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Things to do

For a full guide on things to do in Edinburgh as well as what’s happening in Edinburgh during the conference, please click here.

1. Arthur’s Seat
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano visible from much of the centre, rises out of the wide grasslands of Holyrood Park and, at just over 250m, makes for a relatively easy hike that offers unmatched views of the city skyline. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile, the hike takes up to 20 minutes and is definitely worth it. Arthur’s Seat is one of four hill forts, dating from around 2,000 years ago. Situated within Holyrood Park, as well as it’s rich cultural heritage, the park offers walks, solace, wildlife, volcanic geology and unparalleled vistas of the city from its many vantage points. The park has several Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designations due to its exceptional range of grassland habitats and its internationally important volcanic geology.

 2. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. It was recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction. This most famous of Scottish castles has a complex building history. The oldest part, St Margaret’s Chapel, dates from the 12th century; the Great Hall was erected by James IV around 1510; the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century; and the Scottish National War Memorial after the First World War. The castle houses the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O’ Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
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3. Edinburgh Old Town
Edinburgh’s oldest neighbourhood, dating back to medieval times: these small streets are lined with wool shops, pubs and historical monuments. Ensure you visit the picturesque Victoria Street and stop by Oink for a delicious pulled pork sandwich unique to Edinburgh.

The long curve of Victoria Street swoops from George IV Bridge down to the historic Grassmarket and is home to Edinburgh’s finest selection of independent boutiques. There’s hip fashion on offer in Swish and more formal, tweed-based couture in Walker Slater; designer homewares in The Red Door Gallery and Context; vintage hardbacks in The Old Town Bookshop and party tricks in the Aha Ha Ha joke shop; not to mention a range of foodie delights, from the distinctive whiff of cheesemonger IJ Mellis and the hog roast of Oink to the array of flasks and bottles in the windows of Demijohn and The Whiskey Shop.

4. National Museum of Scotland
The venue for the Cleft 2021 Congress Dinner is a local pride. Explore the diversity of the natural world, world cultures, science and technology, art, design and fashion, and Scottish history, all under one roof. The National Museum of Scotland is one of the Top 10 UK visitor attractions, and in the Top 20 of the most visited museums and galleries in the world. Fresh from a £47 million redevelopment, the museum houses a spectacular array of over 20,000 fascinating artefacts.
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5. Royal Mile
A beautiful stretch of cobbled road connecting the Edinburgh Castle with the Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s residence in Scotland. Walking through it, you will have a numerous range of local restaurants and whisky, cashmere and souvenir shops. Make sure you keep an eye for the small pathways called Closes to uncover hidden gems the city has to offer. As you head your way through ensure you pop by St Giles’ Cathedral, the historic City Church of Edinburgh.

 

6. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Summer is a beautiful season for wildlife and the blossoming of nature’s beauty. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) was founded in 1670 as a physic garden. It is now a world-renowned centre for plant science, horticulture and education boasting a rich living collection of plants. The Botanics offers visitors peace and tranquility amongst its stunning 72 acres with thousands of species in Edinburgh city centre. Make sure to see a tropical range of plants in the Glasshouses.
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7. Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen. The palace stands at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat. This fine palace is closely associated with Scotland’s rich history and is used by The Queen when carrying out official engagements in Scotland. The State Apartments reflect the changing tastes of successive monarchs, and are renowned for their fine plasterwork ceilings and unrivalled collection of Brussels tapestries. They are furnished with numerous fine paintings and other works of art, many of which have long associations with Holyroodhouse. The visit to Holyroodhouse includes Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers and the Darnley Rooms, the setting for many dramatic episodes in Mary’s short and turbulent reign. In the Palace’s west corner tower are Mary’s Bedchamber, described as ‘the most famous room in Scotland’, and her Outer Chamber, the scene of the murder of her Italian secretary, David Rizzio’. During the summer months, you can join a guided tour of Holyrood Abbey, which lies adjacent to the Palace in the spectacular setting of Arthur’s Seat. Escorted by Wardens dressed in their ancient hunting Stewart tartan, you will learn about the building’s extraordinary history.
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8. The Scotch Whisky Experience
When in Scotland, have a whisky! Take a barrel ride as you actually become part of the whisky making process. Experience for yourself our regional whiskies and whether you like fruity, sweet or smoky flavours our experts will help you select your perfect dram. Enter the vault containing the world’s largest collection of Scotch Whiskies and enjoy a special tutored nosing and tasting. Explore Scotland’s whisky history from the very beginnings through to the global success of today.
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9. The Meadows
The large, leafy expanse of the Meadows lies in the shadow of Edinburgh University’s central campus, so it’s not surprising to see the place swamped with sunbathing students during the summer. A relaxing, airy alternative to the rushing traffic and labyrinthine wynds of the Old Town, the Meadows also connects the city centre with the calmer suburbs of the Southside, home to many a deli, café and boutique.

 

10. Dean Village
Situated five minutes away from Princes Street, visitors can find the Dean Village, a beautiful oasis right by the Water of Leith.

Dean Village was previously where milling of water mills took place, of which remains of this can still be seen by visitors. Hidden in the village, you will come across a variety of mill stones and stone plaques decorated with baked bread and pies. The Dean Bridge can also be found if you walk along the walkway following the Water of Leith. The Bridge and St Bernard’s Well were both designed by Thomas Telford. At the heart of the village is Well Court, the most iconic building in the village. This building was built in the 1880s and housed local workers who worked at the water mills.