Conveniently located right in the centre of Edinburgh is Calton Hill – famed for its views of the city as well as its picturesque green summit and historic monuments. Taking an easy climb up this age-old landmark is the perfect way to get acquainted with the charm and atmosphere of Scotland’s handsome capital city.
Calton Hill is actually an extinct volcano and the rugged grassy slopes have long been a place of wonder, inspiration and recreation for locals and visitors alike. You’d be hard pressed to find a more spectacular panoramic view of Edinburgh’s most beloved landmarks including the iconic Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, the main shopping thoroughfare Princes Street and the historic Royal Mile than from atop Calton Hill. During the month of August, the hill comes alive with festival activities and it is also a very popular vantage point for viewing the Hogmanay (New Year’s) fireworks show.
The hill itself is home to a number of important historic landmarks including the striking National Monument – an Athenian-style acropolis modelled on the Parthenon. Building commenced in 1826 but was never completed.
However, the existing 12 stone pillars still soar over the skyline today. There are also two star-gazing observatories and the telescope-shaped Nelson Monument, which at 30 metres high was crowned with a ‘timeball’ in 1852, designed to help seamen docked in the Firth of Forth accurately set their chronometers.
To scale Calton Hill, take the staircases leading from either Regent Road on the south or Royal Terrace on the north. The ascent takes an easygoing five minutes. The nearest main train station is Edinburgh Waverley. It is also possible to drive up the hill and park.
Popular nearby attractions include the Royal Mile, Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Park and, of course, the awe-inspiring Edinburgh Castle.