Experiencing the Royal Mile :
Royal Mile Overview
The Royal Mile actually consists of four connecting streets that gently slope downwards from an extinct volcano. If you start your walk along Royal Mile at its highest point (Edinburgh Castle) and continue down towards Holyrood Palace at its eastern end, you will pass down Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street and finally Canongate.
And why wouldn’t you start from the highest point? I mean, you will be walking down hill right!
This collection of streets that make up the Royal Mile is packed with attractions and tourists. As mentioned, the Royal Mile is bookended by Edinburgh Castle on the west end and Holyrood Palace on the east. In between are a number of attractions and experiences that will appeal to both young and old alike.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura is perfectly situated beside Edinburgh Castle on Castle Hill and provides outstanding views of the city. But the views aren’t the reason to come to the Camera Obscura. The View is just dessert! Really, the Camera Obscura is a place to give the kids a great afternoon of fun and a break from the castles, cathedrals and galleries that you’ve just dragged them through. On each floor of the Outlook Tower a different themed attraction awaits, including the World of Illusions, the Magic Gallery, the Light Fantastic gallery, and the actual camera obsura show on the roof top level.
My daughter loved her visit here and this was a highlight of her time in Edinburgh. Its attractions like these that bring balance to family adventures and makes traveling with kids a pleasure.
Scotch Whisky Experience
The Scotch Whisky Experience is located at the top Royal Mile, next door to Edinburgh Castle and accorss the street from the Camera Obscura.
The Scotch Whisky Experience is not a distillery, but an interactive exhibition that offers educational tours variously targeted to a range whisky enthusiasts. The Scotch Whisky experience also provides two whisky bars, a top notch restaurant and a shop where you can load up on scotch and scotch related paraphernalia.
Museum of Edinburgh
The Museum of Edinburgh tells the story of the city of Edinburgh from its earliest days up to the present. The exhibits highlight the people of Edinburgh’s origins and histories through a variety of artificats, such as the original copy of the National Covenant.
You can also visit the interactive Learning Space with the kids, where you will do crafts play detective and experience storytelling corner.
All free, but donations are encouraged. No need to book, just pop in.
John Knox House
John Knox House dates back to 1470 and (along with the attached Moubray House) is the Royal Mile’s only medieval structure. John Knox was a Scottish minister, theologian and writer, as well as a major leader in Scotland’s turbulent Protestant Reformation. At John Knox house you can explore the rooms of this historical gem using an audio guide or take a tour. Either way, prepare to be fascinated.
Shops on the Royal Mile cater primarily to tourists. Looking for a highland ‘coo’ stuffy or a red hair wig? The Royal Mile is your best bet. You will also find cashmere, tweed, tartan and Scottish shortbread. If you’re looking for something else your best bet is a different part of Edinburgh. Try the New Town instead. Just so you know, we came home with the stuffed highland coo.
The Royal Mile and its popular side streets such as Cockburn and Victoria all offer a range of food options and many have outdoor patios. If the weather is warm you really want to be on the patio enjoying the atmosphere.
If you can get a spot then you need to grab a table on Victoria Terrace overlooking Victoria Street. The Victoria Terrace is just a few steps of the Royal Mile off Upper Bow. We ate the Castle Arms and it hit the spot!