After our recent whistlestop weekend tour of Edinburgh where we visited the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Old Town, the Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and Stirling Castle, we thought it’d be a great idea to share some of the other fabulous stuff you can find to do if you’re spending longer in the Scottish capital.
This compact but characterful city boasts a whole host of great activities, places to see and things you can do whatever your interests.
I strongly advise planning an itinerary in advance. Not only does this allow you to make the most of this spectacular city, but as it can get pretty busy in popular months you want to be sure of booking your place on any must-do tours.
Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way.
To really get under its skin, find out fascinating facts and unearth treasures that you probably wouldn’t find on your own – book a walking tour with a local guide. There’s plenty of choice if you want to focus on a particular aspect, from history and architectural tours to food and drink tastings and spooky ghost tours.
We’ve added a variety of these walking tours to our planned group itineraries and they never fail to disappoint.
My all-time favourite as an avid Harry Potter fan is, of course, discovering the inspirations that sparked JK Rowling’s imagination and birthed her global literary phenomenon. Edinburgh has become a site of pilgrimage for Potterheads as the place where it all began. You can find hidden treasures including gravestones with familiar character names (Tom Riddle’s being one!) and the ‘real’ Diagon Alley. You can also visit the places where the books were penned, see her hand print embedded in stone and hear tales of local legends that have weaved their way into her stories. There are lots of options for Harry Potter walking tours, some offered for free.
For alternatives, I suggest looking on Airbnb Experiences where you’ll find some great options.
Our expert tip for those who love a laugh would be to try the Mountebank Comedy Walking Tour. You’ll get a unique and hilarious Scotsman’s take on the city, its people, its language and legends.
The Secrets Beneath
Have you heard of the buried city and vaults beneath Edinburgh? As you walk the busy streets, know that below you lies hidden depths to the city’s history. From spooky storage vaults that are still used today as meeting places for witches’ covens to an entire ancient street with intact houses to explore. If you’re up for the challenge, delve deep into the hidden history and take one of the underground tours. For extra spookiness, some are only delivered after dark. We recommend:
Add a Little Luxury
You can’t fail to find stunning places to eat, drink and stay around Edinburgh, but if you’re looking for some added extravagance to put the batter on your mars bar during your Scottish adventure, you can’t beat these:
- Decadent afternoon tea or dinner at The Dome
- A unique and opulent night’s stay at The Witchery
- 5-star nautical luxury dining or staying onboard the luxury floating hotel Fingal
Climb Aboard Royal Yacht Britannia
A Royal residence for over 40 years, The Royal Yacht Britannia sailed over 1,000,000 nautical miles on 968 state visits with the Royal Family where they entertained prime ministers and presidents. Now a five-star visitor attraction, you can discover stories of life at sea for the Royal Family and Royal Yachtsmen who served on board.
Take a look at the Royal Yacht Britannia website for more details.
Of course you can’t leave without sampling a wee dram of whisky! Johnny Walker Whisky Tours have a range of experiences to suit all palettes and pockets, or try one of the following distilleries:
Or book a whisky cellar tasting experience in the Old Town for a broader tasting experience and something with a more local flavour. Try:
- The Scotch Whisky Experience
- Whisky and Tales with Luca and Ben
- Underground Whisky Tasting at The Lost Close
Edinburgh Bike Tour
For the more adventurous, you can explore both inside and outside the centre of the city and take in its varied and breathtaking sights on two wheels.
Join a bike ride which takes you to some of the best views of the city, and from Arthur’s Seat to the beaches of Portobello and the Port of Leith and beyond, enabling you to experience some of Scotland’s stunning natural landscapes. You can opt for an electric or manual bike, and there are family-friendly options making this a viable activity whatever your age or fitness level.
Check out A Wee Pedal!
Continuing the Harry Potter theme, try your hand at potion making at The Cauldron. There are two experiences to choose from, either a child-friendly afternoon tea if you’re taking the kids or an adults-only cocktail making experience. We recommend this is best with a group to have a giggle together wearing capes and waving wands as you work your way through the potion book, creating smoking and bubbling concoctions.
Just be prepared to leave a little tipsy!
Enjoy an exclusive invitation to tea by the owners of the historic childhood home of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island.
Not only will get a unique peek behind the facade of an historic building in Edinburgh’s New Town, you’ll hear from its modern inhabitants tales of Stevenson’s early life and what it was like for him growing up as he struggled to become a writer. This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour into the life of a literary great by a wonderful, welcoming couple who love to share the history of their home.
Or, for a truly unique stay in the city, you can even book a room
Who said you should never play with fire?!
This activity is definitely one for the more adventurous who would like to try out something new and unusual with the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh at night. With expert tuition and safety training, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in this 90 minute fire-dancing session with Iga. Learn how to play with and manipulate fire, experimenting with various fire tools to recreate some spectacular fire-juggling tricks.