Is Edinburgh Worth Visiting: 13 Top Reasons to Visit 2023

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Are you wondering if Edinburgh is worth visiting?

If so, you have come to the right place. Kizzi from Off to Get Lost is sharing everything you need to know when trying to decide if Edinburgh is worth visiting. By the end of this post, you will know if Edinburgh is the right destination for you.

Edinburgh is a city of beautiful medieval architecture, delicious Scottish treats, and haunted streets. Its friendly and lively atmosphere is unmatched by many cities and makes for a great holiday destination, whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply there for a good time.  

Edinburgh's beautiful medieval architecture is worth a visit

Edinburgh is well-loved by many, and with this list of the top reasons to visit Edinburgh, you’ll soon see why. Discover interactive museums you’re sure to remember, spooky tales from haunted graveyards, and stunning views from dormant volcanoes

Is Edinburgh Worth Visiting in 2023

Edinburgh is absolutely worth visiting! If you’re thinking about visiting Edinburgh, you won’t be disappointed.

The perfect destination for a long weekend or even a week trip, you’ll quickly fall in love with this city. Yes, the weather can be hit and miss, as with most places in the UK, but even on gloomy days Edinburgh has a certain charm. 

Why Edinburgh May Not Be Worth Visiting

There are very few reasons why Edinburgh may not be worth visiting. It is a friendly, beautiful city that has great whiskey and great food. What more could you want? 

Visiting in Edinburgh August

However, as with most well-loved destinations, crowds almost always follow. As the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh can be overcrowded, especially in the summer months. However, you can easily avoid this by skipping the months of July and August when planning your trip to Edinburgh. 

13 Top Reasons to Visit Edinburgh

Let’s dive into the top things to do and reasons why Edinburgh is worth visiting on your next trip to Scotland.

1. Scottish History & The Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland since the 1400s but has played a huge part in Scottish history long before then.

This history fills the streets of Edinburgh and can be found in impressive sights such as Edinburgh Castle, right down to the small streets of the Old Town. You never know when an unassuming pub used to be the drinking place of a former royal. 

Simply walk along the Royal Mile to see for yourself where at the top you’ll find Edinburgh Castle, and at the bottom Holyrood Palace.

the iconic Edinburgh castle

Subject to many sieges, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many conflicts between the English and the Scottish and is one of the most visited attractions in the UK. In Holyrood Palace, you can discover its connections to many of the royals who once stayed in its walls.

There are walking history tours offered that dive deep into the mysteries of Edinburgh’s historical streets. 

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2. The Food and Drink

Edinburgh is a place filled with stunning restaurants for all budgets, and in true Scottish form, plenty of places to drink.

Some delicious Scottish treats to try during your stay are haggis, Scottish shortbread, and tablet, a sweeter, crumbly version of fudge that is incredibly moreish. If are a foodie, one of the best ways to taste & drink your way through Edinburgh is by a food tour.

The Edinburgh Food Safari offers an excellent tour of local hidden gems where you can taste many delicious delicacies like cheeses, haggis, and whiskey.

a lineup of Scottish whiskey

As for drinking, discover hidden speakeasies tucked beneath laundrettes such as Bramble, or relax in a traditional Scottish pub like The Sheeps Heid Inn. Or simply head to the Royal Mile where you can stop every few buildings to try out a new pub or drink.

Edinburgh produces some of the best whisky in Scotland. Glayva is an award-winning Scotch that comes from Leith, a suburb of Edinburgh. Its undertones of honey and spices are well-loved by many whiskey drinkers. 

3. Stunning Landscapes

A city of hills, Edinburgh has many stunning viewpoints. You can wander the old town, up the royal mile, and peer over the castle walls to see the well-loved skyline of Edinburgh. 

view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill

For a different angle try Calton Hill. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it offers panoramic views of all of Edinburgh’s highlights.

It’s home to many historical monuments such as the Nelson Monument and the National Monument, a construction inspired by Athen’s Parthenon but was never finished.  

4. Festivals and More Festivals

One of the top reasons people find Edinburgh worth visiting is the festivals! Edinburgh is famous for its festivals and has many throughout the year such as the Edinburgh Science Festival (a great trip for families), the Scottish National Whiskey Festival, and Hogmanay, a 3-day celebration over New Year. 

the fringe festival, one of the top reasons Edinburgh is worth visiting

Edinburgh’s most famous festival, however, is the Fridge Festival. Taking place over three weeks in August, the festival brings together artists and performers from across the globe, including theatre, comedy, dance, circus, music, and much more.

Venues are spread throughout the city, turning the whole of Edinburgh into a vibrant and joyful place to be. 

5. Incredible Architecture

Edinburgh’s architecture lends itself perfectly to a Gothic, moody aesthetic. You can find gothic architecture across the city, from the medieval building of St. Giles Cathedral to the Victorian masterpiece of the Scott Monument. 

the stunning architecture with a gothic aesthetic in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is home to buildings built over 500 years ago, and the Old Town has many small streets and tight closes for you to explore. And even the new town isn’t so new. The majority of the new town was built from the 1760s onwards and has many beautifully designed buildings.  

Edinburgh looks even more gothic than most old cities in the UK because of the black coating covering most of its older buildings. This is because of the immense amount of soot that filled the city during the mid-20th, earning Edinburgh the nickname “Old Reekie” (Old Smokey). 

6. The Art Scene

Edinburgh is home to some of the best art museums in the country and has long been a hub for budding artists.

With national galleries such as the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery holding exquisite collections from the Renaissance to the present, there’s something for most artistic tastes. 

You’ll also find many independent galleries and spaces such as Stills Gallery, Edinburgh’s photography centre, and Fruitmarket Gallery, which exhibits a range of international artists. 

If galleries are not your thing, a brilliant day out for families is Jupiter Artland, an outdoor sculpture park open from May to September. 

7. An Ancient Nearby Volcano

For a moment away from the bustling city, head to Arthurs’s seat. This ancient, dormant volcano sits just next to the Scottish Parliament at the base of the Royal Mile.

stunning views from Arthurs seat in Edinburgh scotland

There are two routes up Arthur’s seat and can be walked in a few hours. If you manage to climb it on a clear day, you can get views all the way across the Firth of Forth to Fife. 

8. The Bookshops

Edinburgh has been the home of many great novelists such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Connon Doyle, and of course more recently, J.K. Rowlings. So it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of wonderful bookshops to enjoy here. 

Armchair Books is a second-hand bookshop that leans into the chaos of barely organized shelves.

Most likely you won’t be able to find the book you came searching for, but you’re more than likely to leave with something better. Browse the shelves at random, simply picking out any titles that speak to you. 

Topping and Company, also known as Toppings, is in Leith in Edinburgh, and a treasure trove for new releases. They have limited and signed editions of quite a lot of new books, and a lovely aesthetic. Perhaps the best bit about Toppings is the tall bookcases which have a fairytale-like ladder you use to slide along each bookcase to reach the top shelf. 

McNaughtan’s is another great bookshop to pop by. It is the oldest second-hand bookshop in Scotland and specializes in rare books. They also have an adjoining gallery and second bookshop called Typewronger Books, which sells newer books and second-hand typewriters. 

9. A Haunted History 

People have been living on the grounds of which Edinburgh now stands for thousands of years, so it is no surprise that it has become one of the most haunted cities in the world.

With stories of ghosts, famous graveyards, and notorious murderers, there are lots of spooky happenings in Edinburgh. 

Greyfriars Bobby in Greyfriars Kirkyard

Some of Edinburgh’s most haunted spots include Mary Kings’s Close, the Edinburgh Vaults, and  Greyfriars Kirkyard. Greyfriars Kirkyard is thought to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world, with people claiming to be attacked by poltergeists such as the “Bloody Mackenzie.” 

You can take tours of all these locations and discover all of Edinburgh’s darkest tales. 

10. Friendly Scottish Atmosphere

Another reason why Edinburgh is worth visiting is the friendly Scottish Atmosphere. The Scottish are renowned for having a good time and living life to the fullest.

For a Scot, there is nothing better than getting together and creating good memories. Edinburgh, you’ll find, is no different. The atmosphere is always lively and welcoming to new visitors. 

Not only is the atmosphere friendly and inviting, but it is also one of the safest cities in Europe. Travel Safe Abroad marks it as low risk for almost all categories. So whilst you should always take some precautions when traveling, you can feel comfortable during your time here. 

11. The Museums 

As Scotland is known for its rainy days, it’s good to know that there are plenty of great indoor museums for you to enjoy.

The National Museum of Scotland is a favorite of many people, with an array of exhibits from the Ancient Egyptians, fashion, and a roaring T-rex. 

The edinburgh dungeon

Edinburgh Dungeons bring a whole new meaning to the word museums, creating an interactive and immersive experience with live actors who take you through the darkest parts of Scotland’s history.

For a more tame option but just as fun, head to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Be dazzled by optical illusions and lost in the mirror maze. Don’t forget to head to the roof to experience a virtual tour of the city from above. 

12. Walk Along Portobello Beach 

Slightly outside of the city centre, many visitors miss the beautiful Scottish coastline at Portobello Beach.

Portobello Beach outside of Edinburgh is worth a visit

You can kayak and sail along the coast, and for the brave, take a dip into the refreshing waters. If you’re feeling peckish, you’ll find plenty of bars and cafes, or prepare a picnic to enjoy on the sand. 

Buses run regularly from Edinburgh city centre to Portobello, and the journey takes about 25-35 minutes. 

13. Explore Independent Shops in Stockbridge 

A beautiful neighborhood in Edinburgh, Stockbridge is filled with green parks, Georgian buildings, and independent shops and cafes for you to enjoy. Stockbridge market runs every Sunday and is filled with delicious street food and local produce. 

Dean Village is a beautiful spot in Stockbridge, with medieval houses sitting on either side of the river, Water of Leith. A walk along here makes for a delightful way to spend the afternoon. 

FAQ: Is Edinburgh Worth Visiting 

How Many Days Should I Visit Edinburgh?

To see all the highlights, you will need at least 2 days in Edinburgh. In 2 days, you can visit all the main attractions such as the castle and Holyrood palace, wander the Royal Mile at a leisurely pace, and explore some of the many museums and galleries that take your interest. 

the royal mile in edinburgh scotland

If you’d like to do more tours and get to the outskirts of the city like Portobello, you’ll probably need 3-5 days for a relaxed but still active holiday. 

What Months are Best for Edinburgh?

To get the most out of the Scottish weather, head to Edinburgh between June and August. Whilst you’re sure to still see some rain, there’s a greater chance of a sunny day out.

Bear in mind, however, that for most of August, it is the Fridge Festival. This means accommodation prices go up and the streets are incredibly busy. I’d only go to Edinburgh in August if you are going specifically for the Fringe. 

shops along the royal mile in edinburgh scotland

Another great time to visit Edinburgh is during the Christmas season. From November to January, Edinburgh’s Princes Street is lit up with festivities. Enjoy the Christmas market filled with delicious treats and gifts, and a winter wonderland with its very own ice rink and Ferris wheel. 

In Conclusion: Is Edinburgh Worth Visiting

If you were on the fence about whether or not Edinburgh was worth visiting, these top 13 things to do will have convinced you it most certainly is.

Whether you want to wander old streets and along green river beds, see dinosaur skulls and optical illusions, or maybe just have a few whiskies, Edinburgh has something for everyone. 

Its vibrant and friendly atmosphere will welcome you with open arms. No matter how long you choose to visit Edinburgh, it is a city you leave already thinking about your next visit. 

Are you planning on traveling to other destinations in Europe this year?

You can check out my posts on Italy, where you can find many tips on visiting TuscanyFlorence, and the breathtaking Saturnia hot springs.

Barcelona to eat delicious paella and see the iconic La Sagrada Familia. Or if Amsterdam is on your itinerary, find Tips to Get From Airport to Amsterdam & Are Canal Cruises Worth it in Amsterdam.