Gardens and Parks in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a large number of parks and gardens on offer including the Royal Botanical Gardens, Holyrood Park and Princes Street Gardens which are located in the centre of the city.


Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags

Arthurs Seat Edinburgh

If you have ever seen and loved Cavehill in Belfast, you will be equally enchanted with Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Perched right in the middle of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is the highest hill in an ancient formation of volcanic rock that graces the city’s skyline.

The walk to the top is easy and the reward is worth every step, affording the visitor spectacular views of central Edinburgh and of the basalt cliffs that lie between. Part of a surprisingly wild region known as Holyrood Park, the area features three lakes, including Dunsapie loch and a bird reserve. This is the best place to start the easiest of the trails that climb up Arthur’s Seat.

Humans inhabited these areas thousands of years ago and for the amateur archeologist, the traces of the 600 A.D. earthwork defenses of the Iron Age Votadini people will be an intensely intereseting discovery.

No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a trip to the top of Arthur’s Seat.

Edinburgh Royal Botanical Garden

The Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh was founded in 1670 for the service of growing medicinal plants. Today, the Botanical Gardens serve to protect and cultivate more than 15,000 plant species from their four locations in Edinburgh, Logan, Dawyck and Benmore.

Through bio-diversity and conservation, the main site at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh contributes to scientific projects in the UK and abroad whilst drawing a year round interest from locals and tourism. The Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh is stretched over 70 acres of lush greenery, colourful foliage and an eclectic collection of the world’s most beautiful flowers. Visitors may roam freely throughout the tranquil grounds or take part in an educational guided tour.

Tour highlights include an exploration of the Glass Houses, used for research since 1976 for cultivation of rare flora indigenous to warm weather and tropical climates. The garden areas are comprised of rolling streams and cascading waterfalls set amidst artistically superb natural rock formations cutting and winding through the lush green acres.

The Rock Garden contains over 5,000 species of flowering plants, carefully arranged in their own rock-cut quarters. Take a stroll through Scottish Heath Garden for an up-close exploration of the plants indigenous to Scotland. Enter the realm of the Chinese Hillside for a realistic reproduction of the Asian countryside to include a wooded forest, pond, traditional Chinese architecture pavilion and breathtaking views to Edinburgh Castle.

The John Hope Gateway, situated at the Edinburgh Garden West Gate, is the information hub and centre for bio-diversity green living. Nearby, shops for souvenirs and educational materials are located within easy access to casual dining at the Gateway Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park, situated in central Edinburgh, includes woodlands, lochs, dramatic basalt crags, marshes and cultural remains within its 260-hectare area. Established in 1128 by King David I of Scotland as the royal hunting grounds for Holyrood Abbey, it was expanded to its present form by James V in the 1500’s. The park is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest for its archaeological and geological sites and natural habitats.

The central feature of Holyrood Park is the volcanic remnant Arthur’s Seat - the highest point in Edinburgh at 251 metres, which provides a panoramic view of the city. Queen’s Drive rings the park and provides road access to its crags, wetlands and parklands.

Dunsapie Loch, one of two man-made lochs within the park, is an important wetland habitat for birds and other wildlife. Dunsapie Hill, a basaltic remnant, overlooks the loch and contains several archaeological sites.

Saint Margaret’s Well was a place of pilgrimage originally situated at Saint Margaret’s Church in nearby Restalrig, The medieval well house was moved in 1860 to a natural spring in Holyrood Park.

Holyrood Park today remains part of Holyrood Palace, which forms the southern end of the Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens, which is centrally located in Edinburgh, is a public park that provides excellent views of Edinburgh Castle and is home to many intriguing sites and monuments. The gardens are located along the south side of Princes Street and were the result of the draining of Nor Loch. The gardens are bisected by The Mound, which bridges New Town and Old Town and creates the division between East and West Princes Gardens.

The gardens are the home of multiple monuments and statues such as the Floral Clock and Ross Fountain. The fountain is located at the west end of the gardens and provides homage to science, the arts, poetry and industry in the form of four feminine figures. The Floral Clock is one of Edinburgh’s more famous attractions and is redesigned each year to celebrate different events.

During the summer, the gardens are a perfect spot to catch a concert at the Ross Bandstand. The winter brings about the festive atmosphere associated with the Christian Holiday, Christmas. In the weeks prior to the holiday, the Princess Street Gardens resemble a beautiful wonderland that features park rides and the Christmas Market. This market provides a venue for food and gifts from all over the world.