20 unique reasons to visit Edinburgh now

Wondering if Edinburgh is worth visiting? Let me convince you! Here are 20 unique reasons to visit Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

One of the best places in Scotland has to be Edinburgh.

You probably know Edinburgh for its bagpipers, festivals, and its castle, which is built on a 700-year-old volcano. But more than that, Edinburgh is known worldwide for being one of the most beautiful and walkable cities in the world.

Need more convincing?

Here are the best reasons to visit Edinburgh.

Read next: How to spend a day in Edinburgh

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20 best reasons to visit Edinburgh

1. Edinburgh Castle is located on a volcano

Edinburgh Castle is not just any castle.

It’s built on top of a 700-year old extinct volcano. Add to that, it’s one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.

Inside the castle, you can see historic gems from the Crown Jewels to the Stone of Destiny. And of course, there’s also a scary dungeon where they used to lock up prisoners.

a day in Edinburgh Itinerary
The castle rock

2. Arthur’s Seat is also a volcano

Arthur’s Seat is a dormant volcano and majestic hill in Holyrood Park.

Legend has it that Arthur’s Seat got its name from the famous King Arthur.

Some believe this spot was the actual location of Camelot, while others suggest the name was given after King Arthur and his knights had won several epic battles across Scotland and northern England.

3. The Edinburgh Festivals are world famous

Edinburgh Festivals in the month of August is known as the world’s largest arts festival that fills the city with creativity and cultural diversity.

With performers and visitors from all over the world, this is the perfect time to visit the Scottish capital and experience theatre, comedy, dance, and music.

I visited during and after the festival and it was really fun to experience the city during. Make sure to visit the Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Festival Fringe if you go – it’s amazing!

Edinburgh Festivals, Scotland
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

4. Edinburgh’s Christmas markets

From the end of November until early January, the air is filled with the delicious smell of gingerbread as the Edinburgh Christmas Market sets up camp.

It’s located at East Princes Street Gardens in the Mound Precinct and along George Street in New Town. It’s popular, so expect crowds.

5. Bagpipers

Nowhere else in the world can you see bagpipers on the streets. And they’re not just a musical instrument here; they’re an iconic symbol of Scotland.

So, if you’re into music or want to experience culture or just something different, hearing bagpipes live on the streets of Edinburgh is a pretty good reason to visit.

Edinburgh, Scotland
This is Shonagh – the only female bagpiper I saw

6. Two UNESCO World Heritage areas

Edinburgh is one of the few cities in the world that has two distinct areas (the Old Town and the New Town) recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Old Town has its medieval charm with historic buildings and the famous Royal Mile’s narrow lanes. The New Town, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, features wide streets lined with Georgian architecture and plentiful public gardens.

The fact that these two totally different areas exist side by side is one of the things that make Edinburgh stand out.

It’s like seeing two different periods in history right next to each other, and it really shows off the city’s rich cultural past.

Edinburgh, Scotland

7. Harry Potter was born here

Did you know that Edinburgh is the birthplace of Harry Potter?

J.K. Rowling wrote many of the books in Edinburgh’s cafes, The Elephant House and Nicholson’s, and you can visit places that inspired locations in the books.

For instance, Edinburgh’s Old Town inspired Diagon Alley, while George Heriot’s School resembles Hogwarts. Thomas Riddell’s gravestone in Greyfriars Kirkyard is linked to the villain Tom Riddle.

These connections make Edinburgh a must-visit for Harry Potter fans.

8. Camera Obscura

Along the Royal Mile, you’ll find Camera Obscura.

Here, you can visit a place full of interesting optical illusions and engaging exhibits that challenge how you see things.

Make sure to head to the rooftop where there’s an amazing view of the city.

Edinburgh, Scotland

9. Dolly the sheep at the National Museum of Scotland

Do you remember Dolly the cloned sheep?

She was the world’s first cloned mammal ever to be created from an adult cell, and today she’s at the National Museum of Scotland.

You can, among other things, also learn about Scottish history and see Arthur’s Seat Coffins, the Muonionalusta Meteorite and The Millennium clock tower that stands little over 10 metres high.

It’s free to enter.

Edinburgh, Scotland
Dolly, the cloned sheep

10. Literary Heritage

Edinburgh is quite special when it comes to literature – it’s the very first city to earn the title of a UNESCO City of Literature.

This title is a nod to its impressive legacy of great writers and books, and also to the thriving current scene of authors, bookshops and literary events.

11. The world’s only knighted penguin

Edinburgh Zoo is home to a unique resident: a knighted king penguin named Colonel-in-Chief Sir Nils Olav.

This tradition began in 1913 when the Norwegian King’s Guard adopted a penguin during their visit to the zoo.

The title and role of Nils Olav have been passed down through generations of penguins.

The current holder, Sir Nils Olav III, was knighted in a ceremony in 2008 attended by the Norwegian Guard.

You can see Sir Nils Olav and his commemorative plaque, which makes him a special reason to visit Edinburgh.

Reasons to visit Edinburgh - Sir Nils Olav

12. The Royal Yacht Britannia

The former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is now a museum where you can get a unique glimpse into the life of the royal family.

Explore the regal interiors and learn about the yacht’s rich history and royal connections.

13. Calton Hill

Calton Hill is more than just a hill – it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site right in the heart of the city.

Not only does it offer an incredible view of the cityscape, but it’s also home to some remarkable structures like the National Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument.

Edinburgh, Scotland

14. Experience Edinburgh in medieval times

Mary King’s Close is a historic underground street, providing a unique insight into life in Edinburgh hundreds of years ago.

On a guided tour (⭐ 4.5/5), you can explore the hidden streets, winding passages, and preserved rooms to uncover stories of Edinburgh’s past. Meanwhile, your guide will tell you the secrets and legends that surround this underground world.

I highly recommend it – it’s both super fun and spooky!

Edinburgh, Scotland

15. The historic Royal Mile

Explore the Royal Mile, a historic street filled with the major tourist attractions.

This street connects Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse and is exactly one mile long, lined with historic buildings, shops, and quaint Scottish pubs.

Edinburgh, Scotland
St. Columba’s Free Church

16. The Scotch Whisky Experience

Whisky is a beverage that’s deeply rooted in Scottish tradition.

And what better way to experience it than on a traditional whisky tour?

At the Scotch Whisky Experience (⭐ 4.5/5), you’ll get the rich history behind whisky and understand the detailed process that goes into creating every bottle.

Plus, you’ll get to taste the unique tastes and scents that make Scotch whisky stand out.

Again, I highly recommend this whisky distilleries tour. Although I’m not a whisky drinker, it’s kind of impossible to visit Edinburgh without tasting whisky. And this is the best place for it.

Edinburgh, Scotland
The whisky collection at The Scotch Whisky Experience

17. The One O’Clock Gun

Now, this is a special one…

Since way back in 1861, there’s been a unique tradition at the castle. Every weekday, precisely at one o’clock, they fire a gun.

Why do they do this? Well, it started as a way to give the ships in the harbour an accurate time signal. Now, it’s just tradition.

18. Taste haggis

I get it, haggis might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

But when you’re in Edinburgh, it’s worth giving this traditional Scottish dish a shot.

Made from sheep’s offal mixed with oats and spices, haggis is a much-loved part of Scotland’s food culture.

I did not want to taste it at first, but I ended up having it four times during my time in Scotland. It’s not half bad, especially the haggis sausage 🙂

Edinburgh, Scotland
Haggis terrine

19. Scott Monument – the world’s largest writer monument

At 200 feet (61 meters) tall, the Scott Monument is the largest monument to a writer anywhere in the world.

It was built in memory of Sir Walter Scott, the famous Scottish author who wrote Waverly (1814), Rob Roy (1817) and Ivanhoe (1819), among others.

20. The heartwarming Greyfriars Bobby

Have you heard about the Greyfriars Bobby? It’s a touching story.

Greyfriars Bobby was this little Skye Terrier who became a bit of a local legend back in the 1800s. After his owner passed away, Bobby spent 14 long years guarding his owner’s grave until he himself died on January 14th, 1872.

Now, Bobby is a part of Edinburgh’s history.

There’s a statue of him in front of a pub named after him. You can also find his headstone at Greyfriars Kirkyard, next to his beloved master.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Reasons to visit Edinburgh FAQ

What is so famous about Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is known for its iconic Edinburgh Castle, and Royal Mile. It’s a literary hub, boasting writers like J.K. Rowling.

The city shines with festivals like the Edinburgh Festival, and natural beauty, like Arthur’s Seat.

Plus, it offers a taste of Scotland with its traditional haggis, whisky and gin tours.

What should you not miss in Edinburgh?

These are just some of the things you shouldn’t miss in Edinburgh:

– Edinburgh’s Castle
– Greyfriars Kirkyard
– Climb Calton Hill
– Walk the Royal Mile
– Hike Arthur’s Seat
– Taste haggis and whisky
– Watch a bagpiper performance

Is Edinburgh good for tourists?

Yes! Edinburgh is not only considered safe but it’s also walkable.

Plus, there’s a lot to see, from UNESCO sites and ghostly sights to tasting local food.

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