One of the most iconic images of Scotland’s beautiful capital sits perched atop an extinct volcano in the center of town. There’s loads to do in Edinburgh from hiking picturesque Arthur’s Seat to a diverse selection of cultural interests and museums, and of course, whisky, lots of high quality single malt stuff. You should absolutely partake in some whisky “tasting” when strolling around town, but don’t overdue do it or you might miss one of Europe’s greatest castles. And have no fear, you can also purchase and drink whisky at Edinburgh Castle so you don’t have to go without for too long!
The history of Edinburgh Castle is actually a little confusing, but dates back to the 12th Century, when King David I erected a chapel and gathered an assembly of nobility and clergymen. Subsequent years saw additions to the castle and fortress as it changed hands back and forth through many wars and battles between the Scots and English (Cue Mel Gibson). The ‘Union of Crowns’ in 1603 saw the first Scottish King, James VI ascend to the throne of Britain following the death of Elizabeth I. These days Edinburgh Castle is no longer an official residence of the British monarchy, as Queen Elizabeth II resides at the Palace of Holyrood during official visits to Edinburgh. The House of Windsor also has another official residence in Scotland, at Balmoral Palace in the Highlands, in Cairngorms National Park…Not a bad life!
As previously mentioned, there are several opportunities to continue drinking whisky! The castle has its own whisky shop that is very well stocked and apparently sometimes gives free samples, though we missed that. There is also the tea room where we sat for a coffee and tea in quite an elegant atmosphere, for about the same as what you’d spend at Starbucks. While we took a break from whisky, you don’t have to! The Edinburgh Castle Tea Room also has quite a nice selection from various distilleries around Scotland. There is also a cafeteria called the Red Coat cafe which has seating with beautiful views of town. We just popped in to have a look, as we ate before arriving at the castle.
Our tour guide was an absolute gem. Along with being informative and enthusiastic, she was extremely comical and really added to the experience of not just the castle, but being in Scotland in general. She loved bringing up how “frugal” Scots are and how some visitors ask if the land across the bay is Norway or other random countries… nope, still Edinburgh. When she pointed out the cemetery for regimental mascots and soldiers dogs, she told us when visiting as a child this was her favorite part of the castle. Living in Ireland we know the Irish are great story tellers, and we discovered that the Scots are also great in the regard.
- 9:30am – 6pm
- (1 Apr – 30 Sep)
- 9:30am – 5pm
- (1 Oct – 31 Mar)
- Last entry is 1 hour before closing time
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
It depends on your budget, but you’ll typically find the best hotel deals on booking.com. Families especially will find the best deals on short term apartment rentals. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here and receive $40 credit off your first stay!
Disclaimer: We received regular admission to Edinburgh Castle free of charge, thanks to VisitScotland, who provided us with passes to better highlight their wonderful country. However, the photos and opinions are solely ours and this hasn’t influenced this review.