Places To Go For Stunning Views Of Edinburgh

Atop Arthur's Seat | © easy-lucky-free/Flickr
Atop Arthur's Seat | © easy-lucky-free/Flickr
Photo of Tori Chalmers
9 February 2017

Edinburgh is nothing short of a picture-perfect postcard when it comes to pretty city skylines and dramatic sweeping views. It is useful, however, to know where to go when that hankering for a good dose of stunning sights engulfs the mind. From panoramic and rooftop to bird’s eye and downright out-of-this-world, discover the best go-to spots for a bonnie view of Scotland’s capital.

Arthur’s Seat

Hiking Trail
Admiring the overwhelming beauty attached with Edinburgh’s historic mountain peak, Arthur’s Seat, will never get old. Clamber past the crags and St Anthony’s Chapel until you reach the summit. From there, gaze across the city and jump for joy as you experience the breath-taking 360-degree view. Look for the Castle, have a good nose into the Palace, examine the Parliament Building, and cast a glance towards the Highlands, and the Firth Of Forth.

Edinburgh Castle

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Edinburgh Castle affords some of the best views of the city
Edinburgh Castle affords some of the best views of the city | © Ian Rutherford / Alamy Stock Photo
Take on the Castle’s perpetual role as watcher of the city and discover the power of the gaze. Peer downwards and get a substantial view of folk in the form of dots buzzing around town going about their day. See Princes Street from a different angle and look further afar to spy the sea. From the Old Town to the New, admire the historic cobbled streets and old buildings that have witnessed many a curious sight.

Scott Monument

The Scott Monument commemorates the life and work of author Sir Walter Scott
© Jens Ickler / Alamy Stock Photo
Those prone to bouts of vertigo or with a fear of heights should perhaps think again when it comes to venturing up the Scott Monument, a memorial completed in 1844 to commemorate Scotland’s beloved novelist Sir Walter Scott. A mighty effort, climbing up the 287 stone steps is like something out of a fairytale book. Once at the top of the tower, however, and when the view makes itself apparent, the energy consumed and breaths breathed seem completely worthwhile. Suddenly, the city seems like something from the imagination, as you witness matters from a different perspective. The largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world, this Victorian Gothic masterpiece is by default home to what is undeniably one of the best views in town.

Camera Obscura

Light show at Camera Obscura, Edinburgh, UK.
View the world in a new way at the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions | © lindsay smith / Alamy Stock Photo
Although a tad surreal, venture up the Royal Mile until you reach Camera Obscura. From there, muddle through the psychedelic-like maze and fascinating exhibits until the hidden jewel makes itself apparent — the camera obscura. This crafty contraption lies within the Victorian rooftop chamber, enabling visitors to experience moving images of the city projected onto a viewing table. Not only can you witness a wondrous glimpse into real-time society, but also such images can be morphed into peculiar shapes and sizes. Those with an interest in history can delight in comparing current Edinburgh with images from 150 years ago.

The Tower

The Tower, situated atop the National Museum Of Scotland, is a restaurant with views as good as the food. Not just any old eatery, this prime spot is owned by famous restaurateur James Thomson. Indulge in the delectable eats at this sanctuary of Scottish fine dining, while absorbing the sights of the city from above. A most romantic spot, The Tower holds the key to spectacular views of Edinburgh’s skyline and Old Town. Step it up a notch and book the private circular dining room and gaze out at the Castle.

The Tower, The National Museum Of Scotland, Chambers St, Edinburgh, Scotland

Hopetoun Monument

Head for the hills of East Lothian and hike up to the top of the Garleton Hills to find Hopetoun Monument, a tall tower from 1824 built in memory of John Hope, the 4th Earl of Hopetoun. Like the Scott Monument, there are steps aplenty. Although a tad vertigo inducing, the panoramic and 360-degree views of the countryside and Firth Of Forth are simply divine. Expect to see all of Edinburgh, from the Pentlands and the Castle to Arthur’s Seat. North Berwick and the Bass Rock also come into focus.

Garleton Monument, Haddington, Scotland

Distant View Of Edinburgh From Hopetoun Monument | Courtesy Of Tori Chalmers

Distant View Of Edinburgh From Hopetoun Monument | Courtesy Of Tori Chalmers

Calton Hill

Situated at the east end of Princes Street sits Calton Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For sweeping city views from practically any spot, this is your place. Consider this sanctuary the perfect Kodak moment location for stunning views — and free of charge. Some may say that this is one of the most photogenic spots in town. In other words, this is where to get that iconic Edinburgh shot.

View From Calton Hill | © john mcsporran/Flickr

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