Located in the heart of Edinburgh, Holyrood Park is a sprawling expanse of green lawn and trails, book-ended by the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and dwarfed by craggy hills. It is best known for being the home of Arthur’s Seat: a dormant volcano and the highest point of the park, which makes for an approximately 2-hour hike which depending on the weather can be a delightful walk or an athlete’s challenge. The view from the top, though, is one of a kind.
Holyrood Park, Queen’s Dr, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, +44 131 652 8150
North of the New Town and Stockbridge, Inverleith Park commands 54 acres, making it one of the biggest urban parks in all of Scotland. It encompasses everything one could possible desire in a park: vegetable gardens, fields used for football, rugby, and cricket, a children’s playground, a boating pond, a rose garden, a running track, tennis courts, and even a pétanque court.
Inverleith Park, Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, +44 131 332 2368
At the end of Princes Street lies this immense hill, famous for its dramatic placement overlooking the city. Atop the Hill are several monuments, including the striking National Monument of Scotland, a Parthenon-inspired stone memorial to fallen Scottish soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson’s Monument is also a prominent feature of Calton Hill, and can be seen from throughout the city.
Calton Hill, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, +44 131 529 7061
Princes Street Gardens
Nestled below the castle is this charming, flora-filled park, which features walking paths as well as the Scott Monument and the Ross Fountain. The Ross Bandstand plays home to assorted concerts and special events, including during Edinburgh’s legendary hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve, celebrations as well as a Christmas Market and ‘winter wonderland’ in the lead-up to Christmas.
Princes Street Gardens, Princes Street, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, +44 131 529 7921
South of the city center, this park comprises open grassland and paths, tennis courts, a croquet club, a playground, and various other sporting pitches. Due to its prominence and size, The Meadows is used frequently for sporting competitions, including the annual Meadows Marathon, and is also often used as a venue for the Edinburgh Festival as well as hosting marches, rallies, and visiting circuses.
The Meadows, Melville Drive, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, +44 131 529 5151
Water of Leith Walkway
Slightly further afield, don’t miss the Water of Leith Walkway, a footpath and cycle-way running alongside the titular river. Starting at Balerno, passing through the lovely Dean Village neighborhood of Edinburgh, and ending at the Leith docks, this is a glorious spot for walking, jogging, or cycling amidst verdant greenery and rushing water.
Water of Leith Walkway, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, +44 131 455 7367
This park was formerly part of the Burgh Muir, a woodland cleared in 1508 under a decree of King James IV in order to gather timber for construction in Old Town. Today the Bruntsfield Links is popular with dog-walkers, is used by historical re-enactors as a practice ground, and its north-facing slope proves an excellent spot for sledging in the wintertime.