Edinburgh Castle Tours & Tickets | Events | Facts

A Complete guide to Edinburgh Castle Facts, Events, Map & Tours

Edinburgh Castle

One of Scotland's most iconic landmarks, Edinburgh Castle looms above the city's dramatic landscape. It welcomes almost 2 million visitors annually and has its illustrious history on display for people to admire. If you are on a mission to explore the wonders of Scottish history, you should not miss the castle.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, Edinburgh Castle has a turbulent history. The castle has a treasure trove of secrets and plenty of myths and mysteries to entertain you.

Edinburgh isn't so much of a city, more a way of life…..I doubt I'll ever tire of exploring Edinburgh, on foot or in print.
‘it seemed as if the rock and castle assumed a new aspect every time I looked at them; and Arthur's Seat was perfect witchcraft. I don't wonder that anyone residing in Edinburgh should write poetically.
There's no leaving Edinburgh, No shifting it around; it stays with you, always.

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What are the best Edinburgh Castle Tours & tickets?

West Highlands, Lochs and Castles Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

1. West Highlands, Lochs and Castles Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

clock Duration: 10 hours
  • It takes you on a journey to see Scotland's ancient castles, impressive lochs, peculiar coastal villages, and heather-clad mountains.
  • A day tour which shows you Scotland's iconic sights including some of the country's best-kept secrets.
  • It lets you explore the spirits of the western highlands and take a look at its lochs
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Alnwick Castle, the Northumberland Coast & the Borders Day Tour from Edinburgh

2. Alnwick Castle, the Northumberland Coast & the Borders Day Tour from Edinburgh

clock Duration: 9 hours
  • It shows you the beautiful scenery which characterizes Kelso, Alnwick Castle, and Berwick.
  • A tour to the ruins of Kelso Abbey, then to Alnwick Castle which was used to create the settings for Hogwarts Academy for the Harry Potter movie.
  • It takes you to the borderlands between England and Scotland on this full-day tour from
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Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond & Whisky Day Trip from Edinburgh

3. Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond & Whisky Day Trip from Edinburgh

clock Duration: 10 hours
  • The tour introduces the history of Scotland, its amazing landscapes and one of the most famous Scottish exports - Whisky.
  • Stirling Castle used to be a residence of the Scottish royals, while scenic Loch Lomond is the largest lake of Scotland.
  • Glengoyne Distillery produces high-quality Whisky for around two centuries.
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Edinburgh Castle Skip The Line Ticket

4. Edinburgh Castle Skip The Line Ticket

clock Duration: 3 hours
  • Fast track entry to Edinburgh Castle.
  • Explore the Royal Palace and grounds including the Crown Jewels exhibition at your own pace.
  • Admire the panoramic views of Edinburgh.
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Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Ticket and Guided Tour

5. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Ticket and Guided Tour

clock Duration: 1 hour 30
  • Edinburgh Castle is a big complex consisting of various museums that overlooks the Scottish capital.
  • The tour reveals interesting historical facts about the historic castle.
  • During the guided tour, visitors will see one of the smallest existing shrines and one the largest cannons they have ever seen.
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Alnwick Castle and the Viking Coast Full-Day Private Tour in a Premium Minivan

6. Alnwick Castle and the Viking Coast Full-Day Private Tour in a Premium Minivan

clock Duration: 8 hours
  • The Northumberland coast is a beautiful part of the country, a stones throw across the border from Edinburgh. The history of this region has strong links to Scottish cultural and religious history and is within easy reach of Edinburgh.

    Book this bespoke private tour and see more of the sights of this beautiful area complete with the...
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The Highlands, Whisky and Castles Private Day Tour in a Premium Minivan

7. The Highlands, Whisky and Castles Private Day Tour in a Premium Minivan

clock Duration: 8 hours
  • This day trip from Edinburgh offers stunning views over the highlands and lochs of Scotland.

    This tour offers some stunning scenery and plenty of photo opportunities as we 'get away from civilisation'. Travelling through glendevon, the sma' Glen, Glen Quaich and The Trossachs all of which have their own unique landscapes.

    Visit...
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The 'Cathedrals, Castles & Highlands' Guided Private Tour in a Premium Minivan

8. The 'Cathedrals, Castles & Highlands' Guided Private Tour in a Premium Minivan

clock Duration: 8 hours
  • Take a trip north of Edinburgh to picturesque Perthshire. Experience the contrast of two of Scotland’s best surviving Cathedrals, visit the stunning formal gardens at Drummond Castle and visit the peaceful retreat and ancient Caledonian Forrest at The Hermitage.

    Journey past some of Scotland’s best sights along the way, including...
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Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond Full-Day Private Tour in a Premium Minivan

9. Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond Full-Day Private Tour in a Premium Minivan

clock Duration: 8 hours
  • First we stop to admire the views over the Forth Bridges from South Queensferry before continuing to Linlithgow Palace with its rich and varied history.

    Then we take the 'Royal Route' to Stirling Castle and explore the ancient royal seat of Scotland. Learn the varied history of the Stuart Royals and the great battles of the middle-ages that...
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Award winning Blackness Castle, Three Bridges Cruise with Cream Tea

10. Award winning Blackness Castle, Three Bridges Cruise with Cream Tea

clock Duration: 1 hour 30
  • Blackness Castle, Three Bridges and Cream Tea Cruise - take in views of Blackness Castle, the ship that never sails and featured in Outlander. There are also views of Limekilns village, mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. It was from Limekilns that David Balfour and Alan Breck were carried across the Forth in a rowing boat. You will...
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15 Facts About Edinburgh Castle

  1. Castle Rock, on which Edinburgh Castle stands, is estimated to have formed some 350 million years ago.
  2. For centuries, the castle housed several Scottish monarchs. After Edinburgh was captured by King Malcolm III, it became an important royal site for him and his descendants. His beloved wife, Queen Margaret died there in 1903 and the castle was also the center of King David I's rule.
  3. The English and the Scots fought for control of Edinburgh Castle for centuries and throughout history, the castle changed hands several times.
  4. The castle became a royal residence from the 12th century until 1633 when Charles I became the last Scottish monarch to inhabit the castle.
  5. Mary, Queen of Scots, Scotland's most famous queen, gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566.
  6. The castle was used as a prison in the 18th and 19th
  7. Today, most of the buildings in the castle date from the 12th to the 18th
  8. The Portcullis gate was built on the ruined 14th century Constable's Tower and it is a formidable obstacle to any who plan to attack the castle.
  9. The New Barracks were completed in 1799 and it provided accommodation to 600 soldiers.
  10. Built before the death of King James IV in 1513, the Great Hall served as the main hall for state assemblies in the castle.
  11. The Half Moon Battery is a prominent feature on the castle's east side, and it gives canons a wide angle of fire behind tall and unsurmountable walls.
  12. Margaret's Chapel is the oldest building on the site and is also the oldest building in Scotland. It was built in memory of Queen Margaret.
  13. Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged place in Great Britain. It has faced hostile forces 23 times and some of the notable instances include the Longshanks Siege of 1296 and the Lang Siege.
  14. The Scottish crown jewels were lost in the castle for a number of years.
  15. The castle is haunted by the ghost of the Lone Piper.

Why is Edinburgh Castle Famous?

One of Scotland's and one of the world's most famous castles, Edinburgh Castle sits high on a volcanic rock more than 200 feet above the city. Up until the 16th century, the castle was often called the “Maidens Castle.”

The castle is famous for its long history and the number of monarchs who have lived in the castle for centuries. The constant conflict the castle was involved in resulted in renovations, on-going repairs, and additions that included the construction of more towers, halls and barracks.

With all the constant work, it is not surprising for the castle to have become such an imposing structure. It has played an important part in military and defensive history of Scotland. Today, it houses the “Honours of Scotland” or the crown jewels of Scotland, It is also an active military base.

Edinburgh Castle has consistently received top ratings in Trip Advisor and is recommended by visitors for people who want to visit Edinburgh and Scotland. Voted as UK's top UK Heritage Attraction at the British Travel Awards, it is also Scotland's number one paid-for tourist attraction.

Edinburgh Castle Events

Edinburgh Castle hosts a myriad of events to showcase its history and tradition to visitors.

  • Concerts (11, 14, 15, 20 & 21 July)

Each summer, Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade is transformed and becomes a unique concert venue. Some artists who have graced the stages are Boyzone, Rod Stewart, Westlife, Lionel Richie, Simply Red, and Tom Jones.

  • Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (3 to 25 August)

One of the most spectacular shows visitors will ever see is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Hosted each year on the esplanade, it brings together performers and musicians from all parts of the world for a fabulous display of international culture. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is not run by Edinburgh Castle. Tickets can be booked online through The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo website.

Is Edinburgh Castle Worth the Money?

Edinburgh is a historical and cultural treasure and deserves a visit at least once. At just a fraction of the cost of other tourist attractions, it is definitely worth a visit every penny spent.

Is Edinburgh Castle Free on St. Andrew's Day?

Thousands of free tickets for various attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, are given away as part of St. Andrew's Day celebrations.

Can You Walk Around Edinburgh Castle?

Yes, it is possible to walk around Edinburgh Castle, but it is very important that you wear comfortable shoes and clothes to get the best of your self-guided walks on the castle grounds. You may also check Edinburgh city passes which include the castle on their itinerary.

What to Expect from Edinburgh Castle?

  • Crowds

Rising up form Castle Rock is the famous Edinburgh Castle. The most visited attraction in Scotland, it is so popular that it can get quite crowded, especially during summer months. There are many things to see at the castle but the most popular are the Crown Jewels of Scotland.

  • Highlights

Another highlight in the castle are the royal apartments where various monarchs have lived. A self-guided tour can easily be done by visitors. However, if you really want to get an in-depth knowledge of the place’s history, it is best to pay for guided tours.

  • Security

There are no facilities to store a range of personal items in the castle. Rucksacks over 30L and suitcases are not accepted in the site due to heightened level of national security. Security is also operating random bag searches which may result in longer waiting times for entry.

  • Tours

A huge and wonderful place to explore, the castle has superb architecture and holds many different attractions within its walls. Make the most of your visit by taking advantage of complimentary guided tours and audio guides.

Understanding of Edinburgh Castle Rooms and Floors

Edinburgh Castle is a massive castle complex which has a very long history. The fortress dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh. It is divided into several parts and they serve different purposes.

Outer Defences
Outer Defences

Located at the front of the castle and is now known as the esplanade where concerts are currently held. Laid out as a parade ground in 1753, it was extended in 1845.

Portcullis Gate and Argyle Tower
Portcullis Gate and Argyle Tower

Built after the Lang Siege on the orders of Regent Morton to replace the round Constable's Tower which was destroyed during the siege.

Military Buildings
Military Buildings

Located next to the Argyle Tower are largely occupied military buildings after the castle became a garrison in the early 18th century.

National War Museum of Scotland
National War Museum of Scotland

Located west of the Governor's House and part of the National Museums of Scotland, it was once known as the Scottish Services Museum and before that the Scottish Naval and Military Museum.

Upper Ward
Upper Ward

Also known as the Citadel, the Upper Ward occupies the highest point of Castle Rock. The eastern end of the Upper Ward is occupied by the Forewall and Half Moon Batteries.

St. Margaret's Chapel
St. Margaret's Chapel

The oldest building in the castle and also in Scotland, St. Margaret's Chapel dates back to the reign of King David I. the chapel is dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland.

Mons Meg
Mons Meg

This 15th century siege gun us displayed on a terrace in front of St. Margaret's Chapel. It is also known as the great iron murderer called Muckle-Meg.

Half Moon Battery and David's Tower
Half Moon Battery and David's Tower

A prominent feature on the east side of the castle, Half Moon Battery was built between 1573 and 1588. The Half Moon Battery was built around and over the ruins of David's Tower.

Crown Square
Crown Square

Also called Palace Yard, Crown Square was laid out in the 15th century during King James III's reign.

Royal Palace
Royal Palace

There are four royal apartments that make up the Royal Palace, which were the residence of the later Stewart monarchs. The building has been extensively remodeled for the visit of James VII to the castle in 1617.

Great Hall
Great Hall

The chief place of state assemblies in the castle, the Great Hall was converted into a barracks for the troops of Oliver Cromwell during his seizure of the castle in 1650.

Queen Anne Building
Queen Anne Building

The Queen Anne Building housed the kitchens serving the nearby Great Hall and was later the site of the Royal Gunhouse.

Edinburgh Castle Opening Times

Summer

1 April - 30 September - 9:30 am to 6:00 pm last entry at 5:00 pm

Winter

1 October - 31 March - 9:30 am to 5:00 pm last entry at 4:00 pm
The castle is closed on the 25th and 26th of December and open on the 1st of January from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

How to Get to Edinburgh Castle?

There are many ways to get to Edinburgh Castle.

Rail

Waverley is the main station. The castle can be seen from the exits. From Princes Street, go to Waverley Bridge.
Haymarket Station is at the west of Princes Street.

Bus

Take the Airlink 100 express from the airport and stop at Waverley Bridge, near the main railway station. Travel time is about 25 minutes.



The Best Time to Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous spots in Scotland, so it is only normal for it to be very busy.

The best way to avoid queues in the Castle is to pre-book your ticket and purchase skip-the-line tickets. This will guarantee a queue-free entrance, though you will not be able to skip the crowds on place. This is where choosing a good hour comes in very handy.

Guided tours are the worth it because they give you an in-depth experience of the castle and all the things that happened there since it was erected.

One of the castle's main highlights is the One o'clock Gun so make sure that you stay around for it. it happens every day, except Sunday. Just be prepared because visitor number is also highest during that time. Weekends attract the biggest crowds so choose a weekday for your visit.

How to Get the Most Out of Edinburgh Castle?

  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Wear weather-appropriate clothes
  • Bring a bottle of water
  • Pre-book tickets
  • Arrive early to avoid the crowd
  • Go on a weekday instead of a weekend to avoid the crowd

Is Edinburgh Castle Accessible?

Edinburgh Castle has made a real effort to make access for all an important feature all throughout. The most challenging part for any wheelchair-bound person are the cobbles and the slopes. People with power wheelchairs will find it easier whereas people with manual wheelchairs will need strong arms or someone who can help push them. Some places which are unsuitable for wheelchair users are:

  • David's Tower
  • Prisons of War
  • The Royal Apartments
  • The Military Prisons

There are mobility vehicles available for visitors. This car takes visitors from the esplanade to the castle's highest point and back down at the end of their visit.

How Much Does it Cost to See Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle has a timed ticketing system in operation.

Valid from 30March 2018 to 31 March 2019
On-site price Advance purchase price

Adult (16 - 59 yrs) £18.50 £17.00
Child (5 - 15 yrs) £11.50 £10.20
Concession (60 yrs+ & unemployed) £15.00 £13.60

Valid from 1 April 2019
On-site price Advance purchase price

Adult (16 - 59 yrs) £19.50 £17.50
Child (5 - 15 yrs) £11.50 £10.50
Concession (60 yrs+ & unemployed) £16.00 £14.00

You've Visited The Edinburgh Castle, What Now?

While Edinburgh Castle dominates the city's skyline, it is by no means the only attraction worth seeing. If you are in Edinburgh, there are plenty of other things to look forward to aside from the castle.

  • Greyfriars Kirkyard

This supposedly haunted abode is just five-minute walk from the castle and is home to the grave of Edinburgh's most loyal dog and mascot, Greyfriars Bobby. Visitors can also stop by the grave of Thomas Riddell, said to have inspired author JK Rowling when naming her greatest villain, Voldemort, also known as Tom Riddle.

  • Camera Obscura

Situated just right next to the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is the city's oldest purpose-built visitor attraction. Visitors can experience unique interactive exhibits which demonstrate aspects of optical illusions.

  • Giles' Cathedral

Located near the top of the Royal Mile is the imposing St. Giles' Cathedral with its very own crown spire. Entrance is free but you have to pay a little extra for a guided tour.

  • Scottish National Gallery

Just less than 10 minutes from the castle is the neoclassical Scottish National Gallery on The Mound. There are permanent and visiting exhibitions which include renowned works such as Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and Francis Bacon.

  • National Library of Scotland

Just around the corner of the castle and less than five minutes on foot is the National Library of Scotland. It was opened in 1925 and is one of the country's biggest libraries.

  • Victoria Street

Stretching between George IV Bridge and Grassmarket, Victoria Street is a charming winding street with cobblestones which may have been the inspiration of JK Rowling's Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter universe.

Edinburgh is a place bustling with history and culture and is definitely worth the travel. Whether you are traveling from a London and needs some time away from the city or if Edinburgh is really the highlight of your trip, the city will not disappoint. Pick up the Edinburgh attractions map to guide you along the way and check on some free things to do in Edinburgh. So many personalities in history is fond of the city and it is very easy to see why. It has a certain charm that stays with you, even when you are no longer there.

Buy a Rubik's Cube puzzle, the best Christmas present for anyone in the family.

 

Harry Potter Walking Tour Edinburgh

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Duration: 2 hours

GetYourGuide: €13.37 Viator: €13.69

5.0 (266 reviews)

Harry Potter Walking Tour Edinburgh Tickets

Edinburgh Dungeons Tickets

Bestseller

Duration: 60-80 minutes

GetYourGuide: €13.64 Tiqets: €16.50 Viator: €17.45

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Edinburgh Dungeons Tickets Tickets

Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Tour from Edinburgh

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Duration: 12 hours

GetYourGuide: €55.70 Tiqets: €55.70 Viator: €58.97 TicketBar: €61.50

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Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands Tour from Edinburgh Tickets

Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour

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Duration: 75 minutes

Tiqets: €19.70 GetYourGuide: €22.00 Viator: €22.98

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Whisky and Folklore - Whisky Tasting and Storytelling

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GetYourGuide: €35.09 Viator: €39.00

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Royal Yacht Britannia Tickets: Skip The Line + Audio Guide

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Royal Yacht Britannia Tickets: Skip The Line + Audio Guide Tickets

Holyroodhouse Palace Tickets, Edinburgh

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Holyroodhouse Palace Tickets, Edinburgh Tickets

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GetYourGuide: €33.29 Viator: €38.00

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Royal Edinburgh 48-Hour Attractions Ticket

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Duration: The validity period of the package is 48 hours

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Mary King's Close Tour, Edinburgh

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Edinburgh Underground Vaults Streets Tour

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