Edinburgh is the Gothic capital of Scotland, steeped in legends of King Arthur, mysterious incidents, conspiracies of monarchs, haunted houses, monsters and excellent whiskey. Keep watching to discover a magical well hidden in the village of Dean, learn how to travel to 17th century Edinburgh without a time machine, discover where an ancient dragon sleeps, where to taste the best whiskey and more.
Perched atop the ancient volcanic hill, Edinburgh Castle is the jewel in the crown of the Scottish capital. This fearsome fortress has witnessed royal plots and military sieges for over a millennium of history. It houses the Stone of Destiny used in the coronations of Scottish and English monarchs for centuries. You can also admire the Crown Jewels and explore St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh's oldest surviving building.
Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
Nestled in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness radiates with its serene beauty and whispers of enigma. Legends of the elusive monster Nessie have captivated hearts for generations since the year 565. Nearby is Urquhart Castle, a historic ruin steeped in tales of battle and intrigue. Its very destruction is shrouded in mystery. As you explore this ancient fortress, remember that Loch Ness hides unexplored depths and hidden underwater wonders. Although Nessie's existence remains unproven, sonar scans have revealed intriguing anomalies that fuel the legend. Who knows, you might be the one to see Nessie.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive our latest articles and travel tips as soon as they are published.
Edinburgh Old Town
Edinburgh's Old Town, where the cobbled streets echo centuries of history, is a captivating tapestry of Scotland's past. While its medieval and Renaissance architecture is a sight to behold, dig deeper to discover the hidden vaults and narrow vents that once housed the city's most colorful characters, from poets to pirates. Walk the Royal Mile, explore tales of witch trials at the Grassmarket and walk the paths where literary greats found their inspiration.
Arthur's Seat is not just a hill in the heart of Edinburgh, it is an ancient volcano that has been dormant for centuries. This legendary peak offers more than just stunning views of the city, it's also steeped in captivating legends. Some believe it was named after King Arthur, while others say witches held secret meetings here according to local folklore. Arthur's Seat is said to be the sleeping form of a dragon that will awaken if it is ever disturbed. Whether you hike to its summit to enjoy its breathtaking vistas or explore the mysterious Dunsapie Pond hidden in Holyrood Park, the mysteries of Arthur's Seat are as intriguing as its inspiring landscapes.
The Four Bridges
The Four Bridges are more than just engineering marvels, they are a symbol of Scotland's ambition. The famous red railway bridge, the Fourth Bridge, steals the show, but did you know that its adjacent neighbors, the Fourth Road Bridge and the Queen's Fairy Bridge, form a trio of magnificent crossings? It's a sight to behold, with each bridge showcasing a different era of design and technology. But here's the secret: Under the Fourth Railroad Bridge is a secret chamber known as the Bathy Briggers, where workers took refuge during construction.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile, which winds through Edinburgh's Old Town, offers much more than meets the eye. While its cobblestone surface and historic facades may seem familiar, did you know that this iconic street is home to hidden courtyards, secret gardens and centuries-old mysteries? As you walk, you'll discover historic treasures such as the imposing St Giles Cathedral and the famous Heart of Midlothian, a curiously located heart-shaped mosaic. But beneath the bustling surface lies the mysterious Mary King's Close, an underground network once a bustling market street, sealed off during plague outbreaks, leaving behind a time capsule steeped in history and intrigue.
Prince's Street and Prince's Street Gardens
Welcome to Prince's Street and Prince's Street Gardens, where Edinburgh's history meets its vibrant present. Did you know that these stunning gardens were once a large lake drained in 1820, on the site of Nor Loch Lake? Today they are a lush haven in the heart of the city, offering respite and stunning views of Edinburgh Castle. Explore the splendor of Prince's Street, a shopping haven with a rich history, and discover hidden landmarks, such as the Hidden Gardens of West Prince's Street, known for its historic Ross Fountain and curious relocation history.
The monument to Scott
Gaze at the Scott Monument, a majestic Gothic masterpiece dedicated to iconic Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. Although its imposing presence is impressive, did you know that it is the largest monument in the world dedicated to a writer? Climb its narrow spiral staircase with 287 steps to reach the top and enjoy panoramic views of Edinburgh. But here is the hidden gem: there is a small secret chamber inside where only a privileged few have dared to venture, a secret space to meditate on the works of this literary giant.
Holyrood Palace invites you to unlock the secrets of Scotland's royal history. The palace's foundations, dating from the 12th century, bear witness to centuries of royal history, including the dramatic life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. With tales of political conspiracies, royal scandals and alleged ghostly encounters echoing through its sumptuous corridors, Holyrood Palace attracts those seeking to unravel the enigmatic tapestry of the Scottish monarchy. It is said that the spirit of David Rizzio, secretary to Mary Stuart murdered in the palace, still haunts its corridors. Beyond the palatial state apartments lies a hidden gem: Holyrood Abbey, a medieval relic shrouded in mystery and history, and a magnificent garden.
The village of Dean
This charming oasis is home to buildings from the 19th century, but its history dates back even further, to the 12th century. Few people know that it was once home to communities of millers and brewers. The village of Dean is also home to Saint Bernard's Well, a neoclassical structure that once dispensed natural spring water and was reputed to have healing properties. Today, it is a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Wander its cobbled streets, admire its whimsical architecture and let yourself be captivated by its tranquil atmosphere.
Climb Calton Hill, an urban sanctuary in the heart of Edinburgh, and you'll discover more than just breathtaking views. This iconic hill is home to several monuments, including replicas of the unfinished Parthenon and Nelson's Column. Yet many people don't realize that Calton Hill got the nickname Edinburgh's shame because of its unfinished structures. But among the oddities and controversies is an unrivaled viewpoint offering sweeping panoramas of the city, from the historic Old Town to the sparkling waters of Quai du Quatre.
Portobello Beach, just a stone's throw from the heart of Edinburgh, offers much more than sun, sand and sea. It's a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. While it's famous for its sandy beaches and historic Victorian promenade, did you know that in the 19th century it was home to Scotland's first indoor swimming pool, with seawater pumped directly from Four Quay? Today you can still feel the atmosphere of the past while enjoying a day of swimming, water sports or walks along the charming promenade.
The Pentland Hills
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the Pentland Hills, a natural wonder on Edinburgh's doorstep. Beyond the rolling green hills and serene reservoirs lies a little-known treasure: the Pentland Hills are home to one of Scotland's oldest stone circles, the Stone Hedge of the North, dating back over 4,000 years. Imagine hiking through heather-covered slopes and discovering ancient secrets.
Edinburgh entertainment: food, Scotch whisky, nightlife and pubs
Edinburgh offers a vibrant food scene with a variety of restaurants, from Michelin-starred establishments to cozy cafes. Don't miss the opportunity to savor traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis, neeps and tatties, or feast on fresh seafood along the historic Royal Mile. Head to the Scotch Whiskey Heritage Center to discover the largest collection of Scotch whiskey in the world, comprising over 3,000 bottles. Edinburgh comes alive after dark, offering vibrant nightlife. There's something for everyone, from traditional dances to live music venues. Head to the Grassmarket or George Street for a memorable evening. Additionally, the town is renowned for its historic pubs, each offering a unique charm. Enjoy a pint of craft beer or local cider in an authentic Scottish pub.
Everything you've ever read about the UK's medieval castles and knights comes to life in Edinburgh and transports you back through centuries past. Let us know in the comments which Edinburgh legend appeals to you the most. A perfect place to explore the world and create memories.
To find all our articles concerning the United Kingdom: Click here