Things To Do in Edinburgh For History Buffs - The Historic City Sights

If you love a bit of history and you’d like to know more about Edinburgh and Scotland’s turbulent past, then we’ve drawn up the best list of places to visit during your time here that should offer a real insight into the past, present and future of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle

An ancient stronghold with the Scots and the English battling for supremacy, this castle has a colourful and fascinating back story – going back as far as the Iron Age, and to the 1314 battle with the English under Tomas Randolph. It was also home to Queen Margaret, Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. It’s also been an army headquarters, so you’ll find there’s so much to explore within the grounds and in the history of the castle. You’ll find it the most fascinating journey into Scotland’s history so far.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

This was originally a monastery in the 12th century and is now the official residence of the Queen. It’s at the end of the Royal Mile and you’ll find it has a wealth of history to explore with kings and queens at the heart of every story. You can visit during the summer and explore the exciting paintings within.

There are plenty of tours both in the day and in the evening and there’s special tours for both adults and children, you’ll find this palace every bit as fascinating as Buckingham Palace with all the stories and history to match.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is in Edinburgh where you can see the city centre, the views are spectacular, with an Athenian acropolis creating a beautiful skyline of its own. This is an unfinished monument that was first started in the early half of the 19th century. It was built to look exactly like the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, in memory to those that died during the Napoleonic Wars.

This is a great place to gather your thoughts and admire the view. From here you can look into the city streets and see beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle, you can also see the cliffs of Salisbury Crags, Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park.

Incholm Abbey

This is an island in the Firth of Forth and is 6 miles from the centre of Edinburgh. It dates back to the 12th century and was founded by King David the 1st so his brother King Alexander I could stay here following a stormy crossing over the forth. This is a beautiful abbey and well worth a visit. You can go whenever you like, its open to the public and you’ll find there are some amazing views to be had of the island.

St Giles Cathedral

You’ll find St Giles in the centre of Edinburgh between the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. Its other name is “High Kirk of Edinburgh” and contains the Chapel of the Order of The Thistle. You’ll find out a great deal about the history of Scotland and Edinburgh here at this majestic cathedral, so don’t leave it out of your list of places to go.

Real Mary King's Close

This is an hour’s tour you will never forget. This is a tour that takes you beneath the streets of Edinburgh beneath the Royal Mile. It’s a secret warren of streets you can’t see from above, hidden from view they’re a lesson in Scottish history. They date back to the 17th century and promise an eerie visit into the past.

You’ll find this deliciously secret tour at the top of Warriston’s Close on the Royal Mile, this is a path that will lead you to The Real Mary King’s Close, where you can start your ghostly 1 hour tour.

The Scott Monument

If you’re quite fit, then why not climb the 287 steps to the Scott Monument and see Edinburgh in a way you’ve never seen her before? You can go to the museum room and find out about Sir Walter Scott’s contribution to this monument. You’ll need to check the weather before embarking on the journey to this amazing site, because when weather’s bad, the monument is closed, sometimes at short notice.

Craigmillar Castle

A beautifully preserved castle with a great hall to remember and the beautiful Queen Mary’s Room. You can look out at Edinburgh from the tower and see some amazing sights such Holyrood Park and the entire city.

This noble castle was once shelter for Mary Queen of Scots and is worthy of a visit for both you and the entire family.

Blackness Castle

This amazing castle was built in the 1400s by the Crichtons, a powerful Scottish family. It was used as both a state prison and as a garrison fortress, so Blackness Castle’s past has been a turbulent one.

You’ll be fascinated to know that Blackness Castle has been a stand in for Fort William on TV in the popular series Outlander. You’ll find this imposing castle on the southernmost part of the Firth of Forth that looks across the Fife. This is a stronghold with a fascinating history, so your visit will be an unforgettable one.

Lauriston Castle

There are some great collections here including Crossley Wool Mosaics, Blue John Ornaments, Italian furniture and Sheffield Plate. The interiors were chosen by Mr W R Reid of Morison & Co who ran a successful cabinet making business in the heart of Edinburgh.

The grounds were designed by William Henry Playfair in the mid-19th century, and you’ll find a Japanese Friendship Garden where you can admire the views and relax.

Well worth a visit if you enjoy history and gardening.

So there you have it, a great list of venues to visit for those that enjoy a bit of history and want to find out about Edinburgh’s colourful and noble past.