Edinburgh, Scotland is a beautiful city to explore with its charming architecture, stunning surroundings, and scenic gardens and paths. I’m really convinced it has to be one of the most gorgeous cities in Europe. Adding to Edinburgh’s intrigue is the pleasing juxtaposition of the Old and New Towns, which come together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are numerous places to visit in Edinburgh to take in these two distinct areas.
Because of Edinburgh’s plethora of picturesque views, I swear, around nearly every corner, it’s a destination that begs to be explored on foot. Sometimes you need to put down the map and wander aimlessly to fully appreciate this stunning city. So tie up your comfiest pairs of shoes and check out these eight places to visit in Edinburgh to take in the city’s beauty.
Princes Street Gardens
If you arrive in Edinburgh on the train, Princes Street Gardens is within easy reach of the station. It’s located in the valley smack dab in between the Old Town and New Town, so chances are it’ll be one of your first sites of the city center. Princes Street Gardens are home to numerous statues, monuments, and flower beds. Two of the most notable sights are the Scott Monument and Floral Clock. Additionally, the green lawns and meandering paths make it a scenic area to enjoy a stroll and picnic.
Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park
Adjacent to Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park boasts 640 acres and is a short wander from the Royal Mile. Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, is the highest point of Holyrood Park, sitting at 251 meters above sea level. Walking up Arthur’s Seat is a must when in Edinburgh. After a short but slightly strenuous journey to the top, you are rewarded with a lovely panorama of the city and surroundings. There are a variety of trails to follow up and down Arthur’s Seat, so take your pick and enjoy the views!
Calton Hill was formed 340 million years ago by volcanic activity. Then fast forward to 1774, the hill became one of Britain’s first public parks. The hill features wonderful views, historic buildings, monuments commemorating a few of Scotland’s leading figures, and a path around the edge of the hill. On top of that, the hill has grassy spots perfect to rest your legs or have a picnic.
Sitting atop a craggy, volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle has been a place of refuge and power for 3,000 years. It’s £17 for adult admission, and it’s well worth every penny. The castle has some amazing vantage points and an interesting history. I recommend getting an audio guide to get the most out of your time there. Also, you can book tickets online for a specific time frame for easy entrance into Edinburgh Castle. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time there so you can really enjoy the variety of views around the castle.
Water of Leith Walkway
The Water of Leith Walkway is a public footpath and cycle path, running along the main river through Edinburgh, the Water of Leith. The path passes through interesting parts of the city, including the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Leith, Stockbridge, Dean Village, and the Union Canal. The Water of Leith Walkway helps you explore more of what Edinburgh has to offer and shows you the scenic and relaxing side to the city. So hop on the walkway and take in the scenic sights and experience different parts of Edinburgh!
Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is a beautiful oasis just a mile from the city center. Consisting of 70 acres and boasting free admission, The Garden is open daily except from December 25 to January 1 and if there’s severe weather. The beautifully landscaped grounds with unique flowers and plants make for such a tranquil setting. Additionally, The Garden features a couple beautiful vantage points of Edinburgh, and be sure to check out the Rock Garden, which was hands down my favorite part. On the grounds, there are also glasshouses, featuring a wide variety of plants, and you can visit them for £6.50 per adult.
Are you like me and a total sucker for canals? I just had to explore the Union Canal before leaving Edinburgh. The canal runs 32 miles from Fallkirk to Edinburgh and has a towpath running alongside it now used by pedestrians and cyclists. It was built in 1822 to connect Edinburgh with the Forth and Clyde Canal, allowing coal and goods to be brought into the city. Then, the Union Canal fell out of use by the 1930’s, but it has recently become a popular spot for locals. As you explore farther along the canal, you start to feel out of the city entirely.
Atholl & Coates Crescents Gardens
This may be one of the busiest areas in Edinburgh. However, it’s a great spot to watch the world go by. The two twin Georgian crescents were part of the New Town development. The Atholl Crescent and Coates Crescent face each other with busy Princes Street running in between. Both boast gardens in the front, in addition to benches to take in the colorful strip within the city center.
There are numerous places to visit in Edinburgh to take in the city’s beauty. These are just my eight favorites. If you’ve been to Scotland’s capital city, what would you add to this list? If you haven’t been, what places would you like to visit in Edinburgh?