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
Edinburgh Castle
For nearly 1000 years Edinburgh Castle has shaped Scottish history as both a royal residence and a military stronghold.
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.'
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.
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

A Tale of Edinburgh's Two Cities: Full Day Private Highlights Tour
Discover the history and beauty of Edinburgh's cobbled streets as you explore Medieval Old Town and Neoclassical New Town.

On this tour you will:
  • Walk along the iconic Royal Mile. 
  • Explore the interiors of the imposing St Giles Cathedral and Edinburgh Castle. 
  • Discover the artefacts and artwork of the world-famous National Galleries of Scotland and the Museum of Edinburgh.
  • Step inside the historic John Knox House.
  • Admire the Palace of Holyroodhouse and hear about political controversy outside the Scottish Parliament. 
  • Enjoy a lunch at your leisure - ask your guide for recommendations on the best local fare!
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view from Calton Hill. 
  • Venture into the beautiful neoclassical New Town. 
  • Stroll through the beautiful Princes Street Gardens.
Medieval Old Town 

Walking along the Royal Mile, a remarkable street housing Europe's original ‘skyscrapers’, discover a maze of streets and concealed courtyards. Learn about the city’s ‘closes,’ cramped alleyways, and ‘wynds’ and hear about 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. Explore the imposing St Giles Cathedral - the cradle of the Scottish Reformation during the 16th century, pay a special visit to the world-famous National Galleries of Scotland, and to the Museum of Edinburgh. Then visit historic 15th century John Knox House, home to an influential church leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. 

A tour of Edinburgh would not be complete without a visit inside  Scotland’s most famous historic attraction: Edinburgh Castle. Here you will learn about the fascinating history of this enigmatic castle, including many of the bloody battles, such as the War of Independence between Scotland and England in the 14th Century. 

Stop to enjoy a 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 to 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.

Neoclassical New Town

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. 
Private Walking Tour of Edinburgh's Highlights
On this four hour walking tour of Edinburgh,  you will discover some of the most important historical sites of Scotland, including the world-famous Royal Mile and a medieval labyrinth of cobblestone alleyways and tenements that comprise this UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Walk through the iconic Royal Mile, discuss the history of Edinburgh's Old Town
  • Hear about many famous characters like Deacon Brodie and John Knox
  • Explore the imposing St Giles Cathedral
  • Learn the art history behind the masterpieces at the National Galleries of Scotland
  • Stand in awe of the stunning exteriors of Edinburgh Castle
  • Take a stroll down the beautiful Princes Street Gardens, passing by  George Heriot’s School
The Medieval Labyrinth of Old Town

You will follow your expert guide 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.

Edinburgh Castle and Beyond

Explore the imposing St Giles Cathedral - the cradle of the Scottish Reformation during the 16th century - and the world-famous National Galleries of Scotland, which houses many stunning paintings from the Old Masters including Da Vinci, Titian, and Rembrandt.

A tour of Edinburgh would not be complete without learning about Scotland’s most famous historic attraction: Edinburgh Castle. Hear about the fascinating history of this enigmatic castle, including  many of the bloody battles that took place here, such as the War of Independence between Scotland and England in the 14th Century. You will also have the opportunity to stroll the beautiful Princes Street Gardens and pass the gorgeous George Heriot’s School built in 1628, and now a mecca for Harry Potter fans around the world, as it is believed to have inspired Hogwarts.


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