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Exciting Things to Do in and Near Edinburgh

Last updated: 11/03/2024

Known as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, Edinburgh is a place people visit again and again. This vibrant Scottish capital offers a rich blend of history, nature, and culture that appeals to all ages. From exploring historic sites to embarking on exciting day trips and indulging in cultural experiences, there are so many exciting things to do in and near Edinburgh.

Historic Sites

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle on Arthurs rock


Edinburgh Castle, one of the city's most iconic landmarks, is a must-visit. Perched on top of Castle Rock, it offers spectacular views of the city. Explore the historic buildings within the castle walls, including the Great Hall, the Royal Palace, and the Stone of Destiny. The daily firing of the One O’clock Gun is a tradition dating back to 1861, and well worth watching.

Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse

Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

The Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, is another must-see. Follow in the footsteps of royalty as you tour the luxurious State Apartments, where monarchs have resided and entertained guests for centuries. Set against the backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, the beautiful 4-hectare Palace gardens and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, dating back to the 12th century, are a sight to behold.

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh

A short drive from Edinburgh brings you to Rosslyn Chapel, a 15th-century chapel known for its intricate carvings and associations with the Knights Templar. This hidden gem, featured in Dan Brown's novel, 'The Da Vinci Code', is steeped in mystery and intrigue, capturing the imagination of children and adults alike.

Cultural Attractions

The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland charts the country's history from ancient times to the present day. Discover artefacts, fascinating exhibitions, and interactive displays that bring the past and present of Scotland, other nations, and the natural world to life.

Scottish National Gallery

Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh

If you're an art lover, make sure to visit the Scottish National Gallery. Located in the heart of Edinburgh, this world-class gallery houses an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, from Botticelli and Titian to the very best modern art. Explore the works of renowned Scottish and international artists.

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions in Edinburgh

For a fun-filled experience, head to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. This unique museum collaborates with artists, inventors and technical wizards – to offers mind-bending exhibits and optical illusions that will challenge your perception and provides a great source of entertainment for all ages.

Day Trips from Edinburgh

Go Ape 

Two children and Go Ape Dalkeith near Edinburgh

Go wild at Go Ape Dalkeith, just 30 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh! Escape to the lush 1000 acre Dalkeith Country Park for some adrenaline-filled fun. With three challenging high ropes experiences, 8 awesome zip wires across the River Esk and sky-high platforms, there’s something for everyone.

If you're looking for something to test your mind, as well as your skills, Stumped is a great group activity! Embark on a journey through Dalkeith Country Park as you unravel ten fiendishly clever puzzles. Your mission: navigate, discover, and solve each challenge to unveil a unique four-digit code. 

Archery Tag

A group of people playing Archery Tag

Brand-new for 2024, Archery tag is also fun, fast-paced outdoor activity that combines elements of archery and dodgeball. Players use bows and foam-tipped arrows to tag opponents and eliminate them from the game.

Take cover behind inflatable obstacles for protection, muster your tribe and attack your opponent with a flurry of arrows! Perfect for kids and adults alike, it requires teamwork, strategy, and quick reflexes, making it an exciting activity for groups and events.

Go Ape Glentress Forest, Peebles


Go Ape at Glentress Forest (Peebles) is just a short distance away from Edinburgh so why not combine your getaway with an exciting adventure on this incredible Treetop Challenge course.

Tucked away in the dramatic Glentress Forest this hidden gem boasts 325-metre-long zips across and the highest Go Ape platform at 190ft! Glentress Forest is also a word-class mountain biking venue so don’t forget to bring your bikes.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness and urguhart castle near Edinburgh

Set off on a mystical journey to Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. This iconic Scottish landmark offers breathtaking scenery and the chance to spot the elusive creature. Explore the historic ruins of Urquhart Castle or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shores of the loch and have a wee look for Nessie.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs near Edinburgh

A visit to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is another great day trip option from Edinburgh. Discover stunning landscapes, tranquil lochs, and towering mountains. Enjoy hiking, kayaking, or a relaxing picnic by the water's edge.

Natural Wonders in Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Set in Holyrood Park and just a short walk from the Royal Mile, Arthur's Seat is an ancient volcano with panoramic views of Edinburgh. The hike to the summit is a favourite among locals and tourists, and as you ascend, you'll be treated to spectacular vistas of the city skyline and surrounding countryside.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park in Edinburgh

Spread over 650 acres, Holyrood Park is a vast and peaceful greenspace at the foot of Arthur's Seat. This royal park, with its picturesque lochs, green grassland, and diverse wildlife, is ideal for a leisurely family walk or a picnic in nature.

Pentland Hills

Pentland Hills near Edinburgh

Only a short drive from the city centre, Pentland Hills offers a peaceful escape from the buzz of the city. With rolling hills, scenic reservoirs, and charming villages, this regional park is a paradise for hikers, cyclists, and nature lovers. Explore the network of trails and enjoy breathtaking views of the Edinburgh skyline.

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woman on zip line at Go Ape | things to do in Edinburgh