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Edinburgh Castle

A Trip To Edinburgh Castle- All That You Need To Know (2024)

Truly a jewel in the Scottish heritage, Edinburgh Castle is nestled in one of the most renowned cities of the United Kingdom. An Iconic fortress, an architectural masterpiece, and a historic castle, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city’s skyline like none other. Perched atop the Castle Rock, it is the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland and often gets crowded. But worry not since the destination is huge enough to hold enough visitors.

Ready to embark on your Edinburgh Castle adventure? Join us as we unfold all that you need to know before visiting Edinburgh Castle. This article will cover everything from Castle’s history, architecture, tickets, entry, tours, and more. Being inside the Castle or exploring its outdoors, every experience here is worth living. So, without wasting much time, let’s get started.

Introduction to Edinburgh Castle (History, Architecture, and More)

A timeless icon in the history and landscape of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is a must-visit tourist attraction. This historic landmark is perched majestically atop Castle Rock and dates back its origin to the 12th century at least. Initially, it was a royal residence, but since its residential role declined. Later, the Castle was used for royal ceremonies, military sieges, military barracks, and historic events. Besides its historical importance, the architecture here is a testament to the royal legacy.

Edinburgh Castle boasts a combination of Renaissance and Gothic architecture along with multiple architectural styles due to its long history and various additions. Its Crown Square and the Great Hall display stunning medieval craftsmanship. Whereas the St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, adds another level of grandeur.

Beyond its historical and architectural significance, Edinburgh Castle is also popular for boasting some breathtaking panoramic views of the city. No matter what your interests are, you cannot overlook this place in Western Europe.

Getting There

Getting to Edinburgh Castle is a breeze. Here are all the details:

Air: The Edinburgh Airport conveniently connects to the city centre by buses and trams. It receives national and international flights from different parts of the world.

Rail: Waverley Station, situated centrally, is the main train hub connected to the Castle with a brief walk uphill.

Bus: For airport transfers, the Airlink 100 express bus offers a ride to Waverley Bridge, right next to the main railway station. Some hop-on, hop-off bus tours also swing by the Castle, offering a convenient way to visit. Also, local buses with routes passing through the Mound or George IV Bridge are great options.

Car: While there’s no public parking at the Castle, Castle Terrace NCP is the nearest option. There are a limited number of parking spaces for Blue Badge holders; else, first-come, first-served.

Bicycle: For the eco-conscious traveller, bike racks are conveniently located at Victoria Street, Waverley Station, and Chambers Street.

Ticket Prices (Online vs. Walk-up):

Adult (16-64yrs): £19.50 (Online) / £22.00 (Walk-up)

Concession (65yrs+): £15.50 (Online) / £17.60 (Walk-up)

Child (7-15yrs): £11.40 (Online) / £13.20 (Walk-up)

Family (1 adult, 2 children): £38.50 (Online) / £43.50 (Walk-up)

Family (2 adults, 2 children): £56.00 (Online) / £63.50 (Walk-up)

Family (2 adults, 3 children): £66.50 (Online) / £75.00 (Walk-up)

Please Note:

  • Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Concession prices apply to those aged 65+ or unemployed but not students.
  • Admission prices can change, so stay updated.

Special Discounts:

  • Historic Scotland members, Explorer Pass holders, Carers accompanying visitors with disabilities, and Current members of the British Armed Forces get free entry.
  • English Heritage, Manx, and Cadw members enjoy half-price entry.
  • Young Scot cardholders can visit for just £1.

Booking Tips:

  • Tickets can sell out, especially in the summer. Book online in advance for the best prices and guaranteed entry.
  • Once online tickets are sold out, you won’t find any more at the Castle.

Opening Hours

April to September: Opens: 9.30 am

Closes: 6 pm (last entry at 5 pm)

October to March: Opens: 9.30 am

Closes: 5 pm (last entry at 4 pm)

  • Bake House Section of the Prison of War Exhibition: From 11 a.m. on Thursday, 7 September.
  • Plan at least 2 hours to enjoy the main attractions at Edinburgh Castle.

Please Note: Opening hours for independent museums within the Castle may vary.

  • Edinburgh Castle is closed on 25 and 26 December.

Edinburgh Castle Highlights

  1. Crown Jewels: This priceless treasure in Edinburgh Castle is home to the Crown, Sceptre, and Sword of State, showcased in a vault.
  2. The Stone of Destiny: For an exciting journey through history, check out this ancient symbol of Scottish royalty. Seen as a sacred object, it has a role in coronations and its earliest origins are now unknown.
  3. Great Hall: This awe-inspiring medieval space is adorned with a majestic wooden hammerbeam ceiling. Great Hall is the venue for royal gatherings, banquets and grand feasts.
  4. Margaret’s Chapel: This enchanting chapel is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh Castle. Known for its panoramic views and Romanesque architecture, the chapel is dedicated to Queen Margaret.
  5. Mons Meg: This medieval bombard, a colossal medieval cannon, is a part of the Royal Armouries. This piece of intriguing past has an important role in Scottish military history.
  6. National War Museum: Scotland’s military heritage at the National War Museum is worth spending time for. Check out the collection of weaponry, uniforms, medals, and wartime memorabilia.
  7. One O’Clock Gun: Witness the daily firing of the One O’Clock Gun, a tradition since 1861, and enjoy stunning vistas of Edinburgh.
  8. Prison of War Exhibition: This exhibition allows visitors to step into the Bakehouse Section and delve into the lives of prisoners of war during their captivity.
  9. The Royal Palace: The opulence of the Royal Palace is home to the Crown Room, where the Honours of Scottish Crown Jewels are displayed. King’s and Queen’s apartments are some popular regal chambers to check out here.
  10. Museum of the Royal Scots: Visit the regimental Museum of the Royal Scots and explore artefacts, stories and rich history of soldiers who served here.

Scenic Views

From its strategic position atop Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle treats its visitors with many panoramic vistas of the city. Some vantage points include:

  • Cityscape Marvel: Stand within the castle walls and enjoy a sprawling cityscape that stretches out before you. The views from here comprise of Old and New Towns of Edinburgh Scott Monument and the Royal Mile.
  • Arthur’s Seat: Stand here, gaze towards the east and treat your eyes to the magnificent view of Arthur’s Seat. It is an ancient extinct volcano that is currently popular as a hiking destination. Watching the sunrise or sunset over Arthur’s Seat from the Castle is a beautiful experience.
  • Firth of Forth: The Firth of Forth glistens in the sunlight. On clear days, you can even spot the distant shores of Fife.
  • Calton Hill: Looking towards the city centre, you’ll see Calton Hill. It offers a lofty perspective of the city.
  • Princes Street Gardens: Right below the Castle, the Gardens stretch out and offer a lush green contrast to the historic stone structures. The views are even beautiful during summer.
  • Dynamic Weather: Edinburgh is known for its dramatic weather changes. It is easy to witness the city shrouded in mist or bathed in sunshine.
  • Evening Illumination: During sunset hours, the city turns into a magical place of lights and sky colours. Edinburgh Castle itself is beautifully illuminated, adding to the enchantment of the evening view.

Visitor Amenities

Some of the amenities visitors can enjoy on their trip to Edinburgh Castle include:

  • The Redcoat Café at the castle grounds is popular for its selection of hot and cold beverages, snacks, and light meals. Enjoying a meal here, along with the views of the Castle, is a refreshing experience.
  • The Queen Anne Café near Crown Square offers traditional Scottish fare, pastries, and sandwiches in a cosy setting.
  • Castle Gift Shop offers a wide range of souvenirs, including Scottish tartans, jewellery, books, and castle-themed merchandise.
  • The Whisky Shop is an excellent stop for the finest single malts and blended whiskies of Scotland.
  • Restroom facilities are available within the Castle for visitors’ convenience.
  • Prayer Room for visitors who may require a quiet space for reflection or prayer.
  • Edinburgh Castle is accessible for specially-abled visitors with ramps and paved paths. There are also accessible toilets on site.
  • There are multiple guided tours ensuring a wholesome experience at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. The tours are conducted by knowledgeable guides and often include access to areas not open to the general public.
  • An information desk is typically located near the entrance and offers maps, brochures, and assistance.

Guided Tours

Guided tours are available at 10.15 am, 11.15 am, 1.15 pm, and 2.15 pm.

Tickets are £2 per visitor and include castle admission. Advance booking is essential due to limited availability.

Visitors are told to arrive 15 minutes early at the Tour Meeting Point, just inside the Main Gate. Tours are conducted in English and take place outdoors, so wear comfortable shoes and dress accordingly.

Audio guides are available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. Just bring your fully charged phone or tablet with internet access.

Audio Guide Prices: Adult: £3.50

Concession: £2.50

Child: £1.50

Events and Festivals

  • Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: This dazzling annual event in August features music and military precision.
  • Hogmanay Celebrations: It is a must-visit New Year’s festivity featuring fireworks and live music.
  • Historical Reenactments: Periodic scenes from Scotland’s past brought to life.
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Nearby arts festival featuring various performances.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Royal Mile
  2. Palace of Holyroodhouse
  3. Giles’ Cathedral
  4. National Museum of Scotland
  5. Scott Monument
  6. Princes Street Gardens
  7. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
  8. The Real Mary King’s Close
  9. Edinburgh Old Town
  10. Arthur’s Seat

Visitors Tips

  • Secure your tickets online to avoid disappointment, especially during busy periods.
  • Beat the crowds by arriving early in the day to explore the Castle at your leisure.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking, and dress for Scotland’s unpredictable weather.
  • Enhance your experience with a guided tour led by knowledgeable castle guides.
  • Visit the Crown Jewels early to avoid long queues later in the day.
  • Take your time to savour the panoramic views of Edinburgh from the Castle.
  • Be mindful of the historic artefacts and exhibitions within the Castle.
  • Bring water, as exploring the Castle can be thirsty work.
  • Look out for special events or exhibitions happening during your visit.
  • Don’t forget your camera to capture the Castle’s stunning architecture and views.

With all this information in hand, we wish you a memorable trip to Edinburgh Castle.

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