By Expedia Team, on January 10, 2020

A Visitor’s Guide to Edinburgh Castle

“The Edinburgh Castle is one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions and an important part of the city’s history. Perched on top of an extinct volcanic rock, the former defence citadel has transformed into a national monument that holds some of the country’s most valuable treasures. If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh, check out this visitor’s guide to Edinburgh Castle to get ready for a fun time.


Edinburgh Castle history

Edinburgh Castle sits on top of Castle Rock, the remnant of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. The site is an important archaeological find and contains artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age.

The castle itself was built in the 12th century. Whoever had control over the castle had control over Scotland, making the site a source of conflict between Scotland and England for centuries.

When to visit

As one of the city’s most popular attractions, it can get crowded at Edinburgh Castle. If you want to beat the line, purchase your tickets in advance.

Ticket prices:

– Adult (16-59 years) £18.50

– Child (5-15 years) £11.50

– Seniors (60+ years) £15.00

– Children under 5 years are free

– Advance tickets are £1 less per ticket

Your ticket to Edinburgh Castle comes with a guided tour that lasts 30 minutes. Tours depart from the Battery near the castle gates. If you don’t have a guided tour, plan to spend at least 2 hours at the castle to see all of its highlights.

Ideally, you should plan to arrive for the castle’s opening at 9:30 a.m. If you can’t make it at the earliest time, try to plan your visit for the end of the day, and be aware that the last entry is one hour before closing.

The castle’s hours of operation are:

– Summer: April 1 through September 30 – 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

– Winter: October 1 through March 31 – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– January 1 – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– Closed December 25 and 26


What to pack

The castle’s attractions are spread over a large area with rough stones and uneven areas, so it’s best to wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes. If you’re planning your visit during cooler weather, be sure to bring a jacket or warm coat and gloves, since it can get chilly at the higher elevation.

No storage facilities are available at the castle. The staff conducts random bag checks and large bags over 30L, such as suitcases, are not permitted. If you need to bring a bag, make sure you have a small bag with only the essentials so that you’re not held up during a bag check.


If you want drinks during your tour of the castle, you can stop in the castle’s tea rooms for traditional tea. The Tea Rooms in Crown Square are located at the top of the castle and serve light sandwiches, scones, jams, cakes and whole leaf tea. If you’re hungry, try one of the heartier lunches at Redcoat Café.

Visit the Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels have been held in many places throughout the centuries, including London and the Dunnottar Castle. Since 1818, the Crown Jewels have been displayed in the Crown Chamber of the Edinburgh Castle. The display contains a sceptre from 1494 that was a gift from Pope Alexander VI, a sword presented by Pope Julius II in 1501 and a 16th-century crown with 40 jewels and 94 pearls. These artefacts were used in the coronation of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1543.

The display also has the famed Stone of Destiny, the coronation stone that was taken by Edward I and kept under the English throne in London. It was returned to Scotland in 1996.


Explore the Prisoners of War Museum

French prisoners were interned under the Great Hall of the castle during the Napoleonic wars, where they were treated relatively fairly. They spend their time constructing jewellery boxes and toys, as well as making counterfeit money. In the Prisoners of War Museum, you can see their living quarters and learn a little more about their lives during internment.

Military museums

Founded in 1933, the National War Museum of Scotland is home to weapons, uniforms and Scottish military regiment memorabilia spanning 400 years. It also contains numerous military paintings, including Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum, a museum that showcases the history of the regiment, and the Royal Scots Museum, a museum dedicated to the regiment formed in the castle, are also located on the castle grounds.

Mons Meg

Mons Meg is a famous cannon that was manufactured in Flanders in 1449. At the time, the cannon was the cutting-edge of military design and technology, capable of using 50 kilograms of gunpowder to shoot a 250-kilogram cannonball for 2 miles. The cannon has been fired several times, including during the celebration of Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage.

St Margaret’s Chapel

St Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest surviving building in the castle. Constructed by King David I as a memorial to his mother, the chapel was used as a powder magazine for hundreds of years. It was restored and rededicated in 1845. In addition to the stunning architecture of the chapel itself, its grounds provide stunning views of the city and the immaculate pet cemetery, which is the final resting place of soldiers’ pets.


Ready to plan your trip?

The Edinburgh Castle is a vital part of Scotland’s history and one of the most fascinating attractions you could see during your visit to the city. If you’re ready to plan your trip, visit Expedia to find deals on Edinburgh holidays and discover other things to do in Edinburgh!