There’s plenty going on in Edinburgh and the Lothians to keep you entertained when you’re not golfing. The bustling capital is bursting with historical and cultural experiences, and this doesn’t stop when you leave the city and head out into the Lothians. These are a few must visit attractions for your trip to Edinburgh and the Lothians:
Proudly rising out of an extinct volcano at the centre of the city, Edinburgh Castle is an impressive vision on the skyline, steeped in the history of both the capital and its country. 70% of tourists who come to Edinburgh make their way up the Royal Mile to see the Castle and it’s easy to see why. Aside from the architectural dominance of the fortress, a striking mix of buildings from as early as the twelfth century, the Castle is home to Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland. Whilst walking through the Castle, learning more about its role as royal residence, military fortress and prison of war, you’ll also get the chance to take in excellent views of the city. If you’re visiting Scotland in August, be sure to book tickets to the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle for an evening of unique entertainment in this stunning surrounding.
Tour the Vaults
The centre of Edinburgh is layered up on a series of vaults and caverns, which long ago were home to the families and businesses of its citizens. These labyrinthine stone tunnels snake through the city and are definitely worth a visit if you want to find out more about what life in Edinburgh was like for some of its poor. A few companies offer tours of the vaults, with different themes for different tastes. Some tours stick to the facts including details of murder and bodysnatching, where others embellish with tales of ghosts within the Vaults, which can feel very real as you walk through the creepingly cold tunnels. Whichever approach you prefer, you’re sure to be entertained by the highly knowledgeable guides who lead you on your tour.
Scotch Whisky Experience
The Scotch Whisky Experience, just outside the doors of Edinburgh Castle, has whisky ventures suited to every level of whisky drinker, from those just getting a taste for golden drink, to those who want to add to their knowledge and taste a range of whiskies from across the Scotch regions. The Silver Tour sets you up with everything you need to know to become a ‘one hour whisky expert’, but if you’ve got the time and a real passion for the famous Scottish drink, then book yourself in for the Morning Masterclass or even the full day Whisky Training School. A day at the Training School features talks on the art of blending and tutored tasting sessions, plus a delicious Scottish lunch in the Scotch Whisky Experience’s award-winning restaurant, Amber.
Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park
Looming over Edinburgh at 251 metres above sea level, Arthur’s Seat is a very worthwhile hike that leads to spectacular views of the city. An extinct volcano similar to that of Edinburgh Castle, the origins of Arthur’s Seat’s title remain shrouded in mystery, with some proposing links to Arthurian legend and other eminent Scots suggesting it’s an Anglicisation of a forgotten Scottish Gaelic title. Though it may look foreboding, the average person can climb Arthur’s Seat and return to where they started on the looped path in about two hours with a real sense of accomplishment and a refreshed appreciation for the beauty of the rugged Scottish landscape.
Arthur’s Seat is seen as the key feature of Holyrood Park in which it sits, but there are other sites to see in the park, such as 15th century St Anthony’s Chapel and Duddingston Loch, popular with local birdlife.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
One of the world’s leading botanic gardens, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh can be found a little bit outside the main city centre if you need a relaxing break from the links. Spread across 70 acres, the Garden’s most impressive features are its 10 Glasshouses. Each of these is carefully controlled to create a different climatic environment for the plants within it, so as you walk through them you’ll experience everything from desert to rainforest as you observe over 3000 exotic plants in the environment that suits them. Beyond the Glasshouses, you can explore the Rock Garden, the Arboretum, the Rhododendron Collection and more.
National Museum of Flight
Take a short trip east of Edinburgh into the Lothians and you’ll find the National Museum of Flight set on a former airfield. The perfect place for any aviation enthusiast, the National Museum of Flight explores the history of this unique field of engineering from World War One to today. As you’d expect at such a Museum, part of the joy of visiting is in getting to see some of the amazing aircraft, including Scotland’s Concorde and a Red Arrows Hawk. Interactive displays keep this Museum feeling fresh and informative as they continue to add new attractions.