Edinburgh is one of Europe’s magical cities. Some say it’s the jewel in the crown of the UK. Visiting here for just the day is fine as the city is compact so you can get around most of the noteworthy attractions. If visitors are stuck for time then head to the most popular attraction, Edinburgh Castle.
Situated at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on an extinct volcano, is the wonders of Edinburgh Castle. The Castle is of such importance that the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny and the National War Memorial of Scotland are all housed here.
Edinburgh Castle has played a vital part in the history of Scotland, being a military stronghold for example. It was last used in military action during the 18th century and from that point until the early 20th century it was the main base of the British Army in Scotland.
Moreover, it’s been used as a royal residence throughout the years too. It was home to the likes of King Malcolm Canmore & Queen Margaret during the 11th century. As mentioned, today, it’s one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.
Edinburgh Castle towers of the city. With the brooding Castle Rock perched above on Princes Street on the western end, you come to realise this is the reason how Edinburgh came to be. This rocky hill was defended century after century from English invaders on their quest to take over Scotland.
As you walk up to the castle via the Entrance Gateway, you get a feeling of the importance of the place. As you enter, you’re flanked by the statues of Scotland’s two most important son’s; William Wallace and Robert The Bruce. The gateway leads you on to a cobbled path to the Portcullis Gate. Here are the cannons stationed on the Argyle and Mills Mount Batteries. Unrivalled views are to be had here. Whether it’s an Instagram moment or just a selfie. The views onto Edinburgh New Town and the Firth of Forth are perfect.
Hint: There are plenty Edinburgh based and Scottish hotels in general that offer advice and tips when visiting Edinburgh Castle. Our hotel was in walking distance to the attraction and they had mentioned of the fantastic views gained from Portcullis Gate.
Moving on from Mills Mount Battery is the well-known One O’clock Gun. Visitors come here in droves to see the WWII warrior. It’s in action every day apart from Christmas Day, Good Friday and Sundays.
South of Mills Mount is the Roman built St Margaret’s Chapel. It’s the oldest surviving building in the city and built around 1130 in memory of the Queen who once lived here.
Moving further up to the summit of Castle Rock stands the most important group if buildings that are situated around Crown Sq. The shrine of the Scottish National War Memorial is the eye-catching monument but there are other sites to see too such as the Great Hall. This building was used as the Scottish Parliament until the mid-17th century. Its original purpose was as a ceremonial hall for James IV. You need to check out the original hammer beam roof on top of the hall as well.
Under the Great Hall are the Castle Vaults. This area was used as bakeries, storerooms and as a prison. Entering the Castle Vaults via the Prisons of War Exhibition, the vaults had a makeover to resemble 18th and 19th century prisons. Visitors can see graffiti on the ancient walls by American and French prisoners that may or may not be authentic.
Venturing to the East Side of Crown Square is the wonders of the Royal Palace. Various historical displays lead you to the Scottish crown jewels which is the highlight of the whole attraction. The strong room of the Royal Palace in which the jewels are housed was all built during the 15th and 16th centuries. The jewels themselves are said to be amongst the oldest surviving crown jewels in Europe.
Following the Act of the Union in 1707, the crown, sword and sceptre were locked away in a chest and forgotten about until Sir Walter Scott’s instigation in 1818. The Stone of Destiny is another important artefact in the Royal Palace.
Near to the Royal Palace are the Royal Apartments. This is where Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI (mentioned above) who would go on and unite the crowns of Scotland and England in the early 17th century.
Edinburgh Castle Admission Information
There are various tours and options when visiting Edinburgh Castle while on a hotel break in Scotland.
- 3 Hour Private Castle Tour costs from around $260 +
- Edinburgh City Pass is around $60 +
- Adult/Concession around $20/$12 and audio guide is $5/$3
- Opening hours – 9.30am-6pm Apr-Sep, to 5pm Oct-Mar, last entry 1hr before closing
The hotels in Scotland and Edinburgh can even offer discounted rates for entry so bare that in mind.
Other helpful hints
- Arriving in mid-afternoon means avoiding the crowds
- Come in May when the weather is warmer and the days longer
- Hotels in Scotland & Edinburgh offer hints, tips and even discounted rates
Edinburgh Castle is one of the top places to come when you’re staying in the city. Experience this magical place on your next weekend break or hotel break in Scotland.