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Things to do in Edinburgh

While Edinburgh has a number of sights to see much of the appeal of the city is simply soaking up the atmosphere of the Old Town, with its shadowy alleyways that make it possible to imagine what life was like in medieval Scotland, and the New Town, with its orderly Georgian elegance. Travelers in search of Scottish goods—tartan scarves, ties, and, of course, kilts and skirts; wool sweaters; smoked salmon—will find the country's best selection here. Princes Street and George Street will satisfy most shoppers. Don't forget to leave time to soak up the atmosphere at a local pub in the evening. Some sights not to be missed:

National Museum of Scotland. Eclectic exhibitions range from woolly mammoths to the lives of Scottish Enlightenment figures.

Scottish Parliament. One-hour tours are free but should be booked in advance.

Princes' Street. Come here for shopping and the views of Edinburgh Castle.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 30,000 works include Scottish icons like Mary, Queen of Scots and Robert Burns, as well as 6,000 photographs of contemporary figures.

Calton Hill. Climb to its peak to take in the 19th-century monuments and city views.

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  • Cadenhead's Whiskey Shop

    Established in 1842, this bottler deals in fine aged single-cask whiskey from distilleries like Banff, Glenlivet Minmore, and Royal Brackla; the na... More
  • Demijohn

    Behind a narrow red storefront on Victoria Street, this self-proclaimed “liquid deli” is a cross between a liquor store and an old-fashioned apothe... More
  • Dragonfly Cocktail Bar

    In a funky chandeliered lounge known for the Adidas sneaker collection displayed above the bar, sip an Ape Expectations (local Monkey Shoulder Whis... More
  • Eastern Mini

    Rent a Mini Cooper S—a sporty classic that hugs the winding Scottish roads nicely. More
  • Fruitmarket Gallery

    The hottest contemporary-arts gallery in the city once housed a 1938 produce market; now displayed are the works of Scottish artists like Christine... More
  • Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers and Weavers

    Browse bolts of house-woven tartans or pick up one of the leather pouches that adorn traditional men's dress. Downstairs at 21st Century Kilts, the... More
  • Hillary Rohde

    Top fashion houses commission Rohde's cashmere handiwork. The designer, who only works with the finest yarns from Scotland in her town-house atelie... More
  • Joseph Bonnar Jewelers

    The glass cases in this boutique are stocked with notable estate pieces like vintage square-cut emerald necklaces and antique gentlemen's pocketkni... More
  • Leith Festival

    A 10-day celebration of film, theater, and food that takes place along the Edinburgh harbor. More
  • Lulu, Edinburgh

    Edinburgh's most glamorous set congregates at the city's buzziest club under the Tigerlily Hotel. The black-and-rose wallpaper is embedded with Swa... More
  • New Town

    This Edinburgh neighborhood is dominated by Georgian architecture and lined with cafés and boutiques. More
  • North Bridge Brasserie

    Formerly the reception room of the Scotsman, one of the country's national newspapers, this galleried, oak-paneled space is now a civilized hotel b... More
  • Oxford Bar

    Salty locals haunt this no-frills establishment with long literary traditions; it's favored by writers and is featured in native Ian Rankin's Inspe... More
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse

    Every summer, en route to Balmoral from Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II stops at this spectacular, if lesser-known, 16th-century royal reside... More
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

    Since 1670, when it was established for cultivating medicinal plants, the gardens have been an exemplar of botanical conservation. On the immaculat... More

Explore things to do in Scotland for more options.


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