Exploring Edinburgh’s Parks

Walking around the narrow streets of Edinburgh city centre you’ll come across hundreds of years of brilliant history nestled between plenty of must-visit attractions. Scotland’s bustling capital city is a fascinating destination ideal for couples, young families or students, with there being plenty to keep you occupied come rain or shine. 

If the sun’s shining, you’ll want to take a break from sightseeing and visit one of Edinburgh’s many parks. Holyrood, Princess Street Gardens, Inverleith and the Royal Botanic Gardens are our favourites!

Holyrood Park 
Edinburgh is home to its very own royal park. 650-acre Holyrood Park is located around a mile from Edinburgh Castle, perfect for exploring rugged crags and getting lost amongst prehistoric hill forts. 

Once a royal hunting estate for the nearby Holyroodhouse, the park as it is today was first created by James V in 1541, when he had the area around Arthur’s Seat, which is at the epicentre of the park, enclosed by a dry stone wall.  

The geography of the park, with menacing hills and sheer cliff faces, is straight from the pages of a fantasy novel, and more than enough to excite the imaginations of kids young and old. 

There are challenging paths running around Salisbury Crags and up to Arthur’s Seat which are worth the effort if you are fit enough and have strong footwear. Once you reach the summit take in views of Edinburgh and the castle, before dropping back down along the well-marked footpath. 

Thought to be built in the 1300s as an outpost for the nearby Holyrood Abbey, the dramatic ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel are the only building standing within Holyrood Park. Climb up for a view of the man-made St Margaret’s Loch below and to take in some truly ancient history just minutes’ walk away from the busy streets of the Scottish capital.

Princess Street Gardens
Created in the 1820s after the draining of Nor Loch, the centrally located Princess Street Gardens are in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, which looks over the city. 

The 37-acre park is a peaceful place right in the heart of the capital to enjoy a moment to yourself. Sit and relax amongst homages to Scottish history, including the famous Scott Monument, the Scots American War Memorial and a statue remembering Robert Louis Stevenson. 

The grand public park and its gardens are accessible from busy Princess Street via several entrances. There’s nearly always something happening, whether it’s a summer concert or the magical Winter Wonderland as Christmas and Hogmanay approach. 

The gardens are near to the National Galleries of Scotland, which make them the ideal place to sit down and take a break from exploring hundreds of years of Scottish history and culture. 

In August 2019, the gardens are set to host concerts from the likes of Florence and the Machine, James and Primal Screen, all part of the city’s annual Edinburgh Summer Sessions — so why not plan your visit around these memorable days in the sun? 
Inverleith Park and Royal Botanic Garden 
Situated just north of Edinburgh, further away from the city than the centrally located Holyrood Park and Princess Street Gardens, Inverleith Park is well worth a visit, not least for its proximity to the Royal Botanic Garden

From the park you get great views of Edinburgh Castle. Explore a little and discover allotments, cricket and football pitches, a large pond, and the Sundial Garden which is hidden away and ideal for finding some peace and quiet.

After exploring the park, head over to the 70-acre Royal Botanic Garden and don’t forget to visit the glass house, which is brimming with over 2,400 lush plants from around the world. 

A world-renowned scientific centre for the study of plants and conservation, the Botanic Gardens have long been one of Edinburgh’s most visited attractions — and for good reason. 
Plan Your Visit to Edinburgh 
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to stay during your visit, Mercure City Princes Street and Mercure Haymarket are centrally located next to Edinburgh Castle, and just a stone's throw from the city’s many historic parks. 

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