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The top attractions to visit in Edinburgh

With news that Edinburgh Castle has won a British Travel Award, we look at some of the best sights to see in Scotland's capital

There is evidence that Bronze Age people built homes on Castle Rock from about 900 BC

There is evidence that Bronze Age people built homes on Castle Rock from about 900 BC

Edinburgh Castle has been named the Best Heritage Attraction in the UK for the third year running in the prestigious 2013 British Travel Awards, the largest awards programme in the UK.

This year, Edinburgh Castle was the only Scottish attraction to be shortlisted. It is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction and attracts more than 1.2 million visitors a year.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “To win this prestigious award three times in a row confirms that Edinburgh Castle’s fascinating history, dramatic location and panoramic views have an enduring appeal for visitors of all ages both in the UK and around the world.”

Edinburgh Castle continues to be the crowning jewel of Edinburgh, but there is much more to enjoy in the capital city, which boasts an impressive list of historical monuments, museums and hidden treasures.

Here is our list of the other most impressive sights to see in Edinburgh:

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

Enjoy the novel experience of climbing an extinct volcano within the limits of the city. The views from the top of Arthur’s Seat are unrivalled – you can see all of Edinburgh, as well as much of East Lothian, Midlothian and across the Firth of Forth to Fife. A ‘must-do’ for the able-bodied tourist.

Princes Street Gardens and the Scott Monument

Princes Street Gardens

Right beneath the castle, and close to all the shops and restaurants that Princes Street has to offer, is a lovely garden area where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The beautifully gothic Scott Monument, a Victorian tribute to Sir Walter Scott, is the heart of the gardens, and is the largest monument to a writer in the world. For a small fee, you can climb the 287 steps to the top to take in yet more spectacular views.

National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is listed as one of top 20 most visited museums and galleries in the world. Explore the diversity of the natural world, world cultures, art and design, science and technology and Scottish history, all under one roof.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

Visit one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings, a great red sandstone neo-gothic palace which now houses 17 new displays (following a dramatic three-year refurbishment). Each of these explores different aspects of the history of Scotland and its people, told through a wealth of imagery. Admission is free.

Gilmerton Cove

Gilmerton Cove Edinburgh

Tap into the great gothic mysteries of the city by visiting one of the most intriguing and enigmatic attractions it has to offer. Gilmerton Cove is a series of chambers and passageways hewn from the bedrock sandstone that lie hidden beneath the streets of Gilmerton on the South Side of Edinburgh. See what you can deduce from this archaeological mystery that has baffled investigators for over 300 years.

Of course, these are just our top choices – Edinburgh boasts an excellent range of sights to explore. Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental has a branch at either side of Edinburgh, so why not hire a car to assist you in your trip around the city?

If you’re arriving to the city by plane, get in touch with our Car & Van Rental Edinburgh Airport branch, where our hassle-free shuttle bus service will ensure that your trip runs smoothly and you get the maximum time to explore this fantastic area.

About the Author

Sophie McGraw

Staff writer at Arnold Clark