Scotland’s capital welcomes over 1 million tourists a year, which goes to show that Edinburgh is a major tourist destination not only in the country but in the entire United Kingdom. In fact, it’s the 2nd most visited city in Britain. With so many natural wonders, fantastic culture and a rich association with history, many tourists flock to this capital city to enjoy the holidays. If you’re intrigued by Scottish history, there’s no better place to explore than Edinburgh – it has countless museums and most especially, perfectly preserved castles to give you an essence of what it’s like in the country several hundreds of years ago. Here are 5 must-visit Edinburgh castles:
The mot iconic symbol of the city, the Edinburgh Castle towers over the capital dominating the skyline. Perched on a volcanic rock at the top of the Royal Mile, it is still being used today as a military barracks. The former favoured residence of Scottish queens and kings, it now hosts several museums and gift and book shops that you can explore inside. The National War Museum Scotland and the Prisoners of War exhibition are the main highlights of the museum.
Built by one of Scotland’s most powerful families in the 15th century, the Crichtons, the Blackness Castle is often called “the ship that never sailed” because of how it looks – which is a long and narrow shape that resembles a ship. Used mostly as a prison in its time, this medieval castle has been used in many films such as 1990’s Hamlet and 2008’s Doomsday. A great castle to visit as it sits perfectly in the Firth of Forth, providing spectacular views of the area.
Built in the 1400’s, the Craigmillar Castle was a popular retreat for Mary Queen of Scots during difficult times. One of the country’s most perfectly preserved castles, it offers stunning views of the city and the countryside. Its tower house is one of the oldest in Scotland and has a courtyard and garden for visitors to explore. This is where Mary Queen of Scots stayed in 1566 when her private secretary was murdered.
Holding a Guinness World Record for the longest herbaceous border in its garden, the Dirleton Castle is situated east of Edinburgh, offering a charming and pretty aesthetic – very much different from the gloomy and eerie castles that abound around the city. Entering this medieval castle from its glorious gardens, you’ll immediately feel the different air of this beautiful castle. Some of the building was ruined during the war but has been rebuilt several times over the years by the acquisition of several owners.
The Queen’s royal residence in Scotland the Palace of Holyroodhouse was founded as a monarchy in 1128. It is located right at the end of Royal Mile and is the setting for official entertaining and state ceremonies. For a week in the summer, from the end on June to the start of July, Her Majesty stays in the Palace to carry out a wide range of engagements that brings about crowds to the city. During regular months, you can take guided tours inside the Palace, where you can visit State and Historic Apartments, the Abbey, explore the 4-hectare gardens, eat at the café or buy some souvenirs at the Palace of Holyroodhouse shop.
There are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in and around Edinburgh but to get the best deals on accommodation in Edinburgh we recommend Private House Stays who are a leading Scottish accommodation website.