The Royal Mile
Go for a sightseeing trip along the Royal Mile, a series of streets that forms the main artery of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the oldest part of the city. This ancient cobblestone route stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It has been used by pedestrians for hundreds of years, and houses some of the city’s most fascinating old buildings.
Start your journey near the castle to the west and make your way down the hill. You’ll pass numerous pubs, restaurants and small independent stores. Visit Parliament Square on the south side to see Parliament House, which today is the home of several law courts.
While you are in the square, step into St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. It has been a place of worship for nearly a thousand years. Before you go inside, look down at the cobbles near the cathedral’s west entrance. You should see the Heart of Midlothian, a heart-shaped mosaic that marks the spot where the Old Tolbooth, a prison built in the 1400s, once stood.
Learn more about the city’s past at the People’s Story, a museum that tells the history of Edinburgh’s ordinary citizens from medieval times to the present day. Explore the interior of Gladstone's Land, a surviving 17th-century townhouse. Go to the Canongate graveyard to see the final resting place of many famous Scots, including the economist and philosopher Adam Smith. Learn about the production of the country’s national drink and sample the “water of life” at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre.
Wander off the main street to explore the narrow passages and alleys that have changed little in hundreds of years.
The Royal Mile ends at the gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This royal residence is open throughout the year except when members of the British royal family are there.
It takes about 20 minutes to walk the Royal Mile, but you may want to give yourself at least a couple of days to explore it in full.