Things to do in
Holyrood Palace

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Holyrood Palace: Our most recommended tours and activities

City Sightseeing Edinburgh: 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

1. City Sightseeing Edinburgh: 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Tour Edinburgh to your own schedule on the open-top sightseeing bus, and enjoy the onboard commentary that describes the history behind the lively city. Compare Edinburgh's Old Town, where families lived in cramped conditions and rubbish was thrown out of the windows, to the elegant Georgian New Town, with its 3 main streets and square at either end. Hear about the hangings that took place in the Grassmarket as you marvel at the impenetrable Castle Rock above you, and hear about historic attempts to capture Edinburgh Castle. Drive along the Royal Mile, which joins Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Use the 24-hour ticket to hop on and off as you please. With great visitor attractions, museums, galleries, and restaurants to suit every taste and budget, Edinburgh's got it all! Buses run every 30 minutes, making the following loop: Tour Stops: 1. St Andrew Square - Northside 2. Lothian Road - Waldorf Astoria 3. Grassmarket 4. Lauriston Place 5. Johnstone Terrace - Edinburgh Castle, The Scottish Whiskey Experience 6. Lawnmarket - Gladstone's End, The Real Mary King's Close 7. Chambers Street - National Museum of Scotland 8. St Mary's Street West 9. Canongate - John Knox House 10. Royal Mile - Scottish Parliament, Palace of Holyrood House 11. Dynamic Earth 12. Regent Road - Burns Monument

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Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

2. Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

Wander the opulent state rooms and lavish gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Her Majesty The Queen’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 Queen 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 Queen holds her private audiences in the Morning Drawing Room. Continue to the Great Gallery, where Scottish residents named in the New Year’s Honours List or Queen's 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.

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

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

Experience stunning city views and natural vistas with this 48-hour Royal Edinburgh Ticket, and learn Edinburgh's history and culture as your tour. 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. A multi-language audio commentary in English, Gaelic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian is available on board.

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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 tour ticket. Tour for 24 or 48 hours, to 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

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Edinburgh: City Highlights Self-Guided Smartphone Tour

5. Edinburgh: City Highlights Self-Guided Smartphone Tour

Make the most of your time in Edinburgh with a smartphone tour. Take advantage of the unique navigation function which suggests plenty of walking routes to explore. Tune into the audio commentary to hear about tourist hotspots. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of the city, as you approach iconic landmarks. View the imposing Edinburgh Castle perched on Castle Rock. Admire the palace where the Queen spends a week every summer at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Marvel at the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of the British monarchy. Head to the Scott Monument, a Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to the author Sir Walter Scott.  Have the freedom to start or stop the tour whenever you wish. Pinpoint your favorite sights and source the best photo hotspots.

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Edinburgh: The Royal City Tour from London

6. Edinburgh: The Royal City Tour from London

Edinburgh The train from London's King Cross Station arrives at the Royal City of Edinburgh at around 11.30am. Right by the station you board the open-top sightseeing bus where you'll get a bird's-eye view of this majestic city! The hop-on hop-off ticket allows you the freedom to leave and re-join the bus as often as you like. You will see the Old Town quarter, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, the gloriously intricate Scott Monument, the Palace of Holyrood House and the brand new Scottish Parliament building. You might want to wander through the cobbled city centre streets or stroll along Princes Street checking out the tartan, whisky and shortbreads that have made Scotland famous! Your tour includes tickets to Edinburgh Castle. The train back to London leaves Edinburgh in the late afternoon returning to London's King's Cross at around 10:30pm.

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Edinburgh Queen's Gallery Entrance Ticket

7. Edinburgh Queen's Gallery Entrance Ticket

Join the thousands that have discovered the rich splendor of the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse since it was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 29 November 2002 as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations. Part of the Palace of Holyroodhouse complex, the art gallery hosts an ever-changing roster of exhibitions. Take the chance to view some of the greatest works from the Royal Collection, with pieces by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, and Artemisia Gentileschi borrowed from the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace in this show.

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Historic Royal Mile Private Walking Tour

8. Historic Royal Mile Private Walking Tour

Why not join a breathtaking walk down Edinburgh's Royal Mile? The tour will take you on an entertaining journey of discovery along one of the world's most famous streets.  Every step has a story to tell. On the way, you'll learn some of the secrets that lie behind its historic buildings - and under your feet. You can also look at locations attached to the Outlander Book/TV series (Claire & Jamie). So why not embark on a journey through time down a street that's felt the footsteps of both royalty and commoner alike, and where legends abound.

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Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse and Old Town Walking Tour

9. Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse and Old Town Walking Tour

Tread the route of royals, past and present – and let your expert guide unlock the history of this ancient seat of power. Discover the hidden history of the Canongate, and the glorious Palace of Holyroodhouse. Discover an approach to the palace that escapes the notice of history books and bus tours. As you walk down the quiet closes of the Canongate your expert guide will show you a different side of the royal city – in rich, engaging detail. Here, rebellious Jacobites clattered over the cobbles, led by a proud Bonnie Prince Charlie. And Deacon Brodie led his dual life as locksmith and thief, immortalised by Robert Louis Stevenson. In the hands of your gifted storyteller, you’ll find that romance and intrigue are everywhere – in the architecture, literature, crime and politics, on the very doorstep of the Queen’s Palace. After the Canongate, your guide will introduce the glorious Palace of Holyroodhouse – which you’ll explore in your own time. You’ll find 14 magnificent state apartments, as well as the romantic ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey. The palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in the short reign of Mary, Queen of Scots – and Her Majesty The Queen still makes use of the State Apartments for royal ceremonies.

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Edinburgh: Full-Day City Center Shore Excursion

10. Edinburgh: Full-Day City Center Shore Excursion

Discover the sights of Edinburgh on a full-day shore excursion, departing from Edinburgh. Take a round-trip tour of the city center, and continue onto the Royal Mile to visit historic Edinburgh Castle, named the UK’s best heritage attraction in 2014. Learn all about its history, and see the famous Stone of Destiny; the traditional crowning seat of the ancient Scottish monarchs. Then, enjoy some free time for refreshments and to explore Castlehill, the city’s oldest street. Discover one of the many atmospheric “closes” or alleys running off the back-bone of the Royal Mile. See attractions such as St. Giles Cathedral and the Scottish Parliament building. Next, visit the Palace of Holyrood House, the official Scottish residence of the Royal Family. Learn the history of the baroque palace, best known as the home of Mary Queen of Scots. Finally, visit Duddingston Loch in Holyrood Park. Dates and Ship Names: • May 9 - Norwegian Star • May 13 - Regal Princess • May 18 - Regal Princess • May 22 - Norwegian Star • May 25 - Regal Princess • June 1 - Norwegian Jade • June 3 - Norwegian Star • June 6 - Regal Princess • June 18 - Regal Princess • June 30 - Regal Princess • July 6 - Nautica • July 12 - Regal Princess • July 18 - Brilliance of the Seas • July 24 - Regal Princess • July 29 - Norwegian Star • July 30 - Marina • August 5 - Regal Princess • August 12 - Norwegian Star • August 17 - Regal Princess • August 26 - Norwegian Star • August 29 - Regal Princess • September 6 - Norwegian Star • September 10 - Regal Princess • September 16 - Sirena • September 18 - Norwegian Star • September 22 - Regal Princess • October 4 - Regal Princess

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Other Sightseeing Options in Holyrood Palace

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What people are saying about Holyrood Palace

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 5,208 reviews

Doug provided a great summary of the process of distillery, aging and distribution of whiskies. Then we enjoyed a "flight" of 4 whiskies at one historic bar in Old Town, then moved on to another lovely bar to try a couple more whiskies (more aged...21 and 34 years old). Explanations, ratings and methods of tasting.... All in all, a wonderful, entertaining, educational and tasty experience!

Lovely palace and grounds. Very friendly and informative staff. The audio help was fantastic. Thoroughly enjoyed our time in the palace, gallery, grounds, gift shop and cafe. Very reasonably priced. Would recommend.

An interesting, complete narrative for a fantastic city. Saw parts of the city never seen or explored before. The tour guide was great, knowledgeable and charming.

Excellent service. Always on time. Friendly drivers and guides. Good information. Made getting around easy and comfortable.

Fab bus tour that can get you all around the city with history learning as well.