Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh (must see)

Edinburgh Castle, presiding over Edinburgh since the 12th century, is the second most visited attraction in the United Kingdom, after the Tower of London. The history of Scotland is deeply etched into its ancient stones.

The castle stands on top of the Castle Rock, the basalt ventilation pipe of an extinct volcano eroded by glaciers. People have inhabited this area since the 9th century BC. The first castle on the site was constructed by King David I of Scotland, and had remained a royal residence until 1603.

As a fortress, it was virtually impregnable, except for one major drawback: the basalt rock on which it stood didn't hold water, so a 28-meter well quickly dried out during droughts or long sieges, leaving the denizens either to surrender or die of thirst.

The first castle was largely destroyed during the Lang Siege in 1573; the only remainder from that 12th century structure still standing is Saint Margaret’s Chapel. In the 17th century it became a military base, with the garrison quartered there until the 1920s.

Presently, the castle houses the Scottish National War Memorial, the National War Museum of Scotland and several smaller regimental museums. It is also home to the One O’Clock Gun, which is fired six days a week at precisely 1 PM, and the city’s clocks are set by it.

In the Crown Room, you will see the Royal Scottish Crown, Scepter and Sword of State, with actors in period costume re-enacting important events of the castle’s history. In August, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place on the castle’s esplanade. In the north-east corner of the esplanade is a small iron fountain, called the Witches’ Well. It marks the spot where, in the past, many women were burned at the stake for witchcraft.

Why You Should Visit:
The views from the castle are some of the best in Scotland, and the walk up visiting all the little places herein makes it a really good experience.

Tip:
The entry is cheaper if you book online, and more importantly, it allows to avoid the often long line.
Take a free guided tour – available every hour. Otherwise, consider audio guide at £3, quite useful.
Being at the top of the mountain, it may get windy, so definitely bring layers if visiting in cold weather.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Edinburgh. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Edinburgh Castle on Map

Sight Name: Edinburgh Castle
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (See walking tours in Edinburgh)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Create Your Own Walk in Edinburgh

Creating your own self-guided walk in Edinburgh is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Famous Squares and Streets Walking Tour

Being in Edinburgh, it is only natural to be curious about the avenues, boulevards, and streets leading to (or stemming from) the city's picturesque squares. There, you can find a copious amount of historic and religious sites, fashion stores, classy restaurants, and marketplaces, not to mention some hidden gems, exploring which is well worth the time spent.

One of Edinburgh's most...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Literary Landmarks Tour

Literary Landmarks Tour

For centuries, Edinburgh has been home to numerous writers. The likes of Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and JK Rowling, just to name a few, have given pride to this city. Fortunately, the tradition doesn't seem to die out any time soon, as Edinburgh keeps producing more and more authors and literary heroes in whose footsteps people still wish to tread.

Naturally, there is a wealth...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

The historical center of Edinburgh, popularly known as the Old Town, is indeed the oldest part of the Scottish capital. Most of the buildings here, made of stone and characterized by numerous tall windows, have been around since the Middle Ages and are covered with soot, left over from the days long gone, when houses were heated with hard-coal and wood. Hence the prevailing gray color in the area....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
New Town Walking Tour

New Town Walking Tour

Rightly regarded as the historic masterpiece of city planning, the New Town of Edinburgh has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. The area forms a significant part of the Scottish capital and is known for its elegant Georgian architecture, abundant shopping opportunities, and many other delights firmly associated with this city.

One of the prominent landmarks in the New Town is...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Harry Potter Trail

Harry Potter Trail

Years after the release of the last Harry Potter book and movie, the cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter doesn't seem to fade away and the fandom continues strong as ever. Although by now Harry Potter has become a household name across the globe, the fact that J.K. Rowling penned some of the world's favorite wizarding stories in Scotland's capital, where she still lives now, makes...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Royal Mile Walking Tour

Royal Mile Walking Tour

The Royal Mile, a steep thoroughfare in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, is one of the city's busiest tourist destinations. It runs down a slope, from the famed Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace and the ruined Holyrood Abbey, for almost exactly a mile and thus got its name, coined in 1920. The succession of streets forming the Royal Mile is lined with numerous shops, pubs,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


19 Best Pubs in New Town, Edinburgh

19 Best Pubs in New Town, Edinburgh

A guide to the pubs that make up the area that is called Edinburgh's New Town. A description about what you can expect from each of the locations in the directory. A fantastic directory if you are a tourist or even a...
Scottish Souvenirs: 15 Authentic Scottish Things to Buy in Edinburgh

Scottish Souvenirs: 15 Authentic Scottish Things to Buy in Edinburgh

The popularity of Scotland stretches far beyond its geographical borders, fueled, in large part, by Hollywood's interest in the Scottish theme - Sean Connery (as James Bond), "Braveheart", etc. Indeed, the cultural spectrum of this part of Britain is enormous and comprises great...
Top 12 Pubs On and Around Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Top 12 Pubs On and Around Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a vibrant city with abundant nightlife and no shortage of places to go after dusk. The Royal Mile alone, in the very heart of Edinburgh, is laden with character spots craving to be discovered by the first time visitors to the city. This is the highlight of some of the most notable bars...