Exploring Edinburgh’s Royal Mile: A Walking Adventure

Table of Contents

Bustling Edinburgh Royal Mile with St Giles' Cathedral, cobblestone streets, and tourists exploring top Royal Mile attractions on an Edinburgh historic walk.

Introduction to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

    • Overview of the Royal Mile

It is the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. It stretches from the historic Edinburgh Castle to the splendid Holyrood Palace. This mile-long street is packed with shops, restaurants, and historic sites. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Edinburgh.

    • Historical Significance of the Royal Mile

This has been a central part of Edinburgh’s history for centuries. It was once the main route for kings and queens traveling between the castle and the palace. Many important events in Scottish history took place here. Walking down the Royal Mile is like stepping back in time.

Planning Your Edinburgh Royal Mile Walking Tour

Best Time to Visit

  • Seasonal considerations: Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is beautiful year-round, but each season offers a unique experience. Spring (March to May) brings blooming flowers and mild weather, perfect for leisurely walks. Summer (June to August) is the busiest time with festivals like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but also the warmest. Autumn (September to November) offers stunning fall foliage and fewer crowds. Winter (December to February) is quieter and magical with festive lights, but be prepared for colder temperatures.
  • Time of day for best experience: Early mornings are ideal for a peaceful stroll without the crowds. Late afternoons and early evenings provide a lively atmosphere with street performers and open shops. For a unique experience, consider a twilight walk to see the Royal Mile illuminated.

What to Bring on Your Walk

  1. Comfortable shoes: The Royal Mile is a long stretch of historic streets. Wearing comfortable shoes will make your walk more enjoyable. Think about sturdy sneakers or walking shoes. They will help you explore without any discomfort.
  2. Weather-appropriate clothing: Edinburgh’s weather can be unpredictable. It’s smart to check the forecast before you go. In summer, light layers and a hat can protect you from the sun. In winter, a warm coat and gloves are essential. Always bring a raincoat or umbrella, just in case.
  3. Camera for capturing memories: The Royal Mile is full of beautiful sights. A camera will help you capture these moments. Whether it’s a smartphone or a professional camera, make sure it’s charged and ready. You’ll want to remember the stunning architecture and vibrant street life.

Edinburgh Historic Walk: Starting Your Journey

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a must-see on your historic walk. Perched on Castle Rock, it offers stunning views and a rich history.

  • History of the castle: Edinburgh Castle has a long and fascinating history. It has been a royal residence, a military stronghold, and a symbol of Scotland’s heritage. The castle has witnessed many battles and has been a key player in Scotland’s history for over 1,000 years.
  • Key attractions within the castle:
    1. The Crown Jewels: These are some of the oldest in Europe and include the Crown, Sceptre, and Sword of State.
    2. The Stone of Destiny: This ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy has been used in the coronation of Scottish kings for centuries.
    3. The Great Hall: Built by James IV in 1511, it features a stunning wooden roof and historic weapons.
    4. St. Margaret’s Chapel: This is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating back to the 12th century.
    5. The National War Museum: This museum showcases Scotland’s military history with fascinating exhibits and artifacts.

Exploring the Royal Mile’s Attractions

St. Giles’ Cathedral

  • Architectural highlights: St. Giles’ Cathedral is known for its stunning Gothic architecture. The crown-shaped steeple is a standout feature, making it a recognizable landmark in Edinburgh. Inside, you will find beautiful stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings.
  • Historical significance: St. Giles’ Cathedral has been a central place of worship for over 900 years. It played a key role during the Reformation in Scotland. The church is also associated with John Knox, a leader of the Scottish Reformation.

The Real Mary King’s Close

    • What to expect from this unique attraction

When you visit The Real Mary King’s Close, you step back in time. This underground street is hidden beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Expect to see homes and shops from the 17th century. The tour guides dress in period costumes and share stories of the people who lived here. It’s a mix of history and mystery that will captivate you.

    • Historical context

The Real Mary King’s Close has a rich history. It was once a bustling street in the heart of Edinburgh. Named after Mary King, a merchant who lived there in the 1600s, the close was sealed off and forgotten for many years. Today, it offers a unique glimpse into Edinburgh’s past. You can learn about the plague, the lives of ordinary citizens, and how the city has changed over the centuries.

Best Royal Mile Sights: Hidden Gems

  1. Writer’s Museum

    The Writer’s Museum is a must-see for book lovers. It celebrates the lives of famous Scottish writers like Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. You can see their personal items, manuscripts, and portraits. It’s a small but fascinating place, tucked away in Lady Stair’s Close.

  2. Museum of Edinburgh

    The Museum of Edinburgh offers a deep dive into the city’s history. Located in a series of historic buildings, it showcases artifacts from Edinburgh’s past. You can see everything from ancient pottery to the original plans for the New Town. It’s a great spot to learn about the city’s rich heritage.

  3. John Knox House

    John Knox House is one of the oldest houses in Edinburgh. It dates back to the 15th century and was once the home of John Knox, a leader of the Scottish Reformation. The house is filled with period furniture and offers a glimpse into life in the 1500s. It’s a fascinating stop for history buffs.

Edinburgh Walking Route: Finishing Your Journey

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is a must-see when finishing your Edinburgh walking route. This grand palace is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. It stands at the end of the Royal Mile and offers a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history.

  • Highlights of the palace:
    1. State Apartments: These rooms are used by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family when they stay in Edinburgh. They are beautifully decorated and filled with fine art.
    2. Holyrood Abbey: This historic abbey was founded in 1128. It is now a picturesque ruin, perfect for photos and a quiet moment of reflection.
    3. Gardens: The palace gardens are stunning and offer a peaceful retreat. They are especially lovely in the spring and summer months.
  • Historical significance:
    1. The palace has been a royal residence for over 500 years. It has witnessed many important events in Scottish history.
    2. Mary, Queen of Scots, lived here during her reign. Her chambers are open to the public and offer a fascinating insight into her life.
    3. The palace is still used for official ceremonies and events. It is a living piece of history that continues to play a role in modern times.

Visiting the Palace of Holyroodhouse is a perfect way to end your journey through Edinburgh. It combines beauty, history, and a touch of royal elegance.

Royal Mile Travel Guide: Tips and Tricks

  • Best places to eat along the Royal MileEdinburgh’s Royal Mile offers a variety of dining options. For a traditional Scottish meal, visit The Witchery by the Castle. If you prefer something more casual, try Deacon’s House Café for a cozy atmosphere and delicious sandwiches. Don’t miss Makars Gourmet Mash Bar for hearty comfort food.
  • Shopping opportunitiesThe Royal Mile is a shopper’s paradise. You can find unique Scottish souvenirs at Royal Mile Whiskies, where you can also sample some of the finest Scotch. For handmade crafts, visit Celtic Craft Centre. If you’re looking for tartan and kilts, Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers is the place to go.
  • Local customs and etiquetteWhen visiting Edinburgh, it’s important to be aware of local customs. Scots are known for their friendliness, so don’t hesitate to ask for directions or recommendations. Remember to say “please” and “thank you” as politeness is highly valued. If you’re visiting a pub, it’s customary to take turns buying rounds of drinks. Also, tipping around 10-15% in restaurants is appreciated.

Conclusion: Reflecting on Your Edinburgh Old Town Walk

As we come to the end of our journey through Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, let’s take a moment to reflect on the highlights of this historic walk.

  • Recap of the Royal Mile itinerary: We started at the majestic Edinburgh Castle, wandered through the bustling streets filled with history, marveled at St Giles’ Cathedral, and ended our walk at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Each stop offered a unique glimpse into Edinburgh’s rich past.
  • Encouragement to explore more of Edinburgh’s tourist spots: While the Royal Mile is a must-see, don’t stop there! Edinburgh has many more attractions to explore. From the National Museum of Scotland to Arthur’s Seat, the city is brimming with wonders waiting to be discovered.

Edinburgh’s Old Town is a treasure trove of history and culture. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s always something new to uncover. So, lace up your walking shoes and continue your adventure in this enchanting city.

Key Attraction Description
Edinburgh Castle An iconic fortress offering panoramic views of the city.
St Giles’ Cathedral A stunning church with a rich history dating back to the 12th century.
Palace of Holyroodhouse The official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.
National Museum of Scotland A museum showcasing Scottish history, culture, and science.
Arthur’s Seat An ancient volcano offering hiking trails and scenic views.

Thank you for joining us on this walking tour of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. We hope you enjoyed it and feel inspired to explore more of this beautiful city. Safe travels!