Access guide

Read our access guide and ask any member of staff for further advice when you arrive.

Face coverings

In line with Scottish Government guidance, we strongly encourage visitors to continue to wear face coverings in interior spaces.

What will remain closed/unavailable for now

  • Guided Tours 
  • Crown gift shop

Carers tickets

In line with best practice in the visitor attractions industry and as advised by Capability Scotland, visitors with disabilities are treated on an equal basis with all other visitors and entry is charged at the appropriate admission category rate - Adult/Concession/Child. Proof of disability is not required.

We recognise that some disabled visitors may need help to visit our sites and we offer free entry for accompanying carers, these can be added when making your booking. Please note this is limited to two carers per transaction.

Parking

Parking is available near the castle entrance on the esplanade for Blue Badge holders. These are limited and must be booked in advance by calling 0131 225 9846 or email ecadmissions@hes.scot.

Castle Terrace NCP is the nearest car park.

Approach to site

The castle is reached across the esplanade – a wide area of smooth tarmac, with an uphill gradient of 5 degrees. The esplanade is 110m long.

Security and bag restrictions

For reasons of ease of movement, visitor safety and general security, suitcases and large rucksacks are not permitted in the castle.

We are unable to store luggage, prams, pushchairs or other personal items for visitors.

Dogs

Only assistance dogs are permitted, including within roofed areas. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times and not left unattended at any time in the castle or vehicles. Owners must pick up after dogs.

Visitors' dogs are not permitted at the castle.

Visual Stories for Autistic Visitors

Use this guide to help you plan your visit to the castle. Through pictures of staff, the castle spaces and facilities, it will make sure you know what to expect when you visit.

Visual story for adults

Visual story for children

Visiting the site

  1. Visitors access the castle over a wooden-slatted bridge.

    A mobility vehicle to Crown Square is available on request, and can be arranged by staff at the castle entrance. The car has been adapted to allow physical distancing. It can accommodate most wheelchairs, motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters, but this is dependent on their dimensions. A face covering must be worn, maximum of 3 people per journey, and there may be a short wait between pickups to allow the vehicle to be sanitised.

    Please be aware the service cannot run between 12.45pm and 1.15pm due to the firing of the One o'Clock Gun and there may be longer wait times for visitors entering the castle on the 12.30pm and 1pm timeslots.

    Two manual wheelchairs are available for use on a first-come, first-served basis. 

  2. Upon entering the castle, there is a set of adapted toilets to your left, and the ticket office to your right – both reached over an uneven cobbled surface. 

  3. You enter the castle from a steep curved route. It is 15 degrees at its steepest point, the average is five degrees and it is approximately 350m from entering the castle to the top level at Crown Square. It is surfaced with cobbles, which can be uneven.

    The Portcullis Gift Shop has step-free access but is accessed from the steep, cobbled hill.

    An audio guide is available to hire from the audio booth just after the portcullis gate (where your entrance tickets are scanned). It is free to blind and partially sighted visitors, or can be downloaded and played on your own device. The handsets operate by a push button system. Audio guides are available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Polish, Portugese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. Large Print also available. 

  4. The One o’Clock Gun is on the level but cobbled area, next to the Redcoat Café. The gun makes a loud and sudden noise when it is fired. It is fired Monday to Saturday. 

    The Redcoat Café has step-free access. Seating will be available, but the doors and windows will be kept open for ventilation, so the space may be cool and draughty.

  5. Hospital Square is reached down a cobbled ramp of 12 degrees. 

  6. The route continues up the cobbled incline through Foog’s Gate. This is the steepest part of the castle route.

    From here visitors can enter the Prisons of War vaults. The vaults are accessed via numerous short flights of steps, with handrails on both sides. 

  7. Visitors will then enter Crown Square – a large, level, paved area.

    The Great Hall and National War Memorial both have ramped access.

    In the Palace Apartments, there is a short flight of stone steps with a handrail at both entry and exit (The Birthing Room remains closed).

    Adapted toilets are available in Crown Square – please ask a member of staff for assistance.

  8. The surface around St Margaret's Chapel and Mons Meg is cobbled. The Chapel has a small ramp up to a door 810mm wide.

    The Whisky and Finest Food Shop is next to St Margaret’s Chapel and has a small threshold.

  9. Visitors then exit the castle via 70 stone steps with a handrail. Staff will be available to guide you back down through the castle if this exit is unsuitable for you.