Museum of Edinburgh

Edinburgh's treasure box - a maze of historic rooms full of objects from the capital’s past.

TravelCurious Tip

The Scottish Parliament buildings are just a touch further along the Royal Mile. Visit them afterwards to see where history is made

Found on the Royal Mile, just opposite the Tolbooth clock, at first glance the Museum of Edinburgh doesn’t look like much. Set in the diminutive Huntly House, its cheerful red and yellow façade remains bright even on the greyest of days. Built in 1570, the house now celebrates Edinburgh’s past, from prehistory to the present day.


It’s a deceptive building: from the outside it appears small, but inside it is labyrinthine, a rabbit’s warren with little rooms full of treasures leading from one to the next. You could spend hours poring over their collections, which cover a range of the artistic and the historical. Several rooms demonstrate Scotland’s craftsmanship, with silver and glassware from past centuries. They also have an original copy of the National Covenant of 1638 — you can try to decipher some of the signatures. And of course it would not be complete without some oddities, such as the firebrand preacher John Knox’s spectacles.


Man’s best friend

Among said oddities are the dog collar and feeding bowl of Greyfriars Bobby, the city’s most famous canine citizen. One version of his story paints him as a loyal 19th century hound once owned by Constable John Gray. As the story goes, when his master died he spent every day of the next 14 years by his grave, winning the hearts of Edinburgh’s citizens with his loyalty.


Two-faced

Deacon Brodie was a respected furniture maker for the well-to-do of 1780s Edinburgh. He lived beyond his means, though, and turned to burglary. He and his gang copied keys to public buildings which they would rob during the night. He was eventually caught and hanged on the Royal Mile. Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired by Brodie’s double life, and went on to write Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Edinburgh
The Royal Mile
The picturesque historic thoroughfare of the Old Town of Edinburgh.
John Knox House
Rumoured to have been the home of the 16th century Protestant reformer, this historic house tells the story of the Reformation and life in Edinburgh 400 years ago.
Calton Hill
Crammed with monuments, Calton Hill is part of Edinburgh's UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers splendid views over the city.
Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland.
Scottish Parliament Building
The first in almost 300 years of history, the home of the Scottish Parliament is the most controversial building in Scotland.
Royal Mile Closes
The Closes of the Royal Mile are historic narrow alleyways named after their owners.

Related Tours

Secrets of the Royal Mile: Private 2.5-hour Walking Tour

Explore the cobbled alleyways of the Royal Mile, uncovering the culture and history of Edinburgh's Old Town in the heart of Scotland's historic capital. Take a walk down the mile-long street in the Old Town of Edinburgh, which connects Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The name was given to the location in the 15th century when King James IV began a royal palace at the bottom of Castlehill and undertook large-scale rebuilding along the route.

On your private tour, you will:

  • Enjoy a walking tour of Edinburgh's old town with a private licensed guide;
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view from the Vennel Viewpoint, a great place to snap a picture of Edinburgh Castle;
  • Admire the Palace of Holyroodhouse and hear about political controversy outside the Scottish Parliament;
  • Pass by the historic John Knox House and hear about its history;
  • Walk along the iconic Royal Mile, and discuss the history of Edinburgh;
  • Walkthrough the City Chambers, place of the City of Edinburgh Council and its predecessors;
  • Walk by Victoria Street and see one of the most photographed locations in the city and hear about Harry Potter stories;
  • Visit St Giles Cathedral, founded in 1124 by King David I with its famed crown spire;
  • End your tour outside the entrance of Calton Hill, which you can climb up to explore at your own leisure.


This tour is the perfect introductory tour for anyone arriving in Edinburgh for the first time. On your tour, you will visit Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare running through Old Town, from Edinburgh Castle to the beautiful Palace of Holyrood House.

Be completely immersed in the rich Scottish history that is ever-present amongst the medieval labyrinth of cobblestone alleyways and tenements. Home to the fascinating St Giles Cathedral, Parliament Square and John Knox House, The Royal Mile is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of secrets not to be missed.

Whilst exploring Old Town, one cannot help but notice Edinburgh Castle looming over the city. Your expert local guide will tell you about the fascinating history of this enigmatic fortress, including many of the bloody battles that took place here, such as the War of Independence between Scotland and England in the 14th Century, as well as its present-day use as headquarters for the Scottish Division.

Your tour finishes at Calton Hill, where we recommend you climb to explore the views at your own leisure.

Edinburgh in a Day: Full-Day Private Tour with Edinburgh Castle
With one dormant volcano, seven hills, clusters of cobbled streets and tantalising vistas waiting around every bend, Edinburgh is a fabulous place for a wander - especially with a private tour guide. Discover the history and beauty of Edinburgh's cobbled streets as you explore Medieval Old Town and Neoclassical New Town. Take a stroll down Edinburgh's streets and alleys, discovering its fascinating history and rich culture, with highlights including the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle and much more.

On your private, full-day tour you will:

  • Walk the iconic Royal Mile, a remarkable street housing Europe's original ‘skyscrapers’;
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view from Calton Hill;
  • Venture into the beautiful neoclassical New Town;
  • Stroll through the beautiful Princes Street Gardens;
  • Explore Heriot Row, one of Edinburgh's most attractive and fancy streets;
  • Walkthrough Charlotte Square gardens are one of the most pretty squares in Edinburgh and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
  • Visit Edinburgh Castle and learn about the fascinating history of this mysterious castle, including many bloody battles, such as the War of Independence between Scotland and England in the 14th Century;
  • Stop for a lunch break at the famous Grass Market
  • Walk by Victoria Street and see one of the most photographed locations in the city and hear about Harry Potter stories;
  • Explore the National Museum of Scotland, from artistic explorations by Leonardo da Vinci to the Burke and Hare murders;
  • Walk by the historic 15th-century John Knox House, home to an influential church leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland;
  • See the famous restaurant Dome and explore St Giles Cathedral, the cradle of the Scottish Reformation during the 16th century;
  • Admire the Palace of Holyroodhouse, home of Mary Queen of Scots, and hear about political controversy outside the Scottish Parliament.

A tour of Edinburgh would not be complete without a visit to Scotland’s most famous historic attraction: Edinburgh Castle. Here you will learn about the fascinating history of this mysterious castle. Stop to enjoy lunch at your leisure (price not included). Your guide will be happy to point out the best place whenever you're ready to give your legs a rest and grab a leisurely bite. 

You will have the chance to view the Scottish Parliament, one of the most controversial buildings in Scotland given its construction going 10 times over budget, and admire the grand Palace of Holyroodhouse, 16th century home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. The breathtaking view from Calton Hill will make you fall in love with the Scottish capital forever.

Venturing into the beautiful neoclassical New Town, built in the 18th Century, enjoy a true marvel of urban planning. As you walk through the main streets and squares of Edinburgh's New Town, you will find yourself impressed by the lavish 18th-century neoclassical and Georgian architecture. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the beautiful Princes Street Gardens, which lies at the centre of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. 
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