8 hidden gems to visit in and around Edinburgh

Craigmillar Castle is just one of Edinburgh's countless hidden gems
Craigmillar Castle is just one of Edinburgh's countless hidden gems
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From its rich history and culture to its impressive arts and culture scene, there's plenty to discover in and around Scotland's capital. Escape the tourist populated hotspots and spend a day exploring some of this city’s hidden gems, writes Jack Cairney.

Duck House

When the tide is out walk over the River Forth's frigid waters to Cramond Island. Though currently uninhabited the island has a fascinating history which harks back to the Roman era.

The island is scattered with historic ruins including a gun emplacement at the northern reaches of the island, offering a fascinating snapshot of Edinburgh's World War Two history. The most fascinating of the derelict structures on the tidal island however, is Duck House. The ruin was once a holiday let which could accommodate four people.

Jupiter Artland

This contemporary art park and gallery to the west of the city exhibits outdoor work by leading sculpture and land artists and is a must-visit for adults and children alike.

Nominated for the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year award, Jupiter is an ethereal, garden of discovery and is open to the public for half the year.

Craigmillar Castle

Step inside Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’ just three miles south-east the city.

Once the temporary residence of Mary, Queen of Scots, visitors can marvel at the fortress' fascinating features, great hall and jail.

Admire the views from the tower, looking out for unmistakable sillouette of Arthur's Seat.

Dolly the Sheep

Dolly might look like any of the other sheep that fill the Scottish countryside, but there's much more than meets the eye with this ewe. She was the first cloned mammal ever to be created from an adult cell - and you can pay your respects to the Dolly at the National Museum of Scotland where here taxidermied remains are exhibited.

Cairnpapple Hill

If you fancy some fresh air and a hike then climb Cairnpapple Hill, a great little walk on the outskirts of Bathgate. The 312 metre peak holds a dominant position in the central lowlands offering views of both the east and west coast.

JK Rowling’s handprints

Did you know you can visit the handprints responsible for the magical world of Harry Potter?

JK Rowling said of the honour that it was a mark of how much Edinburgh was home, a city where she spent ‘many, many hours writing in its cafes’.

You can view Rowling's handprints in the pavement on the north side of the Quadrangle at the City Chambers.

Scald Law

At 579 metres, Scald Law is the highest peak in the Pentlands and offers one of the more challenging hikes in the area. The route starts at Flotterstone, continues over Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill, and East and West Kip - a magnificent ridge walk.

Glenkinchie Distillery

One doesn't need to visit the Isle of Islay or Strathspey to sample a fresh dram of whisky.

You can sup on the 'Edinburgh Malt' in East Lothian on the outskirts of Pencaitland.

Visit the distillery for a tour of the old malting room, the mashing, fermentation and distillation rooms and the distillery cellar.

Find the rest of Scotland's hidden gems by using Hidden Scotland Itinerary Generator, a free interactive planning tool that allows you to plan your own Scottish adventure based on your interests.