Welcome to a journey through the storied streets of Edinburgh, where every cobblestone whisper tales of history! As we walk through the city’s historic landmarks, prepare to be enchanted by the echoes of bygone eras and the impressiveness of Scotland’s capital.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast eager to delve into the annals of time or a curious traveller looking to uncover the secrets of Edinburgh’s past, this guide is your passport to discovery. 

From medieval castles to towering monuments, we’ll unravel the fascinating stories behind Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks, offering insider tips and insightful commentary along the way.

So, lace up your walking shoes, grab your camera, and join us as we go through an immersive exploration of Edinburgh’s historic treasures. Let’s unlock the secrets of this ancient city together and create memories that will last a lifetime!

The historic heart of Edinburgh


Nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of Scotland lies Edinburgh, a city steeped in history and brimming with tales of antiquity. 

From its humble beginnings as a hilltop fortress to its growth as a thriving metropolis, Edinburgh’s rich tapestry of heritage is woven with threads of intrigue and resilience.

A capital steeped in legacy

Edinburgh’s rise to prominence as the capital of Scotland dates back centuries, bearing witness to the ebb and flow of dynasties, wars, and cultural shifts. It has weathered the tides of time with grace, emerging as a beacon of Scottish identity and pride.

A melting pot of architecture

As you wander through Edinburgh’s winding streets, you’ll encounter a diverse array of architectural marvels spanning centuries. From the medieval fortress of Edinburgh Castle to the Georgian elegance of the New Town, each structure tells a unique story of the city’s evolution.

Why Edinburgh boasts a plethora of historic landmarks

Edinburgh cultural and history

Edinburgh’s charm lies not only in its breathtaking scenery but also in its remarkable ability to preserve its past. The city’s commitment to conservation and heritage has ensured the survival of an abundance of historic landmarks, each one a testament to its enduring legacy.

From castles to cathedrals

Edinburgh’s historic landmarks cover a wide spectrum of treasures, ranging from imposing castles and grand cathedrals to charming cobblestone streets and hidden closes. Every corner holds a piece of history waiting to be discovered, inviting visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the city’s storied past.

Key historic landmarks and their stories

Prepare to embark on a captivating journey through Edinburgh’s historic landmarks, where each site is a gateway to the city’s illustrious past. 

Let’s start exploring!

  1. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh castle

Story and significance: Perched majestically atop Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle stands as a symbol of Scotland’s resilience and heritage. Its origins date back to the 11th century, and it has witnessed countless pivotal moments in Scottish history, from royal births to sieges and battles.

Tip for travellers: Arrive early to beat the crowds and catch the stirring One O’Clock Gun firing. Be sure to explore the Honours of Scotland and The Stone of Destiny, essential pieces of Scotland’s regal history.

How to get there: Located at the top of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is easily accessible by foot or public transport. Follow the signs from the city centre or opt for a scenic stroll up the historic cobblestone streets.

  1. Mary’s King Close

Story and Significance: Beneath the bustling streets of Edinburgh lies Mary’s King Close, a preserved underground named after a merchant burgess who lived on The Close in the 17th Century. This hidden gem offers a fascinating glimpse into Edinburgh’s past, from its medieval roots to the hardships of the plague years.

Tip for travellers: Book a guided tour to uncover the secrets of Mary’s King Close and hear tales of the people who once called it home. Prepare for an immersive experience that will transport you back in time.

How to get there: Located just off the Royal Mile, Mary’s King Close is conveniently situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Follow signage or ask locals for directions to this intriguing underground attraction.

  1. Greyfriars Kirk and Kirkyard

Story and significance: Greyfriars Kirk and Kirkyard offer a serene sanctuary amidst the bustling city streets. This historic church and graveyard are steeped in folklore and legend, with tales of ghostly encounters and famous residents.

Tip for travellers: Take a leisurely stroll through the kirkyard and seek out the tombstones of notable figures such as Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful dog who captured the hearts of Edinburgh residents.

How to get there: Situated near the Grassmarket, Greyfriars Kirk and Kirkyard are easily accessible on foot from the city centre. Follow signs for the Old Town and prepare for a tranquil retreat from the urban hustle.

  1. St Giles’ Cathedral

Story and significance: St Giles’ Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is a magnificent testament to Scotland’s religious heritage. With its striking Gothic architecture and intricate stained-glass windows, it has served as a place of worship and reflection for centuries.

Tip for Travellers: Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the tower for panoramic views of Edinburgh’s skyline, offering a unique perspective on the city’s historic landmarks.

How to Get There: Located on the Royal Mile, St Giles’ Cathedral is a prominent landmark in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Simply follow the main thoroughfare from the city centre, and you’ll soon find yourself at its doorstep.

  1. Scott Monument

Scots Monument edinburgh

Story and significance: Dedicated to the iconic Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, the Scott Monument is a soaring Gothic masterpiece that dominates the Edinburgh skyline. Ascend its spiralling staircase for breathtaking views of the city below.

Tip for travellers: Photography enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to capture the monument’s intricate details against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s historic architecture.

How to get there: Situated in Princes Street Gardens, the Scott Monument is a short walk from the city centre. Follow Princes Street towards the East End, and you’ll spot this impressive landmark rising before you.

  1. Holyroodhouse Palace

Story and significance: Holyroodhouse Palace, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, is steeped in royal history and intrigue. Explore its regal chambers, stroll through the immaculate gardens, and imagine the grandeur of courtly life.

Tip for travellers: Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the adjacent Holyrood Abbey, a medieval marvel that offers a glimpse into Scotland’s religious past.

How to get there: Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, Holyroodhouse Palace is a prominent landmark in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Simply follow the main thoroughfare from the city centre, and you’ll soon find yourself at its gates.

  1. National Monument of Scotland

Story and significance: Perched atop Calton Hill, the National Monument of Scotland is a striking neoclassical structure that pays homage to Scotland’s fallen soldiers. Despite remaining unfinished, it stands as a poignant reminder of the nation’s sacrifice and resilience.

Tip for travellers: Climb Calton Hill for panoramic views of Edinburgh’s skyline, and marvel at the monument’s commanding presence against the backdrop of Arthur’s Seat and the city below.

How to get there: Calton Hill is located just a short walk from Edinburgh’s city centre, making it easily accessible on foot. Follow signs for the hill from Princes Street or the Royal Mile and prepare for a scenic ascent to this historic landmark.

Uncovering Edinburgh’s hidden gems: Lesser-known historic sites

While Edinburgh’s iconic landmarks often steal the spotlight, the city is also home to a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. 

Join us as we peel back the layers of history to reveal some of Edinburgh’s lesser-known historic sites, each offering its own unique charm and intrigue.

  1. The Surgeon’s Hall

Story and significance: Tucked away behind the Royal College of Surgeons, the Surgeon’s Hall Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of medicine and surgery throughout the centuries. Explore its vast collection of anatomical specimens, surgical instruments, and medical curiosities, and uncover the pioneering advancements that have shaped modern medicine.

Tip for travellers: Plan your visit during one of the museum’s guided tours, where knowledgeable guides offer insights into the history of surgery and the remarkable individuals who paved the way for medical innovation.

How to get there: Located on Nicolson Street, the Surgeon’s Hall Museum is easily accessible from Edinburgh’s city centre. Simply follow Nicolson Street south from the Royal Mile, and you’ll find the museum on your left-hand side.

  1. The People’s Story Museum

Story and significance: Tucked away in the historic Canongate Tolbooth, The People’s Story Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Edinburgh’s working-class citizens throughout the centuries. Through a rich collection of artifacts, photographs, and personal stories, the museum chronicles the everyday struggles and triumphs of ordinary people, shedding light on their contributions to the city’s social, cultural, and political landscape.

Tip for travellers: Immerse yourself in the stories of Edinburgh’s past by exploring the museum’s interactive exhibits and immersive displays. Take your time to delve into the narratives of the city’s residents, from cobblers and weavers to suffragettes and trade unionists, and gain a deeper understanding of Edinburgh’s vibrant heritage.

How to get there: Situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, The People’s Story Museum is conveniently located just off the Royal Mile. Follow signs for the Canongate Tolbooth from the High Street, and you’ll soon find yourself at this hidden gem of social history.

  1. Dean Village

dean village edinburgh

Story and significance: Nestled along the banks of the Water of Leith, Dean Village is a picturesque enclave that offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s city centre. Once home to mills, this hidden gem boasts a rich industrial heritage that is reflected in its charming architecture and riverside setting.

Tip for travellers: Take a leisurely stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway to Dean Village, where you can admire its historic buildings, quaint cottages, and scenic riverside views. Don’t forget to bring your camera – Dean Village is a photographer’s paradise!

How to get there: Simply follow the Water of Leith Walkway from Princes Street or Stockbridge, and you’ll soon find yourself in this hidden oasis of tranquillity.

Exploring Edinburgh from Black Ivy

Black Ivy luxury bar seating area

Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s vibrant Bruntsfield neighborhood, Black Ivy offers the perfect base for travellers eager to explore the city’s rich tapestry of historic landmarks. 

From ancient castles to hidden closes, Edinburgh is a treasure trove of heritage waiting to be uncovered, and Black Ivy provides an ideal starting point for your adventure. 

Whether you’re strolling along the Royal Mile or scaling the heights of Arthur’s Seat, our centrally located hotel offers comfort, convenience, and a warm Scottish welcome to ensure your Edinburgh experience is nothing short of extraordinary.

Embark on a journey through Edinburgh’s storied past from the comfort of Black Ivy, where every corner of the city is within easy reach. Here’s why our hotel is the perfect choice for travelers looking to explore the historic landmarks of Edinburgh:

  • Central location: Situated just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh’s city centre, Black Ivy provides convenient access to the city’s most iconic landmarks. Whether you’re visiting Edinburgh Castle, wandering through the medieval streets of the Old Town, or exploring the elegant Georgian architecture of the New Town, you’ll find yourself perfectly positioned to soak up the city’s rich history.
  • Comfort and convenience: After a day of exploration, retreat to the comfort of Black Ivy, where stylish rooms, modern amenities, and warm hospitality await. Relax and recharge in our cozy accommodations, complete with plush bedding, complimentary Wi-Fi, and all the comforts of home. Our friendly staff are on hand to ensure your stay is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, offering insider tips on the best places to visit and dine in Edinburgh.
  • Personalized Service: Whether you’re seeking recommendations for sightseeing tours, arranging transportation to historic landmarks, or simply looking for insider tips on the best local attractions, our dedicated team are here to help make your Edinburgh adventure unforgettable.
  • Local luxury for less: At Black Ivy, we pride ourselves on offering local luxury for less, providing high-quality accommodations and amenities at affordable prices. From our stylish guest rooms to our outdoor dining, you’ll find everything you need for a comfortable and memorable stay in Edinburgh, without breaking the bank.
  • Lively Atmosphere: Unlike traditional hotels, Black Ivy offers a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere, with a lively bar and restaurant that stays open until late. Whether you’re mingling with fellow travellers over craft cocktails and local brews or enjoying live music and DJ sets, you’ll find that Black Ivy is more than just a place to stay – it’s a destination in itself.

black ivy terrace

Experience the magic of Edinburgh’s historic landmarks from the comfort of Black Ivy, where every moment is infused with warmth, charm, and Scottish hospitality. Book your stay with us today and embark on a journey through Edinburgh’s storied past, one landmark at a time.