With over 1.56 million visitors going through its gates every year, the Castle overlooks the city from the summit of Castle Hill offering superb views of Edinburgh’s historic centre.
The Castle Rock has rocky cliffs on three of its sides and the fort is only accessible by climbing the steep Castlehill, located on the Royal Mile, the Old Town’s main artery that runs from the Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
What to see in Edinburgh Castle
Visitors will need a few hours to visit this beautiful stronghold. Here is a list of some of the most interesting things to see:
One O’clock Gun
Citizens and visitors gather around every day (except Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday) at 1 pm to see a very curious and unique spectacle at Edinburgh Castle.
At exactly 1 pm the District Gunner fires a modern field gun (no longer a cannon) from the Mills Mount Battery, a tradition that has taken place every day since 1861 and is now a popular tourist attraction.
In 1861 a Time ball was invented and placed on Nelson Monument which would drop precisely at 1 pm so that sailors and the city’s residents could set their clocks accurately (if they had clocks). Since the ball could not be seen on foggy days, it was decided to fire a cannon from one of the Castle’s cannons at exactly the same time as the ball would fall in the Nelson Monument.
St Margaret’s Chapel
Dedicated to Princess Margaret, mother of David I, St Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest building in Edinburgh and the most ancient construction in Edinburgh Castle.
The Honours of Scotland
The Scottish Crown Jewels, also called The Honours of Scotland, are made up of a Crown, a Sceptre and the Sword of State. These are perfectly conserved and are the oldest set of crown jewels in Britain.
In the Crown Room, visitors can also see the Stone of Destiny, an extremely important symbol for Scotland which has witnessed the coronation of the Scottish monarchy throughout the centuries until the Stone was taken by Edward I in 1296 and remained in London for 700 years. In 1996 the Stone was returned to Scotland and is now safely kept in Edinburgh Castle.
Scottish National War Memorial
An elegant memorial built in honour of those who died during both World Wars and since 1945.
Mons Meg is an enormous cannon from the fifteenth century. Its impressive military technology is proof of the strength of the fortress during the reign of James II. It was used during the war against the English.
Prisons of War
Thanks to the recreation of this prison, visitors and citizens can get a glimpse of how life was for the Castle’s prisoners.
If you have enough time, Edinburgh Castle offers further highlights such as the Scottish National War Museum, the Royal Palace, a military prison, and a small graveyard where the army’s dogs were buried.
A City Gem
Edinburgh Castle is one of the city’s most important tourist attractions. To see all its highlights, you’ll need several hours, but it is definitely worthwhile. Not only does the Castle offer an incredibly interesting history, but it also offers some of the best views of the city centre.
Skip the Lines
Lines to buy a ticket to visit the Edinburgh Castle are normally long, meaning the best thing to do is to get your tickets online. If you're planning to visit other places, such as the Palace or use the Edinburgh Tourist Bus, you might be interested in the Royal Edinburgh Ticket. You can see all the information on what's included here:
If, as well as skipping the line, you would like to discover the castle without missing a thing, don't miss the opportunity to take a guided tour, which is £ 29.50 (US$ 36.10) with your ticket included.
From 1 April – 30 September: 9:30 am – 6 pm (last entry at 5 pm)
From 1 October – 31 March: 9:30 am – 5 pm (last entry 4 pm)
Adults: £ 19.50 (US$ 23.90) (17:£ 50 (US$ 61.30) if bought online)
Children (5 to 15): 11:£ 50 (US$ 61.30). (10:£ 50 (US$ 61.30) online)
Seniors (over 60) and undemployed: £ 16 (US$ 19.60) (£ 14 (US$ 17.20) online)
Edinburgh Castle Guided Tour £ 14 (US$ 17.20)
By foot from High Street.