- Delve into the world of Scottish royal history at Queen Elizabeth II's official residence in Scotland.
- Explore Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers at Holyrood Palace, where she lived between 1561-1567.
- Take a look at the grandiose State Apartments and imagine the lavish balls that Bonnie Prince Charlie held in the Great Gallery in 1745.
- Visit the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey and explore the ruins and unique gardens.
Enjoy a truly unique experience visiting the Queen’s official royal residence at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in Scotland. The palace was originally founded as an Augustinian monastery in 1128 but as Edinburgh became recognised as Scotland’s capital, the kings favoured living in the palace over Edinburgh Castle. For centuries, it has been an important home to kings and queens. One of the most famous monarchs living at the Palace of Holyroodhouse was Mary, Queen of Scots, who spent most of her tempestuous life in the palace. These years were also some of the most dramatic in Scottish history! Currently the residence of Queen Elizabeth II, the historic palace has now been home to royalty for over 500 years.
The palace is open to the public throughout the year. There is no doubt that you and your family will enjoy exploring this royal treasure, which offers a great day out for all. Walk in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots as you enter the world of torment, tragedy, murder and intrigue when you visit her chambers. Filled with items associated with Mary, you can see where the legendary monarch lived from 1561 until 1567. Mary witnessed the murder of her private secretary, David Rizzio, in the small Supper Room next to the bedchamber.
Explore the Royal Dining Room where all the Royal Family eat when they come to stay at the palace. Can you guess where the Queen sits? Experience the grandeur of the Great Gallery, where Bonnie Prince Charlie held many a famous party here. Can you believe it can fit as many as three double-decker buses in it? You can take a fascinating tour with a Palace Warden of the 900-year-old Holyrood Abbey and learn all about the monks who lived here, as well as the history and myths that surround it. Take a look at the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace, which holds fantastic exhibitions displaying works from the Royal Collection, including extensive photograph collections, old master paintings, rare furniture and decorative arts. Grab a family trail to explore the amazing Palace Gardens, which are set against the backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, and even discover why a lion once lived here.
The Queen typically stays at Holyrood Palace during her visits to Scotland, which are typically for The Queen’s Holyrood Week each year from the end of June to the beginning of July. The Queen holds an annual garden party where up to 8,000 guests are invited, 15,000 cups of tea are served and 9,000 strawberry tarts are consumed! Interested in visiting some more of the Queen’s residences? The Queen’s castle in Scotland, Balmoral, is a royal favourite and also a private royal estate of Her Majesty. Why not explore Windsor Castle too?
If you are planning a holiday in this historic country, check out our favourite Scottish spots. Make sure when you visit Edinburgh you explore the Royal Mile, where you will find Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and the Holyrood Parliament - and of course, Holyrood Palace itself!
What to know before you go
- Holyrood Palace opening times are 9.30am – 4.30 from 1 November until 31 March and 9.30am – 6pm from 1 April until 31 October. The palace is closed on 25 - 26 December.
- The Abbey Tours start every hour inside the Abbey ruins.
- There is a fantastic Family Room where you can find a brilliant selection of creative activities, costumes to dress up in and games to play.
- Learn all about the palace’s most famous inhabitants with the free interactive multimedia tour, which lasts approximately an hour. We recommend you bring your own headphones.
- Allow yourself two to three hours to explore the palace.
- Café at the Palace serves home-made food, from soups to salads, sandwiches to home-made cakes. There is even an adult and special children’s afternoon tea served daily.
- The palace is mainly accessible. The Mary, Queen of Scots rooms have some restrictions. Accessible toilets are situated in the Café at the Palace.
- You can find toilets and baby-change facilities at the Mews.
- You are welcome to take your buggy inside the palace. If you are there at a very busy period, you can leave it at a dedicated area inside the palace entrance.
- Baby carriers and hip seats are available.
- There are two on-site shops, including The Queen's Gallery Shop and a smaller pop-up shop.
- Before leaving, make sure you ask a warden to stamp your entry ticket and convert it into a one-year-pass!
- Edinburgh Waverley station is a 15-minute walk away from the palace.
- By tram, the nearest stop is York Place. It’s a 20-minute walk away.
- By bus, the 6 and 35 stop nearby. Open-top tour buses also stop near the palace.
- If you are driving, the Broad Pavement car park is next to the palace. Accessible spaces are situated on Horse Wynd outside the palace.