When you think Edinburgh, you might quickly conjure up images of grassy hills, rowdy pubs, a sea of tartan – but this ancient city has so much more to offer. Take a walk down Old Town’s Royal Mile and you’ll find yourself face to face with the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Explore the nearby seaside and you’re likely to stumble upon the Royal Yacht Britannia. And if you’re visiting Holyroodhouse Palace, you might all of a sudden fancy a wander up the adjacent Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill for some magnificent Scottish views. And come festival season in August, expect the city to be alive with libations as Edinburgh celebrates the much loved total annual Military Tatto, the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festival.

Things to do in Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat, located in the verdant Holyrood Park, affords one of the best views of the city. Standing 800 feet above sea level, Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in the park, providing panoramic views of the sea and nearby sites, including attractions like Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument. If you’re thinking how Arthur’s Seat got its name, chances are you may never get a clear answer. Story has it that it was the site for Camelot while others claim William Maitland, a Scottish politician, believed the name was derived from Ard-na-Said, a Gallic phrase meaning ” height of narrows. ” The attraction was also a former volcano. Trails are accessible off of Queen’s Drive near Holyroodhouse Palace, which is located at the base of Arthur’s Seat.

Some recent travelers mention the hike was a bit more strenuous than they thought it would be. Visitors not prone to regular walking might find it difficult. Keep in mind that the journey to Arthur’s Seat is all uphill, so make sure to wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes and bring water. Once you reach the top, many travelers say you’ll find the 360- degree views worth any sweat you might’ve worked up. Arthur’s Seat is free to access.

Calton Hill

If you’re like the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, you might enjoy the view from Calton Hill; this spot was a favorite of his. One of the most popular vantage points for photo ops (and included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site variation ), Calton Hill affords a majestic panorama of the city below – so don’t forget to bring your camera, or make sure your phone is charged. Located east of New Town, Calton Hill is one of the country’s first public parks, founded in 1724. Today, the hill supports several iconic buildings and monuments, so much so that it has been nicknamed the Athens of the North. Some of these structures include the Burns up Monument, erected in honor of Scottish writer Robert Burns up, the Nelson Monument, designed by Robert Burns up, and the National Monument, modeled after the Parthenon but given the name “Edinburgh’s Disgrace” for never having been completed.

Recent travelers adored Calton Hill for its beautiful views, peaceful surroundings and relatively easy hike to the top. With Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle and the sea in sight, some visitors say the best time to go is during sunset or sunrise. Calton Hill is less than a mile from the Royal Mile and less than a half-mile from Edinburgh Waverly train station.

National Museum of Scotland

If Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia and Holyroodhouse Palace don’t quench your thirst for some Scottish history, take a trip to the National Museum of Scotland. The museum houses a whopping 20, 000 historical artifacts spread out through its numerous, diverse galleries. Here, visitors will find exhibits dedicated to art and design, the natural world (which features a huge T. rex skeleton), history, archaeology and world cultures. And don’t leave without visiting the Dolly the sheep display (named after Dolly Parton), the first mammal to ever be cloned from an adult cell.

Recent visitors said this is a great place for a family outing, and can easily be loved by all ages. Children especially loved the taxidermied animals in the Natural World galleries and individuals appreciated the free admittance. Keep in mind this museum is big, so if you’re on a time crunch (visitors reported spending a few hours here), map out what you’d like to see before your visit.

Admission to this museum is free. The museum is open daily from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m., with abbreviated hours on holidays. The National Museum of Scotland can be easily reached on foot if you’re in Old Town. The attraction less than a half-mile south from Camera Obscura & World of Illusions and Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle

Hoisted high atop Edinburgh, almost as if it’s monitoring its city below, Edinburgh Castle is not only one of Scotland’s most recognized landmarks, but one of the country’s most-visited attractions. Not only has the castle housed various royals throughout history, but also once housed armed service prisoners and was the site of a back-and-forth capture with the English. Inside its stone walls (which survived a World War I bombing), some of the attractions available for visitors to view are the Honours (or crown jewels) of Scotland, St . Margaret’s Chapel (Edinburgh’s oldest building), Mons Meg (considered one of the greatest guns in medieval Europe ), the National War Museum, The Great Hall and the vaults that once held prisoners of war (located under the Great Hall).

Some travelers express disappointment in the castle’s high price of admission but that grievance was quickly followed up with a strong recommendation to visit this attraction. Visitors loved learning about the castle’s history , loved the attraction and exploring the grounds ‘s expansive views of the city. Some suggested springing for an audio guide or tour while others urged planning your visit around 1 p. m. Monday through Saturdays, when guns are fired on the premises, a tradition that harks back to the 19th century.

Edinburgh Castle starts at 9: 30 a. m. daily and closes at 6 p. m. from Apr 1 to Sept 30 with 5 p. m. from Oct 1 to March 31. Entrance costs 16. 50 pounds for people (about $24) and 9. 90 pounds for children (about $14. 40). You’ll find Edinburgh Castle by the end of the Royal Mile.