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Edinburgh

Culture & History

Our most recommended Edinburgh Culture & History

Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

1. Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

Head for the Highlands, whether in search of the Loch Ness Monster or just a scenic day trip from Edinburgh. After pickup, relax on the bus and listen to the guide’s entertaining commentary. Visit Kilmahog for an introduction to the famous Highland Cows and a cup of coffee. Discover what a ‘hairy coo’ really is. Next, travel up the road to Glencoe and enjoy a 10-minute photo stop in front of the unforgettable Highland views. Have lunch in the Fort William area, where your guide can advise you on where to eat. If you're interested in the mysteries of the kilt, you can even get a ‘wee’ kilt introduction here. Then be whisked to Loch Ness itself. Customize your experience at Loch Ness. Choose to visit the majestic Urquhart Castle, and hop on a boat in search of ‘Nessie’, as the locals call it. Or simply hang out on the pier and grab a coffee with gorgeous views. On the way home, make a short snack stop in Pitlochry, a beautiful village in the heart of the country, before returning to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour

2. Edinburgh: Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour

Enjoy a Harry Potter-themed walking tour across Edinburgh. See the city where JK Rowling found inspiration for Hogwarts, her famous characters, and discover the place where she wrote the books. Have your Harry Potter trivia tested with an audio-visual quiz, and earn points for your house. Find out which Hogwarts House you’re in, and whether you’re a pure-blood, a muggle, or a squib. Visit the Grave of Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard, and pass JK Rowling’s golden handprints outside City Chambers. See all this and more on a magical guided tour.

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour

3. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Walking Tour

Discover the home of Mary Queen of Scots on this guided walking tour of Edinburgh Castle. Admire the 16th-century Great Hall where parties and feast took place. Learn about the bloody history of the kings and queens who lived in this castle.  Meet your guide and walk to Edinburgh Castle which dominates the city skyline from its seat on the extinct volcano of Castle Rock. Stroll on the castle's promenade and hear about the the origins and sieges of the castle. View where the Royal Military Tattoo is performed. Enter the castle and make your way to the three museums and two prisons. Go to the National Monument to the fallen of Scotland and a canine cemetery. See the oldest building in the city at the Chapel of Saint Margaret. Be captivated by the grandeur of the Great Hall and a Royal Palace. After the tour you will have time to explore all of the buildings inside the castle until its closure.

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour in English

4. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour in English

Begin your tour by the statue of Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Walk towards Edinburgh Castle as your guide sets the scene, explaining the significance of the Castle and mentioning some of the key characters who have helped shape it. Once inside, let your guide walk you through the Castle complex. Hear their in-depth knowledge of the Castle's main buildings and attractions, including the Argyle Battery and One O'clock Gun, the Hospital Square and Western Panorama. See the Castle dungeons and military prison, the Black Banquet and Thomas Randolph's daring castle raid. Encounter St Margret's Chapel, Mons Meg, the Crown Square, and The Honors of Scotland. After the tour, enjoy some time at your leisure to explore the castle museums (not accessible during the tour).

Edinburgh: 'Firth of Forth' Three Bridges Sightseeing Cruise

5. Edinburgh: 'Firth of Forth' Three Bridges Sightseeing Cruise

Your boat tour will depart from the South Queensferry, which is only a short distance from Scotland's bustling capital city of Edinburgh. Your tour will include magnificent views of the "three bridges", including the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Forth Railway Bridge. In addition, you can take in the beautiful panoramas of the Edinburgh skyline, the Kingdom of Fife and the historic island of Inchcolm with its medieval abbey. As part of the tour you will stop at the island to drop off and pick up visitors. Cruise along and discover the magic of the red railway Forth Bridge, the Forth Road suspension bridge, and the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world, Queensferry Crossing. For your comfort, relax onboard in the heated observation lounge or on the outside decks, and listen to the guided commentary while you enjoy a drink from the bar. During your tour, you will find plenty of opportunities to both see and photograph a wide variety of marine wildlife including seabirds, porpoises and seals.

The Edinburgh Dungeon Entrance Ticket

6. The Edinburgh Dungeon Entrance Ticket

Live and breathe Edinburgh’s darkest history, if you dare. The Edinburgh Dungeon is an award-winning, 70-minute interactive and immersive walk-through experience covering 1000 years of Edinburgh and Scottish history through 11 live actor shows, theatrical sets, special effects, and 2 thrilling rides. Visitors will come face to face with the most notorious rogues from the city’s dark past. Meet Agnes Finnie, Edinburgh's baddest witch! Enter the Witch Pricker’s interrogation chamber where you’ll come face to face with Agnes Finnie – accused of witchcraft in 1645. She’s mad, she’s bad, she’s not to be messed with! Well done! You’ve found Sawney Bean’s Family. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since they last ate and you look delicious… It’s the 16th century and you find yourself creeping through the Bean clan’s foul-smelling lair to discover the leftovers of lost travelers.

Queensferry: 1.5-Hour Maid of the Forth Sightseeing Cruise

7. Queensferry: 1.5-Hour Maid of the Forth Sightseeing Cruise

Your tour will begin as you visit the booking office and gift shop to collect your boarding pass. From there, you will make your way onto Hawes Pier to board the boat and embark on your sightseeing cruise. Once the boat has departed Hawes Pier, there will be a brief safety message played to all passengers before the audio commentary begins. The journey then starts with the boat heading under the Red Forth Rail Bridge before continuing past the historic Inchgarvie Island towards Inchcolm Island. You can listen as the skipper points out seals, puffins, and other wildlife that can be found throughout the cruise. Once around Inchcolm Island, you can watch carefully for sunbathing seals on the Haystack before the cruise continues back under the Red Rail Bridge towards the Forth Road Bridge and the recently opened Queensferry Crossing. Once under these majestic bridges, the boat will cruise back to Hawes Pier where you will be free to disembark.

Edinburgh: 24-Hour or 48-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour

8. Edinburgh: 24-Hour or 48-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour

Explore Scotland’s capital city across one or two days on a hop-on hop-off bus tour. See famous landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, the iconic Royal Mile, and the Palace of Holyrood House and learn about their historic significance from the onboard audio commentary. Hop on the bus at the first stop at St Andrew's Square. From either the top deck or the interior of the bus, you can explore the city in a convenient way, catching a glimpse of some iconic buildings and sights. With your ticket, you will also receive additional perks and discounts such as discounted entry to the Holyrood Distillery, a bus ride to Edinburgh Zoo, and many more benefits. Choose between a 24-hour or 48-hour pass with stops at a variety of locations along several routes including: • The Royal Mile• Edinburgh Castle• Dynamic Earth• Edinburgh Dungeons• Real Mary Kings Close• Greyfriars’s Bobby • Lothian Road• Grassmarket• Lauriston Place• Johnston Terrace• National Museum of Scotland• John Knox House• Museum of Edinburgh• Scottish Parliament• Palace of Holyrood House• Burns Monument

Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

9. Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

Wander the opulent state rooms and lavish gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Her Majesty The Queen’s official Scottish residence, located at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Once inside the baroque palace, learn about its close associations with Scotland's history via a complimentary multimedia guide (available in 9 languages). Visit the State Apartments to see the changing tastes of successive monarchs. Marvel at fine plasterwork ceilings and Brussels tapestries, along with paintings and other artworks in rooms still used by the Queen and Royal Family for official ceremonies. Go to the Throne Room to see where lunch was served to the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle when a new knight was installed. Discover where the Queen holds her private audiences in the Morning Drawing Room. Continue to the Great Gallery, where Scottish residents named in the New Year’s Honours List or Queen's Birthday Honours List receive their award at an Investiture ceremony. Admire Jacob de Wet's portraits of real and legendary kings of Scotland in the Great Gallery, the largest room in the palace. Learn about dramatic events from Scotland’s history in Mary Queen of Scots' historic chambers, where she witnessed the brutal murder of her secretary, Rizzio, by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley. At the end of your multimedia tour, enjoy a refreshing drink or light lunch (own expense) at the Café at the Palace.

Edinburgh: Real Mary King's Close Guided Tour

10. Edinburgh: Real Mary King's Close Guided Tour

Step down into Edinburgh’s hidden history at The Real Mary King’s Close, voted Scotland’s Best Heritage Tourism Experience. Discover over 400 years of history and learn about the intriguing stories of Edinburgh’s past residents. From the deadly plague epidemic to a famous royal visitor, there is a myriad of tales just waiting to be told. Journey through time and find out why the Close, once open to the skies and bustling with trade, came to be underground. An experience rooted in social history, this 1-hour character-guided tour also includes an immersive walk-through of the city’s uniquely preserved streets and spaces, all located underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. Expect a truly unique glimpse into the city’s past. 

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What people are saying about Edinburgh

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 12,976 reviews

Fantastic trip we had on July 13th. Thank you Paul H for being the best guide ever with interesting stories along the way. Such a memorable and adventurous tour, a must-do when visiting Edinburgh, to get the full Scottish experience in a short amount of time. 12 hours have never gone by so fast, and the bus was also super comfortable. We did the castle visit and the Loch Ness boat cruise, would highly recommend!

This was a brilliant day out, not only did we see loch lomond, Stirling castle and the kelpies, our guide also took us through the hills to see all the sights and to visit some Highland cattle. Our guide Stuart pointed out all the sights, local history and lots of other interesting information. It was an excellent day out.

It was a very complete tour and very well explained, enjoyable. Our guide, Sophie, great.

Easy access and entry . Not very crowded. Audio guide well done and easy to follow along

Alistair was a very knowledgeable and humorous guide. Thoroughly enjoy our tour with him