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Edinburgh castle

I will be in Edinburgh from 7-10 June. Having never been there, I want to see Edinburgh Castle. I will be with my 19 year old son and we arrive mid day on Friday and leave early Monday morning.

We probably would prefer to see the castle on Friday afternoon, weather permitting. If not Friday, then some time Sunday. My issue is do I want to pre-purchase a castle ticket? pre- purchase a skip the line tour? Is a tour a good idea? If so, which tour?

With the wealth of experience here, I am certain we can get a point in the right direction.

Posted by
5648 posts

We visited the castle in June, and didn’t prepurchase tickets, and used Rick Steves’ guidebook but didn’t join an organized tour. You might get more from a tour, of course.

Every day except Sunday, at exactly 1 PM, they shoot off a canon at the castle, to let ships out at sea synchronize their clocks ... they’ve been doing that for over 150 years. Might want to be there for that.

Posted by
810 posts

You do save a few dollars on prepurchased tickets but it locks you into a particular date and a time range to enter. Check out the official website for the castle.

We saw it on a guided tour which was informative but I often find myself getting impatient and ready to move on. I much prefer the audio guides that let you spend time where you want. The cost is 3.50 euros - very reasonable. We did stand in the line to see the crown jewels and Stone of Destiny but honestly it was a bit disappointing. If the line is too long or slow consider skipping.

To me the best part of the castle is the amazing views all around. You're so high up. We ate lunch in the Red Coat cafe. It's casual, reasonably priced cafeteria style. Try to find a table in the dining room with windows and views.

Fyi, for Edinburgh make sure you are wearing shoes that let you walk up hill on cobble stones. Enjoy.

Posted by
21879 posts

When we were there in early June a couple of years ago the line to buy tickets was only five or six deep. We did it only own without a guide. A guide does add an extra element but it is all in English and fairly easy to see on your own.

Posted by
2153 posts

As the story goes, the frugal Scots shoot the canon at 1:00pm, instead of 12:00pm, to save ammo!

Posted by
4730 posts

I've been to the castle several times, it's a great castle. Personally I wouldn't bother with a guide, I perfer to go at my own pace and an audio guide works just as well plus there are the written guides at all the relevant and important sites that often provide sufficient information. If you time your visit right you might be there when the free weapon exhibition takes place by a very enthusiastic member of staff (or volunteer, who knows!).

I've never purchased an advance ticket and I've never had to wait long. My last visit, admittedly New Years Day so most people were probably nursing a hangover, was pretty much a walk straight up to the ticket booth with no waiting.

Posted by
5669 posts

Your ticket includes a guided tour. Find out when the next tour is leaving and join it. Or just proceed. I have been to Edinburgh many times, but I love starting out my visit with a visit to the castle. It's not just the history which I really do enjoy, but it's the view of the city. You can get a good perspective of the city. You will see New Town, the Royal Mile, over to Calton Hill, north to the Firth of Forth and Leith, Salisbury Crags, and south toward the Pentland Hills. I enjoy checking the royal regalia and I always visit the war memorial. My grandfather served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI and they are recognized. It's very moving. Also, I love St. Margaret's Chapel and am fascinated by the exhibit of the prisons.

The guide will give you some of the stories. I find that the audio tour is a bit too much but others like it.