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Things to do in Edinburgh

A collection of ideas for things to do while you are in Edinburgh, with short local knowledge commentary from us at Edinburgh flats. Please note that the listing is only intended to provide ideas, not to be a comprehensive listing of all the possibilities. Edinburgh Flats cannot guarantee the accuracy or nature of information on the third party web links listed below.
For orientation about locations, all the distances noted are direct distances (“as the crow flies”) from Waverley station. Approximate walking times, or recommended means of travel, from Waverley station or the city centre are also noted for your planning and convenience.
As you will see, we enjoy exploring Edinburgh on foot, using public transport (buses and trains) when necessary.

A favourite vantage point for walkers in Holyrood Park, giving a spectacular view over Edinburgh; a favourite at sunrise and sunset. 2 km southwest from Waverley station. 45 minutes’ walk.

Camera Obscura, Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND
A museum world of illusions. 500m southwest from Waverley station, beside the castle. 10 minutes’ walk.

Edinburgh Dungeon, 31 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF
Experience Scotland’s dark history. 120m southwest from Waverley station. 3 minutes’ walk

Royal Yacht Britannia
Maritime home to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for over 40 years, now a museum.3.4 km north from Waverley station. Approx. 20 minutes using most Leith-bound buses from North Bridge or Princes St.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Row / Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR
World-renowned centre for plant science and horticulture with glass houses and gardens. 1.9 km northeast from Waverley station. 30 minutes’ walk.

Edinburgh Bus Tours. Bus top tours leave from Waverley Bridge (EH1 1BQ), 150m east from Waverley station. 2 minutes’ walk.

An open space on a small hill in the centre of town. Home of the Nelson monument (tower), from which there are spectacular views towards the castle and inland, as well as towards Leith and the Firth of Forth. 550m northeast from Waverley station. 12 minutes’ walk

Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG
Edinburgh’s number one historic site – a “must see”. 750m west southwest from Waverley station. 16 minutes’ walk.

Edinburgh Castle? Dynamic Earth Museum? Edinburgh Dungeon? Edinburgh Zoo? (see relevant entries). The following website provides further information about other current events for kids.

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, Edinburgh
The official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland. Palace and the Queen’s Collections may be visited. 1 km east from Waverley station, at the end of the Royal Mile. 15 minutes’ walk.

Holyrood Park, Queen’s Drive, Edinburgh, EH8 8HG
260 hectares of open space in the heart of Edinburgh, with the 250m high, extinct volcano, Arthur’s seat in the middle. A great place for walking, running or cycling. 1.3 km east from Waverley station, at the end of the Royal Mile, past the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament. 23 minutes’ walk.

A district of Edinburgh with grand, and elegant Georgian architecture – a new town built to a careful design in the late 18th century, to ease overcrowding in the Old Town. Part of the reason for Edinburgh’s UNESCO heritage status. Less than 700m west, and north from Waverley station. 12 minutes’ walk.

The historic beginnings of Edinburgh – perched on the hill beside the castle. The famous Royal Mile lies less than 250m due south from Waverley station (4 minutes’ walk). Along it: the castle, the cathedral, the law courts; many medieval and reformation era buildings, leading down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official royal residence beside Holyrood Park.

Calton Hill
A hill and large open space (including Regent Gardens) in close proximity to the railway, with historic buildings (Nelson Monument, National Monument and old Observatory), with good views of the city, castle and towards Leith and the Firth of Forth. 500m east northeast from Waverley station. 12 minutes’ walk.

Costorphine Hill
Large area of rugged, rambling open land and woodland on a hill adjacent to Edinburgh Zoo, with a fine view back towards the city. 6 km west from Waverley station. 26 Bus (direction Clerwood, 31 minutes) from Princes Street to Rannoch Road, followed by 500m/8 min walk.

Holyrood Park
260 hectares of open space in the heart of Edinburgh, with the 250m high, extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat in the middle. A great place for walking, running, cycling, or simply being outside. 1.3 km east from Waverley station, at the end of the Royal Mile, past the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament. 23 minutes’ walk.

Inverleith Park
A public park, including rugby and football pitches near to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, north oft he New Town. 2.2 km northwest from Waverley station. 35 minutes’ walk through the streets of the New Town.

A large area of flat open space, home to festivals and popular for spontaneous kite flying, frisbee, ad-hoc football, or simply walking the dog. 1.2 km south from Waverley station, near the University of Edinburgh. 18 minutes’ walk.

Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill
Nature reserve and large area of rough open hillscape in the south of Edinburgh, home of the Royal Observatory. Rambling walks and views north over the city. 3 km south from Waverley station. 60 minutes’ walk across the Meadows and through Morningside.

Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle Gardens
Expansive laid out gardens with green space and floral beds in the centre of the city, between the main shopping area of Princes Street, the railway and the castle. Home to various festivals. 600m west from Waverley station. 7 minutes’ walk.

The main street at the heart of the Old Town, stretching from the Castle at one end to the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the other. Actually, it is slightly short of a mile, is composed five streets, with different names. From the castle in order: Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand. Along it are the main public buildings: cathedral, law courts, Council main offices; lots of medieval and reformation era buildings. A must for all visitors. 250 south from Waverley station. 4 minutes’ walk.

Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ
Astronomical observatory on Blackford Hill. 3 km south from Waverley station. 35 minutes by bus.

Scottish Parliament Building, Horse Wynd, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP
Guided tours of the debating chamber. 900m east from Waverley station at the end of the Royal Mile. 12 minutes’ walk.

Portobello Beach
Seaside resort, at its peak in the late 19th century. 5 km east from Waverley station. Train (7 minutes) to Brunstane, followed by 1 km/12 min walk.

North Berwick
Charming seaside resort at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, home of the Scottish Seabird Centre. 32 km east northeast from Waverley station. Train (33 minutes) direct to North Berwick.

There are shops and boutiques throughout Edinburgh. The large department stores are mainly located on, or near, Princes Street – near Edinburgh Waverley station.

Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Costorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS
Wide selection of wild animals, including pandas. 5 km west from Waverley station. Airlink and other buses (direction Airport, 16 minutes) from Princes Street.