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Castle Hill

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Castles/Palaces Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

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  • 4.0Value
  • 1.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Hoisted high atop Edinburgh, almost as if it's monitoring its city below, Edinburgh Castle is not only one of Scotland's most recognized landmarks, but one of the country's most-visited attractions. Not only has the castle housed various royals throughout history, but also once housed military prisoners and was the site of a back-and-forth capture with the English. Inside its stone walls (which survived a World War I bombing), some of the attractions available for visitors to view are the Honours (or crown jewels) of Scotland, St. Margaret's Chapel (Edinburgh's oldest building), Mons Meg (considered one of the greatest guns in medieval Europe), the National War Museum, The Great Hall and the vaults that once held prisoners of war (located under the Great Hall). 

Some travelers express disappointment in the castle's high price of admission but that grievance was quickly followed up with a strong recommendation to visit this attraction. Visitors loved learning about the castle's history, exploring the grounds and enjoyed the attraction's expansive views of the city. Some suggested springing for an audio guide or tour while others urged planning your visit around 1 p.m. Monday through Saturdays, when guns are fired on the premises, a tradition that harks back to the 19th century. Several of Edinburgh's top tours make stops at the castle.

Edinburgh Castle opens at 9:30 a.m. daily and closes at 6 p.m. from April 1 to September 30 and at 5 p.m. from October 1 to March 31. Admission costs 16.50 pounds for adults (about $24) and 9.90 pounds for children (about $14.40). You can find Edinburgh Castle at the end of the Royal Mile. For more information, visit Edinburgh Castle's website

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#1 Calton Hill

If you're like the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, you might enjoy the view from Calton Hill; this spot was a favorite of his. One of the most popular vantage points for photo ops (and included in the city's UNESCO World Heritage site distinction), Calton Hill affords a majestic panorama of the city below – so don't forget to bring your camera, or make sure your phone is charged. Located east of New Town, Calton Hill is one of the country's first public parks, founded in 1724. Today, the hill supports several iconic buildings and monuments, so much so that it has been nicknamed the Athens of the North. Some of these structures include the Burns Monument, erected in honor of Scottish writer Robert Burns, the Nelson Monument, designed by Robert Burns, and the National Monument, modeled after the Parthenon but given the name "Edinburgh's Disgrace" for never having been completed. 

Recent travelers loved Calton Hill for its beautiful views, peaceful surroundings and relatively easy hike to the top. With Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh Castle and the sea in sight, some visitors say the best time to go is during sunset or sunrise. Calton Hill is less than a mile from the Royal Mile and less than a half-mile from Edinburgh Waverly train station.

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