Edinburgh mesmerizes, transfixes and seduces visitors with it exhilarating atmosphere and scenic beauty. The capital is intimately entwined with the surrounding natural landscape, with buildings topping the rocky hills perched over the sea and monuments overshadowed by stunning cliffs. The city is one of high culture, literature, art, science and philosophy. It is also a city of crowded pubs, late-night drinks and foul-mouthed comedians, of bonfires and pillared monuments and cobblestoned streets. All this and more makes Edinburgh one of the most endlessly intriguing places in Europe and a premier destination for travelers.
The iconic Edinburgh Castle has played a pivotal role in the country’s history since it was built in the 12th century, serving as both a royal residence and a military stronghold. Today it is one of the most popular and atmospheric sights in Scotland, visited by millions of people each year. The Entrance Gateway is protected with statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and opens to a cobbled lane that leads visitors past many highlights on Castle Rock, including St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Scottish National War Memorial, the 16th-century Great Hall and the Royal Palace, where the continent’s oldest surviving crown jewels are displayed.
The castle sits on Edinburgh’s oldest street, the Royal Mile. The historic road is home to many of the capital’s most interesting sights, including the Scotch Whisky Heritage Center, Assembly Hall, Parliament House, City Chambers, Museum of Childhood and the Camera Obscura and Outlook Tower. Other sights on the Royal Mile include the Writers’ Museum at Lady Stair’s House, the Monument to King Charles II, the 15th-century Brass Rubbing Center and the Canongate Tollbooth, which houses a museum dedicated to everyday life in Edinburgh throughout history.
The National Museum of Scotland provides good background information for visitors to better understand the city and country. The extensive collection is split between one modern and one Victorian building, and both are equally impressive. The golden stone modern building opened in 1998 and contains five floors that trace the story of Scotland from prehistory through the 1990s. The exhibits are stimulating and imaginative, and the rooftop terrace offers extraordinary views of Edinburgh Castle.
The other half of the complex is the Victorian-era Royal Museum. Constructed in 1861, the building’s imposing grey exterior gives way to a bright and airy interior with a beautiful glass-roofed hall. The eclectic collection includes exhibits on scientific and industrial technology, natural history, the decorative arts and archaeology.
For more than two centuries, the Royal Botanic Garden has delighted strolling visitors and locals. The grand Victorian greenhouses contains a huge range of plants, including orchids, rainforest species, orchids and more, all arranged according to themes. The Plants and People Greenhouse, for instance, is packed with water lilies, cocoa, rice and sugar plants. The outdoor gardens are equally lovely, and art installations are set up on the grounds throughout the year. Children will especially enjoy the pond, home to many swans and ducks, and the rock garden’s enchanting waterfall.
Other notable sights in the Scottish capital include the tartan-stacked Edinburgh Old Town Weaving Co, the Police Information Center, the Scottish Storytelling Center, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the geological museum Our Dynamic Earth and the WWI-era War Poets Collection.
Edinburgh Geographical Location
Facing the North Sea, Edinburgh is located toward the southeastern corner of Scotland. It is Scotland’s second largest city with a population of approximately 500,000.
English is the official language of Scotland although it is a Scottish dialect that is used. Scottish Gaelic is also spoken within a small percentage of inhabitants as well as Scots being an accepted regional language.
Edinburgh Predominant Religion
- 42% Church of Scotland
- 33% None
- 16% Roman Catholic
- 7% Other Christian
- 1% Other
- 1% Muslim
The Church of Scotland is the predominant religion of Scotland and is lawfully the national church while still being independent of state control.
The British Pound Sterling is the official currency of Scotland.
Edinburgh is usually cool throughout the year with rain expected for approximately half of it. The temperatures do not vary by much during winter and summer.
Edinburgh Main Attractions
- Edinburgh Castle
- Royal Yacht Britannia
- Arthur’s Seat
Other Attraction in Edinburgh
- Royal Botanic Garden
- Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
- National Museum of Scotland
- Royal Mile