7 things you need to see and do in Edinburgh

Think of Edinburgh attractions and your mind might spring to the Fringe Festival, or perhaps the iconic Edinburgh Castle. The city has so much more to offer though, and whether you're popping over for a weekend city break, or a longer stay in the Scottish capital, there are many other things worth taking the time to see and do.

Climb the Scott Monument

Scott Monument

Aside from Edinburgh Castle itself, the Scott Monument is one of the city's most recognisable landmarks. Named for the Scottish novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott, the imposing Gothic monument also tells us a great deal about the city's industrial past, with it's intricately carved spire wearing the marks of decades of soot and industrial fumes. Visitors can climb the narrow spiral staircase to the top for an impressive view of the city.

 

Soak up the sunshine at the Meadows

The Meadows, Edinburgh

During the summer months, the Meadows can be one of the best places to escape the heat and crowds of the city. This expansive green oasis is situated right next to the main university campus. Away from the traffic and hoards of tourists bustling through windy streets you can also wander across to Southside, a more relaxed and quiet suburb which is still home to many interesting shops and delis.

 

Look for the stars

Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
Image via: The Royal Observatory

It's not just about the celebrities, although of course Edinburgh is home to a fair number of those, the city is also home to the Royal Observatory, with its truly stunning copper domes. Visitors can enjoy weekly talks on Monday evenings, or a plethora of other special events throughout the year.

 

Play with fire

Samhuinn Fire Festival
Image via: BBC

If the Edinburgh Fringe Festival isn't your thing—there are a number of other festivals held in the city throughout the year. Some of the most unusual are the Beltane and Samhuinn Fire Festivals, held every year by the Beltane Fire Society, a community arts performance charity. Processions, music, recreation of historical rituals, and a strong sense of mysticism mean these festivals are an impressive sight to behold.

 

Pig out

Oink, Edinburgh
Image via: Oink

Edinburgh is an extremely attractive destination for foodies, with thousands of eateries offering everything from traditional Scottish fare to Michelin starred gastronomic delights. To get a true taste of Edinburgh, why not stop off at Oink? Scottish farmers have shops on Grassmarket and Cannongate, and offer a selection of Scottish-reared meat products, not least an impressive daily spit roast pig, which makes for an incredible sandwich.

 

Swot up on your whisky knowledge

Whisky barrels in Scotland

A number of bars in the city centre focus on the wide range of Scottish whisky produced in the surrounding areas, which can be a great night out in itself. If you want to learn more about the production, history and cultural importance of the famous tipple however, why not take a trip to one of the local distilleries? Tours are many and varied and most run from a central point in the city centre.

 

See the animals of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is of course famous for the resident giant pandas, but there are lots more animal attractions that are great for kids an adults alike. Why not visit the butterfly and insect world, or take a walk along the Water of Leith, and spot the native seabirds?