What once was a fort is now Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh, a place with a history that dates back to the Middle Ages, is an old royal marvel split between the old and new. With castles and museums featuring some of the oldest artifacts in the country, to trendy and boutique cafes, restaurants and stores, the city is full of interesting sights for those who visit the centuries-old destination.
But that’s not all, Edinburgh also offers hidden spots that are below grounds too—the city is full of secrets that are exciting to uncover. So the next time you plan your getaway to one of Scotland’s most historic cities, make sure to check these gems off your list.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery
You don’t have to be a gin drinker to book a tour at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. Both gin lovers and non-gin lovers will be able to learn about the liquor’s history, plus do a tasting as well. There are multiple tour options to choose from, so if you do decide to book a tour, we recommend “The Gin Connoisseur Tour“. This one offers Gin tasting, and you will be able to make your own to bring home with you—it’s a perfect and unique gift! However, please note, due to The Gin Connoisseur Tour popularity, you must book 4 to 5 months in advance. Other tours are available day of so you won’t have to worry about skipping out altogether. The Gin Distillery is open every day from 9:45am to 4:45pm.
Surgeons’ Hall Museums
Visiting The Surgeons’ Hall Museums (SHM) will open your eyes up to a whole new world you may have never seen before. These award-winning museums feature paintings, surgical devices, tools, as well as other items that were used throughout the centuries. It’s interesting to see how much has changed since the 16th century, compared to what you see in modern-day hospitals and clinics.
To make it even more exciting, SHM offers interactive simulations that make you think more about your health and wellbeing. It can be a fun experience for both adults and families.
Although the museums were founded in 1505, they only opened to the public in 1832, making SHM one of the oldest museums in Scotland. If you do decide to go, they are open every day of the week from 10am to 5pm.
Real Mary King’s Close
The Royal Mile is a touristy street that was built between two major sites including Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. But what you may not know are the secret houses and alleyways that are underneath the street.
The short version of the history behind it dates back to the 17th century when the city was becoming overcrowded and needed to build more housing. Because Edinburgh was surrounded by a wall (and the city didn’t want to build outside of it), houses were built on top of each other, where the richest were to live on the top floors, and the poorest were to live on the bottom. Decades later, the city decided to construct the Royal Exchange, and instead of removing the houses below, Edinburgh used those houses as a foundation for the building that became the meeting place for city council.
To learn more, make your way to the Real Mary King’s Close to discover how people lived during this time and the dark history behind it. Real Mary King’s Close is open every day, but hours change depending on the season, so make sure to check out their calendar before you go.
Real Mary King’s Close is not the only underground wonder. There’s also Gilmerton Cove, located in Glimerton (a suburb of Edinburgh), featuring seven underground rooms and passages hand-carved from limestone. This 300 plus-year-old area is a complete mystery, and no one knows how they got there or who carved them. We recommend checking out the 45-minute tour, where you’ll hear various myths and stories behind Gilmerton Cove.
Night-walking Tour of Edinburg
Edinburgh has a lot of history, and one of the best ways to uncover it is on a walking tour of the Old Town. Mercat Tours offers one of the best options, where you’ll discover the darker side of the city. Plus, you’ll be able to access areas that are off-limits to the general public. It’s a great way to end the night!
Edinburgh is a city with a long and mysterious yet fascinating history. To make sure you uncover the deepest secrets, we recommend you check out some (or all) of the above tours and museums.
If this or any other destination speaks to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and save you up to 70% off. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!