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Top 30 things to do in Edinburgh
12 min read

Top 30 things to do in Edinburgh

12 min read
Uploaded on
Nov 30, 2022
Last updated on
Aug 10, 2023
Uploaded on
Nov 30, 2022
Last updated on
Aug 10, 2023
Image of Edinburgh
Enjoy a reign-y day in Edinburgh

Want to discover and enjoy the city where the famous movie ‘One day’ was shot? Or do you want to explore the magical streets and bring out the Potterhead hidden inside you? Maybe explore the neighbourhood and follow the footsteps of Emma and Dexter, visit as many bars as you want? Well we've put up the ideal list for you! “This moment…is ours…” Here is a list of the top 30 things to do in Edinburgh. We have got you covered when it comes to the greatest places to visit, dine, enjoy live music, sightsee and explore the best things to do in Edinburgh. “The desire to be alive…is an ambition.” - and this blog is definitely going to help you have the time of your life!

Places to visit in Edinburgh

Map of things to do in Edinburgh

1. Victoria Street 

Are you a potterhead? Because you’re going to go crazy knowing that Victoria street is the inspiration for the famous wizarding Diagon Alley. This is one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh for you!  Within Edinburgh's Old Town, a designated world heritage site, Victoria Street slopes down into the Grassmarket. Pure Potter charm is found in the eclectic blend of Gothic spires and slender mediaeval structures. In Victoria street, there is a Potter-themed store called Museum Context that features an eclectic variety of magic, wands, and odd artefacts. This quirky street is an exact replica of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books and is a great spot to look for souvenirs to take back.

2. Edinburgh Castle

One of Europe's oldest fortified locations is Edinburgh Castle. Its long, complex history as a fortress, jail, royal palace, and military garrison is full of intriguing stories. You will be following the footsteps of warriors, monarchs, queens, and even the occasional pirate as you ascend Castle Hill. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. Nobody stays in Edinburgh Castle now, parts of the castle is being used as a military base but mostly it is now a tourist attraction.The Argyle Battery should definitely be on your itinerary because the 360-degree views of the city are stunning.

3. Dean Village

Even though Dean Village is only a 5-minute walk from busy Princes Street, you'll feel as though you've entered a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh.The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located along the Water of Leith, one of Edinburgh's most picturesque strolling paths. You won't regret stopping by this peaceful oasis.

4. The Real Mary King's Close

Later this summer, The Real Mary King's Close will open, allowing more tourists to enjoy their five-star best tourist destination. On one of these guided walks, you may stroll through the 17th-century streets and learn the true tales of the genuine previous residents. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. You are at the ideal location to learn how Edinburgh citizens dealt with pestilence outbreaks and the genuine stories of the city's plague doctors after watching "Plague."

5. Arthur’s Seat

Go to Holyrood Park and climb the extinct volcano for a stunning aerial view of Edinburgh. You did read it right. A historic volcano may be found right in the middle of Edinburgh. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. Its highest point is Arthur's Seat. This is one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh. The looping path takes roughly two hours to walk. Your hard work will be rewarded at the summit with some amazing panoramas. At the peak, there is also a sizable fort that has been beautifully kept and dates back to 2000 years. What do you say? A trek that also has a little history!

6. Armchair Books

Are you a bookworm? Does the smell of old books bring a sense of nostalgia and calmness to your nerves? Then this is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh for you! The Armchair Books is an antique book store which sells over ten thousand second hand books stacked from bottom to the top of the ceiling, some books are actual literary gold. You can spend your afternoon in this bookstore and read for hours together. 

7. Stockbridge

Stockbridge is one of the city's a very well known neighbourhood because of its cobblestone lanes, exquisite Georgian buildings, lush green parks and gardens, and plenty of independent businesses and restaurants. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which houses more than 5,000 pieces of 20th-century art, is only a short stroll off Stockbridge's main street and is definitely worth a visit. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. 

8. National Museum of Scotland

There is an unbelievable amount of amazing things in the National Museum of Scotland. Animals, geology, space, machines, physics, and Scottish history are a few of the topics covered in the exhibits and learning opportunities. Outside of London, the National Museum of Scotland is the most visited destination in the UK. The Museum gives you a world of discovery all under one roof, with thousands of incredible items spread throughout many galleries. Children will love it also because so many of the exhibits are interactive! One of the top things to do in Edinburgh, you can easily spend 4-5 hours here.

9. Greyfriars Kirkyard

You may be amazed to know that you can visit Tom Riddle’s Grave in person. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. The real name of this graveyard is Greyfriars Kirkyard. The famous “He Who Must Not Be Named” comes from the actual Thomas Riddell buried here was a highly regarded barrister with no link whatsoever to the Dark Lord. Although J.K. Rowling hasn't completely confirmed utilising this gravestone, Riddell Close is a street in the Old Town. So perhaps that is where the name originated.

10. Edinburgh Vaults

YES! It really is as spooky as it sounds yet it's one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. In Edinburgh, it's possible to go about your daily activities without noticing any indications of what lies under the cobblestone streets. There are a number of ancient vaults hidden beneath the whirling of automobiles and bus wheels. These are the Blair Street Underground Vaults, which may be found beneath the South Bridge of the city. There are many tours conducted to visit the vaults. But can you go there alone? Unfortunately or fortunately you can’t. It’s best advised to do so with an experienced tour guide.

Best Restaurants in Edinburgh

It's obvious that exploring the magical city can be a great way to build your appetite and when you’re hungry and don’t know where to go, that's when we come to the rescue. Whether it's breakfast, best brunch, lunch, dinner or just relaxing at some of the best pubs or restaurants we’ve got you covered.

Best restaurants in Edinburgh

11. The Witchery

The most magnificently stunning eating joint in Edinburgh is James Thomson's The Witchery beside the Castle. The Witchery by the Castle has grown to be a beloved Edinburgh institution as we enter our fifth decade. This is because of the gorgeous décor, renowned food, and award-winning wine selection. This restaurant is one of the best places to visit and enjoy a candlelight dinner that is a few metres away from where the Royals of Scotland once lived. 

12. Brasserie Prince

In Edinburgh, Brasserie Prince is a stylish, laid-back restaurant that combines traditional French cuisine with exquisite Scottish products. From the buttery soft leather banquettes to the shining brass and mirror decorations, there are many echoes of Paris throughout. The location of Brasserie Prince at No. 1 Princes Street serves as a reminder of Edinburgh and the towering hills that surround the city.

13. White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar

Situated near the University of Edinburgh, the White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar serves the finest British seafood and shellfish from artisan producers all across the nation. Small meals, shared platters, and hand-crafted drinks are to be expected. A well chosen range of wine and fizz will accompany your meal. by the same people that brought you Chop House & Monteiths.

14. Kanpai

This secret sushi restaurant is a lesser-known establishment with light wooden seats, secluded cushioned booths, hanging lanterns, and hand-painted cherry-blossom trees on the walls. It is located in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. There are five categories on the menu: sushi, tempura, teppan, classics, and specials - and one should, of course, order something from each. This is one of the best places to eat in Edinburgh. 

15. Forage and chatter

The restaurant Giulia, owned by pasta master Michael Pagliarini, serves the best Italian food in Edinburgh. Pagliarini's Umbrian culinary traditions are reflected in the restaurant's broad menu, which features items like pappardelle with wild boar, paccheri alla bolognese, potato culurgiones, and more.

16. The Milkman

The Milkman is an independent specialty coffee shop in Edinburgh's Old Town. It's the ideal location to unwind and get away from the bustle of the city centre while sipping on a great cup of coffee and nibbling on some decadent pastries. Make sure to include this on your map, coffee enthusiasts!

17. Mary’s Milk Bar

You could be breaking a Scottish law if you visit Edinburgh and don't buy ice cream from Mary's Milk Bar. (Just kidding)  This vintage ice cream shop offers their famed hot chocolate and handcrafted gelato, so you can indulge in something bittersweet no matter the weather. Every morning, Mary produces fresh ice cream, and throughout the summer, flavours frequently run out. For this reason, plan your visit around lunchtime. If you love ice cream then this is one of the best places to eat in Edinburgh. 

18. Tupiniquim

This restaurant is best known for gluten free sweets and savoury crêpes. Edinburgh breeze advertising to onlookers that "BRASIL CREPES" are for sale. Many people might pass by, but if you happen to be passing on a weekday between 12 and 6 pm, a line snakes its way down the street, giving you a sense as to the calibre of these South American pancakes. So if you’re a crepe lover and want to visit this place make sure you go in the morning so that you don’t have to wait. 

19. The Elephant House

Want to know where JK Rowling got inspired to write the world famous novel series Harry Potter? Here’s a chance to go and visit the cafe. When JK Rowling began penning the tales of the famous Harry Potter in the mid-1990s, she frequented two cafes, one of which was the Elephant House. In 1996 and 1997, following the release of the first Harry Potter novel, Rowling wrote in The Elephant House café, frequently sitting at the old wooden table. This has to be the highlight of the things to do in Edinburgh.

20. Cold Townhouse

A serious beer for relaxed people, Cold Town Beer which is founded and made in Edinburgh, defies snobbish preconceptions and embraces all aspects of artisan beer. The new home of Cold Town Beer, Cold Townhouse, was conceived out of a wish to revive brewing customs in Edinburgh's Grassmarket. Each floor of Cold Town House has a pretty wonderful, laid-back atmosphere. a fantastic location for beer enthusiasts and non-beer drinkers. The rooftop patio, which is located on the top level, has a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle which makes it one of the fanciest places to eat in Edinburgh. 

21. Bonnie and Wild

The St James Quarter's spectacular Food Hall, located on Level 4, will treat you to some of the finest dining and drinking that Scotland has to offer. You may pick from an unmatched variety of cuisines, including fast meals, exquisite restaurants, coffee and pastries, craft beers, and drinks.

22. The Cauldron Edinburgh

Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, you'll like this hotspot that was inspired by everything magical! For the next Halloween season, they also developed an interactive activity where you may design your own "potions." You will take an intensive class where you may fulfil your childhood fantasies of creating potions and obtaining a wand, despite Snape not being the instructor. What a fantastic thing! We have listed many other bars that you must visit if you are in Edinburgh.

Best Shops in Edinburgh

23. Princes Street

If you want to do some luxury shopping in Edinburgh, Princes Street is the one of the best places to visit because it is lined with high-end retailers like Boots, H&M, Debenhams, Marks & Spencers, and Jenners department store, to name a few. The Traditional German Christmas Market, which is open every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm throughout the Christmas season, is located in Princes Street Gardens.

24. Grass Market And Victoria Street

Unlike other shopping areas in the city, Victoria Street encourages affordable shopping in Edinburgh by housing a variety of retailers that sell more than simply clothing and jewellery making it one of the top things to do in Edinburgh In fact, there is a store on the street named Aha ha ha that sells jokes and we're not joking about that. Designers, artists, and individuals selling high-end clothing and crafts are everywhere on the market.

25. Multrees Walk

Edinburgh's Multrees Walk supports the city's luxury shopping  because it contains elite fashion outlets with high-quality stationery, purses, and clothing. Numerous international brands, such as Tesla, Links of London, Burberry, Mulberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Sandro, and Nespresso, are represented in this pedestrian retail area off St. Andrew Square on the east side. Go to Multrees Walk if your budget will enable you to experience urbanity!

26. The Royal Mile

Shopping in the best places in Edinburgh, Scotland might be difficult, but locations like these make it much simpler! The area, which is in the centre of Old Town, is well-known for its yarn and whiskey as well as for having some of the oldest lounges and cafes. Visit stores like Ragamuffin and Cadenhead Whisky Shop on the Royal Mile. Check out the Ness Clothing Co. whether you're seeking for accessories, contemporary knitwear, or handbags.

Offbeat things to do in Edinburgh

27. Scotch Whisky Experience 

Edinburgh is known for its scotch whiskeys. There are many tours that tell you all about the story of one of the most famous products of Scotland. Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch Whisky Collection holds almost 3,500 individual bottles making it the largest collection of Scotch Whisky. You know the best part? You also get to taste one of the finest collections of whiskey. Make sure you don’t miss this opportunity because it is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. 

28. The Potter Trail

This free tour is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh, which is based around Harry Potter, this will really exceed your expectations. Each tourist receives a creative wand before starting the Harry Potter tour, giving you the impression that you're a real wizard. This is one of the crazy things to do in Edinburgh. This tour is wonderful for everyone, even if you're not a die-hard Harry Potter fan, because you get to learn about Edinburgh's strange past! Both wizards and muggles may enjoy this tour. 

29. Edinburgh’s Free Ghost Tour 

If you’re looking for crazy things to do in Edinburgh then this is what you need to do. The city of Edinburgh is undoubtedly full of eerie ghosts and sorrowful spirits due to its dark and gory past and the Free Ghost Tour in Edinburgh includes everything. This has to be the scariest thing to do in Edinburgh. Each terrifying ghost story and shady murder that occurred across the city. Edinburgh, one of the spookiest towns in Europe, has a dark history of murder, gory sickness, and strange witchcraft. Edinburgh's cobblestone streets are quite attractive at first appearance. But if you look closely, you'll see that its beauty is overshadowed by tragedy.

30. Edinburgh’s Scenic Bike Tour

A full-day shore journey to Edinburgh's attractions departs from Edinburgh. This is one of the most fun things to do in Edinburgh. Visit the city's ancient Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile after taking a tour of the entire area, which was crowned the UK's top historical destination in 2014. Discover its history in detail and visit the renowned Stone of Destiny, which served as the customary seat of the ancient Scottish rulers' royal weddings. After that, you may take advantage of some free time to relax and stroll along Castlehill, the city's oldest street. Explore one of the numerous fascinating "closes'' or lanes that branch off the Royal Mile. Visit sights including St. Giles Cathedral and the Scottish Parliament structure.

There you have it, the top 30 things to do in Edinburgh; there is always something to do during the day and night in the magical city, Edinburgh. Cross these off your bucket list when you visit the city or while staying at your Edinburgh student accommodation and you’ll get to make the most of your student life in Edinburgh!

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