Edinburgh Castle

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Edinburgh Castle: Our most recommended tours and activities

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour in English

1. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour in English

Begin your tour by the statue of Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Walk towards Edinburgh Castle as your guide sets the scene, explaining the significance of the Castle and mentioning some of the key characters who have helped shape it. Once inside, let your guide walk you through the Castle complex. Hear their in-depth knowledge of the Castle's main buildings and attractions, including the Argyle Battery and One O'clock Gun, the Hospital Square and Western Panorama. See the Castle dungeons and military prison, the Black Banquet and Thomas Randolph's daring castle raid. Encounter St Margret's Chapel, Mons Meg, the Crown Square, and The Honors of Scotland. After the tour, enjoy some time at your leisure to explore the castle museums (not accessible during the tour).

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour

2. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour

Discover the home of Mary Queen of Scots on this guided walking tour of Edinburgh Castle. Admire the 16th-century Great Hall where parties and feast took place. Learn about the bloody history of the kings and queens who lived in this castle.  Meet your guide and walk to Edinburgh Castle which dominates the city skyline from its seat on the extinct volcano of Castle Rock. Stroll on the castle's promenade and hear about the the origins and sieges of the castle. View where the Royal Military Tattoo is performed. Enter the castle and make your way to the three museums and two prisons. Go to the National Monument to the fallen of Scotland and a canine cemetery. See the oldest building in the city at the Chapel of Saint Margaret. Be captivated by the grandeur of the Great Hall and a Royal Palace. After the tour you will have time to explore all of the buildings inside the castle until its closure.

Edinburgh: 24-Hour or 48-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour

3. Edinburgh: 24-Hour or 48-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour

Explore Scotland’s capital city across one or two days on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. See famous landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, the iconic Royal Mile, and the Palace of Holyrood House and learn about their historic significance from the onboard audio commentary. Hop on the bus at the first stop at St Andrew's Square. From either the top deck or the interior of the bus, you can explore the city in a convenient way, catching a glimpse of some iconic buildings and sights. With your ticket, you will also receive additional perks and discounts such as discounted entry to the Holyrood Distillery, a bus ride to Edinburgh Zoo, and many more benefits. Choose between a 24-hour or 48-hour pass with stops at a variety of locations along several routes including: • The Royal Mile• Edinburgh Castle• Dynamic Earth• Edinburgh Dungeons• Real Mary Kings Close• Greyfriars’s Bobby • Lothian Road• Grassmarket• Lauriston Place• Johnston Terrace• National Museum of Scotland• John Knox House• Museum of Edinburgh• Scottish Parliament• Palace of Holyrood House• Burns Monument

Edinburgh: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with 3 City Tours

4. Edinburgh: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass with 3 City Tours

Save money and explore Edinburgh at your own pace with a 3-route hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket. Pick from a ticket that lasts for 24 or 48 hours. Explore the city with stop options like Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, National Museum of Scotland, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Hop aboard and embark on your city adventure. Contrast the Old and New Towns, see the royal attractions of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia (entrances not included). Live guides provide English commentary on the Edinburgh Tour, while audio guides are available in up to 9 languages on the City Sightseeing Tour and the Majestic Tour. Hop on and off as often as you like at dozens of attractions, and enjoy unique, scenic views from the open-top upper decks. City Sightseeing Tour: Hear about the people and events that shaped Edinburgh, from the cramped conditions of the Old Town to spacious Holyrood Park, on a classic sightseeing tour in 9 languages. Enjoy Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories with the on board Horrible Histories Children’s Channel - history with all the gory bits left in! • Hanover Street • Princes Street Gardens • St. John’s Church • Grassmarket • Johnston Terrace • Edinburgh Castle • National Museum of Scotland • Museum of Childhood • Scottish Parliament • Our Dynamic Earth • Palace of Holyrood House • Burns Monument Edinburgh Tour: Enjoy the best views aboard an open-top bus, as live commentary in English brings Edinburgh’s history to life. Explore the Old Town and Georgian New Town, hopping off at 9 strategic stops. • Hanover Street • George Street • Charlotte Square • The Mound • Lawnmarket • Grassmarket • Our Dynamic Earth • Scottish Parliament • Canongate Kirk Majestic Tour: Leave the city center and head to the coast at Newhaven, with stops for the Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Yacht Britannia. This multi-language tour offers commentary through headphones in English, Gaelic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Russian. Return via the Palace of Holyrood House and the Canongate section of the Royal Mile. • Hanover Street • George Street • Royal Botanic Gardens • Ferry Road • Newhaven Harbour • Cruise Terminal • Ocean Terminal (Royal Yacht Britannia) • Leith Mills • Elm Row • Queen Mary’s Bath House • Queensberry House • Canongate Kirk

Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

5. Edinburgh: 3-Hour Guided Walking Tour

Discover Edinburgh’s historical, cultural, and architectural heritage on a small and intimate walking tour guided by one of the most knowledgeable locals possible. Stuart or Richard Usher, of Scotland's famous and historic House of Usher, or Dr. Alison Duncan, Scotland expert and professional historian, will guide you through this beautiful city. You’ll see many of the city’s highlights, including Usher Hall and Edinburgh Castle. You’ll walk along the Royal Mile, tour the interior of St. Giles Cathedral, and visit several of Edinburgh's famous landmarks. Your guide, has an extensive knowledge of Edinburgh's history and architecture and the many famous people that the city has produced over the centuries. They will share their knowledge of Edinburgh with you in an informative, personable, and enjoyable manner. Have no fear, as it won't all be serious stuff! Your guide will also show you the Mound, and take you on a tour of the National Galleries of Scotland. At the gallery you’ll see paintings by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, and many others. Also, typically you will see Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens, the Scott Monument, George Street, and Charlotte Square.

Full-Day Edinburgh Military Tattoo & Scottish Highlands Tour

6. Full-Day Edinburgh Military Tattoo & Scottish Highlands Tour

Storytelling is one of the best and most important parts of Scottish and Irish culture. Here in Scotland, it brings the scenery, sites, and their characters alive for a tour that you won’t soon forget. You will experience the moving and incredible Edinburgh Military Tattoo, sample local whiskey, and see breathtaking scenery along the way. Scotland’s Highlands are beautiful and green, the land of forests, mountains, rivers, and glens. From Edinburgh, the tour goes through Stirling. Take in the views of the castle and learn the history behind the Wallace Monument. Continue to the Trossachs National Park, former home to the infamous cattle thief Rob Roy MacGregor. Characters and scenes come alive in your imagination as you take in the park and surrounding area. The tour follows the shoreline of Loch Earn on the way to a local whisky distillery. Here, you'll take a guided tour that will give you an insight into how ‘uisce beatha’ (the ‘water of life') is made, as well as going on a journey to discover the history behind one of Scotland’s most iconic exports. Explore the peaceful Hermitage, stretch your legs and take a woodland walk to Black Linn Falls on the River Braan. See Dunkeld and the spectacular cathedral on the banks of the River Tay. Return south past the Forth Bridge, to Edinburgh. There will be time to return to your hotel or explore the city a while before the evening event: the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh City: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

7. Edinburgh City: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

Download an MP3 audio guide and explore Edinburgh's famous attractions at your own pace. Begin your tour at Edinburgh Castle, a building that dates back to the 12th century. See the Scottish Crown Jewels, the magnificent St Giles' Cathedral, Mary King's Close, and walk past underground alleys with a layered history. See the Princes Street Gardens, the Royal Mile, Tolbooth Kirk, the George IV Bridge, Edinburgh City Chambers, Tron Kirk, and the Scottish Parliament Building. Drop by at Deacon Brodie's tavern and try Edinburgh's best haggis, a national delicacy immortalized in poetry by Robbie Burns (the National Bard of Scotland). 

Edinburgh: Scotland's Dark Secrets Walking Tour

8. Edinburgh: Scotland's Dark Secrets Walking Tour

Marvel at the mysteries lurking behind Edinburgh on a walking tour focusing on the city's darker side. Visit Edinburgh Castle, Grey Friars Kirkyard, and the Old Tollbooth Prison. Let your guide thrill you with macabre, twisted tales from days gone by. Learn about witches and ghosts from the city's past and find out which ones are still lurking around today. Soak up every creaky nook and cranny while you search for signs of ghosts and ghouls on this unforgettable walking tour of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Old Town Historical Walking Tour

9. Edinburgh: Old Town Historical Walking Tour

Hidden gems are waiting to be discovered. The best way to explore Edinburgh is to follow your feet. Where the buses can’t take you and the guide books don’t show you is where the city’s stories lie, in the closes, wynds, courtyards and homes of Old Edinburgh. You will visit the sites that are tucked away to see the secrets and hear the tales. Your guide will help you unlock Edinburgh's fascinating past, the culture, crime, politics and people of Scotland’s capital.

Edinburgh: Harry Potter in Edinburgh Self-Guided Audio Tour

10. Edinburgh: Harry Potter in Edinburgh Self-Guided Audio Tour

Join tour create Katrina Milne, and explore the Edinburgh that inspired J.K. Rowling’s global phenomenon! We'll explore the secret alleyways of the Old Town, starting at Edinburgh Castle, then we'll wander down to “Diagon Alley” and find the gravestones of Voldemort and some other well-known characters from the Harry Potter series. We'll spot “Hogwarts School of Wizardry” along the way too, and if you like, you can stop in at the famous and not-so-famous cafes where J.K. Rowling wrote before Harry Potter became a best-seller. Our journey will include: • A fantastic view of the Edinburgh Castle from the esplanade in front of it • The Royal Mile, Old Town’s most famous street • The Writer’s Museum, a literature fan’s heaven • Victoria Street, one of Scotland's most photographed streets • The Grassmarket where you’ll hear a story of one very lucky lady from the 1700s. • Greyfriar’s Graveyard

Planning Your Visit

  • Sunset over Edinburgh Castle

    For a view that you'll remember for the rest of your life, watch the sun set over Edinburgh Castle. The best spots for this are Arthur's Seat and Calton Hill, both located to the East of the city center. The deep-red sun, the colors in the sky, and the black silhouette of the castle come together in an absolutely magnificent panorama.

  • Fireworks

    If you're lucky enough to be in Edinburgh when there are fireworks going off over Edinburgh Castle, for example on Hogmanay or at the end of the Edinburgh Festival, then make sure to head to one of these viewpoints to admire the show and snap some amazing photographs. Princes Street Gardens and Calton Hill are likely to be the most popular spots to watch the fireworks, so if you're looking for a less crowded experience, Blackford Hill and Arthur's Seat are better bets.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Opening hours from 9:30AM - 6PM year-round, except for December 25th and 26th.
  • Is it expensive?
    Free to look at from the outside, £17 for adult entry.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Only if you want one.
  • How to get there
    Hop-on-hop-off buses stop at the Castle. You can make your own way by taking bus 24 to Waverly Bridge and walking.
  • Additional information

    • It never hurts to carry an umbrella when in Scotland!

    • Since you'll be climbing hills, good walking shoes are a must.

Other Sightseeing Options in Edinburgh Castle

Want to discover all there is to do in Edinburgh Castle? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Edinburgh Castle

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 10,883 reviews

If you are on a cruise you will have to take a city bus into town to get on the bus. Right outside the port, across the street and takes about 20 minutes. If you buy the pass with the 3 tours you can take the blue tour back to the ship as it stops at the port.

Super nice tour with the nice guide Stefh who passionately told about the castle and its history, highly recommended to book this excursion. We enjoyed it very much.

We were looking for a shirt and sweet tour and that’s exactly what we got. Very happy.

Amazing! Richard was great, really good! Lots of interesting facts and acting too

Despite not being a regular guide Ben was informative and witty.