Scotland’s capital boasts some of Britain’s most beautiful natural backdrops, affording you breath-taking views from many different parts of the city. With many stretches of lush countryside, towering woodlands and expansive bodies of water, Edinburgh is a hub of peaceful and relaxing strolls.
In the heart of Edinburgh lies Holyrood Park, a 650 acre stretch of greenery surrounding a collection of hills and crags that give the city its unique skyline. A popular destination for walking trips, the park contains a series of cliffs 46 metres tall called the Salisbury Crags, as well as a formation of columnar basalt named Samson’s Ribs, and Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that overlooks the greenery from 251 metres high. From the peak of Arthur’s Seat, you can see the impressive Duddingston and Dunsapie Lochs to the south-east, and the entirety of Edinburgh on the horizon to the west, making it a rewarding end to your journey. Alongside its stunning natural scenery, Holyrood Park is also a site of historical significance – Holyrood Abbey and St Anthony’s Chapel are just two examples of the ruins found in the park, dating back many centuries in Scotland’s past. There are also four forts believed to be from the Dark Age, another nod to the lasting heritage of the city’s beauty. Balancing picturesque nature with deep-rooted history, Holyrood Park has the perfect atmosphere of tranquillity and cultural enlightenment, and its many paths and routes provide the chance for unmatched exploration amongst the soaring sights of Edinburgh.
Portobello Beach, Edinburgh, April 2014 by alljengi/Creative Commons (Image size has been modified)
Portobello is a charming suburb on Edinburgh’s north-eastern coast and home to the city’s only beach, a stretch of sand almost two miles long. The golden landscape is hugely popular amongst the locals for its delightful promenade, lined with a number of cafés, chippies, ice cream parlours, arcades, and pubs. Close to the beach and amongst Portobello’s inland area are the Brighton, Abercorn, and Rosefield parks, offering a chance to discover the suburb’s striking Georgian and Victorian architecture and attractive green spaces as well as its coast. Portobello Beach is a winner of the Seaside Award and still retains its bright and fun aura. Whether it’s through Portobello’s elegant township or up and down its stunning shore, it makes an ideal location for a long and enjoyable walk.
The Water of Leith is a river that cuts through the centre of Edinburgh before joining the North Sea. Running alongside part of the river is the 12 mile walkway that passes through many of the city’s sights, making it perfect for a calming and insightful walk through Scotland’s capital. The walkway gives you a chance to see popular attractions such as the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Saughton Winter Gardens, Murrayfield Stadium, and a number of others all on one convenient route. The walkway also provides an escape from the bustle of the city, passing by the Colinton and Craiglockhart dells, leafy woodlands on the bank of the Leith that are brimming with wildlife. Further along the Leith’s walkway you’ll find more greenery, home to ancient woodlands and carpets of colourful wildflowers that give the walk a sense of serenity. The river itself is the habitat of many species of fish, including eels, minnows, a healthy stock of brown trout, and wild grayling, making it a great place to go fishing. Aside from the water life, you might occasionally spot roe deer, badgers, otters and a few other land animals as you journey up the river on this very rewarding trail along Edinburgh’s Leith.
The 72 acres of lush greenery in the Royal Botanic Gardens are home to a multi-coloured array of beautiful and unusual plants. Rows of blooming flowers decorate the grounds and towering trees line the several pathways, creating a paradise perfect for a relaxing walk. The Chinese Hillside houses a delightful collection of rhododendrons and conifers, you’ll find stunning Pasque flowers and tulips in the Rock Garden, and there are many more places, full of interesting plants and vegetation, to explore. The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh also have a number of other interesting features. The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden opened in the summer of 2006, with plants from all over the world making up its sections. The tallest Palm House in Britain can be found amongst the Glasshouses, and Inverleith House, an 18th century mansion, hosts a constant programme of artists’ exhibitions of contemporary visual art. Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens are not only stunningly attractive, but they hold within many fascinating sights that will peak your interest in botany as you stroll through their picturesque grounds.
Pentland Hills Regional Park offers some of the best routes for a grand and adventurous walk. Its 100 kilometres of
waymarked pathways take you around 10,000 hectares of beautiful and dynamic countryside, where you’ll find yourself amongst a plethora of wildlife. Wandering through moorlands, woodlands, and grasslands will let you see a number of rare species of mammals and birds, as well as several many different types of trees, plants, and flowers. There are a number of things to do in the park – many of the nine reservoirs allow fishing, and there are designated seated areas for eating and drinking, picnic spots and more. Walking routes vary from gentle to challenging, and some of the taller peaks give you incredible views of Edinburgh, seeing Firth of Forth, the Borders and Ben Lomand from the dizzying heights.
There are plenty of other walks to enjoy in Edinburgh, so if you’re staying at our Edinburgh hotel then feel free to ask the staff for more ideas - they have a wealth of local knowledge and will be able to suggest something that suits your preference whether it’s a short walk or long ramble. For Edinburgh attractions, peruse our city guide.