Edinburgh’s Gardens: The Scottish Capital’s Most Beautiful Natural Spaces

Walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat on your trip to Edinburgh
Walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat on your trip to Edinburgh | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip
Photo of Helen Arnold
19 August 2019

With an extinct volcano at its heart, verdant hidden gardens and sprawling urban parks, Edinburgh may be a major capital city, but it is also a surprisingly lush and green place where you are never far from nature.

Stroll through Edinburgh’s leafy Meadows, popular with students and joggers; explore the idyllic oasis that is the Royal Botanic Garden; or clamber to the top of Arthur’s Seat amid the extensive Holyrood Park.

Look out over Edinburgh from Calton Hill | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip

From the peak, where it’s hard to believe you are still in the middle of the city, you can enjoy panoramic views over to Fife and East Lothian.

Enjoy views of the Scottish capital from Arthur’s Seat (left) and the Forth Bridge | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip

Calton Hill may be a mere stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street, yet offers a grassy spot to sit and take in the city. If you’re a keen walker, stroll along the sun-dappled pathway that runs beside the Water of Leith, passing through Dean Village, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Stockbridge and Leith.

Stroll through Dean Village on a summer’s day | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip

Corstorphine Hill, to the west of the capital, provides picturesque woodland walks, while a trip to Cramond Island, only accessible via a causeway at low tide, makes for the ideal coastal escape.

Take some time out to appreciate the city’s architecture | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip

Even one of Edinburgh’s most popular shopping streets in the city centre overlooks a vast expanse of green – Princes Street Gardens. Once the site of the Nor Loch, the gardens are now the perfect place for an impromptu picnic, a spot of people watching or simply to soak up the incomparable views of the castle and the Old Town.

Calton Hill is a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip

A less well-known city centre oasis can be found at Dunbar’s Close, tucked away down the Royal Mile. It’s planted with fragrant flowers and herbs, laid out in the manner of a formal 17th-century garden, and is perfect for some quiet contemplation.

Head to Calton Hill (left) and The Meadows | © Richard Gaston / Culture Trip

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