10 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh for Literature and History Fans

Worst Time To Visit Edinburgh Avoid These Cold and Rainy Months

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Edinburgh, Scotland’s majestic capital, is steeped in a rich tapestry of literature and history, making it a haven for enthusiasts of both realms. Known as the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, historic closes, and centuries-old buildings have inspired some of the greatest writers and have been the backdrop of significant historical events. From the atmospheric haunts of famous authors to the grandeur of its historic castles and monuments, Edinburgh offers a journey through time and imagination. Whether you’re tracing the steps of literary giants like Sir Walter Scott and J.K. Rowling or delving into the city’s tumultuous past, Edinburgh is a treasure trove of cultural and historical wonders. Let’s explore the top 10 things to do in Edinburgh for a deep dive into its literary brilliance and historical intrigue.

Visit the Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, perched dramatically on Castle Rock, is a symbol of Scotland’s storied past. This historic fortress offers breathtaking views of the city and houses the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, and the National War Museum. The castle’s rich history is evident in its ancient buildings and exhibits, which tell the story of Scotland’s battles and sieges.

A visit to Edinburgh Castle is not only a journey through Scotland’s military history but also an opportunity to explore one of the most iconic landmarks in Edinburgh. The castle’s presence dominates the city skyline, serving as a constant reminder of Edinburgh’s historical significance.

Explore the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile, the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, is a stretch of road connecting Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Lined with medieval tenements, historic landmarks, and lively shops, the Royal Mile is a hub of Scottish history and culture. This historic street has witnessed many of Scotland’s pivotal events and is home to St. Giles’ Cathedral and the Scottish Parliament.


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Walking down the Royal Mile, visitors can feel the pulse of Edinburgh’s past and present. The street is a living museum, with each step unveiling layers of history, from the Reformation to the Scottish Enlightenment.

Discover the Writers’ Museum

The Writers’ Museum, located in Lady Stair’s House on the Lawnmarket, celebrates the lives of three giants of Scottish Literature: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The museum houses a collection of personal items, manuscripts, and memorabilia related to these literary figures.

A visit to the Writers’ Museum is a journey into the lives and works of these celebrated authors. It’s a must-visit for literature fans to gain insights into the personal stories and historical context behind some of Scotland’s most famous literary contributions.

Walk Through Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard, a historic graveyard, is famous for its connections to literature and history. It’s the resting place of notable Edinburgh figures and is said to have inspired characters in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The kirkyard is also known for the loyal dog Greyfriars Bobby, whose story has captured the hearts of many.

Exploring Greyfriars Kirkyard offers a peaceful yet intriguing experience. The tombstones and mausoleums tell the stories of Edinburgh’s past, making it a fascinating destination for history and literary enthusiasts alike.

Attend a Show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, transforms the city every August. The festival encompasses thousands of performances ranging from theatre and comedy to music and dance. It’s a celebration of arts and culture, showcasing both renowned and emerging artists.


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Attending the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an opportunity to experience the city’s vibrant cultural scene. The festival’s atmosphere is electric, with performances in every conceivable space, making it a cultural highlight for visitors and locals.

Visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, housed in a striking red sandstone Gothic building, offers a visual history of Scotland. The gallery’s collection includes portraits of significant historical figures, from Mary, Queen of Scots, to contemporary Scots. The artworks provide insights into Scotland’s history and identity.

Exploring the gallery is not just about admiring portraits; it’s about understanding the stories and characters that have shaped Scotland. The building itself is a masterpiece, with its elaborate architecture and stunning interiors.

Take a Literary Pub Tour

A literary pub tour in Edinburgh is a unique way to explore the city’s rich literary heritage. These guided tours take visitors to historic pubs frequented by famous Scottish writers, combining storytelling with the enjoyment of a good pint. It’s a chance to learn about Edinburgh’s literary figures in the settings that inspired them.

The literary pub tour is an entertaining and informative experience, offering insights into the lives of writers like Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Irvine Welsh. It’s a perfect blend of literature, history, and local flavor.

Explore The Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close is a historic underground close beneath the Royal Mile. This hidden warren of streets and spaces offers a glimpse into 17th-century Edinburgh. Guided tours tell the stories of the people who lived and worked in these closes before they were sealed off.

A visit to The Real Mary King’s Close is a journey into a forgotten part of Edinburgh’s history. It’s a fascinating and slightly eerie experience that brings to life the everyday trials and tribulations of the city’s past residents.

Visit the National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland, located in the heart of Edinburgh, offers an extensive collection covering Scottish antiquities, culture, and history, as well as science and technology, natural history, and world cultures. The museum’s diverse exhibits provide a comprehensive overview of Scotland’s rich heritage and achievements.

Exploring the National Museum of Scotland is an educational and enjoyable experience. The museum’s interactive and engaging displays make it an ideal destination for visitors of all ages interested in learning more about Scotland’s past and present.

Experience the Scottish Storytelling Centre

The Scottish Storytelling Centre, located on the Royal Mile, is dedicated to preserving and promoting Scotland’s rich tradition of storytelling. The centre hosts a variety of events, including live storytelling performances, workshops, and exhibitions. It’s a place where visitors can immerse themselves in the art of storytelling.

Visiting the Scottish Storytelling Centre is an opportunity to engage with Scotland’s oral history and folklore. The centre’s events and activities offer a deeper understanding of Scottish culture and its storytelling heritage.


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