Sightseeing in Edinburgh
I have absolutely no intention of writing an exhaustive list of everything worth seeing in Edinburgh and the surrounding area, I suggest that you check out one or more of the excellent bookstores on the net, and they will be only too pleased to sell you a Guidebook. I will however, offer some suggestions as to the sights that I think you should really not miss if possible. Most of the more interesting parts of Edinburgh itself are to be found in the City Centre, the Old Town and the New Town (well over 200 years old now) and of course, overshadowing everything, the Castle itself. For the more culturally inclined there are several Museums and Galleries worth visiting. The rest of Edinburgh and surrounding districts deserve a page of their own, and if time allows there are several Day trips from the City which are well worth the effort.
What I do intend this page to be is just a collection of handy tips for anyone visiting Edinburgh. The first of these tips is to take a ride on one of the open-top double-decker tour buses which run from the bus stance on the Waverley Bridge right next to the Scott Monument in Princes Street. There are two companies running these tours, Lothian Regional Transport and Guide Friday, each with qualified guides giving a running commentary. No doubt you probably expected me to recommend taking a taxi, but while I want your money, I would like to give you fair value for that money. The tour buses offer far better value as the ticket prices are for the whole day, meaning that if you go on the tour in the morning, you can do the circle around the city, get of the bus and have a refreshment and something to eat while deciding what you would like to see in more detail, go back on the bus to each place you want to actually study, getting on and of the bus at each stop, all for the one payment.
A very important tip is, always be prepared for a change in the weather! It is a very old joke that the British always talk about the weather, a few days in Edinburgh will soon make you understand why. I don't mean that you have to carry huge amounts of heavy gear everywhere you go, especially if you are in the town centre there's usually a shop or hopefully a pub to pop into to avoid an unexpected shower. But if you are wandering further afield, a small folding umbrella and/or a waterproof (and preferably windproof) anorak or similar shouldn't be too much of a burden, I would hope they wouldn't be needed but it's better to be prepared (whether or not you were ever a Boy Scout).
The next tip is pretty obvious, if you're going to view the Royal Mile on foot, start at the Castle and walk downhill to the Palace. I know it sounds obvious, and the slope doesn't look that bad anyway, but I've seen too many visitors struggling up the Castlehill laden with shopping not to mention it. Incidently, during the summer months there are volunteers who lead conducted walks from the Castle esplanade down the Royal Mile, and it does help if you have someone there pointing out the places of interest and giving few of the stories behind the bare historical facts. While on the Royal Mile please don't miss the Museum of Childhood, opposite John Knox's house, it's free and great fun for everybody no matter their age (in fact, the older the better), especially good if it's raining and you want some shelter.
Another point about the Royal mile is that you shouldn't just stick to the main road itself! There are lots of little closes and pends leading off on either side -close and pend being old Scots terms that are hard to define, but easy to understand once you see them- and some of these reward exploration with unexpected little nooks and crannies.
Another little trip which is well worth the money is to take one of the conducted "Ghosts and Ghoulies" walks around the old town. There are several of these running from sites about the Royal Mile, but the first and possibly the best runs from the Witchery restuarant at the Castlehill right by the Castle entrance.