Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is a stunning city and it’s not just thanks to the beautiful gothic style architecture you find down the streets, a lot of Edinburgh’s beauty comes from the landscapes the city was built on.
Known as the city of seven hills, Edinburgh’s skyline is made of stunning features from valleys to hills and a horizon that almost reaches the ocean on a clear day. When you combine this with the exquisite buildings of Edinburgh, it’s hard not to fall in love with the city, but where are the best views in Edinburgh? That’s what we are here to find out.
A place that every visitor to Edinburgh should find themselves at some point is at Arthur’s seat. It’s a very popular tourist attraction that sits on top of one of Edinburgh’s hills and is a constant reminder of the rugged landscapes of Scotland that surround the capital.
Arthur’s seat actually sits on top of an extinct volcano that last erupted close to 300 million years ago. From the top of Arthur’s seat or next to the Salisbury crags you can see across the entire city of Edinburgh and spot Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, you can see the sea, the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, and even a Scottish loch.
Arthur’s seat is easy to find thanks to its central location. Just wander to the bottom of the Royal Mile and into Holyrood Park and then it’s a 30-minute hike to the top. Wear good shoes and try to pick a clear moment in the changeable Scottish weather to see the views at their best.
At the end of the Royal Mile close to Castlehill, you will find the World Of Illusions which is a really fun thing to go to, particularly if you have kids. Inside you’ll find five floors of different illusions that really spark the mind. If you make your way to the top floor, you’ll find an incredible view of Edinburgh and a Victorian invention called Camera Obscura that projects a live image of Edinburgh.
Once you are done being dazzled by the Victorian photo-tech, step outside and take in the awesome views of Edinburgh’s Old Town and the Castle.
The World Of Illusions is open every day but it does cost a little to get in, so if you’re not interested in seeing any illusions, it might be a little too much to pay for the view.
Right in the middle of Edinburgh’s city center, you will find Calton Hill which is home to probably two of the best views in Edinburgh.
If you’re ever looking for somewhere to watch the sunset from in Edinburgh then Calton Hill is a great spot to head to. From the hill, you can look over all of Edinburgh from east to west and see the sunset with the sea and the Forth Estuary in the background.
If you want to take the view at Calton Hill to the next level you should take a walk up to the top of the Nelson Monument. The monument which was built in 1815 was made in commemoration of Admiral Lord Nelson who helped defeat Napoleon and died in battle in 1805.
When you’re at the top of the Nelson Monument, the extra height gives you a unique view of the city that you simply cannot get anywhere else. The panoramic scene of the entire city includes a direct view down Princes Street, the National Monument, and the stunning clock on the front of the Balmoral Hotel.
You will find Calton Hill on London Road or Waterloo Place and it takes just 15 minutes to walk to the top. Entry to the bottom of the Nelson Monument is free and you’ll find a museum dedicated to him and the battle he died in (Trafalgar) and more. To get to the viewing area at the top of the Nelson Monument you’ll need to pay £5.
The National Museum Of Scotland is worth a visit regardless of the views of Edinburgh from the top. Every floor is filled with exhibits from around the world, Scotland, and there are even a few pieces that came from outer space. You can get lost wandering around the museum and it’s a great place to spend some time on a cold winter’s day in Edinburgh.
Something a lot of people don’t know about the museum is that it has a roof garden. It’s not that easy to find but if you persevere you’ll end up finding a stunning little roof garden with awesome views across Edinburgh. You can see the city’s rooftops in every direction, a great view of Edinburgh Castle, along with Pentland Hills and Tolbooth Kirk.
You can visit the Museum and its roof garden every day from 10 am to 5 pm and it is free to get in.
A lot of people tend to forget that Edinburgh is actually a city that is beside the sea and one of the best views in Edinburgh in my eyes is along the shoreline area of Leith, which is out of town just a bit to the north of the city center.
Leith is the home of Edinburgh’s port and its history is dotted all around the cobbled streets. You’ll stumble upon ancient iron anchors, ship’s wheels, and there is even an old swing bridge and a lighthouse.
The Water of Leith, the city’s marina, is also stunning especially when the warm sun catches the gunnels of the boats parked in there.
Taling stroll along the cobbled streets of Leith is a must when you’re in Edinburgh and if the weather plays ball, you can find some of the most beautiful views Ednibriugh has to offer – be warned though, I am a sailor so I’m a little biased.
When I used to live in Edinburgh I’d often yearn for a taste of the Scottish countryside, and when the time wouldn’t permit I’d manage to get my fix at Dean Village.
Dean Village is a little part of Edinburgh that feels like you suddenly left the city and entered the countryside in a matter of seconds. The old houses combined with the leafy walkways, stunning river, and old ruins like the 18th century St Bernard’s Well and Well Court all transport your mind away from the buzz of the city.
If you’re visiting Dean Village on the weekend, take a stroll to the Stockbridge Market where you’ll find some fun crafts, good food, and a fun but relaxed atmosphere.
Dean Village is quick and easy to access. It’s just a 30-40 minute walk from Edinburgh city center and you can be there in 5-10 minutes if you hop into a taxi which you’ll find are easily hailed in almost every part of the city.
The Scott Monument was built in dedication to one of Scotland’s favorite writers Sir Walter Scott and is the largest monument in the world dedicated to a writer standing a huge 200 feet tall above the city.
You’ll find the Scott Monument right on Princes Street just by Edinburgh’s main train station. It’s open every day from 10 am to 4 pm and costs £8 to enter. Inside you’ll find a museum room that takes you through the life of Sir Walter Scott and tells you all about the monument’s construction.
It was built back in 1844 by George Meikle Kemp who sadly drowned just before it was finished and the marble statue of the writer outside was added a few years later.
Once you are finished with the museum room you can head up the tight spiral staircase to the top where you will get an amazing view of Edinburgh. You can see the entire Princes Street Gardens, the city’s hills, and lots more. If you’re looking for a truly unique view of Edinburgh, this is it.
Any trip to Edinburgh should always include a visit to Edinburgh Castle, and if you want a view that has stood still through history that Kings and Queens of Scotland once perused, the castle is the place to go to.
While you wander around the castle you’ll be drenched in the history of the castle and be told stories of its past as a military fortress, prison of war, and a royal residence. It’s also where the Crown Jewels of Scotland are held and the site for the National War Museum.
Sitting on top of a hill in a typical 11th-century style building, the Edinburgh Castle looks down onto Princes Street Gardens, Princes Street, the Nelson Monument, and you can even see Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, the North Sea, and the Forth Estuary.
While looking over this view of Edinburgh, it’s important to imagine the old Kings, Queens, and guards looking out over the city, keeping watch of its residents and having a keen eye on the sea in case of any seaward invasions that might lurk on the horizon and threaten the city.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!