Attractions in Edinburgh

Things to do in Edinburgh | Attractions

There’s much more to Edinburgh than fireworks and festivals - although it does those incredibly well, too. Covering history, politics, royalty, the natural world and more, the city’s sights, parks and attractions are as varied as they are exciting. Not sure where to start? Head for the Royal Mile. It’s bookended by two of the city’s headline attractions - Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. And to get your sightseeing trip off to a great start, one of Premier Inn’s clean, comfortable Edinburgh hotels will be right round the corner, no matter what attraction takes your fancy.


Historic buildings

If you love your architecture full of old world charm, take a stroll through Scotland’s capital. With an incredible number of beautiful buildings built over 500 years ago, you can spend the day sightseeing without even spending a penny. In fact, Edinburgh has a higher concentration of ancient structures than most European cities.

Standing majestically on top of Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city’s skyline. It’s home to St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh, and has the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles. Kings and queens have lived and loved in The Royal Palace. Enemies and pirates have suffered in the Prisons of War. Soldiers are honoured at the Scottish National War Memorial and military history told in the Regimental Museums. And our Premier Inn hotel near Edinburgh Castle is so close, it’s right in its shadow.

For more than 400 years, Edinburgh University has been attracting students from all over the world with its excellent academic reputation and buzzing city centre campuses. Renowned for its stunning architecture, many of its most beautiful buildings, museums and galleries are open to the public and house some rare and impressive collections.

A beautiful piece of the Old Town landscape, St Giles’ Cathedral is small, but that only adds to its intimate feel. It’s free to enter, although a small fee is required if you want to take photos. But, with intricate carvings, ancient tombs and beautiful stained glass windows to point your camera at, it’s worth making a donation. With a handy location halfway down the Royal Mile, it makes the perfect stop-off on your way from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood House, plus it’s very near to our Edinburgh City Centre Royal Mile hotel.

An architectural masterpiece by Catalonian architect Enric Miralles, the Scottish Parliament building at the foot of the Royal Mile is well worth a look while, if you love politics, trying to score yourself a public ticket to watch a debate is a must. No ticket? You could just join one of three free guided tours instead. Focusing on either history, art or literature, they’re a great way to learn about the history of politics in Scotland.

The Queen’s official Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyrood House really is an opportunity to see how the other half live. Snoop around the Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers, the State Apartments or take a look at the current exhibition.

St. Giles Cathedral

The Royal Mile


Parks

When you think of Edinburgh, it may be the city’s winding alleys, cobbled streets and interesting nooks and crannies that spring to mind. But there are plenty of open green spaces here too, plus a dormant volcano just waiting to be climbed.

Right in the heart of Edinburgh, Holyrood Park is a sprawling expanse of green lawn and trails. It’s best known for being the home of Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano which towers above Edinburgh and offers such a magnificent viewing point you almost forget about the two-hour hike it took to get there. It’s also home to St Anthony’s Chapel, Holyrood Abbey, Salisbury Crag and Duddingston Loch.

Step inside the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for a glimpse of horticultural paradise. Just a mile from the city centre, it’s well worth the trip out here to explore the woodland gardens and see the 28 glasshouses crammed full of rare orchids, tropical palms and alpine flowers.

Staying in our Edinburgh City Centre (Princes Street) hotel? Don’t miss a stroll around the Princes Street Gardens. This picturesque park in the middle of the city is worth a visit for the Floral Clock alone. Made of at least 30,000 flowers, it’s not just pretty - it tells the correct time, too.

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Abbey


Attractions

Whether you’re in town for a big event or a big day out, Edinburgh is so full of great things to do, you’ll never be bored. With world-class attractions spanning history to the natural world, you’ll soon see why the city attracts four million visitors a year.

Since opening its doors, the Edinburgh Dungeon has been attracting visitors with its dark tales and gory stories. Over 80-minutes you’ll take a trip around 1,000 years of Edinburgh's horrible history and meet lots of sinister characters along the way. From famous cannibal Sawney Bean and serial killers Burke and Hare to torturers and plague victims, this live action interactive horror show brings to life some of Edinburgh’s darkest moments.

Visit Edinburgh Zoo and you’ll be supporting some of the world’s most important conservation projects. In return, you’ll see the only giant pandas and koalas in the UK plus the highly entertaining penguin parade. Want to spend the whole day here? Book into our hotel near to Edinburgh Zoo and you’ll be able to get in so early you can watch the animals having their breakfast.


Arenas

While Edinburgh might not have the vast indoor arenas of places like Manchester or London, it is home to Scotland's largest indoor and outdoor venue.

The Royal Highland Centre hosts over 220 events annually and has a huge covered exhibition space, as well as 110-acres of parkland that includes its vast outdoor arena. It’s best known for hosting the Royal Highland Show, one of Scotland's most iconic events. Held over four days in June, it showcases the very best in farming, food and rural life. But the arena is also known for its massive music events, from Boyzone concerts to the Scotfest music festival.


Stadiums

Edinburgh has an impressive sporting heritage that’s waiting to be explored and, luckily, its two main stadiums offer fantastic guided tours that let you do just that.

As the biggest sports stadium in Scotland, some of the world’s greatest rugby has been played in BT Murrayfield Stadium. With a history dating back to 1871, you can soak up its sporting heritage for yourself, on a guided tour. Taking place from Monday to Saturday at 11am (except when there’s an event) you’ll get to have a nose around behind the scenes, see some silverware and even take a walk down that famous tunnel.

Home to Edinburgh’s premiership football team, Hearts FC, Tynecastle Stadium also offers a tour that’s perfect for footie fans young and old. Explore the home team dressing rooms, sit in the press seats then pretend you’re managing from the dugouts. Tours last an hour, and give you access to both the Memorial Garden and the club museum afterwards.


Looking for a hotel in Edinburgh?

Whether you're staying in Edinburgh city centre, next to Edinburgh Castle, around Princes Street, or on the outskirts of town, we have the right hotel for you. Flying in on business and we've hotels next to Edinburgh Airport. Looking for a family-friendly hotel for a weekend break and we have those aswell.