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Are you ready for the ultimate Edinburgh bucket list?
There is one city that 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 and have kept coming back for more ever since.
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.
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.
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 the 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, bagpipe players, artists, and sellers in market stalls who feature along the way.
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 are many pretty ruins like St. Anthony’s Chapel. The best part is this walk is completely FREE.
4. Visit the Salisbury Crags
Another highlight of Holyrood Park is the cliffs Salisbury crags which wind around 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 winter’s night so make sure you sample one for a wee nightcap.
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!
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.
11. Sample Haggis, Neeps & Tatties
Haggis is a famous Scottish cuisine that 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 they have a dedicated window for your Whisky cocktails to pass through.
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.
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 Balmoral afternoon tea review of their offerings here.
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 of The Witchery here.
15. Visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
I have always made it 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 are 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.
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.
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
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.
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;
A complete guide to the Vennel
Looking for a delish Afternoon Tea? Try The Colonnades