Edinburgh Castle is the city’s defining feature and sits perched on an extinct volcano that overlooks the city. Inside the castle, some of which dates back to the 12th century, you will find treasures such as the Scottish Crown Jewels. The fascinating Scottish National War Museum is also within the walls, reflecting the castle’s long military history.
Edinburgh Zoo has always been popular but is now definitely worth a visit as it has just become home to two new star attractions, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the UK’s only giant pandas. Make sure you don’t miss out by going online to reserve a place to see the pandas before heading to the zoo. Other exotic residents include Asian lions, chimpanzees, penguins and zebras.
Step back in time at The Real Mary King’s Close to discover an underground world which shows Edinburgh life hundreds of years ago. Find out if plague victims really were sealed in their homes, and if ghosts haunt these ancient streets.
One of the most unique ways to learn about the history of the city is on a visit to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, a Victorian observatory on the Royal Mile. Enter a darkened rooftop chamber and marvel as a 19th century device resembling a periscope projects a white beam of light onto a concave table to reveal incredible moving images of the city and its inhabitants. Hear colourful tales of Auld Reekie before exploring four floors of interactive exhibits where you’ll encounter fantastical optical illusions. Step inside a room where you can shrink or grow, get lost in a mirror maze and try to keep your balance in a swirling vortex tunnel.
The Royal Yacht Britannia, which took the British Royal Family around the world, provides a glimpse into the private lives of royalty. Once onboard, you have the unique opportunity to see the state apartments and the engine room. Follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela to explore the one place where the Queen said she could truly relax.
Witness the Forth Bridge, an engineering marvel which has spanned the Firth of Forth for 125 years, connecting Fife with Edinburgh. Comprised of 53,000 tonnes of mild steel, this immense red structure is a iconic part of the east coast skyline and has been named as Scotland’s sixth World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In Midlothian, you can visit the gothic Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Further attractions in the Lothians include the Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World and the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre, which will delight nature-lovers.
Find out about free attractions in the area.