Edinburgh is a city full of amazing attractions, stunning views and unique things to do – but how many of them have you actually ticked off your bucket list?
Whether you’re a lifelong resident or just visiting for a short break, here are 10 of the best Edinburgh experiences you need to try at least once before you die.
Climb Arthur’s Seat at sunrise
Tackling Arthur’s Seat is something that most people have done, but to make it an extra special experience, get up early and reach the top in time to watch the sun rise. Sunrise time varies throughout the year – approximately 4:30am in summer, and 8:30am in winter – so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. If you’re not one for early mornings, the view across the city looks equally magical at sunset.
Take a helicopter tour across the city
If you’ve already admired the city from all the usual vantage points, take to the air to see things from a different perspective. A scenic helicopter tour will take you 2,000 feet above ground so you can see landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and the New Town from a bird’s eye view.
Do an all-nighter at the Fringe
During the month of August, Edinburgh turns into a city that never sleeps, so make the most of the incredible atmosphere and do an all-nighter at the Fringe. Most bars and clubs are open late, there are pop-up food stalls everywhere in the wee small hours, and some shows run until 6am.
Experience Hogmanay on Princes Street
Edinburgh’s New Year celebrations are world-famous, and the Hogmanay street party is something you need to experience at least once in your life. Join 100,000 people to watch spectacular fireworks over Edinburgh Castle, listen to live music, and ring in the New Year at one of the biggest street parties in the world.
Take a dip in the sea at Portobello
During the Victorian era, Portobello was a popular beach resort where many Edinburgh residents spent their summer holidays.
Take a leaf out of their book, and enjoy the bracing sea air during Edinburgh’s next heatwave. If you’re not quite brave enough to take a dip in the chilly North Sea water, head to the Portobello Swim Centre where you can visit one of the last remaining Victorian Turkish baths in Scotland.
Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant
Edinburgh diners are spoilt for choice, with four Michelin starred restaurants currently serving up gourmet cuisine in the city. Treat yourself to an unforgettable culinary experience with a tasting menu at Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, 21212 or Number One.
Abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge
Unleash your inner daredevil, and abseil SAS freefall style from one of Edinburgh’s most iconic structures. Abseiling 165 feet off the Forth Rail Bridge is an incredibly exhilarating experience, and you can also raise money for your favourite charity at the same time.
Visit Edinburgh Castle for the one o’clock gun
Despite being Edinburgh’s most famous landmark, many locals have never actually set foot inside Edinburgh Castle. Time your visit carefully so you can experience the one o’clock gun up close – a 105mm field gun is fired from the Mills Mount Battery at 1pm on the dot every day.
The gun was originally fired so ships in the Firth of Forth could set their maritime clocks, and although it isn’t used for this purpose anymore, it remains a much-loved Edinburgh tradition.
Board the luxurious Belmond Royal Scotsman train
A bit like Scotland’s answer to the Orient Express, the Belmond Royal Scotsman train takes passengers on an incredible journey through the picturesque Highland countryside. Leaving from Waverley Station, the vintage train has luxurious cabins, gourmet food and even a relaxing spa on board, plus the opportunity to hop off and explore the Scottish Highlands en route back to Edinburgh.
Climb the Scott Monument
The Scott Monument is another iconic part of the city’s skyline which often gets missed by local and tourists alike. It’s well worth climbing the 287 steps to the top of the monument, as you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of Edinburgh – and you even get a certificate of achievement on your way out.