Explore Edinburgh on a Scottish break

Last updated: February 13, 2022

Crowd-free Britain: We spotlight a different area of the UK each time in this series. We’ll look at crowd-free attractions and those that cater for barrier-free travel, sustainability, well-being and families, so you can plan your trip

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Edinburgh is at its best when explored as a local would: walking between the antique streets of the Old Town and the Georgian grandeur of the New Town.

But when it comes to sights, it’s difficult to beat the views atop Edinburgh’s seven iconic hills, if only for an excuse to refuel on a plate of haggis or venison in any number of the city’s fabulous restaurants — and a seat shouldn’t be a problem as Edinburgh has more restaurants per head than any other UK city.

Covid in Edinburgh

Face coverings in Edinburgh are mandatory in shops, restaurants/bars and clubs (only until you’re seated or if you are dancing) as well as onboard public transport. Under 12s are exempt.

What To See In Edinburgh

Begin in the heart of Edinburgh, with a walk along the historic streets of the Royal Mile, viewing the collections of stately tenements, the striking St. Giles’ Cathedral and its charming cobbled passageways, and then wander up Arthur’s Seat to see the regal Palace of Holyroodhouse and the views of Edinburgh’s rooftops.

From almost any of central Edinburgh’s pretty streets, Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock hill is visible, its brooding façade an indifferent voyeur to all that takes place in the city. Visit early in the morning, among swirls of fog creeping along the streets, to see the glorious Great Hall, Portcullis Gate and the Lang Stairs, and find a good spot from the town in the evening to admire the amber glow that emanates from the castle each night.

The Georgian New Town is a glorious feat of architecture and town planning, an elegant cousin to the medieval street plans of the Old Town, and a mixture of grand squares, manicured gardens and classical architecture. Highlights include Charlotte Square and the Georgian House, George Street and the Assembly Rooms, and the Princes Street Gardens that form an idyllic verdant link between the Old and New Towns.

Escape the crowds in Edinburgh

The seven hills of Edinburgh can be fabulous without the crowds, but be wary on busy summer’s weekends when lots of folk can sprout from nowhere. The most convenient is Arthur’s Seat, while Calton Hill is the easiest to climb and has stunning vistas of the city. The 60 hectares of nature reserve at Blackford Hill is a good spot to mingle with the locals, while the Pentlands, just to the south of Edinburgh provide the most space for long countryside walks with loch views, alongside bonny Scottish sheep.

During the colder months, Edinburgh’s beaches in areas such as Crammond — and the tidal Crammond island —can be surprisingly calm. But walkers intent on seeing every side of the city should follow the Water of Leith walkway from delightful Leith towards Balerno.

Barrier-free Edinburgh

The Hop on Hop Off Buses are wheelchair accessible. They are also perfect for anyone who is not so mobile but still wants to get around and see everything in the city, cutting down on walking between attractions. If you fancy something sweet to eat, head to Pâtissier Maxime in Queensferry St, which has level access, accessible toilet, moveable chairs and tables and even a lowered pay counter.

Family-friendly Edinburgh

Kids will love the Museum of Childhood and the science-based entertainment at Our Dynamic Earth (the Hop Off Hop On Buses stop at both). Older Harry Potter fans will love the Harry Potter Magical Guided walking tour, exploring the city where Harry Potter was written! Earn points for your house and test your Harry Potter trivia and see the real Grave of Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Want something really special? Book a trip on the Jacobite train - the real-life Hogwarts Express!

Checklist for your trip to Edinburgh

  • Check your destination just in case you need pre-booked tickets
  • Pre-book hotels and restaurants to avoid disappointment as many have reduced capacity

Useful links Find up-to-date guidance on travel, safety, Covid-19 research and more.

RightRooms believes all information to be correct at time of going to press. As guidance, research and facts around Covid-19 are changing constantly, the information provided here is for general information only and does not constitute professional advice. Please check with venues, locations and attractions before travelling.

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