More than 2 million visitors step inside Edinburgh Castle every year, making it the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland.
It is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe with a rich and 900-year long history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and fortress.
Being a perfect family outing, most visitors want to know what to expect at Edinburgh Castle before planning their trip.
Table of contents
- Exploring Edinburgh Castle
- What to see at Edinburgh Castle
- Fight for the Castle Exhibition
- Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle
- The Royal Palace
- Edinburgh Castle’s Stone of Destiny
- Edinburgh Castle’s Crown Jewels
- Edinburgh Castle’s Chapel
- Mons Meg
- Edinburgh Castle’s cannon – One o’clock Gun
- Half Moon Battery
- National War Museum
- Edinburgh Castle dungeons
- Scottish National War Memorial
- Regimental Museums
- The Queen’s Embroideries
Exploring Edinburgh Castle
There are three ways tourists can explore the interiors of Edinburgh Castle – a self-guided tour, a guided tour, or a private tour.
|Self-guided tour||£ 17.50||Cheapest tour possible|
|Guided tour||£ 32||Most value for money|
|Private tour||£ 355*||Royal treatment|
*For up to five people
Duration of the visit
Even though Edinburgh Castle is one of the top ten largest castles globally, it doesn’t take a lot of time to go around.
If you buy your tickets in advance and don’t waste time standing at the ticketing counter, you can explore the Edinburgh Castle in two hours.
Visitors who love their own pace are known to start early, take up to 3 hours to see the Castle’s highlights, and then witness the One o’clock gun at 1 pm to finish their tour with a bang.
If don’t plan to book a guided tour of the Castle, we suggest you opt for the audio guide.
The audio guide is available for rent at the entrance and is a great way to explore the numerous attractions inside Edinburgh Castle.
It costs £3.50 for adults and £1.50 for kids up to 15 years.
What to see at Edinburgh Castle
The castle gets crowded, especially during the summer months.
Being aware of the must-see attractions at the 12th century Edinburgh Castle helps avoid the crowd, and plan your visit better.
Fight for the Castle Exhibition
This Exhibition narrates the fight between the Scots and the English to control the Edinburgh Castle.
In here, you get to see animated episodes, immersive projections, and medieval objects dug up from within the Castle.
The vaulted chamber has a massive Trebuchet, and by its side, you will see a stone ball that was fired at the Castle during the siege of 1296.
Location: In Argyle Tower, midway up the Lang Stairs.
Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle
The Great Hall got built in 1511 to host state ceremonies for King James IV.
Don’t miss out on the hammerbeam roof, the carvings on the stones holding the roof, the weapons, shields, etc. which are on display.
Location: In Crown Square, in the very heart of the Castle.
The Royal Palace
Kings and queens lived in the comfort of the Royal Palace.
The Palace took a battering during the Lang Seige but got remodeled again in 1617.
The Crown Room of the Palace hosts the Regalia of Scotland, the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.
Location: The Royal Palace is in Crown Square.
Before making a purchase, learn everything about Edinburgh Castle tickets.
Edinburgh Castle’s Stone of Destiny
The Stone of Destiny was seen as a sacred object and used during the inauguration of Scottish kings since ancient times.
In 1296, King Edward I of England seized the stone from the Scots, after which it got used in the coronation ceremonies of the monarchs of England and then Great Britain.
Location: The stone is on display with the Crown Jewels in the Royal Palace.
Edinburgh Castle’s Crown Jewels
Also known as ‘Honours of Scotland,’ these are the oldest Crown jewels in the British Isles.
The priceless Crown, Sceptre, and Sword of State were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543.
Made of gold, silver, and precious gems, theses Crown Jewels are of immense significance.
Location: On display in the Crown Room.
Edinburgh Castle’s Chapel
St Margaret’s Chapel is Edinburgh’s oldest building and is open to all visitors to the Edinburgh Castle.
The Chapel was built around 1130 and got dedicated to Queen Margaret, King David I’s mother.
Scotland’s royal family once used this place of worship as their private Chapel.
Location: When you pass through the Foog’s Gate, you will spot St. Margaret’s Chapel on the left.
Mons Meg is a six-tonne siege gun that could fire a 150 kg (330 pounds) gunstone for up to 3.2 km (2 miles).
Given to King James II in 1457, it was once considered the latest warfare technology.
The massive cannon is named after the Belgian town, where she got made.
Location: Mons Meg is just outside St Margaret’s Chapel.
Edinburgh Castle’s cannon – One o’clock Gun
One o’Clock Gun was the idea of businessman John Hewitt which got implemented in 1861.
The gun is fired every day (except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day) at 1 pm so that ships in the Firth of Forth could set their maritime clocks.
It is a major spectacle and visitors time their Castle exploration according to One o’Clock Gun’s boom.
Location: It is just outside the Redcoat Cafe.
Half Moon Battery
The Half Moon Battery got built after the Lang Seige to offer better defenses to the Edinburgh Castle.
It gave the seven bronze guns (also known as the seven sisters) a wide angle of fire behind tall, sloping unsurmountable walls.
Half Moon Battery got built on David’s Tower, which had come crashing down during the Lang Siege of 1571–73.
Location: It is on the eastern side of the Castle, overlooking the main entrance.
National War Museum
This War Museum inside Edinburgh Castle exhibits Scotland’s military history from the 1600s to the present.
Don’t miss out on Robert Gibb’s famous painting ‘The Thin Red Line’.
You also get to see military kilts, bagpipes, weaponry, letters, Highland broadswords, etc.
Location: In Hospital Square.
Edinburgh Castle dungeons
This must-see attraction is a Prisons of War Exhibition, but visitors often refer to it as Edinburgh Castle dungeons.
In the 1700s and 1800s, many pirates and prisoners of war were held in dark, cramped vaults below Crown Square.
Today visitors get to see a recreation of the vaults as they would have been in the 1800s.
Scottish National War Memorial
The National War Memorial is a fitting tribute to all the Scots who died in both world wars and conflicts since 1945.
Don’t miss out on the sculpture and stained glass depicting scenes from the First World War.
Location: On the North side of Crown Square.
The Royal Scots Museum narrates the story of the regiment in chronological order through wall panels supported by maps, display cases, tableaux, dioramas, medals, weapons, pictures, collections of silver, etc.
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum interprets and displays over 300 years’ history of the only Scottish cavalry regiment in the British Army.
This Museum exhibits a wide range of objects such as weapons, uniforms, medals, paintings, etc.
Location: The Royal Scots Museum is at the top of the hill just before Foog’s Gate, and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum is directly opposite.
The Queen’s Embroideries
In the late 16th century, Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate her throne and flee Scotland. While in exile, she kept herself busy with embroidery.
The embroideries on display at Edinburgh Castle aren’t the ones made by the Queen but were created using authentic materials and tools by 33 volunteers of the School of Ancient Crafts.
Location: Ante-chamber of the Royal Apartments.
So what are you waiting for? Select your Edinburgh Castle tour now!