Visiting Edinburgh Castle :
Before we went to Scotland we wanted our trip and our visit to places like Edinburgh Castle to be fun for us and our daughter. She’s six years old. So we purchased a number of books, including one called Katie in Scotland by James Mayhew.
My daughter read the book and got pumped to visit all the places Katie visited. One of the big stops on Katie’s journey was Edinburgh Castle. She took the Loch Ness Monster with her. We didn’t.
So with book in hand, we three made the trip up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle to see one of Scotland’s most amazing historical sites.
The backstory for your visit might be different and that’s okay. But the sights you will see and the things you will do… those will all be the same. Hopefully.
Here is what we think are the best things to do at Edinburgh Castle!
Just Hang Out
One of the great things about Edinburgh Castle is the general atmosphere. You don’t need to run straight to the line-up for the Crown Jewels. It’s a huge place with open yards, walls with walkways that overlook the fantastic city of Edinburgh, and restaurants with hot food.
Relaxing, enjoying the building and imagining yourself in the shoes of the many people who occupied and fought over this building is fantastic thing to do. Make sure you build it into you visit. Have a picnic!
One O’Clock Gun
For some reason everyone loves the firing of an unarmed gun. It must be something primal! And the kids just go crazy for it! The One O’Clock Gun is located near the Half Moon Battery and is fired at 1pm every weekday. It is a tradition that dates back to the days when ships on the Firth of Forth set their time based on the firing of the gun.
If you’re not visiting on the weekend then get ready!
The Royal Palace
Inside the walls of Edinburgh Castle is a Royal Palace. Let’s face it, the nobels of past ages often had to put their palaces behind thick walls to keep them safe. And not from paparazzi either! These were different days for sure.
Inside the Royal Palace you will see how the Scottish nobility lived and died.
Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny
Maybe not a huge hit with the kids, this is a great attraction if the lines aren’t too long. Hint – come early if you want to avoid the prospect of the longest line in the Castle.
The attraction is pretty cool. Particularly the Stone of Destiny. This stone is the coronation stone of the kings and queens of Scotland, including today. It is said to have come from ancient Israel and was once the Stone of Jacob.
Scottish National War Memorial
The Scottish National War Memorial honours the Scots who were killed in World War I. Each regiment has its own memorial. And a silver shrine holds the roll of honor with the names of 150,000 dead. The numbers of Scottish men who died in World War I was significant and disproportionate to say the least.
And as such, the Scottish National War Memorial is a profoundly important monument for the Scottish people and is a location that is treated with considerable respect.
St. Margaret’s Chapel
St. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest building at Edinburgh Castle. It was built by King David I in 1130 to honor his mother, St. Margaret, who died in the castle in 1093. Wow… almost a thousand years of history!
Prisoners of War Museum
All good castles doubled as prisons. Its tough to get in and actually pretty hard to get back out. It’s particularly difficult when your starting point is basically a dungeon. Its always interesting and more than a little creepy to learn about how prisoners experienced castle life. Not quite like living in the Royal Palace.
The National War Museum of Scotland
The National War Museum was established in 1933. It serves to exhibit uniforms, weapons, and other memorabilia from the Scottish regiments. This National War Museum expreses in very clear terms the importance that the military has had in Scotland, both from times before the United Kingdom and after.
When to Visit
Whatever your timing in Edinburgh, it is always best to visit early. Be there for opening. This is an attraction that gets extremely busy because everyone who visits Edinburgh makes a stop here.
Alternatively, you can avoid the lines with a Skip the Line: Edinburgh Castle Entrance Ticket.
But if you don’t mind lines, then just forget the above and go when its sunny, warm and pleasant. That’s just as good.
Adult (16 – 59 yrs) £17.00
Child (5 – 15 yrs) £10.20
Concession (60 yrs+ and unemployed)* £13.60
You can also buy and explorer pass. Check out my article on visiting Scottish castles for photography more information on the various types of passes available and how they work.
I create photographs created using the incredible Olympus OM-D system.