It’s good to take the scenic route from time to time. Taking things slow, stopping and smelling the roses — it’s good for the body, the mind, and the soul. Edinburgh, Scotland is full of scenic routes. And scenic buildings. And scenic parks. Simply put, Edinburgh is gorgeous.
Traveling through “Old Smokey” is an experience unlike any other. You’ll get to see some of the famous landmarks in Scotland up close. You’ll also get to experience Edinburgh’s culture and learn about Scotland’s history.
Today, we’re going to take you on a walking tour of Edinburgh. We’ll travel through ancient alleyways, visit famous churches, and climb all the way up some of Edinburgh’s highest hills. We’re going to get active today, so you should store your extra luggage someplace safe before we get started.
Our walking tour of Edinburgh starts at one of the city’s oldest buildings. Edinburgh Castle was built sometime during the 11th Century, though some scholars suggest that the building is even older than that. Many of Scotland’s most revered rulers lived here. King David I and his mother Saint Margaret both called Edinburgh Castle home.
Now, visitors from all around the world are welcome to sign up for tours of this incredible building. We encourage you to stop by the castle’s website if you’re interested in taking a tour.
The Royal Mile
The next stop on our walking tour of Edinburgh isn’t just one place. The Royal Mile is a vast web of streets, shops, and alleyways. For the Harry Potter fans out there, the Royal Mile might give you major Diagon Alley vibes.
You’ll find everything that you need at the Mile; boutiques, convenience stores, souvenir shops, and more. You could honestly spend hours exploring the Royal Mile alone. What else can we say; the Royal Mile is a memorable, and magical, part of Edinburgh.
If we were handing out awards, Canongate Kirk would be a shoe-in for the “Coolest Name” category. But this venerated church is so much more than just a building with an awesome name. Canongate Kirk is a major part of Old Town Edinburgh’s cultural history.
Canongate Kirk was built between 1688 and 1691. Royal weddings have been held here, including the wedding of Zara Phillips and Michael Tindall. Church services are still held at Canongate Kirk to this day and the Royal Family visit from time to time. Who knows, you just might bump into Queen Elizabeth!
Scottish Parliament Building
Next up on our walking tour of Edinburgh is the Scottish Parliament Building. This modern marvel was built between 1999 and 2004 by Enric Miralles and his wife Benedetta Tagliabue. The Scottish Parliament Building is a shining example of Post-Modern Architecture. Several popular sculptures and attractions are nearby, like the Scottish Parliament Pools. You should stop by their website if you want to learn more about this building.
If you think about it, the Holyrood Abbey is one of Canongate Kirk’s older siblings. It’s another revered church that’s been around for centuries. King David I had the Holyrood Abbey built in 1128. For a long time, people attended church services, got married, and held funerals at this building. All of that came to a tragic end when the Rough Wooing War broke out. Now, only the ruins of the abbey remain.
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that Scotland really loves their poets. There are tons of streets, restaurants, and monuments that are named after Scottish poets in Edinburgh alone. The Burns Monument is one of them; it’s named after the 18th Century poet Robert Burns. For those who don’t know, Burns is regarded as a national hero in Scotland. His works have inspired millions of Scottish citizens, even centuries after his passing. A walking tour of Edinburgh just wouldn’t be complete without a quick stop at the Burns Monument.
Howies Waterloo Place
We’re more than halfway done with our walking tour of Edinburgh. At this point, we figured you’ve worked up a major appetite. That’s why Howies is our next stop. This restaurant is nestled in a historic Georgian building and serves amazing seasonal dishes. Some of the items on Howies’ menu include:
- Crispy Panko Calamari
- Belhaven Smoked Trout Pate
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Slow Braised Scotch Beef Casserole
- Grilled Scottish Hake
And all kinds of delicious Scottish dishes. We’re genuinely getting hungry just writing about Howies. Head on over to their website so you can view their full menu and book a reservation. And trust us, you’ll need to book a spot ASAP if you’re serious about checking out Howies Waterloo Place.
There’s a slew of monuments in Edinburgh that share a name with famous military leaders. The Nelson Monument, for instance, is named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, the 1st Duke of Bronte. Admiral Nelson tragically met his end in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. This monument is dedicated to him, and depicts four major battles.
National Monument of Scotland
If you search for the most famous landmarks in Scotland or Edinburgh, chances are you’ll see this structure at least a billion times. Seriously, the National Monument of Scotland is easily one of the most recognizable buildings in the city. This marvel was built in the early 1820s and is dedicated to Scottish sailors and soldiers who perished in the Napoleonic Wars.
Dugald Stewart Monument
Okay, so we’ve explained that the National Monument of Scotland is one of the most recognizable structures in the city. We’re all clear on that, right? Well, the Dugald Stewart Monument is the single-most iconic landmark in Edinburgh by a mile. The Dugald Stewart Monument is named after a Scottish Philosopher from the Enlightenment era. This monument is in travel brochures, history books, films and TV shows, postage stamps — it’s a symbol of Edinburgh. We couldn’t think of a better place to end our walking tour of Edinburgh.