Edinburgh is an award-winning visitor destination and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with a unique atmosphere, charm and originality where stunning cultural heritage fuses with the best of modern, dynamic city life.

If you have some time to spare during your stay have a look at our list of top 10 visitor attractions below and if you want to step back in time, and don’t mind a surprise or two, we recommend one of the night-time ghost tours.

1. Edinburgh Castle

Situated at the top of the Royal Mile on top of Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle is the number one visitor attraction in Scotland and the most iconic building in the city.

Perched on top of an extinct volcano, the Castle and its Esplanade offers unparalleled views of Edinburgh. Once inside you can explore some of the oldest and most important buildings of the city, including St Margaret’s Chapel, The National War Memorial and the Half Moon Battery. The regal Crown Square is a highlight, where you will find the magnificent Grand Hall and Scotland’s Crown Jewels – including the famous Stone of Destiny.

2. Edinburgh Zoo

A fantastic day out, Edinburgh Zoo is only a short bus ride from the city centre and home to over 1,000 fabulous animals, including the UK’s only giant pandas. The Zoo is situated in beautiful parkland settings and includes fabulous flamingos, cute koalas and cheeky chimpanzees.

3. The Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close is buried deep beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. The city’s deepest secret; a warren of hidden streets that has remained frozen in time since the 17th Century. Come and hear these enthralling stories on a tour of Mary King’s Close, found tucked away just off the Royal Mile. The guides will give you a fascinating insight and tell some of the more fascinating tales woven into this hidden part of the city…

4. Our Dynamic Earth

Get thrust back in time to the very beginnings of our universe, and witness first-hand the big bang and the very first moments of our galaxy and solar system. Make your way back to the present day through volcanic explosions, landscape-forming glaciers and the evolution of our life on Earth.

5. The Edinburgh Dungeon

Uncover Edinburgh’s grisly history at The Edinburgh Dungeon – if you dare! Laugh and scream your way through this fantastic visitor attraction, where you’ll come face to face with Scotland’s ravenous cannibals, discover the secrets of the Green Lady and have a close encounter with Edinburgh’s infamous killer duo Burke and Hare

6. Camera Obscura

The oldest visitor attraction in Edinburgh, delighting visitors since 1835. Don’t miss this Aladdin’s cave filled with illusions, tricks, puzzles, hands-on experiences and unbelievable effects to experience and interact with.

7. National Museum of Scotland

Enter this grand building to discover the delights of the natural world, explore world cultures and enthuse at treasures from around the world. Featuring a diverse range of art and design exhibits, interactive displays and games, a visit to the National Museum of Scotland will appeal to all ages.

8. National Galleries of Scotland

Edinburgh is home to three of the National Galleries of Scotland: the National Gallery on the Mound, the Portrait Gallery on Queen Street and the Gallery of Modern Art on Belford Road. Offering a mixture of permanent art collections and exciting visiting exhibitions, a visit to the galleries is a great day out for art lovers.

9. The Scott Monument

The largest monument to a writer in the world commemorating the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott. Built in the 19th century, it is one of the most striking landmarks in the Edinburgh city skyline. Climb the 287 steps to the top and enjoy breath-taking views of Edinburgh and the surrounding countryside.

10. Palace of Holyrood House

The Palace of Holyrood House is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Every year, around the end of June, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stay here and participate in official engagements in the city and beyond.

Various areas of the Palace are open for public viewing, where visitors can trace historical links through time and learn about its legendary former inhabitants. Have a look at the State Apartments, including the Throne Room and the Morning Drawing Room, where The Queen gives private audiences to the likes of the First Minister of Scotland and the Lord High Commissioner.

You can also take a look at Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers, where she resided after her return from France in 1561, which offers a fascinating insight into how our monarchs lived during that time.