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Edinburgh Old Town

The Old Town of Edinburgh runs from the Castle in the west to Holyrood Palace in the east and from Princes Street Gardens in the north to the University of Edinburgh in the south and covers the extent of the city until its expansion in the 18th century. Below are some notes on things to do drafted by people who live there. There are also the ‘obvious’ attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, St Giles Cathedral and Holyrood Palace.

Art & Culture

CulturePermanent national collections and consistently excellent temporary exhibitions at the National Gallery of Scotland (don’t miss the Impressionists on the first floor towards the rear) and the National Museum of Scotland (if the artefacts get too much, chill out in the roof garden).

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Nature and Gardens

Climb Arthur’s Seat (our own volcano). Relax in Princes Street Gardens or many of the small green spaces tucked down closes. Greenyonder Tours do walking tours of city centre gardens. The kirkyards at Greyfriars Kirk and Canongate Kirk are also worth visiting; both have good views, greenery and interesting monuments.

Architecture and Topography

Wander down the Royal Mile from Castle to Palace, climb Calton Hill for the panorama of the Old Town (for even better views climb the Nelson Monument, not free). Admire the 105 marbles of the Scotsman Steps between North Bridge and Market Street (for a list see page 9 of the September 2011 Newsletter). The quad of the monumental Old College (Robert Adam and William Playfair) is open to the public. On weekdays, the public may enter Old Parliament Hall (behind St Giles, free) and mingle with the lawyers while admiring the 1638 timber roof; you may even sit in on a trial (ask at the desk). Guided tours of the Scottish Parliament are free but must be booked in advance.

Science & Technology

The National Museum of Scotland has natural history, science and technology in a stunning building (just given a £46 million make-over). The Museum on the Mound (history of banking – go and see if it has been brought up-to-date!) and the Museum of Surgery in Surgeon’s Hall (not for the squeamish!) give a different view of Edinburgh.

Contact Us

Edinburgh Old Town Association
2 St Mary’s Street
Edinburgh EH1 1SU

Email info@eota.org.uk





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  • The committee looked at three new planning applications, none of which was felt to require comment. Pre-planning consultation has begun on proposals ...
  • The committee looked at three new planning applications. Two of these were for 6-8 Market Street – the site immediately west of the City Art Centre. T...
  • The committee looked at five new planning applications. We will object to one of these: for 25 new rooms at the Carlton Hotel, North Bridge on top of ...
  • The Old Town Association committee meets on the first Tuesday of the month. At the November 2014 meeting, as usual, we looked at new planning applicat...