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Scotland’s capital combines the contemporary and the historic to offer a superb location for a memorable city break or anytime escape. Enjoy live entertainment, sample the local cuisine, and walk miles taking in all the sights. When you’re ready to relax, the city is also home to lots of great spas and spa hotels. In this guide, we bring you some of the best things to do in Edinburgh and suggest some of our spa highlights to complement your trip.
No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to Holyrood Park. Located around a 10-minute walk from the central Edinburgh Waverley train station, the park is a lovely place to explore, with lots of historic sites, natural beauty and stunning views from lofty Arthur’s Seat. Take one of the defined walking routes around the park, which you can access through the park’s visitor centre. The centre also offers information on the park’s history. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Located on the very edge of Holyrood Park and close to the city centre, the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel offers the ideal base for spa days and spa breaks in Edinburgh. Book now.
Another of the city’s must-visit attractions is imposing Edinburgh Castle. Spend some time exploring the 11th-century castle and its grounds, including lovely Princes Street Gardens. Highlights of the castle include The Great Hall, the Crown Jewels and the National War Museum of Scotland. You can wander freely or follow one of the recommended routes. Audio tours are also available. Due to limitations on visitor numbers, booking ahead is required. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Less than half a mile from Edinburgh Castle, PURE Spa Edinburgh promises relaxation and pampering spa treatments, so you can combine sightseeing with well-earned downtime. Book now.
The city of Edinburgh encompasses the Old Town and New Town. At the heart of Old Town is the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Explore the lovely streets with their independent stores and eateries. You can also discover lots of interesting historic sites, such as St Giles Cathedral and a 17th-century tenement building. End your exploration of the Royal Mile with a visit to the palace, which has a rich history and now serves as The Queen’s official Scottish residence. Find out more:
Scotland’s rich history is on display at Edinburgh’s many museums, which offer interesting and varied glimpses of the past. In addition to the National War Museum of Scotland, you can find lots of interesting exhibits at the National Museum of Scotland and Museum of Edinburgh. Those with a strong stomach might also enjoy the Surgeons' Hall Museums, which include collections of surgical and dental instruments and anatomical specimens. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Enjoy a spa break at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, which benefits from a central city location that is within a few minutes’ walk of the attractions of Old Town, where you’ll find all the main museums. Book now.
As well as museums, Edinburgh is home to some impressive art collections. For example, the centrally located Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery feature fine art collections and portraiture, while The Talbot Rice Gallery features works from emerging artists as well as the Old Masters. About two miles out of town, you can find the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is located in some lovely grounds. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Combine your day of culture with some spa pampering at Bannatyne Edinburgh which enjoys a central location less than half a mile from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery. Book now.
If you like a scare, The Edinburgh Dungeon is the place for you. Enjoy (if that’s the word!) all kinds of interactive shows involving actors who bring the experience vividly to life. Discover the graveyard, where you’ll run into the infamous murderers Burke and Hare, encounter some lively ghouls and spirits in the castle, and get close to the gore in the operating theatre. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Enjoy a much-needed relaxation session to calm the nerves at the Spa at Charlotte Square, which offers luxurious spa packages in a tranquil and upmarket setting. Book now.
If you have some extra time in Scotland, you might like to explore the coast. For example, did you know there is a wonderful sandy beach less than four miles from the city? Take one of the regular buses from the city centre to Portobello Beach to enjoy a stroll along the promenade. Along the coast, you’ll find the vibrant port community of Leith, with its arts scene and waterside restaurants, which makes a great day out. Royal Yacht Britannia is moored here, too. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? PURE Spa Newhaven Harbour enjoys a lovely harbourside location, which is perfect for enjoying a pampering spa day within an easy walk of the attractions of Leith and 30 minutes by bus from central Edinburgh. Book now.
If you enjoy theatre and live entertainment, you’ll find plenty of options in Edinburgh. Among the more popular venues are the Festival Theatre, Bedlam Theatre, and Edinburgh Playhouse, which each feature a programme of drama, comedy and musical shows. Each year in August, the city hosts the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival, each of which offer a whole host of exciting performances from around the world, with events taking place across the city. If you’re planning to come to the city during the festivals, we suggest booking your accommodation and travel tickets well in advance as it gets busy! Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Located about a mile from the Festival Theatre, Bedlam Theatre, and Edinburgh Playhouse, the Spa at Charlotte Square offers a wonderful retreat that can perfectly complement your evening at the theatre. Book now.
Edinburgh is great for foodies. As well as offering international cuisine, there is plenty of great Scottish fare to enjoy. The city is proud of its gastronomy, so while you’re here be sure to try local specialities, such as Cullen skink and Partan bree soups, Arbroath smokies (smoked haddock), and haggis with tatties and neeps (mashed potato and swede). Of course, Scotland is also famous for its Scotch whisky, which is celebrated at the Scotch Whisky Experience attraction, located on the Royal Mile. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Sample the local cuisine at the Itchycoo Bar & Kitchen at the Radisson Blu Hotel, which also offers super spa days and boasts a central location close to the eateries around the Royal Mile. Book now.
Edinburgh features a buzzing nightlife with plenty of clubs and bars open into the early hours. Popular nightclubs include Cabaret Voltaire on Blair Street, The Liquid Room on Victoria Street, The Hive Nightclub & Venue on Niddry Street, and The Bongo Club on Cowgate. For a different vibe, head to Club Tropicana on Lothian Road for the ultimate 80s old school night out or to The Voodoo Rooms on West Register Street for classy cocktails and cabaret.
Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? PURE Spa Edinburgh Rose Street is a great choice for unwinding after a late night or getting ready to hit the town, offering a range of pampering spa treatments in the heart of New Town. Book now.
Head a short distance from the city to explore the beautiful countryside and historic sites of Central Scotland. For example, Pentland Hills Regional Park, around 10 miles from the city, offers superb views, along with wonderful walking and wildlife spotting. Meanwhile, just 15 miles from Edinburgh, you can discover the well-preserved 14th century Craigmillar Castle. There are so many things to do in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas that we would recommend extending your city break or planning a return visit. Find out more:
Looking for some spa indulgence? Less than 10 miles from Edinburgh city centre, the stunning 13th century Dalhousie Castle in Bonnyrigg has been turned into a spa hotel offering a range of lovely packages in unique surroundings. Book now.