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National Library of Scotland

Scotland’s largest library is free to use. Don’t miss its exhibition of one of the world’s most important literary archives.

The National Library of Scotland is the country’s information hub for the study of its history and culture. It houses millions of items including priceless manuscripts, books, maps and archive film footage.

Among the collections are the earliest books printed in Scotland, more than 32,000 films covering over 100 years of Scotland’s history, and current information in many research fields. Rarer pieces include one of the only complete copies of the first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible of 1455, and the last letter by Mary, Queen of Scots, written just six hours before her execution.

Anyone can peruse the library’s collections and use the reading rooms. To do so you need a library card. This can be obtained on the day of your visit. Just go to Readers’ Registration with proof of your identity and address. You can also register online beforehand to speed up the process when you arrive.

The Visitor Centre is a good place to start your visit. You can browse the online collections, find out how to use the building, and unwind in the café. Then, visit the Discovery Area that contains a selection of the library’s holdings.

While you are in the building, inspect the free permanent and temporary exhibitions on the ground floor. Stop by the John Murray Archive, a permanent collection spanning more than 200 years of this renowned publisher’s history. The collected works include manuscripts, private letters and business correspondence with some of the world’s greatest thinkers and writers, such as Charles Darwin, Lord Byron and Jane Austen. For details of the temporary exhibitions, visit the library’s website.

The National Library of Scotland is located on George IV Bridge, an elevated street close to the city center that’s served by several bus routes. It’s advisable not to come by car as nearby parking is hard to find.

The library is open every day except Sunday. Check the library website for opening times.


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Lodging Near National Library of Scotland

See all 603 Hotels near National Library of Scotland
Pollock Halls

Pollock Halls

18 Holyrood Park Road, Edinburgh
4.0
of 5, from 630 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Newington, this hostel is within 1 mi (2 km) of National Library of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, and Arthur's Seat. Palace of Holyroodhouse and Greyfriars Kirk are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$108
Apex Grassmarket Hotel

Apex Grassmarket Hotel

31-35 Grassmarket, Edinburgh
4.2
of 5, from 925 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Set on the cobbled Grassmarket, this contemporary hotel is overlooked by Edinburgh Castle, and is within 500 metres of The Royal Mile and Princes Street gardens.

$73
Arrandale Guest House

Arrandale Guest House

28 Mayfield Gardens, Edinburgh
4.3
of 5, from 3 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Newington, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of National Library of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, and Royal Commonwealth Pool. Greyfriars Kirk and St. Giles' Cathedral are also within 2 mi (3 km).

$96
Highfield Guest House

Highfield Guest House

83 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh
4.8
of 5, from 20 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Newington, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of National Library of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, and Royal Commonwealth Pool. Greyfriars Kirk and St. Giles' Cathedral are also within 2 mi (3 km).

Royal Mile Residence

Royal Mile Residence

217 Royal Mile, Edinburgh
4.7
of 5, from 3 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

These apartments are located throughout the area in Edinburgh.

$50
Sakura Edinburgh Guest House

Sakura Edinburgh Guest House

18 West Preston Street, Edinburgh
2.6
of 5, from 73 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Located in Newington, this guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of Queen's Hall and Royal Commonwealth Pool. University of Edinburgh and Festival Theatre are also within 15 minutes.

$137
Black Ivy

Black Ivy

4 Alvanley Terrace, Edinburgh
3.9
of 5, from 21 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Bruntsfield, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of King's Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre, and Usher Hall. Edinburgh International Conference Centre and University of Edinburgh are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$95
Motel One Edinburgh-Royal

Motel One Edinburgh-Royal

18-21 Market Street, Edinburgh
4.2
of 5, from 484 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Old Town, this hotel is steps from Edinburgh Dungeon, St. Giles' Cathedral, and Real Mary King's Close. National Gallery of Scotland and Scott Monument are also within 5 minutes.