Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery is home to the country's spectacular collection of fine art.

TravelCurious Tip

For quieter contemplation, visit during the winter months. There is an annual showing of Turner’s watercolours in January

The Scottish National Gallery may not be the largest, but it houses an extraordinary array of artworks. Set in a grand, neoclassical building with Ionic porticoes, the gallery is located on The Mound in central Edinburgh, symbolically caught between the Old and New Towns. Fittingly, in the collection you will find a mix of the Old Masters and artists fresh from winning the Turner Prize.

In its distinctive octagonal rooms, illuminated through skylights and with pine green carpets and wine red walls, you can find European art from the Renaissance through to the present day. Highlights include Titian’s Renaissance masterpiece, “The Three Ages of Man”, Rembrandt’s “Self-Portrait aged fifty-one” and Poussin’s “Seven Sacraments”.

However, be sure not to miss the homegrown art. Scotland has a strong tradition in the fine arts and the gallery has extensive displays of Scottish works from Allan Ramsay, David Wilkie and Henry Raeburn which are always on display in the lower floor rooms.

A room with a view

Sir Walter Scott called Scotland the “Land of the mountain and the flood.” To understand what he meant, the best thing you can do - beyond some of your own exploring - is to savour the Scottish landscape paintings by 19th century artists such as Peter Graham and Horatio McCulloch.

Angels of the north

Weather permitting, the beautiful parkland surrounding the gallery must be explored. Let the dramatic contours of the lawns guide you between sculptures from artists such as Anthony Gormley and Barbara Hepworth.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Edinburgh
Dean Village
Located below Edinburgh Castle to the northwest, Dean Village is a quaint neighborhood with picturesque landscapes and idyllic pubs.
The Dean Bridge
Located at the heart of historic Dean Village, the bridge has come to be as much a picture spot as a transport link.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Charlotte Square
This prestigious square is the architectural jewel of the New Town.
Wee dram of Scottish whisky
Beware of any Scotsperson who invites you out for a 'wee dram', as no local has ever actually limited themselves to a 'wee dram.'
Dirty Dick's
Over the last century, Dirty Dick's has become an establishment of myth. Enjoy its candlelit ambiance and traditional amber ales.

Related Tours

The Best of Edinburgh: Private Walking Tour with Edinburgh Castle
On this half-day walking tour of Edinburgh, you will discover some of the most important historical sites of Scotland, including the world-famous Royal Mile, a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle, and a medieval labyrinth of cobblestone alleyways and tenements that comprise this UNESCO World Heritage Site

On your private walking tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy a breathtaking view from Calton Hill with your private tour guide;
  • Admire the Palace of Holyroodhouse and hear about political controversy outside the Scottish Parliament;
  • See the historic John Knox House and hear about its history;
  • Walk along the iconic Royal Mile, and discuss the history of Edinburgh's Old Town;
  • Walk by the City Chambers, the 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;
  • Explore the imposing St Giles Cathedral, known also as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, founded in 1124 by King David I;
  • Enjoy a 30-minute tour of Edinburgh Castle, with a long rich history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress;
  • End your tour at Edinburgh Castle, where you can continue to explore at your own leisure. 
On your private tour, your expert guide will take you into Old Town’s maze of streets and concealed courtyards, where you will learn about the city’s ‘closes’- cramped alleyways, and ‘wynds’ - narrow lanes between houses. 

Hear about the many characters who lived and died here, including Deacon Brodie, town councilman by day and master thief by night, who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

You will also have the chance to explore the imposing St Giles Cathedral – the seat of Scottish Christianity for over nine centuries and the cradle of the Scottish Reformation during the 16th century.  

Found on the High Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town, it dominates the city’s skyline, with its crowned steeple making a distinctive signature. The current building dates from the 15th century, but there has been a church on the site since early in the 12th.

A tour of Edinburgh would not be complete without learning about Scotland’s most famous historic attraction: Edinburgh Castle. Your guide will take you on a brief private tour of the castle, before leaving you to explore it at your own pace. 


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