Edinburgh For first-time visitors

Our most recommended Edinburgh For first-time visitors

Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

1. Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

Head for the Highlands, whether in search of the Loch Ness Monster or just a scenic day trip from Edinburgh. After pickup, relax on the bus and listen to the guide’s entertaining commentary. Visit Kilmahog for an introduction to the famous Highland Cows and a cup of coffee. Discover what a ‘hairy coo’ really is. Next, travel up the road to Glencoe and enjoy a 10-minute photo stop in front of the unforgettable Highland views. Have lunch in the Fort William area, where your guide can advise you on where to eat. If you're interested in the mysteries of the kilt, you can even get a ‘wee’ kilt introduction here. Then be whisked to Loch Ness itself. Customize your experience at Loch Ness. Choose to visit the majestic Urquhart Castle, and hop on a boat in search of ‘Nessie’, as the locals call it. Or simply hang out on the pier and grab a coffee with gorgeous views. On the way home, make a short snack stop in Pitlochry, a beautiful village in the heart of the country, before returning to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour

2. Edinburgh: Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour

Enjoy a Harry Potter-themed walking tour across Edinburgh. See the city where JK Rowling found inspiration for Hogwarts, her famous characters, and discover the place where she wrote the books. Have your Harry Potter trivia tested with an audio-visual quiz, and earn points for your house. Find out which Hogwarts House you’re in, and whether you’re a pure-blood, a muggle, or a squib. Visit the Grave of Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard, and pass JK Rowling’s golden handprints outside City Chambers. See all this and more on a magical guided tour.

Edinburgh: Skip-the-Line Walking Tour of Edinburgh Castle

3. Edinburgh: Skip-the-Line Walking Tour of Edinburgh Castle

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 Zoo Entrance Ticket

4. Edinburgh Zoo Entrance Ticket

Get closer than ever before to Sumatran tigers and the Penguin Parade featuring the knighted penguin, Sir Nils Olav, at Edinburgh Zoo. See exciting reptiles, amphibians, insects, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. Immerse yourself in the new walk-through exhibition included in your Edinburgh Zoo ticket and see prehistoric beasts come to life around you. Starting in April, meet awe-inspiring dinosaurs against the backdrop of Scotland’s capital. Discover the exhibition moving and roaring animatronic dinosaurs. Step into the past with a self-led family trail and discover more about what links the animals at the zoo with prehistoric creatures. The trail can be followed all the way to the top of the hill. Experience a busy program of educational events and activities - learn from keeper talks or enjoy a unique hands-on animal encounter. With plenty of children’s play areas, restaurants, and picnic spots, Edinburgh Zoo is an ideal family day out.  The Zoo has three cafés and several kiosks offering a wide range of hot and cold food, snacks, and drinks - whatever you fancy, there’s something to suit all tastes, offering excellent value and service as part of a great day out for the family.

The Edinburgh Dungeon Entrance Ticket

5. The Edinburgh Dungeon Entrance Ticket

Live and breathe Edinburgh’s darkest history, if you dare. The Edinburgh Dungeon is an award-winning, 70-minute interactive and immersive walk-through experience covering 1000 years of Edinburgh and Scottish history through 11 live actor shows, theatrical sets, special effects, and a thrilling ride. Visitors will come face to face with the most notorious rogues from the city’s dark past. Meet Agnes Finnie, Edinburgh's baddest witch! Enter the Witch Pricker’s interrogation chamber where you’ll come face to face with Agnes Finnie – accused of witchcraft in 1645. She’s mad, she’s bad, she’s not to be messed with! Well done! You’ve found Sawney Bean’s Family. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since they last ate and you look delicious… It’s the 16th century and you find yourself creeping through the Bean clan’s foul-smelling lair to discover the leftovers of lost travelers.

Edinburgh: The Scotch Whisky Experience Tour and Tasting

6. Edinburgh: The Scotch Whisky Experience Tour and Tasting

Take a guided whisky tour and learn the story of Scotland’s most famous product. Visit the Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch Whisky Collection, which is the world’s largest collection of Scotch whisky, with almost 3,500 individual bottles. Begin the tour with the whisky barrel car ride, which takes guests through the production and maturation process of Scotch whisky. Then enjoy a sensory journey of Scotland, including an introduction to Scotch whisky aromas. Next, taste Scotch whisky and see the world’s largest collection of Scotch Whisky (guests under 18 years of age will be given Irn Bru, a Scottish soft drink). Take home your crystal tasting glass as a souvenir. When you select the Gold Tour option, after enjoying a full guided tour, you'll compare and contrast 4 regional single malts while relaxing in the McIntyre Gallery. Assisted by experienced guides, and provided with tasting notes, you'll be able to sip like a true connoisseur.

Edinburgh: Holyrood Distillery Whisky and Gin Guided Tour

7. Edinburgh: Holyrood Distillery Whisky and Gin Guided Tour

A modern distillery in the heart of historic Edinburgh, Holyrood Distillery is inspired by its surroundings, never afraid to experiment, and dedicated to shaping the spirit of tomorrow. Our guided experience allows you to discover how gin and whisky are created, as well as the traditions and innovative new methods in craft distilling. This is a hands-on sensory experience, taking in the sights of the gin and whisky distillery, with opportunities for tasting and nosing throughout. At the conclusion of the tour, you have the opportunity to purchase additional spirits to enjoy at your leisure, with a full introduction by a member of the distillery's passionate team.

Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

8. Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

Wander the opulent state rooms and lavish gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, His Majesty The King's official Scottish residence, located at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Once inside the baroque palace, learn about its close associations with Scotland's history via a complimentary multimedia guide (available in 9 languages). Visit the State Apartments to see the changing tastes of successive monarchs. Marvel at fine plasterwork ceilings and Brussels tapestries, along with paintings and other artworks in rooms still used by the King and Royal Family for official ceremonies. Go to the Throne Room to see where lunch was served to the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle when a new knight was installed. Discover where the King holds his private audiences in the Morning Drawing Room. Continue to the Great Gallery, where Scottish residents named in the New Year’s Honours List or Kings Birthday Honours List receive their award at an Investiture ceremony. Admire Jacob de Wet's portraits of real and legendary kings of Scotland in the Great Gallery, the largest room in the palace. Learn about dramatic events from Scotland’s history in Mary Queen of Scots' historic chambers, where she witnessed the brutal murder of her secretary, Rizzio, by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley. At the end of your multimedia tour, enjoy a refreshing drink or light lunch (own expense) at the Café at the Palace.

Edinburgh: Royal Attractions with Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

9. Edinburgh: Royal Attractions with Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

Make getting around Edinburgh's top sights easy with a 48-hour Royal Edinburgh hop-on, hop-off bus ticket. Dive into the history and culture of Scotland with access to Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Easy to use, the all-inclusive ticket is fantastic value if you want to go to Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the Royal Yacht Britannia. The ticket also includes 48-hour unlimited travel on three of Edinburgh's hop-on-hop-off bus tours; Edinburgh City Sightseeing, Edinburgh Tour, and Majestic Tour. Use the bus to reach the attractions, leaving the city behind and heading to the coast at Newhaven through Edinburgh’s New Town. With stops for the Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Yacht Britannia, it couldn’t be simpler. As the bus returns to the city center, you can jump off at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Canongate section of the Royal Mile to walk up to Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh: The Dark Side Walking Tour

10. Edinburgh: The Dark Side Walking Tour

Meet some of Edinburgh's most infamous characters on a guided, ghost-themed walking tour through the dark side of the city center. Learn about figures like Burke and Hare. Hear tales of witch burning, grave robbing, body snatching, and mysterious murders. Be greeted by your local guide on the Royal Mile, where plundered tombs, funeral pyres, and mass graves from thousands of years ago are concealed. Get goosebumps as the past is brought to life by your guide. Venture to gruesome burial sites such as the Canongate Kirkyard. Prepare to be spooked by spine-chilling tales of real-life cannibals and vampires as the true history of Edinburgh is recreated before your eyes. End your tour at the Whitefoord House mansion.  

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Frequently asked questions about Edinburgh

What top attractions are a must-see in Edinburgh?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Edinburgh?

The best day trips and excursions from Edinburgh are:

Loch Ness

Other Sightseeing Options in Edinburgh

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What people are saying about Edinburgh

As a family of 4 with 2 young children we did the Harry Potter walking tour and it was excellent. I was a little anxious making a 4 and 7 year old walk for 2 hours at 6pm but they absolutely loved it as did us grown ups. Kieran (the guide) was brilliant, really engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He did a quiz throughout which everyone enjoyed taking part in and had loads of fun and interesting facts. I would highly recommend!

The whole experience from the start of the journey to the end was fantastically rewarding and worth spending every penny. This was all possible not just because of the natural beauty but our undoubtedly the best tour guide so far Paul and our bus driver Adam. Paul is a jolly person with great humour and his passion for Scottish history and The landscapes were mesmerising and the history attached made it more intriguingly beautiful

Our guide was Mason and he was absolutely amazing!! Very personable and made the whole experience engaging and fun. We loved his knowledge not only on the Harry Potter material but also of the city itself. We would recommend this to any Potter fan and hopefully they get Mason as their guide.

It was a wonderful experience, make sure you feed the famous celebrity cows!

Amazing Place, Special kudos to Guide David and John.