Edinburgh’s Best Parks & Outdoor Spaces
It’s no secret that Edinburgh winters can be long and when the nicer weather finally arrives, the city seems to come out of hibernation. We’re very lucky in Edinburgh with an endless choice of beautiful parks and natural green spaces (how many places can boast a dormant volcano right in the middle of the city?!). Did you know that the Scottish capital tops the list as the city with the most green-spaces in the UK?
It seems Spring has finally arrived (honest!) and it’s time to head outside and get some much needed fresh air. Whether you’re taking the dog for a walk, looking for a challenging hike, or just want to relax on a park bench and watch the world go by, you’ll find a spot in Edinburgh. Keep reading as we share some of our favourite places to venture out and explore the great outdoors.
You’ll find this park just north of Stockbridge and at 54 acres, it’s one of Scotlands largest urban green spaces. Inverleith Park encompasses just about everything one could want or need in a park. With its massive expanses of grassy fields, relaxing pathways, a children’s playground, an idyllic pond, a running track, tennis courts, rose gardens and more – it’s the ideal place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. So pack up the kids and the dog, grab a picnic in nearby Stockbridge and head to this urban escape.
The most westerly of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills, Corstorphine Hill is a local nature reserve, classed as a ‘Regionally Important Geological Site’ or RIGS. Its rock foundation is over 300 million years old. A mostly forested area, you’ll find lovely woodland walks here as well as beautiful views over the city. At the north end of the hill, Barnton Quarry was the site of a war-time radar station and cold-war nuclear bunker. You’ll also find Corstorphine Hill Tower, a memorial to Sir Walter Scott.
While exploring this area you may see foxes, badgers, and even buzzards. The terrain here is varied, with some paths offering steep ascents and descents and the rock underfoot can be slippery. It’s advised to look at the routes ahead of time to decide which path may be best for you.
Craigmillar Castle Park
Situated to the south of Edinburgh but at a slightly higher elevation, Craigmillar Castle Park offers panoramic views of the city amidst sprawling woodlands and open fields. In 1997 over 40,000 trees were planted here as part of the millennium forest for Scotland project, making this stunning expanse ideal for a country walk in the city.
A great place to explore with the kids, Craigmillar also has a fun playpark that will keep the little ones entertained for hours and even entice the adults to join in! While you’re there, you can explore the castle too, which was once home to the infamous Mary Queen of Scots.
Another one of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills, Blackford Hill is ideal for a visit both during the day and at nighttime. By day, stunning views will captivate you and at night, you can stargaze at one of the astronomy evenings hosted by the Royal Edinburgh Observatory.
The climb here isn’t too grueling but there’s no laid pathway all the way to the top, so be sure to take care, especially if it’s wet. Though hilly, the incline isn’t too steep and even the youngest walkers should be ok. It’s also a great place to take your dog for a long walk and many a happy canine can often be spotted during a walk on the hill.
Princes Street Gardens
It may seem an obvious choice, but a list of Edinburgh parks just wouldn’t be complete without Princes Street Gardens. Home to the Scott Monument, the newly restored Ross Fountain, and endless park benches, it’s the ideal place to escape for lunch on a sunny day.
Nestled below the castle, there are many hidden treasures in the Gardens. You’ll find the Floral Clock at the east entrance, the fairytale-like Gardener’s Cottage, and many memorials and statues, among others the Norwegian Brigade War Memorial – a giant slab of rock given as a gift of thanks and peace from the Norwegians after WWII.
During rush hour, the park can be used as something of a super-highway for those looking to walk quickly from one end of Princes Street to the other – with its wide pathways and distinct lack of traffic and bus stops, it’s ideal.
Gypsy Brae Park
A large grassland right beside the Forth Estuary, Gypsy Brae is the ideal place for peaceful strolls and wildlife watching just a few miles from the city centre. This park is managed as part of the Edinburgh Living Landscape programme, to encourage wildlife in the city.
The Forth Bridges and Cramond Island provide lovely views from the park, and planespotters will enjoy an open (but mostly silent!) panoramic view of the flight path to Edinburgh Airport. With a wide walkway and immense grassy fields, it’s a great place to bring the kids and the dog, where they’ll have plenty of room to run free. Just be sure to pop the dog on a leash if you head to the pond, where a lovely family of ducks and swans have made their home. At one end of the park, you can enjoy a bite to eat in Cramond Village and dogs are welcome in several of the establishments.
The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links
These sister parks make up two of the most popular places in the capital to relax and unwind on a beautiful day. Head to The Meadows and you’ll find groups of friends enjoying a barbecue, children playing freely in the playground, and joggers making use of the wide pathways. Because of its size, The Meadows is often used for sporting events, including the annual Meadows Marathon.
Just a short walk away (you only have to cross one street!) is the smaller but equally inviting Bruntsfield Links. This charming green space is often quieter than The Meadows and is filled with benches perfect for reading under the stunning elm trees. The Links boasts a 36-hole short golf course, an ideal activity for a warm summer’s eve. And with several local pubs to choose from, you won’t be short of places to head for a drink or meal after dark.
Visiting Edinburgh this year?
We have a home away from home waiting for you!
There are many Dickins homes available situated close to some of our favourite Edinburgh parks, including homes within walking distance of The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links. We even have a flat in Simpson Loan with incredible views of The Meadows and a private balcony to enjoy it on.
Lauriston and Bruntsfield is a popular area for visitors as it’s central but quiet. Staying here, you’ll live like a local, and being close to some of the city’s best independent shops and restaurants, it’s the ideal place for self-catering. So make yourself at home, pack a picnic full of the best local food, and head to one of the city’s best outdoor spaces.