Are you looking for fun things to do in Edinburgh this year? If so – keep reading!
There are so many great things to do in Edinburgh… From bus tours and ghost tours, to whiskey tasting and hiking. This is a city that has a little bit of something for every kind of budget and interest! If you want the ultimate guide for things to do in Edinburgh… then keep reading.
So let’s get into it!
Things to do in Edinburgh this year…
Now, I couldn’t talk about things to do in Edinburgh and not mention the castle! Edinburgh Castle is one of the most iconic spots in the city and offers some of the best views in Edinburgh. You don’t have to head on a guided tour, but it is well worth doing if you can fork out the extra cash. This is by far one of the best and most famous things to do in Edinburgh.
Next up on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s the National Museum. Containing everything from historical information and artefacts to incredible views of the city from the roof, this amazing spot is a must-do for Edinburgh visitors.
One of our favorite things to do in Edinburgh in 2021 is climb Arthur’s Seat! Sure, it’s quite a trek, but you’ll be rewarded with a sensational view of the city. If you manage to catch Edinburgh in good weather (it’s rare but it happens!) then this is a great choice for things to do in Edinburgh.
Visit Dean Village
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s a visit to Dean Village. Dean Village is a little sub-area of Edinburgh city, located about a 10 minute walk from the centre of the city. It’s a fairytale perfect village, and you’ll feel like you walked onto a movie set. You couldn’t feel further from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh if you tried! Please make sure you make time to visit Dean Village, it’s such a special part of the city.
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
If you’re a fan of Picasso, Mondrian, and other modern artists, then you’ve got to add the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to your list of things to do in Edinburgh in 2021. Entry is free too, so there’s no excuse for not enlightening yourself!
The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is one of the most serene places in Edinburgh and is well worth a visit. With incredible international plants on show (as well as the famous Scottish Heath Garden), you can really spend an afternoon getting lost in here. If you’re looking for peaceful things to do in Edinburgh, this is a great choice.
Picnic at Holyrood Park
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s a picnic in Holyrood Park. Holyrood Park is one of the biggest parks in the city and it’s a gorgeous spot. If you get lucky with the weather, it’s an amazing place to visit with a picnic whilst you’re in Edinburgh.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
While you’re visiting Holyrood Park, you might as well stop by Holyroodhouse (which is the manor house attached to the park). It’s pretty beautiful and worth checking out while you’re in the area for sure! It’s a great choice for things to do in Edinburgh, especially if you love history.
If you want to see where things happen in Scottish government, then be sure to pop a visit to Scottish Parliament on your list of things to do in Edinburgh in 2021! Entrance to parliament is free, and if you have time you can even hang around and catch some of the debates.
Victoria Street is touted as the inspiration for lots of locations in the Harry Potter books, and when you visit you’ll see why. This colourful, wonky, street is perfectly imperfect and it’s a beautiful place to check out during your time in Edinburgh. Honestly, for me, this is the street that perfectly sums up the charm of Edinburgh – so make sure you add it to your list of things to do in Edinburgh.
If you’re looking for slightly weird things to do in Edinburgh, I think you’ll like this idea. This isn’t one for the faint of heart, but Edinburgh’s Surgeons Museum is absolutely one of the top things to do in the area for 2021. After such a morbid 2020, it only seems fitting that you check out how surgeons used to get things done in the old days. You’ve been warned – it isn’t pretty!
Actually, lots of the things to do in Edinburgh on this list are located on the Royal Mile, so you’ll likely see it even without intending to! The Royal Mile is an incredible stretch of Edinburgh road that is home to some adorable shops and medieval houses. Be sure to head down here during the Fringe if you want to grab flyers for the latest shows and acts.
Water of Leith walk
The Water of Leith walk is a great riverside walk that you can easily do from central Edinburgh. Located a little bit hidden from the city centre, this cute little spot is a really scenic place to take a walk out to. It’s well worth adding to your list of things to do in Edinburgh, especially if you want to see a side of the city most tourists miss.
How could I write a list of things to do in Edinburgh and not mention the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? The Edinburgh Fringe is one of the largest arts festivals in the world, and you’re sure to find something here that you’ll enjoy. Offering everything from comedy to full-blown musicals, this is a prime thing to do in Edinburgh in 2021.
Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre
If you’re looking for great views of the city, then be sure to add the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre to your list of things to do in the area. If you want to check out the night sky, make sure you book ahead as the sky-viewing experience regularly sells out. If you’re looking for easy things to do in Edinburgh, this ticks the boxes.
St John’s Church
Located near Prince’s Street, this stunning 19th century church is a gorgeous place to visit while you’re in Edinburgh. Be sure to check out the stained-glass windows before you head out! There are loads of churches in Edinburgh (what with it being a gothic city) but this is my top one, so makes my list of things to do in Edinburgh.
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Gorgie City Farm
If you’re travelling to the city with kids, then you’ll want to add Gorgie City Farm to your list of things to do in Edinburgh in 2021. Tucked between Edinburgh’s busy railway line and the main city roads, this animal-lover’s haven is a great change of pace from other attractions in the area.
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s Ross Fountain. Ross Fountain is located in Princes Street Gardens and it’s got some great history about it. It’s one of the most recognisable spots in the city, and it’s a pretty beautiful fountain to stop and take a look at during your time in the city.
If you want to learn about whiskies, then The Scotch Whiskey Experience is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh in 2021. Offering a masterclass tasting for whiskey fans, this is a great pre-game option to experience before a night on the town!
If you’ve seen the stunning film “Sunshine on Leith”, then you’ll want to visit Leith. One of the best things to do in Edinburgh for tourists, this section of the city offers visitors incredible food, fantastic music, and a cosmopolitan feel. Here’s a list of why people love it there.
This amazing cinema was apparently one of Quentin Tarentino’s favorite picture houses, so it’s a must do for cinema geeks and film lovers! So, if you want to walk amongst the industry’s best, be sure to add a Cameo trip to your list of things to do in Edinburgh in 2021.
Summerhall is an amazing multi-arts venue in Edinburgh where you can catch theatre, gigs, talks, workshops, and more. You name it, Summerhall has probably got it! Oh, and it’s even got its own microbrewery on site – can you say score? It’s a great choice for things to do in Edinburgh.
If you’re searching out some nightlife to add to your list of things to do in Edinburgh, then Sneaky Pete’s is worth a visit. This awesome club in Edinburgh is one of our top things to do in the city in 2021. Open to crowds of 100 every night, it’s a small club that packs a massive punch in terms of its star DJs!
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s the local Farmer’s Market. This weekly outdoor farmers’ market is a great stop-off for foodies, as you’ll find area-sourced produce, meats & cheeses, plus baked goods & craft beer.
Looking for some great cocktails? Be sure to head down to Bramble on your next trip to Edinburgh. With an incredible curated cocktail menu and some amazing décor, Bramble is one of the top things to do in Edinburgh that you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re passing through Edinburgh and want to catch an incredible show, then add a trip to the Festival Theatre to your list of things to do in Edinburgh. All the big touring shows tend to pass through here, so you’ll be able to see some big-budget productions!
One of the top Scottish comedy spots in Edinburgh is The Stand, and it certainly deserves a place on our list of the best things to do in Edinburgh in 2021. One of the best nights to visit is Monday night to catch those up-and-comers!
Now, of course we had to include a haunted tour on our list of things to do in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of the world’s best gothic cities – and it’s oozing haunted tales and spooky stories. An underground ghost tour is an incredible way to experience the best of Edinburgh’s spooky history!
If you’re looking for a break from Edinburgh’s more intense activities, why not take a stroll through The Meadows? If the weather cooperates, you can even have a lovely little picnic! It’s a lovely chilled out choice on this list of things to do in Edinburgh.
The Scott Monument
Though this isn’t as intense a climb as Arthur’s Seat, climbing The Scott Monument is an awesome feat too! At 287 steps above ground-level, you can get some truly beautiful views of Edinburgh’s skyline from up here.
If you’re looking for an easy and laid back choice for things to do in Edinburgh, then shopping is it. And Edinburgh is seriously great for shoppers! The stunning Victoria Street is home to Edinburgh’s finest shops and lots of unique boutiques, so it’s a good place to start. If you’re looking to pick up your next showstopping outfit, be sure to head into one of the street’s many independent shops!
Camera Obscura is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh for everyone. Spread over 6 floors and absolutely packed with interactive displays, this is the perfect place to visit for an exciting and mind-bending day out! It’s a bit weird and quirky, but it’s a great activity to try whilst in the city.
Add Calton Hill to your list of things to do in Edinburgh if you love greek culture! With more Greek-style buildings than you can count, this is your UK-based equivalent to Athens.
Open Top Bus Tour
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s a bus tour! An Open Top Bus Tour is never a bad idea, and Edinburgh’s tours are some of the best around. With so much to see around the city, you’ll have a fantastic time even if the Scottish weather doesn’t go your way! This is such a classic choice for things to do in Edinburgh, and I think you’ll love it if you’re new to the city.
If you’ve ever wanted to see pandas up close and personal, then you’ll want to head down to the Edinburgh Zoo! If pandas aren’t your jam, then you’ll certainly love the adorable Penguin Parade. This is a great choice for things to do in Edinburgh, especially if you’ve got kids!
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s the Grassmarket. The Grassmarket is one of the most historical spots in Edinburgh, and also one of its most grisly! Though this was once the spot of Edinburgh’s public executions, it’s now a place to grab a great pint and some food.
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Do a walking tour
Edinburgh is generally an incredible city, but you should really try and set aside some time to check out the Old Town. There are some great walking tours that cover this area, so if you’re a newbie be sure to book onto one! Walking tours in Edinburgh are definitely some of the best things to do in Edinburgh, so don’t miss out on exploring at a slower pace with a local guide!
Visit a Coffee Shop
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s coffee! Edinburgh is known for it’s great coffee scene, if you didn’t know! If you need a break from your hectic day of exploring, then add one of Edinburgh’s great coffee shops to your list of things to do here in 2021! We absolutely love Artisan Roast and Lovecrumbs, so be sure to check them out if you pass them.
Ride the Tram
Though the tram is technically a mode of transportation for Edinburgh’s locals, it’s a great little attraction in itself! Hey – it’s a perfect way to get to and from the airport if nothing else! A fun and affordable choice for things to do in Edinburgh.
Scottish people love their beer, so make sure you add a pub or two to your list of things to do in Edinburgh. Edinburgh has a surprising number of craft breweries, and a visit to one is a great thing to do in 2021! The Hanging Bat, Salt Horse, and Holyrood 9a are all great options for beer aficionados.
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s Nelson Monument. Located on top of Calton Hill, this monument dedicated to Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson is a must-see in Edinburgh!
Princes Street Gardens
Located at the foot of Edinburgh Castle are the Princes Street Gardens. If you happen to be heading to Edinburgh in December of 2021, you can even visit Edinburgh’s Winter Wonderland! If you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh outdoors on a lovely day, this is a great choice.
St Mary’s Cathedral
This wonderful Gothic style cathedral is in an area of Edinburgh called the West End. Though you won’t catch any theatre around here, this stunning cathedral is more than worth seeing! A great choice for things to do in Edinburgh, especially for history lovers and those curious about Edinburgh’s past.
If you’re a chocoholic, then you need to visit The Chocolatarium. This is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh in 2021, and you might just walk away from the experience with a new appreciation for all things sweet!
St Giles’ Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral is another beautiful cathedral that you need to put on your list of things to do in Edinburgh. With stunning stained-glass windows and lively classical music playing most of the time, it’s a unique spot that should be visited by anyone new to Edinburgh.
Do you love vintage clothing? Well then, you’ll want to visit Armstrongs! As one of the UK’s oldest vintage clothing stores, you’re sure to find something buried in here that’s one of a kind. If you’re looking for quirky things to do in Edinburgh, this is it!
Play golf on the Bruntsfield Links
This amazing golf course is free to play on, and if you don’t have your own equipment you can even rent some for a reasonable fee! We’re crossing our fingers for a hole in one… definitely a great option for things to do in Edinburgh, if you love golfing!
Next on my list of things to do in Edinburgh, another castle! If you’re a history buff looking to visit Edinburgh, then be sure to visit Craigmillar Castle. This ruined castle has strong associations with Mary Queen of Scots, so be sure to read up on her before your visit!
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The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the most incredible things to do in Edinburgh. This annual series is performed by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth, and international military bands and it’s held each August as one of Edinburgh’s Festivals.
Museum of Fire
The Museum of Fire is a unique museum that tells the story of the oldest fire brigade in all of Britain. The displays of uniforms, equipment, and engines from the 1800s are really something to behold. This is a really interesting choice for things to do in Edinburgh.
If you’re looking for some sun and sand during your trip, then be sure to add Portobello Beach to your list of things to do in Edinburgh! As it’s located just a few miles from the city centre, it really won’t eat much into your day if you just want to pop down for the afternoon.
Ok, next up on this list of things to do in Edinburgh, it’s Haggis. If you’re in the city – try and try some of the national dish! If you haven’t tried Scotland’s legendary haggis before, then you should absolutely order a plateful on your visit to Edinburgh. It’s surprisingly nice – trust me!
Bring your dog to Woodland Creatures Pub
Are you travelling to Edinburgh with your four-legged friend? Not only does this place have amazing cask ales and a beer garden for its human visitors, but it allows dogs to join in on the festivities too! If you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh with your dog, this is a must!
Ceilidh at Ghillie Dhu
This traditional Scottish Bar is nestled in the West End of Edinburgh’s city centre and is one of our favourite things to do in the area. This place hosts some of the best live acts in the city, and you can even dance the night away with some Ceilidh dancing if you’re feeling up to it!
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Loch Ness day trip
Ahhh Loch Ness, how could we write a list of things to do in Edinburgh without mentioning her? If you’re curious about the origins of the Loch Ness Monster, then you’ll want to head on a day trip to Loch Ness! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the mythical Nessie herself.
Museum of Childhood
The Museum of Childhood is last on my list of things to do in Edinburgh. This museum on the Royal Mile is small, but it’s fascinating. This is a great museum for kids to explore, but it also allows adults to reminisce on the good old days!
Hopefully this list of things to do in Edinburgh has been helpful and given you lots of ideas!
There are so many great things to do in Edinburgh, we know you’re going to absolutely love visiting! So whichever activities you choose to add to your list of things to do in Edinburgh – have fun!