Royal Edinburgh itinerary

The view to the castle from Calton Hill in the city centre of Edinburgh. The Balmoral Clock Tower is visible
History ››

Edinburgh & The Lothians boasts a rich history which can be uncovered in castles, stately homes and battle sites.

A man examines the Concorde at the Concorde Experience, Museum of Flight
Capital city & countryside attractions ››

See Scotland's Crown Jewels, be spooked by ghosts and step aboard a Royal yacht in Edinburgh & The Lothians.

The outside of Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire
Royal connections ››

Aberdeenshire is a beautiful part of the world where the royal family have holidayed since the 19th century.

Take a walk in Edinburgh's royal footsteps. From Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, discover 1,000 years of the city's fascinating royal history. The palace is still used as Her Majesty The Queen’s official Scottish residence while the now decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia, which proudly ferried the Royal Family to exotic destinations for 44 years, is anchored in Leith.

  • Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
    Edinburgh Castle and the Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens
  • Looking over to the outside of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
    The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia © Marc Millar
    The Royal Yacht Britannia
  • The Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
    The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
  • The largest collection of Scotch Whisky at The Scotch Whisky Experience
    The Scotch Whisky Experience

Begin a rich, historical journey of Scotland’s capital city at Edinburgh Castle, perched on its own volcanic rock at the top of the Royal Mile. Located at the heart of Edinburgh, admire the views of the castle before you head up, and then gaze out across the city, beyond the buildings of Princes Street to the Firth of Forth and Fife.

There’s much to see and admire at Edinburgh Castle, the mighty fortification and favoured residence of Scotland’s monarchs. Enter the little room where the future King James VI, first monarch of both Scotland and England, was born in 1566, look out for the Crown Room where the Scottish Crown Jewels are kept, and see the Stone of Destiny, used to crown previous Scottish monarchs for centuries. Hunt for the carved lions, a symbol of royalty, and don’t miss the impressive Great Hall with its Victorian stained glass windows commemorating Scotland’s kings and queens.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland, can be reached by following the Royal Mile – a beautiful attraction in its own right. The Royal Mile actually incorporates four streets – Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket and Castlehill. The medieval buildings on the Royal Mile evoke a unique and timeless atmosphere.

Nestled in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat and opposite the Scottish Parliament building, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is well-known as the former home of Mary Queen of Scots and is where Scotland’s kings and noblemen assembled for hunts. The palace is home to centuries of fascinating history, including the imposing royal apartments which include Mary Queen of Scots’ Chambers – the setting for many dramatic episodes in Mary’s short and turbulent reign. Mary’s Bedchamber, described as ‘the most famous room in Scotland’ and her Outer Chamber, the scene of David Rizzio’s murder, are a must. Don’t miss the throne room and the great gallery where over 80 beautiful 17th century portraits of Scottish monarchs are displayed, as well as the wonderful Queen’s Gallery, a permanent space for changing exhibitions from the Royal Collections.

Complete your day with a relaxing walk in Holyrood Park, also known as the Queen’s Park, which offers a microcosm of the best Scottish scenery including mountains, marshes and moorland.

Start your day visiting Edinburgh’s royal attractions at the Royal Yacht Britannia, now retired and berthed in the historic port of Leith at Ocean Terminal.

This fantastic floating museum is one of the world’s most illustrious ships, which sailed the world in HM The Queen’s Service on 968 official voyages, spanning 44 years. Gain a unique insight into the life of the British Royal Family and discover fascinating royal artefacts such as the baby grand piano in the State Drawing Room which was played by both Noel Coward and Princess Diana. See The Queen’s bedroom – something that’s not possible at any other royal residence – and sip tea on the deck as The Queen once did.

The Queen’s floating palace was a favourite with honeymooning royal couples including Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips and the Prince and Princess of Wales. In addition, it has played host to some of the world’s most famous people including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and Mahatma Gandhi.

For a relaxing midday walk, head to The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden situated within the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Opened in 2006 by The Queen as the Scottish National Memorial to her late mother, it features a Celtic labyrinth and four secret gardens with plants from around the globe. 

In the morning you can follow the story of the kings and queens of Scotland, from Robert the Bruce to James VI, in one of the many galleries of the National Museum of Scotland. See objects that were used to maintain law and order, such as the Maiden, a ‘humane’ beheading machine, or the Bute or Bannatyne mazer, a communal drinking cup which was made shortly after the Scottish victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

After lunch, pop into the city’s premier whisky attraction, the Scotch Whisky Experience. Nestled at the top of the Royal Mile just before the castle, you can taste the blends and malts enjoyed by kings and queens on a special regal whisky tour. Gain an insight into the world of Scotland’s most famous export, learn about the whisky making process and the stories behind this magical craft, and discover the aromas and flavours that most appeal to your palate.

Complete your historical journey through Edinburgh with a visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Situated at one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings, explore a fascinating overview of Scotland’s past and present through a wealth of imagery encompassing painting, photography, sculpture and film. Meet the people who have helped shape the nation’s identity at home and abroad from Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, to contemporary figures such as James McAvoy and Susan Boyle.