Palace of Holyrood House
Palace of Holyrood House © Edinburgh Tourist Board
The Palace of Holyrood was originally an abbey, built in the 12th century, and later the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, notorious for her turbulent reign and dramatic life. Today the palace is the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II, and is used by the Royal family for state ceremonies and entertaining, but much of the imposing baroque building is open to visitors. A great audio guide (included in the admission cost) steers visitors around the grand royal apartments, which reflect the changing tastes of a line of monarchs, as well as the Throne Room and the Great Gallery, culminating in the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots and her husband Lord Darnley, their bed-chambers linked by a secret staircase. A plaque on the floor marks the spot where Mary's Italian secretary David Rizzio was murdered in 1566. The rooms feature splendid plasterwork ceilings and magnificent furnishings and tapestries. The tour ends with the ruins of the old abbey, still attached to the palace, which are glorious in themselves. The gardens can also be enjoyed in the summer months, but are closed in winter. Typically a visit takes at least an hour and a half, but those who want to explore thoroughly should allow substantially longer.
Address: Canongate, Royal Mile
Telephone: (0)131 556 5100
Transport: Buses 35 and 36 stop near the Palace, as do the open-top city tour buses. The Palace is about 15 minutes' walk from Edinburgh's Waverley train station
Opening times: Open daily, from 9.30am to 6pm (1 April to 31 October), and from 9.30am to 4.30pm (1 November to 31 March). Last admission is always an hour before the closing time
Admission: £11 (adults), £6.65 (children under 17). Note that these prices include an audio guide. Concessions are available.