Walking the Royal Mile Edinburgh is one of the top things to do in the city. Despite the high number of tourists and cars surrounding you, you can easily get transported back in time imagining how life was in those old houses and narrow side streets. Map, tips and photos to help you plan your visit:
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The Royal Mile Edinburgh - Intro
Th Royal Mile is the central street in the old town.
It a fascinating walk lined with old buildings and some of the major attractions in Edinburgh.
As you explore the paved street you will start at the castle, admire the hub, the cathedral and the narrow passageways. And you will end at the Holyroodhouse palace.
It is roughly 1 Scots Mile long which is 1.8 km or 1,13 miles.
Planning tip, Map - The Royal Mile Edinburgh
How to get to the Royal Mile Edinburgh - Map
- Located in the heart of Edinburgh, the Royal Mile is a succession of streets through the old town
- The mile starts at Edinburgh Castle and finishes downhill at the Holyroodhouse Palace - it is the dotted line in the Google Map extract below:
Walking the Royal Mile Edinburgh
- The street is roughly 1 Scots Mile long which is 1.8 km or 1,13 miles
- The ground is not in too bad conditions but high heels are not recommended
- Sadly the whole street is not free of cars. So be careful you have to share with crazy drivers for most of it.
- Mostly souvenir shops in the main part, surprisingly there were not that many restaurants
- Time to walk the mile depends on where you stop at and what you decide to visit
You can walk down the mile on your own, or you could consider a walking guided tours to learn more about thee fascinating history of the neighborhood:
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From the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Royal Mile Edinburgh starts at the Entrance of the Edinburgh Castle on top of Castle Hill. The medieval fortress is like a small town in the town with some beutiful views over Edinburgh. Get your skip-the-line ticket to visit the castle.
This is the beginning of the street. It is quite narrow but gets wider after the tall building called the Hub.
At the other end of the Royal Mile Edinburgh is the palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen in Scotland. Part of the palace can be visited.
You can purchase your entry ticket here.
First point of interest - The Hub Edinburgh
The first building you notice when walking down the Royal Mile is the this narrow towering building. It is now called the Hub, a conference venue (at first I thought it was the cathedral that I will show you later in this article). It is the home of the Edinburgh International Festival.
It is a mix of modern design and victorian architecture. its spire dominates Central Edinburgh. Surprisingly, it was built between 1842 and 1845. And not so surprisingly, it was previously used as a Church and general Assembly Hall for the church of Scotland.
Walking the Royal Mile Edinburgh - old houses
After the Hub, the street becomes wider. You can discovers rows of old 5-story buildings. Here, part of the street is forbidden to cars giving you more space and freedom to look around.
The Closes of The Royal Mile Edinburgh
One of the main attractions and particularities of the Royal Mile Edinburgh are the narrow side street called 'closes'. Wikipedia has a list of the closes.
Those closes were usually named after a memorable occupant of an apartment or a trade made there.
The Closes nearest to the castle can have steep slopes. They are narrow and between tall buildings as housing was an issue when they were built.
To its left of the city chambers is the real Mary King's close where you can join a 1hour guided tour and visit the many hidden streets from the 17th century.
Next stop - St Gile's Cathedral
One of the main monument on the Royal Mile Edinburgh is the St Gile's Cathedral also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh.
Its most famous feature is the crown-shaped spire. It was built in the late 14th century and restored in the 19th. It is dedicated to St Giles, the Patron saint of Edinburgh.
It stands one third of the way on the Royal Mile (nearest to the castle).
The Cathedral is full of colorful stained glass window. Have a look on my St Giles Edinburgh Cathedral article.
Other things to see on the Royal Mile Edinburgh old town
Most buildings around the Royal Mile are just houses but you can also notice:
The People's Story
The people's story building was my favorite on the whole street. I liked the state of the stone and the dungeon-like tower.
The People's Story is actually a museum with displays about the lives of the Edinburgh People from the late 18th century to today.
The Royal Mile Edinburgh - a touristy street
Just be aware that this is a very busy and touristy street. Sadly all the shops along the road are selling souvenirs or Whisky. Not much else...
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Discover more things to do & places to see in my Travel Scotland Destination Guide.
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