Edinburgh Castle, the oldest building in the city, sits high on a craggy volcanic rock just near the city center. During its history, which spans almost a thousand years, the stronghold has witnessed sieges, served as a military base and provided refuge for Scottish monarchs.
A guided tour is included with the price of admission. If you prefer to explore the ramparts, towers and battlements on your own, check the castle’s official website for one of its suggested itineraries.
As you make your way through the Entrance Gateway, look up to see the statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (aka “Braveheart”), two 14th-century defenders of Scottish independence.
Join the crowds at the far end of the Argyle Battery to watch the One O ’Clock Gun. The cannon is fired every day except Sunday at exactly one o’clock. It started in 1861 to help ships in nearby Leith Harbour set their clocks.
Stand in the Great Hall, the grandiose room where Charles I banqueted. Step inside the bedchamber where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to the future James VI of Scotland who united the English and Scottish crowns in 1603. Gaze upon the Scottish crown jewels on the first floor of the Royal Palace. Alongside these treasures is the Stone of Destiny, a block of red sandstone that’s been used in royal coronation ceremonies for centuries.
Visit the Scottish National War Memorial that commemorates Scottish soldiers lost in the two world wars and other military conflicts.
Edinburgh Castle can be reached by foot from the east end of Princes Street. The castle site includes steep cobblestone streets that may present difficulties for some people. Parts of the castle are wheelchair accessible and a limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis. There is no on-site parking, but there are a few disabled parking bays, which need to be booked in advance.
The castle is open daily but opening times vary throughout the year; check the official castle website for times.