From the wilds of Holyrood Park to the carefully curated plants in the Royal Botanic Gardens, whiling away hours of your holiday in one of the Edinburgh parks is easy. Each green space has its own story to tell, so you’ll be uncovering another bit of Edinburgh’s past as well as spending time among nature.
Some Edinburgh parks are easier to get to than others. Princes Street Gardens, for example, are right in the city centre. Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park require a little more energy if you wish to take full advantage of everything these parks have to offer. The views are certainly worth it.
Princes Street Gardens
Sitting under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, the public Princes Street Gardens stretch through the heart of the city. Among the rose gardens and grassy areas, you’ll find the Scott Monument – a gothic structure dedicated to writer Sir Walter Scott – and the Floral Clock. The central location attracts small markets or local social groups hosting events. During the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Ross Bandstand hosts open-air theatre.
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Explore a collection of British native and international plants at the expansive Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Located 1.6km from the city centre, the beautiful grounds are home to tropical houses and the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden. The design includes the Queen Mother’s favourite flora from around the world, but it’s the interior of the stone pavilion that will really impress.
Trek up Calton Hill and when you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and the wild Salisbury Crags. Popular with locals, soak up the peacefulness of the park. Here you’ll also find the Old Observatory House and an unfinished replica of the Parthenon in Athens, which was started in 1816 and intended as a memorial to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars.
The wildness of Holyrood Park is in stark contrast to the neat lawns around the nearby Scottish Parliament House and Holyrood Palace. Get a hint of the Scottish Highlands as you explore the ruins and diverse native flora and wildlife. Feeling energetic? Climb to the park’s highest point, Arthur’s Seat, and once your legs have recovered you’ll be rewarded with a 360° view of Edinburgh and the Lothians.
The green, open space of Leith Links is a typical UK recreation area. Take a stroll and expect to see people enjoying an outdoor workout, walking dogs, or enjoying a picnic when the weather is fine. Historically, Leith Links was used for golf and it’s here where the official rules of the game were outlined. A stone commemorating this sporting feat sits on the western side of the park.