The highest point in Holyrood Park at 251 meters (823.4 feet), Arthur's Seat is a historic volcano that overlooks the city of Edinburgh from its soaring perch. It is occupied by a historic hill fort and is inhabited by a smattering of animal species, thus deeming it a Site of Special Scientific Interest. On a clear day, one can see for kilometers from the mound across the city, along the coast to East Lothian and out to the Forth to Fife. The volcano, which has been extinct for over 350 million years, is said to derive its name from the legendary King Arthur of Camelot, the 6th-century Arthur of Strathclyde, or be a derivative of the Gaelic ard-na-said, meaning the height of arms.
Steeped in unbridled antiquity, the charming Old Town is that part of Edinburgh where history yet lives in all its glory. The town is home to an arsenal of significant buildings like the St. Gile's Cathedral, the National Museum of Scotland and the Old College; however, its nerve center is the Royal Mile, which cuts through the ancient landscape of the town, straddling many historic monuments on its way. Pervaded by a certain kind of old-world charm, Old Town is where quaint alleys like Cockburn Street overflow with shops full of tie-dye and joss sticks, piercings and indie style, while the St. Mary's area boasts tiny independent designer boutiques. Old Town, together with New Town is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance as the oldest part of the Scottish capital.
Formerly the Birds of Prey Center, Falconry Scotland continues to introduce the public to the power, agility and beauty of these awesome predators. Get face to face with eagles, kestrels and owls - there are 30 different species of bird to view and aerial displays daily. If you get hooked by these talon-ed raptors, there is the chance to handle the birds yourself, enjoy a quick introduction, go on a Hawk Walk and then take the plunge into the art of falconry. Once you have mastered the falconer's knot, some basic handling and the essential flying techniques, the sky is the limit. The center also organizes falconry holidays. Demonstrations and handling sessions are available on a pre-booked basis only, please telephone the center to discuss your needs and their current rates.
The core of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, the Royal Mile begins at Edinburgh Castle, making its way down the volcanic hill to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Along the way are numerous historic icons and modern-day attractions, hidden gems tucked away down narrow closes interlinked with stairways that lead to an underground maze of wonders. From the mysteries of the Real Mary King Close and the panoramic views afforded by the Camera Obscura to the Scottish Whiskey Experience and the Parliament Buildings, both old and new, the Royal Mile encompasses the heritage of Scotland in a single Scots mile. The Royal Mile is actually made up of four successive streets, namely, Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street and Cannongate, lined with restaurants and boutiques that offer regional specialties. Other attractions include the People's Story Museum, St. Giles Cathedral and the Museum of Childhood. A visit to Edinburgh is simply incomplete without a walk down the Royal Mile.
Next door to the Royal Museum, the stunning Museum of Scotland details the history of the Scottish people. From the beginning of time through the present day, the history of Scotland is explained through galleries and displays in a wonderful, informative exhibition. Wander through the halls and wonder at the fossils, the ancient jewelry and artifacts. Travel back in time to the industrial revolution and the Scottish position in the British Empire. Marvel at the technological advances that have taken Scotland to modernity.
Founded in 1670 as a medicinal garden, Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden today sprawls across acres and acres and is both, beautiful and educational. This iridescent garden houses an evocative display of cycads (plants from the dinosaur era) and Britain's tallest Palm house, and in the rock garden, there are marsh orchids, campanulas and lilies. The Pringle Chinese Collection houses an unrivaled assembly of wild-origin Chinese plants that grow in a wild water ravine, while the teeming herbarium is where hundreds of thousands of preserved botanic specimens reside in complete harmony. Strewn across the garden's expanse are gorgeous alpine flowers, a beautiful lawn of azaleas, peat walls, a fernery, delightful tropical houses, the lovely, glass-topped Palm House and the 18th-century Inverleith House sheltering myriad exhibits and artworks. A sprawling green oasis speckled with tufts and tinges of vibrant colors, the Royal Botanic Garden is a striking nexus of education, conservation and unabashed natural beauty.
Stuck out on its own amidst the Georgian crescents of the New Town, this gallery space is a wonderful place to wander around. It is big enough for huge photographic works, and intimate enough for displays of smaller prints. The RIAS is a Scottish architectural organization as you'd expect, there is always a show on about either architecture, materials and interiors. It shows a variety of work in regularly themed exhibitions, from drawings to models, and occasional work by University of Edinburgh students. It's a beautifully peaceful haven from the city bustle, refined but not intimidating. CAll ahead or check the website to know more.
More than a brewery, the Caledonian prides itself on being a museum of sorts. One that showcases highly skilled individuals, and not machines, producing some of the finest beer in Scotland. Visit the Caledonian Brewery to know how, and where, the famous Deuchars IPA Beer is made. Founded in 1869, this Scottish brewery has stood the test of time as one of the few breweries to survive through the years. Due to this, the brewery is also a famous landmark in Edinburgh. Call for additional information.
The Castle Esplanade is the only place in the world where you will get to see Edinburgh Military Tattoo being performed annually. To know more about the Castle Esplanade, do visit the website.
Inchcolm Island is one of the most beautiful islands in the Firth of Forth. Located 1.6 kilometers (one mile) off the Fife coast and nearly 9.65 kilometers (six miles) off Edinburgh, this wild island shelters a troupe of monastic buildings, some of which are still in excellent shape to this day. The famous 12th-century monastic building, the Inchcolm Abbey, dominates the island's remarkable landscape. Owing to its resemblance to the Scottish Island of Iona, this island is fondly known as 'Iona of the East', and is an excellent vantage from which to explore Scottish history. Part of the island's scope is also home to remnants of the World War II, while its central environs feature a gift shop and a visitors' center.