Things to do
on the Royal Mile
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is the home of the Scotch Whisky Experience and was recently named amongst the prettiest streets in Britain. Second only to York’s The Shambles a visit to the Royal Mile must be on your list of things to do in Edinburgh. From wonderful food to some of the best attractions in the City, the Royal Mile has it all. Using our insider knowledge we’ve created a top ten things to do list that has something for everyone to enjoy.
A trip to Edinburgh isn’t complete without adding Edinburgh Castle to your bucket list. Easily a whole day’s activity in itself, a trip to the Castle will take you through the key moments in Edinburgh’s rich history, including a visit to the Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, and the Scottish National War Memorial. The Castle’s iconic setting and architecture make a great photo opportunity, not to mention unrivalled views from the city’s central spot. Edinburgh Castle tops our list of things to do on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
Insider knowledge: Book in advance to save money on your ticket price!
See Edinburgh Castle website here for ticket prices.
See Edinburgh Castle website here for opening times.
Location: Map link
Contact details: +44 (0)131 225 9846 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Five floors of mind-boggling optical illusions and visual trickery make the Camera Obscura a must-visit for all ages – the perfect way to wile away an afternoon. From the legendary Magic Gallery – an interactive space to dazzle the senses – to exquisite city views of Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile and Castle from the Rooftop Terrace, there’s something for everyone. Typical visits take around 2 hours but tickets are valid all day so you can spend as long as you like.
Insider knowledge: Camera Obscura is Edinburgh’s oldest purpose-built tourist attraction!
See Camera Obscura website here for ticket prices.
Opening times: See Camera Obscura website here for opening times.
The elegant setting and atmosphere of the Witchery – a Gothic hotel and restaurant – make it the perfect grown-up bolthole for romantic dinners and truly special events. A thoughtful, varied menu is full of tasty Scottish produce and beautifully constructed dishes, with dining options for pre- or post visits to one of the city’s many theatres. Combine that with a chance to stay in sumptuous historical luxury in one of the Witchery’s nine unique suites, and you’ve got a serious treat for a truly special city break.
Insider knowledge: Head through the pulpit reception and down the steps to discover the Secret Garden – a magical enclosed green space nestled amongst the old buildings, perfect for a leisurely lunch.
Ever wondered what £1 million looks like? The story of money is set – naturally enough – in the historic Bank of Scotland Head Office just off the Royal Mile, overlooking Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens and New Town. The Museum on the Mound weaves architecture, art, design and history to piece together this fascinating exhibition that really is right on the money. What’s more, it’s completely free to enter.
Insider knowledge: Budding cat burglars should head to the Money Matters exhibit to try their hands at cracking open a safe.
A slice of 17th century Edinburgh lies a few metres beneath the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile. Find out what life was like for the ordinary people living and working in the city in the 1600s, their experiences brought to life by costumed characters with real stories and experiences to tell you. You can even try one of their twice-daily walking tours to take your knowledge of the surrounding areas even further.
Insider knowledge: The Real Mary King’s Close is Edinburgh’s only underground close!
See The Real Mary King's Close website here for ticket prices.
* Please note that the tour of The Real Mary King’s Close is not suitable for children under 5.
See The Real Mary King's Close website here for opening times.
Location: Map link
Contact details: +44 (0) 131 225 0672
Not just the place to pick up your programme for the world-renowned Edinburgh International Festival, the beautiful setting and architecture of the Hub is an exquisite place for parties, weddings, gala dinners and truly unique events. Not here for long? Make sure you stop by Café Hub, their onsite stop off for cakes, coffees and delicious Scottish lunches.
Insider knowledge: The Hub’s spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh.
At the foot of the Royal Mile sits Her Majesty the Queen’s official Scottish residence, the beautiful Palace of Holyroodhouse. Take an audio tour of the palace, learning about its place in Scottish royal history, including a visit to the sumptuously decorated Morning Drawing Room, and the beautiful, wood-panelled chambers of Mary Queen of Scots, where she lived in the 1560s. Why not end your visit with a stroll, jog or cycle around the magnificent Holyrood Park, a stunning green space in the heart of the city.
Insider knowledge: The Queen’s Gallery, situated at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, holds regular exhibitions that examine the British Empire’s influence across the world, featuring photography, painting and priceless artefacts.
Please see The Palace of Holyroodhouse website here for ticket prices.
A chance to blow the cobwebs away whilst admiring incredible views of Edinburgh? Sounds pretty good to us. While the path to the top can be tricky, the panorama from the top of this extinct volcano is simply breath-taking whatever the weather. Those with limited mobility (or who don’t fancy the trek to the top) can take a more scenic route via the Queen’s Drive – by bike, car or on foot – which winds around the side of the hill with plenty of spots to park up and admire the scenery.
Insider knowledge: Follow the path down the other side of Arthur’s Seat to get to the chocolate-box village of Duddingston – and reward yourself with a pint at the beautiful old Sheep Heid Inn.
Opening times: Always open, but take care if you're heading up to catch the sunrise or sunset as climbing in the dark can be dangerous
Location: Map link
Nestled among the nooks and crannies that flank Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile is the luxurious Devil’s Advocate – a bar and eatery that’s a much-loved stop-off in the area for visitors and residents alike. With a repertoire of beautifully-presented cocktails, a varied and evolving seasonal menu and a 300-strong whisky bar, the Advocate is a well-kept secret you’ll be very pleased you got wind of.
Insider knowledge: Secure a spot on their mezzanine dining floor for a spot of people-watching with your lunch or dinner.
Bare brick and sunflower-yellow décor make this friendly, welcoming café – just off the Royal Mile and within seconds’ walk of St Giles Cathedral – the perfect place to rest tired feet after a morning of strolling through the cobbled Old Town. With seriously good coffee, a tempting lunchtime menu and pastries to die for, you’ll be sorely tempted to put off the rest of your day plans and just wile away the hours in this cosy wee café.
Insider knowledge: Make the most of a sunny day and take your tea (or coffee) on the tables on the street outside, for an authentic Parisian vibe.
Monday-Sunday open from 9am
Location: Map link
Contact details: 0131 225 6267