By Harshita Anand
The majestic capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh, attracts many international students every year to pursue their higher education here; thus, making it the second-best student city in the UK and twelfth-best globally (QS Best Student Cities 2022).
Besides offering quality education and the most suitable options for student housing in Edinburgh, it is widely known for its striking architecture, iconic heritage sites, and beautiful countryside. So whether you are planning a trip to the city or are currently studying here, you must know some of the city’s iconic attractions to travel to.
So check out this article to learn about the five must-visit tourist spots in Edinburgh to have a great time marvelling at its scenic beauty and exploring its rich, fascinating history!
The glory of being called Edinburgh’s most iconic historical attraction goes to none other than Edinburgh Castle! The magnificent castle sits atop Castle Rock, serving as Scotland’s most and the UK’s second-most visited paid tourist attraction that saw over 2 million visitors in 2019.
The castle has a long, fascinating history as both a regal residence and military base that dates back to the Iron Age. However, its relevance as part of Scotland’s national heritage was observed more from the 19th century. And ever since, many restorations have been carried out in the castle.
Edinburgh Castle is a must-visit for everyone coming to the Scottish capital. Moreover, suppose you are a student here and staying at Edinburgh University accommodation. In that case, you must visit the castle during the annual Edinburgh Festival to watch the iconic event: ‘the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.’
Bonus tip: the visiting hours of the castle often change depending on the season. So it is recommended that you check online for the current opening hours before you travel there. Furthermore, the castle is closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Boxing Day.
great tourist spot to experience the exciting outdoor adventure in the Scottish wilderness. Arthur’s Seat is an ancient volcano located at the highest point with a height of 250.5 m in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh.
There are speculations about the origin of its name; however, there is no reliable data to prove any of them. The most popular belief is that the site was once for King Arthur’s legendary castle ‘Camelot.’ Thus, it got its famous name!
Few of the things to keep in mind while visiting the site:
- The terrain can be slippery and uneven, especially during cold and rainy weather, so always wear sturdy footwear with a grip, such as hiking boots.
- Though Holyrood Park is open 24/7 every day, you must plan your visit according to the weather forecast as it is not entirely pleasing during rains.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, popularly referred to as Holyrood Palace, has been the official residence of the British monarch since the 16th century in Scotland. It is situated at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle. The palace has a lengthy history dating back to the 12th century and now serves as a setting for official entertainment and state occasions.
At the start of each summer, Queen Elizabeth II spends one week at the palace, where she conducts a range of official ceremonies and engagements. Several palace areas are available for public viewings, such as the royal dining room, the royal bed chambers, a few royal drawing rooms, etc. Here, visitors can trace historical connections through time and learn about its legendary former residents.
The Royal Mile comprises five streets in Edinburgh’s old town: Castle Hill, Lawnmarket, Canongate, High Street, and Abbey Strand. Often called the historic heart of Edinburgh, it is the most lively and frequently visited place in Edinburgh, lined with charming townhouses, churches, and historical landmarks.
Royal Mile connects two iconic locations of the city, the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, and offers excellent insight into the city’s incredible architecture. The buildings here have an association with Scotland’s history spanning over the years. This spectacular thoroughfare is a great place to stroll and shop around with various inns, shops, museums, cafés, and restaurants.
St Giles’ Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral, also known by the name High Kirk of Edinburgh, is a Parish church of the Church of Scotland in the Old Town, Edinburgh. Situated between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Parish church, founded in the 12th century, is dedicated to St Giles, patron saint of the lepers. St Giles’ Cathedral is not technically a cathedral despite its name, as in 1559, the church became Protestant with John Knox as its minister.
Due to its central location on the historic Royal Mile, the church is a focal point for many religious activities and is a popular tourist attraction. Although entry to the church is free, you can take a guided tour to uncover its over 900 years of history packed with fascinating stories of monarchs, wars and reformations.
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About the Author
Harshita Anand is a postgraduate in English Journalism and a graduate in Hotel Management. She got the chance to work in a diverse range of industries and with people from all walks of life. Her dynamic experience induced her to learn new things every day and write passionately about them!