The Ultimate Edinburgh Bucket List -17 Incredible Things to Do in Edinburgh!

calton hill edinburgh

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Are you ready for the ultimate Edinburgh bucket list?

There is one city which has a special place in my heart and that is the Scottish Capital of Edinburgh.

I first visited this incredible city when I performed at the Fringe Festival in 2009 and have kept coming back for more ever since.

Although it is relatively small, they have certainly packed a lot in!

You have the historic old cobbled city on one side and then can easily transport yourself to the glamourous new city in a few moments across the Forth bridge.

The skyline is absolutely stunning and is full of beautiful architecture which spans back hundreds of years.

You can immerse yourself in history, explore Holyrood Park, go on a ghost tour, visit a wealth of amazing attractions and take part in their summer festivals – not to mention this is the birthplace of Harry Potter so if you are a fan, this is a must for you!

It can always be difficult to know what to tick off when you arrive in a new city so here is an Edinburgh bucket list to make sure you experience the highlights.

If you’re looking for Instagrammable places in Edinburgh – check out my complete guide here.

The ultimate Edinburgh bucket list – 17 awesome things to do in Edinburgh

1. Visit Edinburgh Castle

The first stop for many when they arrive in Edinburgh is the Castle which stands proud at the top of the Royal Mile.

It can be seen from all over the city and is a must-do for any traveller.

Here you can get some fantastic views of the city, try Scottish whiskey, see the Scottish crown jewels and learn about the long history of Monarchs who resided in these walls.

Don’t miss the One o’ clock gun which fires from here every day! For more visitors information see here.

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

2. Walk the Royal Mile

A free activity in Edinburgh is a walk along the Royal mile which snakes through the city and provides a wealth of activity at any point of day.

Here, you can grab yourself some typical super tourist souvenirs such as tartan tweed plastered over a plethora of items and in all different colours.

Kilts, hip flasks, rugs, bags, cashmere scarves – you can make any of your tartan dreams come true.

There are also some amazing restaurants to try such as Burgers & Beers and a celebrity haunt the Witchery by the Castle.

My favourite part is finding the various street performers, bag pipe players, artists and sellers in market stalls who feature along the way.

See my self-guided Outlander walking tour of the Royal Mile here

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

3. Climb Arthur’s Seat

Another iconic landmark is Arthur’s seat which stands tall at 250 metres above sea level.

You can access the base in Holyrood Park and make your steady ascent to the top.

The walk is not for the faint-hearted, but the views from the top are so worth the effort!

If you’re visiting on a windy day, be careful when you arrive at the top as there isn’t much to hold onto.

From here, you can walk through the rest of Holyrood Park and see there many pretty ruins like St. Anthony’s Chapel. The best part is this walk is completely FREE.

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

4. Visit the Salisbury Crags

Another highlight of Holyrood Park is the cliffs Salisbury crags which wind round the hill.

You can stand on top or below and both will give you outstanding views of Edinburgh.

Perfect for an afternoon walk but, again, it is hard going so make sure you’re prepared for the walk with a good pair of shoes.

edinburgh bucket list things to do

5. The Queen’s Residence at Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace is the Queen’s residence of Scotland and sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile near the Scottish Parliament building.

You can wander around the many sumptuous apartments, wander around the gardens, visit their handsome Abbey and even visit Mary Queen of Scots bedroom!

For more information on opening times and prices, see here.

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

6. See the sunset at Calton Hill

My favourite viewpoint in Edinburgh, and even all of Scotland, is at Calton Hill which is a UNESCO heritage site.

The best part? It’s completely FREE!

Here you can get a fantastic view of the city and is a must for any photographer looking for a good shot to ‘sum it up’.

Around the hill, you can see the National monument, Nelson Monument, Robert burns monument and the city observatory so make sure you spend some time wandering around.

Read more about what to see & do at this fabulous viewpoint here

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

7. Meet Greyfriars Bobby

Possibly the cutest landmark in the city is the pretty wee statue of Greyfriars Bobby.

This famous doggy would guard his owner, Joch’s, grave for 14 years until eventually he died himself.

He became a city favourite and they dedicated a memorial and gravestone to him at Greyfriars Kirk.

Make sure you rub his nose for a bit of luck! If you’re feeling peckish or thirsty, you can grab a drink at the Greyfriars bobby bar opposite his statue.

Check out this post for more information on visiting the Kirkyard.

greyfriars bobby statue
edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

8. Sample a Dram of Whisky

Scotland is famous for their whisky and it is considered the national drink so it’s almost criminal not to sample a dram (shot) whilst you’re here.

You can get your hands on some at any pub in the city but if you’re wanting more of an experience you can learn a bit about how it’s made at the Whisky trail.

A hot toddy will keep you warm on a winters night so make sure you sample one for a wee night cap.

edinburgh bucket list things to do

9. Climb the Scott Monument

Standing prominently on Prince’s Street in Edinburgh is the Scott monument, a historic architectural masterpiece.

You will climb a whopping 287 steps but the views from the top are so worth it.

Make sure you get a certificate of your achievement on your way out!

Tickets can be booked online via Event Brite for £8 per adult.  Always check for opening times as this shuts in certain parts of the year.

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

10. Explore Prince’s Street

If you’re looking to do a spot of shopping while you’re here, then Prince’s high street is definitely the place for you.

There is a plethora of shops to explore including high street brands and the famous Jenner’s.

You can also visit the many restaurants and café’s which are dotted around and if you fancy a break you can visit the park opposite.

edinburgh bucket list things to do
edinburgh bucket list things to do

11. Sample Haggis, Neeps & Tatties

Haggis is a famous Scottish cuisine which is a must-try!

Although you may have read the ingredients which made your stomach turn, I wouldn’t think about it too much as the flavour is surprisingly awesome.

If you are dreading it but determined to give it a try, I would recommend Ghillie Dhu as a place to sample.

The restaurant serves up authentic Scottish fair and if you’re sat in their romantic booths the have a dedicated window for your Whisky cocktails to pass through.

edinburgh bucket list things to do

12. Sip on Irn-Bru

There is only one country in the entire world where Coca Cola is not the most popular drink and that is Scotland.

Their famous Irn-Bru or “The other national drink” (after whisky) is popular amongst locals.

It has a bright orange colour and is supposed to have a ‘cola’ taste but I didn’t really get that when I tried it.

I can’t really put my finger on what the taste is like but it is tasty and that’s all I need to know!

You can pick up a can or bottle of the brew in any supermarket here.

edinburgh bucket list things to do

13. Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral’s Palm Court

This hotel is an iconic feature on Edinburgh’s city skyline with its famous clock tower and is almost like a siren calling you in!

If you’re after a quintessentially Scottish afternoon tea, the Balmoral is it!

It cannot be beaten on service or their selection of treats which they have to offer you. You can read my full review of their offerings here.

edinburgh bucket list things to do

14. The Witchery by the Castle

Built on castle hill at the top of the Royal Mile the Witchery is placed near the site where women accused as witches were executed so many years ago.

It is supposedly haunted but more so by celebrities nowadays than ghosts.

If you want to experience some exquisite 5-star cuisine whilst in the city – book yourself a table at their secret garden.

Make sure you check their menu first; it comes with a hefty price tag. You can check out a full review here.

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15. Visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

I have always made my mission to travel up to Edinburgh in August as that’s when their fabulous fringe festival takes place.

Tickets for some of the main shows get booked up weeks in advance but there is so much going on that is absolutely free.

Street performances, circus, juggling, stand up, fire dances, magic and much more is waiting for you here.

Hundreds of pubs, courtyards, restaurants and parks all become fringe venues so make sure you grab a programme and go explore the fringe.

Read all about what the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has to offer you here!

edinburgh fringe festival
Edinburgh Fringe Festival

16. Try Tablet Fudge

Tablet is a Scottish confectionary that you must try while you’re in Edinburgh. It is a local favourite and comes in many different forms.

If your looking for the best place to try I would highly recommend The Fudge House of Edinburgh in Canongate (bottom of the Royal Mile).

Their fudge is to die for and you can watch a live display of them making it too.

edinburgh bucket list things to do

18. Get out of the city!

Edinburgh is a bustling and lively city and a great place to start your Scottish adventure but from here there is so much more of Scotland waiting for you.

You can explore their beautiful mountainous national parks which are full of Heather and wildlife.

If you’re looking for your next destination, head up to the highlands and visit the many castles such as Eilean Donan or continue your Harry Potter tour and take a ride on the Hogwart’s Express.

Here are some of my favourite day trips from Edinburgh

An Outlander guide to Hopetoun House

A complete guide for Craigmillar Castle

Exploring the Gun Powder Mills at Roslin Glen

You you need to visit Blackness Castle

A complete guide for Linlithgow Palace

Exploring the adorable village of Falkland

Visiting Castle Leoch or Doune Castle

An Outlander guide for Glasgow

edinburgh bucket list things to do

So, that’s the ultimate Edinburgh bucket list!

It always feels like home to me when I visit there in the Summer months but it is a city which is perfect for an adventure all year round.

Make sure you tick off some of these on your bucket list when you’re there to make sure you get the whole Edinburgh experience.

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Want to read more Edinburgh travel guides?

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, EVER!

So, I have plenty of travel guides if you wanted to take in some of the tourist sites around the city too; 

The cutest lane in Edinburgh

Visiting a quaint village in the capital of Scotland

My complete photography guide to Edinburgh

A complete list of Outlander film sites in Edinburgh

Why you must visit Bakehouse Close

A complete guide to the Vennel

Looking for a delish Afternoon Tea? Try The Colonnades

The Vennel Edinburgh | Instagram spots in Edinburgh
The Vennel Steps

Read more of my posts on Scotland

Where is the pink castle in Scotland?

Why you must visit the Kelpies

A complete list of Outlander filming locations in Scotland

Cove Beach on the Scottish Borders

How to find the Devil’s Pulpit

Finding New Asgard in St Abbs

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Save this Edinburgh bucket list for later!

edinburgh bucket list things to do

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