Being Scotland’s capital and home to over 480,00 people, you may expect Edinburgh to be an urban sprawl. However, Edinburgh is pretty unique in its abundance of outdoor spaces, beaches and natural landscapes interspersed throughout the city. All of these outdoor spaces are easy to get to and mostly within walking distance of Edinburgh. Whether you want to relax in the sun or take in some nature. Read on to discover some of the best parks and outdoor spaces to visit in Edinburgh to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Related Reading: Top short trips from Edinburgh
The first on our list, and a Haystack team favorite, is Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park. Arthur’s Seat is a group of volcanic hills that is similar of the landscape in the Highlands, overlooking the city. At 251m, it isn’t the largest hill to climb in Scotland, but instead provides an easy climb that should take around 45 minutes. Once at the top, you will get an incredible panoramic view of the city and the surrounding area.
To get to Arthur’s Seat, simply find your way to the Royal Mile before walking right to the bottom. You will past the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace, where you will find the start of the route.
One of the larger parks in Edinburgh, the meadows is located in the south side of the city, near to the university campus. This is especially evident in the summer, when the students come out in crowds to sit and enjoy the sun. With such a laid back atmosphere, it is the perfect place to come with friends for a barbecue or a few beers, or alone, just to relax. It is also a great place to play sports like 5-a-side football or touch rugby, while joggers love to come here too. To get there, simply walk to the Edinburgh University student union, the park is just to the south of it.
One of the most incredible places in the city is Cramond island. This small island can be accessed by foot when the tide is down. It was a fortification during the first and second world war and as am archaeological site you can find Roman remains. Be sure to check out the tide times before making your way to the island.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the most famous attractions in the New Town. Located one mile from the city center it covers 70 acres and has more than 30.000 different plants and 10 glasshouses. You can enjoy a nice view of the skyline of Edinburgh and walk around the gardens for almost the whole day.
Portobello is a beautiful sea side suburb of Edinburgh that is popular with both tourists and locals alike. Probably the most well known of Edinburgh’s beaches, it is a beautiful place to visit for the day and soak up the sun.
The reason for its popularity is that it is extremely easy to get to. Its only a few miles from the city center of Edinburgh and is easily accessible by bus. Simply take the 26 bus until you get to Bellfield Lane, and it is then only a short 5 minute walk.
The beach itself is beautiful. It is around 2 miles long in length, so you can pretty much always find a quiet spot to yourself if you want to get away from everything.
There are also plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to visit for a bite to eat or a quick drink. However, when the suns out, it is important you book ahead if you would like to grab a meal. Despite the many restaurants, they are almost always fully booked during busy days. We recommend the Espy!
The Pentland Hills are a beautiful place for anyone to visit and a hill walkers dream. If you are pushed for time, and want a little taste of the highlands, a walk through the Pentlands is your best bet.
Located in the south west of the city, they run around 20 miles in length, so there is plenty to explore. The highest peak in this range is Scald Law, which climbs around 579 meters or 1,900 feet and provides spectacular views of the whole city.
Besides hill walking, the Pentlands also provide a fabulous way to get back in touch with nature. During your hike, you will come into contact with different animals including birds, sheep, horses and even Highland Cows!
It can be tricky to get to the Pentlands if you don’t have a car. However, the trip is well worth it. Your best bet is to take the number 4 or 15 towards Hillend and walk from there. Once at Hillend you will see the hills nearby.
If you are interested in any of these excursions, the Haystack Hostels team will be happy to give you any advice and the information that you could need to enjoy these natural environments.