Updated on May 29, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Edinburgh’s bustling city centre offers visitors an extraordinary blend of shopping, fascinating historical and cultural attractions, and magnificent architecture.

Edinburgh’s city centre ranks as one of the most handsome in Europe.

With its elegant streets set against the dramatic silhouette of Edinburgh Castle and the medieval turrets and spires of the Old Town, Edinburgh’s city centre offers visitors an exciting fusion of shopping, dining, and architectural splendour.

Edinburgh is a compact city with diverse ‘villages’ just waiting to be uncovered.

Here are some of the city’s Fast Facts, Statistics, and Trends

Edinburgh Trends & Factoids

Edinburgh Tourism Statistics AndTrends
  • Edinburgh is known for its landmarks and outstanding heritage, its dramatic topography, its iconic status as a hub of political power, commerce, and culture, and as the world’s leading festival city.
  • Edinburgh is growing in popularity for tourism, as is Scotland in general. From 2012 to 2017 tourism in the country grew, resulting in a 13% increase in tourism employment.
  • Tourism is one of the city’s biggest success stories, attracting 4.3 million visitors a year. In 2019, visitors spent an incredible £2.5 billion in Scotland, and at least 1/3rd of this was in Edinburgh.
  • Edinburgh has become an attractive place for businesses to invest, for skilled individuals to come and work and of course, for visitors.
  • Of just over 27 million annual bed nights spent by international tourists in Scotland, 47% of them are in Edinburgh.
  • The city benefits from just under half of the total spent by international tourists in Scotland. 66% of overseas visitors say Edinburgh is their crucial destination.
  • Edinburgh City’s major Festivals are collectively one of the biggest ticketed events in the world.
  • The top Five Free and Paid Visitor Attractions in Edinburgh are the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, St Giles’ Cathedral, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the Castle National War Museum.
  • The United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Malta, and the Netherlands show the top 5 countries across the globe that search for the term ‘Edinburgh’’ the most.

Habits And Motives

  • Holidaying remains the main reason for a visit to the region. But around half of the visitors to Scotland will visit for landscape and scenery, but culture and history is also a key attraction.
  • Edinburgh Castle is a highly popular attraction amongst those thinking of visiting Scotland or wanting to learn more about the country, with an average of 210,000 searches per month worldwide.
  • Summer is by far the busiest time to travel to Edinburgh and takes in the months of June, July, and August.
  • The coastlines of Scotland are very popular and are visited by around 16 million people every year.
  • Overseas residents prefer to visit Edinburgh in the warmer months.
  • Posting pictures is the most popular social media activity undertaken by 23% before and 24% after the visit.
  • Overnight visitors generally plan and booked aspects of their trip around two or three months before visiting.
  • Tourists tend to visit places that are socially, historically, and culturally important.
  • Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Back in 2019, it saw 2,201,000 visitors. However, in 2022, it only saw 1,346,000 visitors, but this number is expected to grow once more.
  • In 2022, Edinburgh Castle was Scotland’s 2nd most visited location, only 600,000 visits below the National Museum of Scotland.
  • Edinburgh has more restaurants per than any other city in the United Kingdom, per head, aside from London.
  • There are 112 parks in Edinburgh city and has the most trees per head in the UK.
  • The weather in Edinburgh is some of the best in Scotland, with rainfall figures below the Scottish average and less rain annually than New York, Rome, and even Frankfurt!
  • There is a lot of visitor accommodation in Edinburgh and the area surrounding Edinburgh, with over 20,000 beds, 50% of these being within an easy 2-kilometre radius of Edinburgh’s city centre.
  • Edinburgh hosts a range of festivals and is considered to be a unique cultural phenomenon. They are also massively impactful on tourism, attracting more than 4 million visitors to the city every year.
  • Edinburgh plays host to the biggest New Year Street Party in the world. The Hogmanay brings in over 80,000 celebrators to Princes Street and the surrounding area. The party has live music entertainment, a sell-out concert, and an incredible firework display.
  • Edinburgh is considered to be the happiest large city in the UK, as the residents were recorded to be the happiest of the 10 major UK cities. With 97% of the permanent residents living there are satisfied with Edinburgh as a location to live in.
  • Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, it is also the largest tourist destination in Scotland, and the second largest in the whole of the United Kingdom, just behind London.
  • Some of Scotland’s biggest draws are its prehistoric sites, many of which can be visited not far from Edinburgh, and some within the city. There are standing stones, stone circles, and burial chambers, as well as remains from the bronze, iron, and stone ages.
  • Primary tourist season in Scotland and Edinburgh runs from April until October. However, the Edinburgh Christmas market does pull in a great deal of tourism as well.
  • The website for visiting the country also has a niche marketing strategy that plays on the focus of what Edinburgh, and Scotland in general, have to offer. Some of these things include fishing, golf, and tourism surrounding food and drink.


Edinburgh Tourism StatisticsAndTrends
  • Youth travel is the fastest-growing segment of global tourism and Edinburgh is second only to London for young visitors to the UK. Almost 2 million of the city’s visitors come into the millennial age bracket.
  • In 2019, international travellers aged between 25 and 44 years old recorded the highest number of visits to Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK). Overall, tourists aged 25-34 and 35-44 accounted for 573 thousand and 459 thousand visits by overseas residents, respectively.
  • In 2018, the most visitors to Scotland, overall, came from the United States, with 492,000 tourists hailing from the US. 451,000 tourists came from Germany, 318,000 from France, and 268,000 from Italy.
  • In 2013, UK residents made 18.5 million visits to Scotland, and totalled 64.5 million nights, spending £3.7 billion! However, visitors from overseas made 1.58 million visits, stayed 15 million nights, and spent £806 million! Therefore, the majority of tourism in Edinburgh comes from inside the United Kingdom.

Edinburgh & Scotland Attractions Stats & Tourism Trends

  • Edinburgh Castle has had a substantial amount of visitors every year and is considered to be the number one attraction in Scotland.
  • The number of people who visited Edinburgh Castle in 2022, from 217.6% with 1,356,168 visits.
  • However, Edinburgh Castle is not the most popular FREE attraction as this is the National Museum of Scotland, with the number of visitors rising 198.7% in 2022 from 2021. They got 1,973,751 visitors.
  • In 2022, attractions with paid entry saw more than 15,053,800 visitors, which is a 63.2% increase from the previous year.
  • In contrast, the free venues of Scotland had a whopping 33,621,735 visitors in 2022, which is a 49.5% increase from 22,490,582 in 2021.
  • Only the National Museum of Scotland and Greyfriars Kirkyard saw more visitors than Edinburgh Castle in 2022.
  • In 2022, Edinburgh Zoo saw 601,285 visitors, a decrease in numbers from the previous year when they had 632,122 visitors.
  • St Giles’ Cathedral saw the biggest increase in visitors in 2022, with an increase of 410%. They went from 209,897 in 2021, to 1,070,683 in 2022.

Edinburgh Festival Statistics

Edinburgh Tourism StatisticsAndTrends
  • Edinburgh has a large arts and cultural events history, which causes people to visit the city from across the world.
  • Only the World Cup and the Olympics are higher in number of ticket sales than those for Edinburgh’s festivals.
  • The Edinburgh International Festival began in 1947, it is believed to be one of the most important cultural events in the world. The event sees over 160 performances by over 2,500 artists, with an audience of around 400,000 people per year.
  • Edinburgh also plays host to the International Film Festival which is the oldest non-stop film festival worldwide. They screen more than 150 films every year from over 50 different countries.
  • Edinburgh hosts an International Book Festival, which is one of the largest of its type in the world. They host nearly 800 authors from more than 40 countries worldwide.
  • The Edinburgh Art Festival is the largest, annual that is dedicated to art.
  • The Science Festival in Edinburgh was the first ever science festival to be founded worldwide, beginning in 1989. It is still the largest of its kind, holding 200 events, and with visitors attending in numbers higher than 90,000.
  • The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest art festival across the globe. They have live theatre and comedy performers. Back in 2014, there were 49,497 performances overall, with 3,193 stage shows across 299 venues. Ticket sales for this event reached 1.94 million!

Other Trends

  • Scotland consistently outperforms the rest of the UK in attracting visitors to its tourist attractions.
  • Business events currently represent 20% of all tourism expenditure in Scotland, with delegates typically spending more than leisure visitors.
  • Edinburgh had one of the highest hotel occupancy rates out of all UK cities in 2019 at 82.0%.
  • The average room price in Edinburgh in 2019 was £102 per night, the fourth highest in the UK.
  • Edinburgh has more Michelin-awarded restaurants than most other major UK cities. It has had two new ones since last year.
  • The city faces fierce competition from every other city in Europe for this £2bn of income from the 4 million visitors to the city in 2019.
  • Staycations are on the rise in Scotland with coastal towns and urban destinations most popular with holidaymakers.
  • Edinburgh’s first-ever destination-led campaign aimed at young visitors hopes to reach 3.5 million people across Europe with the support of VisitScotland.
  • Out of the 15 major regions in Scotland as listed on VisitScotland, Glasgow & Clyde Valley is the most popular tourist location overall. Meanwhile, most visitors go to Edinburgh and Lothian for overnight visits.
  • In 2019, there were a total of 151 million visits to Scotland (both domestic and international).
  • Edinburgh has been named alongside Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona as one of the world’s worst hotspots for “over-tourism “.
  • Staycations are on the rise in Scotland with coastal towns and urban destinations most popular with holidaymakers
  • Scotland is seeing a resurgence in staycation tourism.
  • Business events currently represent 20% of all tourism expenditure in Scotland, with delegates typically spending more than leisure visitors.
  • 14,970 companies in Scotland are all based in the tourism industry.
  • Edinburgh and Glasgow combined to contribute about a third of all tourism employment in Scotland.
  • Nearly 9% of all employees in Scotland work in the tourism industry. Back in 2019, there were more than 229,000 people employed in the Scottish tourism industry. This is a massive 8.8% of all employment in Scotland!
  • Edinburgh sells an incredible £1.3 billion in services to visitors who stay in the city. This accumulates around 30,000 jobs overall, and a sum of around £400,000 million per annum. However, this was in 2015, and the amount is constantly growing.
  • Over 5 years, you could expect to see increases of 30% in the tourism industry in Edinburgh.
  • In 2021, employment in the ‘Sustainable Tourism Growth Sector’ was its highest in Edinburgh City, with 33,000. Glasgow City was just below, at 31,000, showing that Edinburgh’s tourism growth has been a highly successful venture.

Stats & Facts For The Future Of Tourism In Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh seeks to increase its tourism growth. The city has a strategy in place to increase the tourism industry and see more visitors by 2030 and again by 2040.
  • Edinburgh’s population has grown by a whopping 12% in recent years due to it not only being a popular tourist destination but a popular location to live in. It is projected to see growth of over 600,000 residents by 2041.
  • The growth of the population living in Edinburgh and the increase in tourism means that the city needs to be prepared in its resources and space for such a vast number of people.
  • Edinburgh hopes to be a staple for eco-friendliness in tourism and overall function. They aim to have 0 carbon emissions by 2030


Edinburgh is regularly seeing more and more tourism. Its castle, culture, and unique structure make it a popular tourist attraction.

While 2020 was a year in which it did not see much growth, and much of the tourism industry is still recovering, Edinburgh still expects to see more growth in the coming years.

Those who visit the city, usually choose staycations, or overnight stays, although a few do seem to enjoy staying in the city as a base, while also exploring the rest of Scotland, which has a great deal of popularity with tourism as well.

Scotland may even be more popular as a vacation location than London in future times.


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