From practically the entire city center you can see this fortress built on Castle Rock, a rock of volcanic origin. Edinburgh Castle brings together everything that children and adults could hope for: history, adventure, extraordinary views, jewels and legends. It is not surprising, therefore, that the queues to visit it, especially in the summer months when there is more tourism in the city, are significant. I summarize the best options to visit inside:
Discover Edinburgh Castle with an expert guide
A visit to Edinburgh will never be complete without seeing its impressive castle. With this tour with tickets included you will get to know all its history by touring all that it houses inside.
The guided tour of Edinburgh Castle will make your visit to this historical jewel of the Scottish capital more comfortable and practical. The specialized guide who accompanies you during the tour of an hour and a half will take you through all the rooms of the great fortress and will tell you the details of its construction, its uses and the Scottish kings who lived in it.
Booking online and in advance is essential in this emblematic medieval castle to avoid queues at the ticket office. Also, when you book you will get discounts on tickets for children under 6 years old and for adults over 66.
Recommended if... You want to know more about the history of the castle and Scotland in general. The sheer size of this building makes touring it on your own a bit overwhelming.
How much does it cost to visit Edinburgh Castle?
General admission tickets to Edinburgh Castle cost about 15 euros, there are discounts for children aged 5 to 15 and children under five get in free. You can buy your tickets at the box office or on the official website of Edinburgh Castle. My advice is to do it online and you will save the queue you will find to access the box office.
For its part, the guided tour of Edinburgh Castle costs about 39 euros. You pay more but I assure you that the explanations of the guide throughout the tour of an hour and a half will make your visit much more comfortable and interesting.
Is the guided tour of Edinburgh Castle worth it?
Booking a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle is the best option if you are looking for a hands-on tour where you are sure not to miss anything and where you can learn about the history of Scotland by putting what you are seeing into context.
Edinburgh Castle witnessed great events such as the birth of the son of Queen Mary of Scots or different battles and sieges that forged the history of the country. Your expert guide will explain them all to you.
The guided tour lasts about an hour and a half (once finished you can continue exploring Edinburgh Castle at your own pace in more detail if you wish). To book your place online simply indicate the day you would like to take the tour and the language (available in German, English and Spanish).
You will receive an email which will serve as your voucher (you will not have to wait in line at the ticket office and you will go directly with the guide and the rest of the group) with instructions on how to meet your guide in the vicinity of Edinburgh Castle.
How long does it take to visit Edinburgh Castle?
Set aside an average of three hours of your time to explore Edinburgh Castle on this tour. In addition to seeing the exterior, the courtyards and rooms of the castle do not forget to visit the National War Museum, St. Margaret's Chapel or the Crown Jewels exhibition. If you decide to visit on your own, the order is up to you.
The castle complex is quite large and is divided into different spaces (there is no single order of visit). Since there is no guide present during your visit, it is best to get a map at the entrance so that you don't miss anything and can find your way around at all times.
For this reason I recommend that you choose one of the tours of the castle with skip the line tickets in which, with the help of an expert guide, you will learn all the history that hides in addition to not lose detail of any of its rooms.
What you will see at the Castle
The Grand Staircase
This is the main access point to the castle and consists of 70 steps. If you are traveling with wheeled carts it is best to go up the slopes surrounding the fortress, but be sure to admire the views from the Grand Staircase.
One o'clock canyon
As the name suggests, every day except Sundays this cannon is fired at one o'clock. Now done as a tourist attraction, it was formerly the way sailors and villagers had to synchronize their watches and tell the time.
The stone of destiny
In the exhibition of the Crown Jewels, along with other objects such as the crown, the scepter or the sword of the State, is this valuable symbol. The Stone of Destiny is the place on which all Scottish kings were crowned.
The prisons of war
Thanks to these recreations you can learn about the way of life of all the prisoners who were captured during the battles and imprisoned in the cellars of the castle.
The chapel of Santa Margherita
It is a small chapel that is theoldest building in Edinburgh, but it is also famous for having one of the few dog cemeteries that exist in the world. It was in this cemetery where the military buried the dogs that accompanied them in their training.
The National War Museum
Along with the Crown Jewels of Scotland, is part of the main spaces of the castle known as the buildings of Crown Square. There you can find the remains of the battles that forged the military history of the country: weapons, armor, portraits, photographs, equipment, uniforms .... In this enclosure is also the west viewpoint, from which you will get magnificent views of the city.
Organize your visit to the Castle
How to get there
You will have already noticed that Edinburgh Castle sits on top of a hill, so you have to gather your strength to climb up there from the lower part of the city. You have to do it following the main avenue of Royal Mile; you can't get lost since the castle can be seen from practically every corner of the city center. If you prefer to save the walk, virtually all bus lines in Edinburgh have a stop at Castle Rock or Castle Hill (the hill on which the castle is located).
When to go
To avoid crowds (although Edinburgh Castle always has visitors) choose early in the morning for your visit. As for time of year, the peak tourist season in Edinburgh is summer, but that does not mean you can avoid the rains if you choose the summer months for your visit.
Edinburgh Castle, except in cases of force majeure, is open to the public every day of the year from 9:30 am to 6 pm in the months of April to September (inclusive) and from 9:30 am to 5 pm the rest of the year. Please note that, at any time of the year, the last access to the castle is one hour before closing time.
Admission is free for children under five years of age and for the unemployed, the over-60s and children under 15 years of age there is a discount on the general admission price.
Visiting with children
Edinburgh Castle is one of the best places to visit with children in the Scottish capital. The little ones will love to explore the corners of the fortress and will have total freedom to move around it in many of the sections of the visit. In the gift stores and on the guided tours they will also find a space dedicated to them.
Where to eat
In the castle complex there are different cafeterias and a restaurant with a view. You can stop at any of these places during your visit, although the price and quality are not going to be outstanding. My recommendation is to sit down for a drink to enjoy the views and then choose another place to eat in the lower part of the city.
The best views
From Edinburgh Castle you can get one of the best views of the city, but from where can you see and photograph the castle itself? My recommendation is that you do it from The Vennel staircase, located in the lower part of the city at the end of a narrow lane linking Grassmarket and Heriot Place.
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If you are a fan of castles and stories of wars, battles, betrayals and warring kingdoms I am sure that Scotland will be proving to be an ideal place for your vacation. It is true that Edinburgh Castle is one of the most important and best preserved fortresses you can see in the country, but it is not the only one.
With an excursion (I recommend you to organize it) to the Scottish Highlands from Edinburgh you will see many other medieval castles that will allow you to create a clearer idea of the historical past of the country. It's the ideal complement to your visit to Edinburgh and you can find day trip options in this article on Loch Ness Day Trips and other Lochs from Edinburgh.