Head this way for a capital learning experience on the Canongate
This local authority-run museum is looking considerably more spruce since its 2012 facelift: striking red and yellow frontage, a freshened interior, an audio-visual floor display in one room that relates Edinburgh's history in fifteen minutes and the courtyard opened up and made into an attractive external space. The displays remain fabulously eclectic however: glass, silver, pottery, the collar and bowl of Greyfriar's Bobby, architect James Craig's original plans for the New Town, a specs case that belonged to John Knox and – the most historically important – the National Covenant of 1638 with some of the signatures written in blood. The museum is based in an authentic 16th century townhouse and its adjoining properties so history is woven into its fabric as well as its artefacts and curios. It gets a fraction of the tourist numbers recorded at the city's bigger attractions but that makes for a quieter and more contemplative visit.