Sightseeing & Attractions - Things to Do in Edinburgh - Festivals, Castles

There are plenty of things to do in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital city that drips with history, culture and medieval charm (and let's not forget tartan). Here are some essential sites you simply cannot miss:

If you're looking for things to do in Edinburgh in late summer, the Edinburgh International Festival runs from mid August to the beginning of September. This three week festival draws over 400,000 visitors from far and wide to celebrate the best in dance, music, theatre and opera. Performances take place in venues across the city; past programmes include Rameau's Zoroastre and Messiaen's St Francois d'Assise. Tickets from £6 to £60; reserve ahead of time at www.eif.co.uk.

A visit to Edinburgh Castle tops the list of things to do in Edinburgh. Over 1,000 years old, the castle is a constant reminder of a time when the Scottish and English fought for control. Located high on Castle Rock in the middle of the city, Edinburgh Castle looks forbidding and dominant; everything a castle should be. Visit the military museum, view the Crown Jewels of Scotland and pay your respects at the National Scottish War Memorial. Tickets are available at the castle; £9.80 per adult and £3.50 per child. Located on Castlehill; call 0131 225 9846 or visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk for more information.

The early 17th century Greyfriars Church or Greyfriars Kirk is an important site in Scottish history; this is where the National Covenant, the document confirming the Scottish Church's independence from England, was signed in 1638. Sadly, the Covenanters (those in support of the Scottish Reform movement) were terribly persecuted; in 1679 over 1,200 Covenanters were confined in the kirkyard to await trial. Today the enclosure is known the 'Covenanters' Prison.' Greyfriars is where Greyfriars Bobby, the famous terrier who guarded his master's grave from 1858 to 1872, is buried. Today the church hosts regular lectures, concerts and programmes. Located where Candlemaker Row meets the George IV Bridge ; call 0131 225 1900 for a schedule of events.

Filled with history since its humble beginnings as a market in 1477, today the area known as Grassmarket is a centre for the city's nightlife as well as other things to do in Edinburgh. What was once a common place for hangings and riots now overflows with pubs, bars and restaurants. Over 100 executed Covenanters are remembered with a memorial cross in the east end. In 1827 the murdering duo Burke and Hare suffocated at least 18 people here and sold their bodies to medical schools; today you're more likely to encounter roving bands of hen and stag parties. To get there: follow Victoria Street or Candlemaker Row to the George IV Bridge into Old Town.

Holyrood Park is Edinburgh's hint of true Scottish wilderness. With over 650 acres (263 hectares) of moors, lochs and hills, Holyrood is the largest un-groomed public park of any European city. Climb up Arthur's Seat, the elevated remains of a 325 million year old lava flow, for outstanding views of the city far below. Three lochs are scattered throughout the park, the Salisbury Crags rise up as cliffs and the ruins of St Anthony's Chapel stand alongside the petrified lava flows. Holyrood Park is located east of the city centre; follow Queen's Drive by bike or car to get there.

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