Edinburgh is a very interesting city. The capital of Scotland has become a worldwide center for music and the Arts with its International Festival, highlighted by a Tattoo, held each summer in August. The Old City centers around the Royal Mile, a delightful stroll from the Castle to Holyrood Palace. The many shops and other attractions enroute make this a journey of at least several hours. The newer part of the city is also worthwhile to walk. The walking tour below incorporates both into a very easy and pleasant day.
Begin at the Edinburgh Castle, one of the top attractions in all of Scotland. Be sure to tour the grounds at leisure or with a guide to appreciate its history and detail. For instance, St Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest building in the city (early 12th century) and the Royal Palace contains the Scottish Crown Jewels. Leave from the castle entrance and begin the walk downhill along the Royal Mile. It’s difficult to walk by the many interesting shops as you proceed. Shortly, you will arrive at St Giles Cathedral, on your right. The distinctive crown at the apex of its steeple is particularly noticeable. Wander inside the stark, Gothic church before continuing your walk. The City Chambers are on the left just past the cathedral. There are many more shops and several museums for those interested as the walk continues. Finally, you will reach the Palace of Holyrood House, still used by the Queen of England when she visits Scotland. Take a tour of the palace and learn much about the most famous resident of the palace, Mary, Queen of Scots.
Next, either walk to the right (as you approached the palace) to reach Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano where James Hutton, the father of modern Geology, was inspired with his theories of geological phenomena during his walks in the area. It is part of the larger Holyrood Park and provides great views of the city. Or, you can walk around Holyrood House to the left and climb Calton Hill for fabulous views both looking toward the castle and in the other direction, looking toward the Firth of Forth.
From the latter, walk up Regent Road (or Carlton Row) which both lead to New Town and its major thoroughfare, Princes Street. Here there is even more shopping, including a mall and large department stores. On the left is a long and fairly narrow park which includes the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, dedicated to Scotland most famous novelist, and the West Princes Street Gardens, a lovely area containing fountains and flowers with the castle looming above.
Take a left on Lothan Road and left again on King’s Stables Road and then Johnston Terrace to return to the Royal Mile just below the castle, where the walking tour began.