1. Edinburgh Castle
The history of Edinburgh and Scotland combine at Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the city’s skyline. The castle is still a military barracks and home to the Scottish crown jewels. See the Great Hall, which was completed in 1511 and used as Scotland’s main place of state assembly, take a free guided tour, or visit National War Museum Scotland – housed in the castle. Other museums include the Prisons of War exhibition which recalls the conditions of 18th century captives, the rooms of the Royal Palace and the Regimental Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
2. The Royal Yacht Britannia
Launched in 1953, the Royal Yacht Britannia proudly served Queen and country for 44 years. During that time Britannia carried the Queen and the Royal Family on 968 official voyages, from the remotest regions of the South Seas to the deepest divides of Antarctica. Britannia is now permanently moored in Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith and visitors can discover what life on board the ship was like for the Royal Family and crew.
3. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh was Britain’s first collection devoted solely to 20th century painting and sculpture. The display space is divided between temporary exhibitions and selections from the gallery’s own holdings, including Post-Impressionists, Fauves, German Expressionism, Cubism and Pop Art. There is also a good collection of work by the Scottish Colourists. Facilities include a shop and restaurant.
4. The Old Town and Royal Mile
The Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town links the castle to Holyrood Palace, and is dividedinto four separate streets – Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street andCanongate. Branching out in a herringbone pattern, are aseries of tightly packed closes and steep lanes entered via archwaysknow as ‘pends.’ Great for shops, restaurants and bars, this is one of the Edinburgh’s most evocative areas, and one that rewards a bit of detailed exploration!
5. The Museum of Scotland
The Museum of Scotland tells the story of Scotland, its people and culture. Collections include nature, art, culture and science. See how Scotland was transformed following the Act of Union in 1707, and explore Scottish society at the time of the Enlightenment. Follow life in 19th century Scotland as it is shaped by industrial development, and the consequences of exporting Scottish made products all over the British Empire and throughout the world.
6. Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park is a unique historic landscape in the heart of Edinburgh, whose dramatic crags and hills give the city its distinctive skyline. Within the Park is a wealth of history and archaeology spanning thousands of years. As well as its rich cultural heritage, the Park offers walks, solace, wildlife, volcanic geology and unparalleled vistas of the city from its many vantage points. There is an exhibition on the park and its history in Holyrood Lodge Information Centre.
7. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery provides a unique visual history told through the portraits of those who shaped the country. It explores the lives of Scots who have inspired and changed the world – royals and rebels, poets and philosophers, heroes and villains. Exhibitions throughout the year explore people, artists and heritage, or showcase the work of major portrait artists and photographers. There’s also a shop, and a cafe serving light meals and refreshments.
8. The Palace of Holyrood House
Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace is closely associated with Scotland’s turbulent past, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made the Palace of Holyroodhouse the premier royal residence in Scotland. Today, the Palace is the setting for State ceremonies and official entertaining.
9. Our Dynamic Earth
Our Dynamic Earth takes you on a journey through our planet’s past, present and future, with interactive exhibits and technology. Travel from frozen tundra to the ocean floor, feel the heat of a tropical rain forest and witness the Big Bang! Take a helicopter flight across Scotland’s landscape, come face to face with a dinosaur and go time travelling into our distant and unknown future. Facilities include the Natural Selection Gift Shop, the Food Chain Cafe and the Ocean Commotion Soft Play Area.
10. The Cafe Royal Circle Bar
Founded as a bar and restaurant in 1817, the Cafe Royal Circle Bar moved to its present premises in the heyday of Victorian building. An ornate bar with leather seats offers a carefully chosen menu. In the restaurant there is fresh fish, shellfish and game, served amidst highly decorative surroundings featuring exotic plasterwork, mahogany panelling and the famed Doulton Murals. A typical dish could be collops of wild Highland venison with a bitter chocolate and red wine jus.