The historic heart of Edinburgh, UNESCO-listed Old Town, is home to the city’s most visited sights. Its central artery is the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and is lined with top attractions including St. Giles Cathedral, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and the Scottish Parliament Building.
Explore Edinburgh Castle on a time-saving skip-the-line walking tour or delve into the history of this iconic fortress on a private tour. See the room where the macabre 15th-century Black Dinner took place; admire the Stone of Destiny; take a photo with the massive Mons Meg cannon; visit the room where Queen Mary gave birth to King James IV; and find mysterious graffiti left behind by prisoners of war.
Many Edinburgh city tours also include a visit to the castle, whether you want to explore by private mini-bus, vintage taxicab, or on a hop-on hop-off bus tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Edinburgh Castle is a must-see for history buffs and first-time visitors to the city.
- It’s possible to spend anywhere from two hours to a full day exploring the castle.
- Visitors are subject to bag searches, and storage is not available for large personal items such as backpacks, luggage, and strollers.
- Photographs are not allowed inside the Scottish National War Memorial or the Scottish Crown Jewel exhibit.
- Parts of the castle may not be accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Edinburgh Castle is located atop a hill in the Old Town. Parking is difficult in this part of Edinburgh, so the easiest way to get there is on foot from the Royal Mile, by public transport, or on a guided tour. The city’s primary train and bus terminal (Edinburgh Waverley) is within walking distance of the castle.
When to Get There
The castle is open year-round and is busiest in summer. Arrive early to avoid crowds and plan to visit the Crown Jewels first, as lines form quickly and can take over an hour to get through. Afternoon visitors can enjoy the daily firing of the “one-o’clock gun,” while August travelers can sometimes see the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performing just outside the castle walls.
Best Photo Spots in Edinburgh Castle
The castle’s sweeping Old Town city views are no coincidence—its hilltop position was carefully chosen to protect the city. For great views and equally great photographs, head to the windows near the row of cannons along Half Moon Battery, the grated overlooks across from the military prison, or St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving part of the castle.
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As well as visiting the Edinburgh Castle, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: