A breath of fresh air
Edinburgh is a Scottish city blessed with one of the most evocative skylines in the country. From vantage points upon Calton Hill, spectacular visions of the castle from Arthurs Seat to the majestic settings of Princes Gardens and the Royal Botanical Gardens – Edinburgh is a feast for the eyes
Sample some beautiful walks, inspiring landscapes and that fresh air with Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront. Edinburgh is a city that is just perfect to explore on foot, regardless of the weather. A venture around the historic streets and up the rugged paths provides such a fantastic day out and best of all, the natural beauty that Edinburgh possesses is free for all the family to enjoy!
Pack a picnic and have a look at our guide to the most striking scenic treasures to enjoy in our capital city.
Spectacular un-interrupted views of the lovely city landscape and surroundings are your reward for endeavouring to climb the iconic hill in Edinburgh.
The great Midlothian author, Robert Louis Stevenson described the volcanic sight as; "A hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design". The now extinct volcano, similar to Castle Rock was formed during the ice age by glacier movements carving past the rocky cliff, exposing the now distinct hill as well as the Salisbury Crags.
There are a number of routes to take to reach the top, each varying in length and importantly steepness. For a gentle climb start at the Palace of Holyrood and following the footpath to near St Anthony's Chapel, head up the marked path to link with the paths coming from the east side of the hill, (the Dunsapie Loch side of the mountain).
This is an easy stroll from the car park and can take around 25 minutes to reach the summit. It is popular with other hikers who will encourage you with their fondness of the views to help you to keep going through any steep sections.
For a lighter walk, walking along the Crags is a bit easier and you still get treated to spectacular views.
Remember to take a camera as you won't want to miss your chance to take photos of Edinburgh castle, Holyrood palace, The Scottish Parliament and the famous Forth Road Bridge. Common for Scotland, temperatures are chilly at the best of times and even more so on top of the Crags and Arthur's Seat so please ensure you dress warm.
The more strenuous ascent to the 251 metre high summit is an approach from the valley between the Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat itself. You will notice a stepped path meandering its way up the face of the mountain but take note it can be an arduous climb for all regardless of their fitness. Coupled with the often blustery winds and uneven surfaces it's not for the fainthearted.
However for a sense of achievement it's worth the effort. The sensation of standing on the highest point in the city is incredible.
Another setting for one of the most astonishing views of Edinburgh, Calton Hill makes you feel like you aren't in a city at all! The views from Calton Hill are of such beauty and uniqueness that they are often used in photographs and paintings of the city.
If you don't feel like conquering Arthur's Seat for an outstanding photo opportunity Calton Hill is an alternative that is not lacking in splendour.
Robert Louis Stevenson agreed; "Of all places for a view, this Calton Hill is perhaps the best..." "...after all, you can't see the Castle or Arthur's Seat from the Castle or Arthur's Seat."
Easily accessible from the city centre, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Calton Hill is an eccentric collection of buildings and monuments.
An Athenian acropolis, an unfinished memorial inspired by the Pantheon, dedicated to those who died in the Napoleonic wars, is probably the most notable structure upon the hill. Nearby is Nelson's Monument, which is just as intriguing. Sculptured to resemble a telescope it is in fact a mechanism which worked in synergy with the One O'Clock Gun of Edinburgh Castle allowing ships of past era to set their chronometers.
As well as these memorable structures there is an obelisk and the city's observatory, of course all of which complemented by stunning sights of the castle, the Palace of Holyrood, Old Town, New Town and on a clear day the iconic Forth Road Bridge stretching out to the North Sea.
The trip up to Calton Hill is a relaxed stroll from the end of Princes Street or a 10minute climb from the staircase located on Regent Road. However your choice of path, the mythical tranquillity and astounding views are not to be missed.
In a city full of special sights, Calton Hill is without doubt once of the best.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Sometimes you just feel like getting away from the hectic buzz of city streets, The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is just such an oasis to take advantage of. A short stroll from the city centre, the stunning gardens have been a place to unwind and forget about the world since 1670.
The beautiful green expanse is a breath-taking setting at any time of the year. The world renowned botanical garden is a free attraction in Edinburgh (some admission charges exist for a selection of greenhouses) and the perfect place to enjoy a morning stroll amongst lovely exotic plants or setting down for afternoon nap in a quiet, comfortable lawn.
Having a meander through a remarkable array of manicured gardens is incredibly relaxing. The Royal Botanic Garden has a number of highlights; various greenhouses full of interesting flora from around the world.
The stunning Chinese Hill showcases a lovely pavilion, bamboo garden and a beautiful pond. The Rocky Garden is an idyllic getaway, full of little bridges, waterfalls and delightful pathways.
Even the information centre is excellent. Regularly walking tours and workshops are conducted helping to explain the conversion efforts, the intricate plant life and a fantastic star-gazing experience. The accessible walkways and well-stocked garden café allow all visitors to enjoy this incredible green space in Edinburgh.
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is a stunning place to escape to right in the heart of Edinburgh.
The beautiful floral gardens are one of the city's most famous features. Home to the brilliant German Christmas Market during December, the gardens are also the home to the Hogmanay Concert, the Scottish National Gallery and the inspiring Scott Monument.
It has everything anyone could wish of city centre Park, a world away from the busy streets of Princes Street. It's Edinburgh's Central Park and since 1820 it has remained relatively untouched.
The impeccably maintained greenery, fabulous collection of colourful flowers and even an outdoor amphitheatre that is the scene for plays in the park provide such a great place to spend a pleasant day out.
Make sure you get to see the clock made from flowers which is located near the Scottish National Gallery, as well as the spectacular golden fountain at the west end of the gardens.
You'll be glad you brought your camera just because of the wealth of amazing photo opportunities in Princes Street Gardens.
After all, in what other capital city can you sit in a beautiful surroundings right in the heart of the city and admire a view of a castle!