Hotels near Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most visited attraction - and with good reason; it is an absolute must-see on any visit to this fine city. Whether you’re visiting Edinburgh for New Year Hogmanay celebrations, for the month-long Edinburgh International Festival in August or simply want to immerse yourself in a weekend of Scottish culture and history, you can find affordable and convenient hotels near Edinburgh Castle when staying with Premier Inn at any time of year.

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About Edinburgh Castle

Where in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Castle?
Beautiful, historic, iconic; Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most visited attraction and an absolute must see on any visit to the capital city. Situated on Castle Rock at the head of the old town just under half a mile from the city centre, it’s impossible to miss as it dominates the skyline from its position high above the city.

What is Edinburgh Castle famous for?
Edinburgh Castle has stood proudly on Castle Rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century and has a rich and varied history. It served as a royal residence up until 1633 when its residential role declined and it became primarily used as a military barracks. It’s been involved in many historical conflicts over the years including the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Jacobite rising. Today though it is most famous for housing Scotland’s Crown Jewels (the Honours of Scotland), the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland. Edinburgh Castle also serves as the backdrop to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo during the world-famous annual Edinburgh Festival.

Does the Queen own Edinburgh Castle?
Edinburgh Castle is owned by the Scottish Government and operated by Historic Scotland as a tourist attraction. No one lives there now but, for many years it was a royal residence lived in by the reigning monarch. It was last used for this purpose by Charles I in 1633. Today, only the Palace of Holyroodhouse is used by the Queen. She resides there for a short period every year during ‘Holyrood Week’, from the end of June to the beginning of July where she attends various engagements around the country to celebrate Scottish culture and history.

What is the One o’clock Gun?
Since 1861, the One o’clock Gun has been fired every day at, you guessed it, 1pm. The idea was brought to Edinburgh from Paris by businessman John Hewitt and was designed to help ships in the nearby Firth of Forth ensure their maritime clocks were working correctly. It’s still fired every day, except on Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day and crowds still gather to witness the spectacle. If it’s your first visit to Edinburgh and you’re not checking the time then it may take you by surprise!

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Visiting Edinburgh Castle

Can you go inside Edinburgh Castle?
Edinburgh Castle is open to the public all year round although you’ll need to buy a ticket as admission is not free. The best prices are available on the official Edinburgh Castle website and, once you’ve purchased your ticket, you’ll be given a time slot. You must arrive within the specified time but can stay for as long as you like. Your ticket also includes an optional guided tour of the castle.

How long does it take to walk around Edinburgh Castle?
This will depend on how quickly you walk and how often you want to stop and look at various aspects of the castle. A good rule of thumb is to allow two hours for your visit although, if you’re pushed for time (and reasonably fit!), you can probably get round in an hour.

Can you take backpacks into Edinburgh Castle?
Edinburgh Castle is almost always busy with tourists so, for ease of movement, no large rucksacks or suitcases are allowed inside. They are also unable to store luggage, prams, pushchairs or other personal items for visitors so make sure you plan accordingly ahead of your visit.

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Cost and booking for Edinburgh Castle

How much does it cost to visit Edinburgh Castle?
The best ticket prices are available in advance online, as you’ll receive a small discount to the price you would pay if you just turn up and queue. At time of writing an adult ticket costs £17.50 online and £19.50 at the gate, a child’s (5-15 years old) ticket costs £10.50 online and £11.50 on the gate. There are concessions available for the unemployed and those aged 60 and above; concession tickets cost £14 online and £16 on the gate. 

There are free tickets available for carers who accompany visitors with disabilities, you’ll need to collect a carer admission ticket from just inside the castle on arrival. Current members of the British Armed Forces also receive free entry if they show a valid MOD 90 card at the ticket office.

If you don’t want to go inside the castle, you can walk around the outside and admire the exterior, including the cemetery, for free.

Do you need to buy Edinburgh Castle tickets in advance? 
You don’t have to book in advance to enter Edinburgh Castle, although, if you turn up on the day, you’re likely to have to join a fairly sizeable queue and your ticket will cost more than if you pre book online.

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History of Edinburgh Castle

Who has lived in Edinburgh Castle?
Edinburgh Castle was home to various kings and queens for many centuries. Perhaps the most famous resident was Mary Queen of Scots who gave birth to her son inside the castle in 1566. He famously became King of Scotland just after his first birthday and, in 1603, he united the Scottish and English crowns to become James VI of Scotland and James I of England and Ireland. The last monarch to have lived in Edinburgh Castle was Charles I who stayed there the night before his long-awaited coronation as King of Scotland in 1633. 

Who died in Edinburgh Castle?
A number of people are reported to have died in Edinburgh Castle; Malcolm III’s son King Edgar was rumoured to have died there in 1107 and King David II died in the castle in 1371. Perhaps the most famous, and certainly the goriest, story about death in the castle is that of the Black Dinner of 1440. Apparently, it served as inspiration for author George R.R. Martin’s hugely popular Game of Thrones.

In November 1440, 10-year-old King James II was on the throne in Scotland and invited the newly-appointed Earl of Douglas and his little brother David to dinner at Edinburgh Castle. They all had a marvellous time enjoying food and entertainment until, as legend has it, the head of a black bull was dropped on the table to symbolise the death of the Douglas clan. It became apparent that the invitation to dinner had come not from King James II but from Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Douglases were becoming too powerful. The Earl of Douglas and his brother were dragged outside, given a mock trial and beheaded. The event became so legendary that even the famous novelist, Sir Walter Scott, wrote about the horror that had occurred that night.

How many times has Edinburgh Castle been attacked?
Edinburgh Castle is renowned as being the most besieged place in Britain, there have been no less than 23 recorded attempts to capture the prestigious castle. Most of the attacks came about due to violent tensions between England Scotland such as England’s King Edward I successfully capturing it in 1296 only for the rampaging Scots to take it back during an attack under the cover of darkness in 1314. The English once again attacked and took control in 1335 before the wily Scots disguised themselves as merchants to reclaim the monument in 1341. Thankfully today, Edinburgh Castle is a place of peace and quiet and the bloody battles that ensued around it are long gone and part of the rich fabric of its illustrious history.

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