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National Library of Scotland

Scotland’s largest library is free to use. Don’t miss its exhibition of one of the world’s most important literary archives.

The National Library of Scotland is the country’s information hub for the study of its history and culture. It houses millions of items including priceless manuscripts, books, maps and archive film footage.

Among the collections are the earliest books printed in Scotland, more than 32,000 films covering over 100 years of Scotland’s history, and current information in many research fields. Rarer pieces include one of the only complete copies of the first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible of 1455, and the last letter by Mary, Queen of Scots, written just six hours before her execution.

Anyone can peruse the library’s collections and use the reading rooms. To do so you need a library card. This can be obtained on the day of your visit. Just go to Readers’ Registration with proof of your identity and address. You can also register online beforehand to speed up the process when you arrive.

The Visitor Centre is a good place to start your visit. You can browse the online collections, find out how to use the building, and unwind in the café. Then, visit the Discovery Area that contains a selection of the library’s holdings.

While you are in the building, inspect the free permanent and temporary exhibitions on the ground floor. Stop by the John Murray Archive, a permanent collection spanning more than 200 years of this renowned publisher’s history. The collected works include manuscripts, private letters and business correspondence with some of the world’s greatest thinkers and writers, such as Charles Darwin, Lord Byron and Jane Austen. For details of the temporary exhibitions, visit the library’s website.

The National Library of Scotland is located on George IV Bridge, an elevated street close to the city center that’s served by several bus routes. It’s advisable not to come by car as nearby parking is hard to find.

The library is open every day except Sunday. Check the library website for opening times.


Guide to Exploring around National Library of Scotland


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Best Lodging Options Near National Library of Scotland

See all 3,896 Properties near National Library of Scotland
Edinburgh Grosvenor Hotel ¥4,595
Edinburgh Grosvenor Hotel

Edinburgh Grosvenor Hotel

Grosvenor Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Haymarket, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), Princes Street Gardens, and Greyfriars Kirk. Edinburgh Castle and Murrayfield Stadium are also within 2 mi (3 km). Edinburgh Haymarket Station is only a 2-minute walk and Edinburgh Waverley Station is 26 minutes.

    The Balmoral Hotel ¥17,186
    The Balmoral Hotel

    The Balmoral Hotel

    1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
       
      5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in New Town, this luxury hotel is steps from Waterloo Place and Princes Street. George Street and Edinburgh Dungeon are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 4-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 24 minutes.

      Jurys Inn Edinburgh ¥5,891
      Jurys Inn Edinburgh

      Jurys Inn Edinburgh

      43 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Old Town, this eco-friendly hotel is steps from Museum of Childhood, Princes Street, and Royal Mile. George Street and Edinburgh Dungeon are also within 10 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 2-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 29 minutes.

        Apex Grassmarket Hotel ¥8,920
        Apex Grassmarket Hotel

        Apex Grassmarket Hotel

        31-35 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Old Town, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Grassmarket, Royal Mile, and The Hub. Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street are also within 10 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is 11 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 17 minutes.

          Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel ¥6,997
          Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel

          Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel

          61 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Old Town, this hotel is steps from Grassmarket, The Hub, and Scotch Whisky Experience. Royal Mile and National Museum of Scotland are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is 10 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 18 minutes.

            Novotel Edinburgh Centre ¥8,331
            Novotel Edinburgh Centre

            Novotel Edinburgh Centre

            80 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Old Town, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of The Meadows, Grassmarket, and Royal Mile. University of Edinburgh and Usher Hall are also within 10 minutes. Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 15 minutes by foot and Edinburgh Waverley Station is 17 minutes.

              The Scotsman Hotel ¥12,496
              The Scotsman Hotel

              The Scotsman Hotel

              20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Old Town, this boutique hotel is steps from City Art Centre, Princes Street, and Royal Mile. Edinburgh Dungeon and Real Mary King's Close are also within 5 minutes. Edinburgh Waverley Station is only a 2-minute walk and Edinburgh Haymarket Station is 28 minutes.

                The Salisbury Hotel ¥6,855
                The Salisbury Hotel

                The Salisbury Hotel

                43-45 Salisbury Road, Edinburgh, Scotland
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Newington, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of National Library of Scotland, University of Edinburgh, and Princes Street. Royal Mile and Grassmarket are also within 1 mi (2 km). Edinburgh Waverley Station is 22 minutes by foot.