The Royal Mile & The Canongate Attractions

We’ve come up with a list of attractions at the foot of the Royal Mile & The Canongate within an easy walking from most hotels, guest houses or self catering based the city centre. There’s so much going on in the Royal Mile & The Canongate area, that you could probably spend a day visiting all the attractions and have to come back the next day to visit the ones you didn’t have time to visit on the first day.

Visit the Museum of Edinburgh on The Royal Mile

The royal Mile
Museum of Edinburgh

Until 2012 you could be forgiven for having walked past the Museum of Edinburgh without noticing it was there, but with its new paint colours, you certainly won’t miss it!

How to get there: 

Walk down the Royal Mile to almost the bottom and Holyrood Palace. Known to locals as the Canongate. You will find the Canongate Kirk, The People’s Story and the Museum of Edinburgh.

Visit Dynamic Earth

One of the popular attractions for visitors to Edinburgh is to climb Arthur’s Seat. On a good day your are treated to some excellent views over the city to the Castle and the River Forth.

However if climbing and walking is not of interest to you why not  find out more about the geological past of Scotland at the fabulous Dynamic Earth which is one of Edinburgh’s most visited attractions  You can also find out more about local resident James Hutton, the father of modern geology.  He proposed that the earth was much older than originally thought.

The Royal Mile
Dynamic Earth

We’d recommend: taking your time on the approach to the building as the very stones on the approach paths to this attraction are examples of the different ways our land was formed. Also, make sure you don’t rush in to the Time Machine too quickly – some of the most interesting exhibits and facts are in the first room of this attraction and it’s easy to miss them if you have younger children in tow, who are desperate to take the trip back in time.

How to get there: 

Walk down the Royal Mile to the Canongate Kirk and Canongate Primary School. Cross at the pedestrian crossing and then turn left into Bull’s Close. Walk down to Holyrood Road, then turn left and you will see Dynamic Earth ahead of you.

Visit the Scottish Parliament

Whether your interest is architectural or constitutional, or even poetical, a visit to the Scottish Parliament should be on your itinerary for a trip to Edinburgh. The highlight of your visit would be to sit in the public gallery while debates are in progress.

If you want to do this, it will be important to time your visit for dates when the Scottish Parliament is in session. You’ll find all the information on this attraction you need on the visit and learn section of the Scottish Parliament’s website.

We’d recommend: taking a look at the poetry wall for some wonderful words about Scotland and Parliament. You’ll find it on the side of the Scottish Parliament which borders the Canongate section of the Royal Mile.

How to get there: 

We like the view of the Parliament set in the surrounding city scape which you get when you approach from Abbeyhill. This is also the foot of the Royal Mile where you will see the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the left, Salisbury Crags in the centre and the Scottish Parliament to your left. Just like this:

The Royal Mile
Scottish Parliament at the bottom of the Royal Mile and Calton Road

Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse and The King’s Gallery

As you’ve seen from the photograph above, you are only a short distance from The Palace of Holyroodhouse and The King’s Gallery.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the residence of the Royal Family when they are in Scotland, and the gardens of the Palace provide the venue for the garden parties when the King and other members of the Royal Family present awards to Scots to recognise their achievements. For those interested in the story of Mary Queen of Scots, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is an essential visit when in Edinburgh even if it’s not a rainy day.

The Royal Mile
Queens Gallery at the foot of the Royal Mile

The Kings Gallery is a modern addition, providing a space in which to display selections from the wide-ranging collections owned by the Royal Family. Exhibitions change twice a year, so you should check the website for details of which exhibition will be on when you’re visiting.

We’d recommend a visit to the beautiful gardens surrounding the Palace.

How to get there:

It’s just opposite the Scottish Parliament, so follow the directions above.

Visit the Scottish Poetry Library

One of only three specialist poetry libraries in the UK, and the only one housed in its own purpose-built building, the Scottish Poetry Library can be found in Crichton’s Close.  It’s a warm and bright space to visit, and you can consult over 45,000 volumes as well as seeing the mysterious book sculptures or visiting one of their special exhibitions.  It was designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, and is an interesting building architecturally as well as poetically!

Attractions near Craigwell Cottage
Scottish Poetry Library

How to get there:

Head to the Royal Mile, turn right and cross the Canongate at the pedestrian crossing at the Royal Mile Primary School.  Keeping to the left hand side of the road, find Crichton’s Close by turning left at Starbuck’s.

Go shopping in the Royal Mile & The Canongate

We could send you off to an indoor shopping mall, such as Princes Mall or St James Centre or.our main shopping streets Princes Street or George Street both of which are attractions just a short walk away but before you do this why not go for a browse in some of the quirky and unusual shops in the Canongate section of the Royal Mile.

Let us know if you find others which are of interest, but here are some to entice you:

Cadenheads Whisky – check their Facebook page for details of whisky tastings in local pubs.

Ye Olde Christmas Shop – where it’s Christmas all year round

Ragamuffin – with branches in Edinburgh and Skye

We hope that with this small selection of attractions will encourage you to explore the foot of the Royal Mile. For lots more ideas, we’ve created a Pinterest Board – CanonGREAT, Royal Mile, Edinburgh which has  a map showing all the locations.

To read more of our blogs about things to do and see whilst visiting Edinburgh click on the link

Blog updated April 2024

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