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Top 10 Edinburgh Sights Not to Miss

by Katie McCabe | @awelltraveledpair | June 8th, 2019

Steeped in centuries of history, and home to some of Scotland's most breathtaking sights, the city of Edinburgh is an enthralling destination. From castle hopping and museum exploring to Scotch whiskey tasting and sightseeing, the experiences are endless in this fascinating city. Whether you're planning a short weekend getaway or an extended stay, be sure not to miss these ten incredible sights. 

Edinburgh Castle

Perched high on Castle Rock, dominating Edinburgh's skyline, is the dramatic Edinburgh Castle. Inside, visitors get an in-depth look at the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, and so much more. The National War Museum of Scotland is also located on the grounds and certainly worth a look.

Tip: During peak season be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time on the official website.

Hours: Open Daily 9:30 to 17:00  |  Admission: Adults - £17.50 GBP / Children - £10.50 GBP / Children under 5 - FREE

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Palace of Holyroodhouse

Best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, Palace of Holyroodhouse has served as the home for many Scottish royals. Visitors explore the fourteen State Apartments, the 12th century Holyrood Abbey, and the exquisite royal gardens. A complimentary multimedia tour is available in ten languages and lasts for about one hour. For a more in-depth, guided look, guests can book the Royal Visit Tour.

Hours: Open Daily 9:30 to 16:30  |  Admission: Adults - £15 GBP / Children - £8.70 GBP / Children under 5 - FREE

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St. Giles' Cathedral

Situated on the historic Royal Mile, halfway between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, St. Giles' is a stunning cathedral. Founded in the 1120's, the preserved cathedral houses original stained glass windows, chapels, and an impressive Rieger organ. Guided tours are offered certain days of the week and provide a look into the cathedral's rich history. 

Hours: See official website  |  Admission: Free |  Rooftop tours are £6 GBP/person

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National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is one of the most interesting museums in all of the United Kingdom. Exhibits date all the way back to Scotland's prehistoric day and all the way up to present day. From weapons of freedom to jewels of royalty, this museum surely has it all.

Hours: Open Daily 10:00 to 17:00  |  Admission: Free  |  Donations are welcome.

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Circus Lane

Circus Lane is a cobblestone street filled with terraced mew houses, colorful flower boxes, and some of the pettiest doors you've ever seen. There isn't much to do here, besides wandering up and down the street admiring its pure beauty, and that's frankly enough. Grab a hot cup of coffee to-go (and your camera!) and spend twenty minutes exploring this lovely lane. 

Hours: 24/7 (please respect the residents)  |  Admission: FREE

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Dean Village

Dean Village just may be Edinburgh's best kept secret. Formerly a medieval neighborhood, the quaint village is now one of the city's hidden gems. Tucked away from the busy city center, most visitors aren't even aware that this beautiful area exists. With 19th century buildings and intricate gardens lining the Water of Leith, Dean Village is one sight you definitely don't want to miss. 

Hours: 24/7 (please respect the residents)  |  Admission: FREE

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Arthur's Seat

An extinct volcano? In the middle of Edinburgh? Yup! Arthur's Seat is what remains from the last volcanic eruption over 350 million years ago. Today it serves as the highest peak of a group of grassy hills, and offers visitors fantastic hiking and sweeping city views. Still to this day no one knows exactly how it got its name but some suspect it may be the location of King Arthur's Camelot. 

Hours: 24/7  |  Admission: FREE

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Victoria Street

A curving ribbon of colorful storefronts, historic architecture, and perfectly preserved cobblestone create the fabulous Victoria Street. Located in Edinburgh's Old Town, it remains one of the city's busiest streets. With an abundance of shops, restaurants, and photographic appeal, Victoria Street certainly attracts its fair share of tourists and locals alike. And for all the Harry Potter fans, it is most likely J.K. Rowling's inspiration behind the magical Diagon Alley. 

Hours: Street - 24/7  Shops/Restaurants - Vary  |  Admission: FREE

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Calton Hill

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill has epic views and an abundance of iconic monuments. The views alone are enough to attract millions of visitors each year. But while you're there, be sure to see some monuments, such as the National Monument, Nelson's Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument, Robert Burns Monument, and the Political Martys' Monument. 

Hours: 24/7  |  Admission: FREE

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The Scotch Whisky Experience

You can't visit Scotland and leave without participating in a Scotch tasting, now can you? After all, The Scotch Whisky Experience has been introducing visitors to their five-star tasting experience for over 30 years. With a variety of tours to choose from -- Silver, Platinum, and Gold are the main tours, while The Taste of Scotland tour includes a three-course meal -- there is something for everyone. And for those hardcore whisky enthusiasts, a Morning Masterclass is available daily at 10:00 am and includes a more in-depth look into the world of Scotch whisky. 

Hours: Varies by tour (visit the official website)  |  Admission: Varies by tour (visit the official website)

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