Heading to Edinburgh ?
Fortune has smiled upon you. With its captivating architecture, alluring nature, and fascinating history, you'll never want to leave. Even if you're only in Edinburgh for two or three days, the city's sights are easily accessible. So here I give you five attractions in Edinburgh you won't want to miss.
For a list of off-the-beaten-track things to do in Edinburgh, visit my post on "An Ideal Day in Edinburgh."
St. Giles Cathedral
St. Giles Cathedral has forever wedged a special nook in my heart. Yes, it's beautifully constructed, yes it dates back to the the 1120s, yes, it was John Knox's church during the Reformation.
But it's significance is something so much bigger than that—so much bigger than us all. It was here that I BREATHED THE SAME AIR AS HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN. YES, THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND. SHE WAVED AT ME. SHE SMILED AT ME.
Every year she conducts a ceremony called "The Order of the Thistle," and as serendipity would have it, I chanced to be right there on the street as she was entering the church. I ventured as close to her as her guards would allow. It was magic. My heart shall never want again.
Address: High St, Edinburgh EH1 1RE, UK
This former fortress stands as the most recognizable and iconic sight in Edinburgh. During your visit, not only can you learn of the castle's history, which dates back centuries, but you can also participate in whiskey tastings, take afternoon tea (as I noted here), and attend performances and annual festivals, such as the spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo held on the castle grounds every August.
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK
Website: Edinburgh Castle
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
This horticultural haven is one of the most marvelous botanical gardens I've ever beheld. It includes a spectacular greenhouse and over 70 acres of lush land and foliage to wander and marvel at.
Address: Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ, UK
Website: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Palace of Holyroodhouse
As Scotland's official residence of the British monarch, Holyrood Palace hosts Queen Elizabeth whenever she is in Scotland carrying out ceremonies and granting the wishes of hopeless dreamers like me. It sits at the far end of the Royal Mile juxtaposed to Holyrood Park. Inside, you can learn about Scotland's history and explore the palace, including its abbey and its gardens.
Address: Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DX, UK
Website: Palace of Holyrood House
Holyrood Park & Arthur's Seat
For magnificent views and a superb hike, take the trail through Holyrood Park up to Arthur's Seat, the park's highest peak (and a dormant volcano). Although it's in the city center, you'll feel you've left Edinburgh and entered the Scottish countryside with its rolling hills and wildflowers. Be sure to bring along a jacket, as it tends to get windy as you ascend.