832.

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