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Edinburgh Castle

There will be four of us in Edinburgh on October 10. Is it better to purchase tickets for the Castle that day or buy them ahead online? That day will be walking the Royal Mile after seeing the castle, and the Museum of Scotland. Doable? We will have a half day on Sunday as well, so could do the 3 pm tour. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Posted by
3500 posts

With regard to "...walking the Royal Mile after seeing the castle, and the Museum of Scotland...", it is definitely doable in one day. Have done it a couple of times ourselves.

Posted by
2804 posts

If you ask me, "...walking the Royal Mile after seeing the castle, and the Museum of Scotland..." is a bit of a challenge for just one day. Granted, we are not early risers, and we (especially me) tend to stop and read the plaques at every point of interest. And take photos. There was a line to get tickets to enter the castle, so 15 min there. Lots to see in the castle. It was a very rainy & windy day and my DH has mobility limitations, so we had to watch our step on slippery cobblestones and were not able to walk briskly. We made it as far as Clarinda's tea shop, then had to call it a day.

Would have liked to see Palace of Holyroodhouse, but that will have to be another trip.

Posted by
362 posts

If you are early risers, I think this would be very doable. Of course, as posters above had said, it also depends on how fast you move and your touring speed.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for the replies. How crowded will the tours be in October? Do we need to purchase tickets ahead or ok to wait until we are there?

Posted by
3439 posts

When we're we're there a few years ago in May, we didn't know which day or time we were going to visit, so we bought tickets when we arrived, not ahead of time. It might be busy in October, but nowhere near what it would be during the summer months.

Posted by
234 posts

We were there in early September two years ago and had no problem getting walk up tickets, though it was a weekday--weekends might be busier.

And as to your original question--we arrived at the castle about 10:00 am and decided we really wanted to stay for the One O'clock Gun (which I recommend) so we took our time--there was so much to see that the time really flew by. Afterward we had lunch at the cafe there and headed off about 2:00 pm to wander down the Royal Mile intending to tour Holyrood Palace at the end. Even though St. Giles was the only extended stop we made, we took so long that we arrived at the palace 5 minutes after they stop selling admission. Although the palace is open until 6:00, admissions close at 4:30, so be aware.

Posted by
1780 posts

Just got home from Scotland last night. We visited Stirling castle and the ticket gal sold us a 3 day Explorer pass that was good for Edinburgh castle as well. Totally worth it to skip the line.
When we got to Edinburgh castle at 9:20, right before it opened, there were already lines of people wanting to get in...this was day before yesterday..Oct 3. There are a ton of tour groups in the city right now..you can see them walking as hordes with someone up front holding an umbrella or flag.

My advise to you...get your tickets the day before for the castle and get there at 9:30 when they open. You will enjoy most of the grounds without a ton of people. We got in while everyone else was standing in line to buy their tickets.

If you are over 60, make sure to ask for a senior discount everywhere you go. We saved several pounds at each ticket window...

spent about 1 .5 hours there...and when we left, there were a ton of groups lined up under the banners ready to go in....while we enjoyed basically empty rooms. Have to admit, I'd been to the castle in march wtih my daughter, so I was able to run my hubby through the places I knew he'd like to see (mostly the canon and the Great Hall with all the weapons)

We went to the Museum right after, basically to see the special Bonnie Prince Charlie Exhibit My hubby just isn't into museums, but he allowed me this. We spent another 1.5 hours or so walking through all the exhibits.. We bought tickets when we went in. There were several groups of school children in the exhibit while we were there...learning their countries history. The museum is HUGE, and so easy to get lost in...we had fun trying to find the front door after we left the exhibit.

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks for the reply. We leave today and will be in Edinburgh starting Sunday. I had thought crowds would be less now since the weather is cooler. Good to have a heads up. We will probably visit the castle on a Tuesday, so hopefully that will help. Will consider buying tickets the night before if wifi works in our B&B. Can't wait!

Posted by
7 posts

I visited Edinburgh about this exact same time of year last year and the queue to purchase tickets at the castle was extremely long around 11AM. I ended up just buying the tickets online on my phone and picked them up at the will call window minutes later (located across from the purchase windows). I would highly suggest buying tickets ahead of time. The castle is great, but I think anywhere between 2-3 hours is enough time to explore. The Royal Mile is fantastic and magical! Lots of street performers and shops to wander into. Whiski is a great pub at the far end of the Royal Mile with great Scottish staples like Haggis and Salmon. You will find that most restaurants on the Royal Mile are a bit expensive and "touristy". I would suggest going one street down to Grassmarket (where you can find The Elephant House, a coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter).

Posted by
46 posts

Thank you for all of your advice. Just got back this week and had a wonderful time. We waited to buy our tickets to the castle on the morning we went - not too bad a line early in the am. By the time we left, the queue was much longer. We did the Museum of Scotland in the afternoon and barely touched the surface - what a great museum. Reasons to go back someday.