If the Queen doesn't happen to be in town and there are no demonstrations in the works, you might well be able to take a tour of this palace, which is at the lower end of the Royal Mile. This palace was the home of Mary, Queen of Scots from 1561 to 1567, and is now an official residence of the current queen.
I have never managed to be there when it was open, so I can't speak from personal experience, but I'm told this is one of the more interesting places to visit. Since there was no access to the grounds when I was there, I simply took a few photos through the various gates, between the bars.
Admission, which includes an audio tour, costs £ 8.50 for adults, £ 7.00 for students and those over 60 and only £ 4.50 for those under 17. There are special rates for families, and you could also get a combination ticket for the palace and the art exhibits at the adjoining Queen's Gallery.
Update: As of 2012, admission to the Palace of Holyroodhouse costs £ 10.75 for adults, £ 9.80 for students and those over 60 and £ 6.50 for those under 17. This still includes an audio tour, there are still special rates for families and you can still get a combination ticket for the palace and the art exhibits at the adjoining Queen's Gallery.
One of the many things I love about Edinburgh is the fact that - if need be - you can escape the crowds and noise of the city and just a short walk will take you into Holyrood Park (the word Holyrood comes from the term "Haly Ruid" meaning Holy Cross.) This is where you'll find the famous Arthur's Seat (see my separate "Things to Do" tip) and the Salisbury Crags.
The Crags are a series of 46-metre (151 ft) cliffs at the top of a subsidiary spur of Arthur's Seat, looking down on Edinburgh like a grand fortress. They are situated less than a half-mile (1 km) southeast of Princes Street.
You'll often see climbers clambering up the sheer rock-face, but you can also simply walk up along the crags as a regular "pedestrian" without any special skills or equipment.
Basically, you'll start at the end of the Royal Mile. There is a car park situated on the side of the Queens Drive road just behind the ancient Abbey and Palace of Holyrood and the huge Dynamic Earth science centre.
From the car park follow the wide track known as the Radical Road (this track was given its name after it was paved in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820, using unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland at the suggestion of Walter Scott.) This leads up and right towards Salisbury Crags, if you are unsure which path to take then have a look at the map and info board at the entrance to the car park.
--> Useful website: http://walking.visitscotland.com/walks/centralscotland/holyrood_park_arthurs_seat
Once you've reached the top, you'll be able to enjoy unprecedented views over the gorgeous Edinburgh city panorama... don't forget to bring your camera!
Queen Elizabeth's official residence in Scotland. A doughty and impressive palace standing at the foot of the Royal Mile in a hilly public park, it is built around a graceful, lawned central court at the end of Canongate. When the queen or royal family is not in residence, you can take a guided tour. Many monarchs, including Charles II, Queen Victoria, and George V, have left their mark on its rooms, but it is Mary, Queen of Scots, whose spirit looms largest. For some visitors the most memorable room here is the little chamber in which David Rizzio, secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, met an unhappy end in 1566. In part because Rizzio was hated at court for his social-climbing ways, Mary's second husband, Lord Darnley (Henry Stewart, 1545-65), burst into the queen's rooms with his henchmen, dragged Rizzio into an antechamber, and stabbed him more than 50 times; a bronze plaque marks the spot.
The King James Tower is the oldest surviving section, containing the rooms of Mary, Queen of Scots, on the second floor, and Lord Darnley's rooms below. Though much has been altered, there are fine fireplaces, paneling, plasterwork, tapestries, and 18th- and 19th-century furnishings throughout. At the south end of the palace front you'll find the Royal Dining Room, and along the south side are the Throne Room and other drawing rooms now used for social and ceremonial occasions.
From the top of Edinburgh's minimountain, Arthur's Seat (822 feet), views are breathtaking. www.royal.gov.uk. COST: £6.50. OPEN: Apr.-Oct., daily 9:30-5:15; Nov.-Mar., daily 9:30-3:45. Closed during royal visits.
The queen in person comes here and spend time, so in that case the palace would be closed for the occasion. The admission includes a audio guide with introduction by Prince Charles himself, and you will visit at your own leisure the many rooms of the palace. I enjoyed my visit.
The Queen's official residence in Scotland. Includes the Queen's Gallery with changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection, and State Apartments (including Mary, Queen of Scots' Chambers).
I can't really comment because a) I didn't have time to tour the palace and b) I was too cheap to pay the admission, so cheated and stuck my camera through the gate to take a picture.
;-) Looks like an interesting place, though, and certainly an impressive building.
Opposite the Place is the Scottish Parliament, Modern and having an interest in Geo Politics, the fact that during the past few days, Scottish Parliament has been in the news , means that the memories of my visit to reawakened
I read that this Royal Residence is used for State ceremonies and official entertaining, and sure enough, just a couple of weeks after we visited, the Queen was entertaining the Pope there. Darn, we were two weeks early!
I can’t say I was disappointed in Holyrood, but have visited Windsor, and it is much larger and more opulent. However, Holyrood has some wonderful plasterwork ceilings and has wonderful portraits of the Kings of Scotland, some real and I think some creatures of legend (of which there are many in Scotland). It is probably most famous for having been the home of Mary, Queen of Scots and where she carried out some of her shenanigans. It was here that her second husband, in a fit of jealousy, killed her secretary and purported lover, David Rizzio. I enjoyed the tour of the palace, but enjoyed strolling through the ruins of the Abbey almost as much. It is a lovely place founded in the reign of King David in 1128. Its founding is said to have been an act of gratitude for the king’s miraculous escape from the horns of a deer while hunting on Holy Cross Day (“rood” means “cross”).
Legend has it that the church was given a piece of the “true cross” by King David’s mother, and this relic became known as the Black Rood of Scotland. It is also said that the relic fell into the hands of the English and was placed at Durham Cathedral, but disappeared in the Reformation.
Prices for admission include an audio tour and a tour of the Abby ruins.
Adult £10.25, Over 60/Student (with valid ID) £9.30
Under 17 £6.20, Under 5 Free
Family (2 adults, 3 under 17s) £27.00
Family (2 adults, 3 under 17s) £38.50
The Castle is definitely the highlight but I actually enjoyed Holyroodhouse more. Gives you a chance to see how the other .0001 of a percent live! Very impressive interior. I particularly enjoyed the historical tale of how David Rizzio, the secretary of Mary Queen of Scots, met his grizzly end. There's a little plaque on the wall near the ground where his body was left lying after he had been stabbed 56 times. I didn't know I was so bloodthirsty!!!
Holyrood is the official royal residence in Scotland (full title is the Palace of Holyroodhouse).
It was originally founded as a Monastery in 1128, but has served as the royal residence since the 15th century when an official residence was built to replace the Abbey guesthouse (which in itself was already an unofficial royal residence). Among others, Mary, Queen of Scots lived here between 1561 and 1567 (the famous murder of her lover Rizzio took place at Holyrood).
The oldest part of this royal residence is 15th century, but most of what we see is 17th century as a result of the rebuilding by Charles II.
Inside, the decor certainly avoids understatement with oak paneling, stucco ceilings, tapestries, portraits and other gilt-framed paintings. Within the grounds (actually adjoining the palace) are the fabulous ruins of the Early Gothic (12/13th century) Holyrood Abbey.
Today, the Palace is used primarily for state occasions, although the Queen spends one week per year in residence. The palace is closed to the public during royal residences (other members of the royal family stay here on state occasions, particularly during Scottish parliamentary sittings).
1 April - 31 October: Monday-Sunday, 9.30am - 6pm
1 November - 31 March: Monday-Sunday, 9.30am - 4.30pm
Adult £9.50, Under 17 £5.50, Under 5 Free, Family (2 adults, 3 under 17s) £24.50
Palace & Queen's Gallery:
Adult £13.00, Under 17 £7.50, Under 5 Free, Family (2 adults, 3 under 17s) £33.50
I've not been inside Holyrood House so I can't offer an opinion about a visit -- the building dates back to the 12th century when it was a monastery -- Mary Queen of Scots lived here between 1561 and 1567 and it's now Queen Elizabeth 11's official residence in Scotland.
Full details in the below link:-
Lots of ill-informed people see this stunning set of buildings as a huge money pit but having read up on the finances, I can see how the totally unrealistic budget of £50m rose to over 400. The architect Enric Miralles, died during construction, the Westminster based Scottish Office were culpable of incredible mismanagement and the main contractor threw his toys out of the pram on several occasions. So the fact that it won the much coveted Stirling Prize from RIBA as well as several other prestigious international awards justifies the fractured journey towards completion (it was over 3 years late too).
As for me, well I didn't get round to visiting the place until May 07 and this was partly spurred on by the fact I'd agreed a sale on my Edinburgh flat earlier that day. As it happens, it was a great place to rest and chill out between trekking up Calton Hill and Arthurs Seat. There is a security check point at the entrance that is similar to an airport. Once inside there is limited access to the shop, displays and the debating chamber although the guided tours do offer greater access.
We left being highly impressed by what we were able to see but think it will stand the test of time. As an aside, I instantly recognised the style of Miralles when I was in Barcelona recently when we passed the Santa Caterina market hall.
All I can say is that take a look and forget the skewed criticism to make up your mind for yourself.
Holyrood Abbey is a ruined Augustinian Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland. The abbey (which is sited in the grounds of the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse, which it predates) was built in 1128 at the order of King David I of Scotland.
"Rood" is an old word for "cross"
A legend relates that King David I got into difficulties hunting in the woods and was saved by a stag with an illuminated cross between its horns, then vowed to build a church on the spot.
The Holyrood Park is an area of hills, lochs and crags near the Holyrood Palace, a nice area for walking. Well known in Holyrood Park are the Salisbury Craigs (some nice rocks) and Arthur's Seat, with about 250 m the highest hill in Hollyrood Park. There's a path directly below the Salisbury Craigs which offers a great view on the city. We went a long the path, it's a bit steep but except that it's quite easy to walk. It’s possible to continue to Arthur's Seat (see the walking.visitscotland website; there are different possibilities to climb up that hill), but we had already walked enough that day!
The palace of holyrood house is a working palace and is the queens official residence while she is in Scotland. The palace is beautiful both inside and out with beautiful Gardens and the Queens Gallery attached. The palace as I said is a working palace so because of this it is mostly opened to the public however it may close at short notice particularly if the Queen in residence or during important state matters. The admission price includes a audio guide which was interesting. You are permitted to take picture in the palace grounds but photography inside the palace is strictly forbidden.
I wouldnt really recommend this visit with young kids unless they are really into history because I think they would get bored.
The cost for entry just to the palace was 9.50 for adults and 8.50 for concessions and students. There was also child discount but cant remember how much this was
If you haven't gotten enough of a leg workout humping the hills of Edinburgh then I encourage you to take a hike in Holyrood Park. It's easy to get to from the center and there are some good hiking trails that will get you huffing and puffing a bit. Walking along the Salisbury Crags is a good warm up and then you could head for the top of Arthur's Seat (251 meters). Careful, it's often surprisingly windy up there. The views are great and there are a few hidden nooks, crannys, abbeys, and lochs to explore.