Calton Hill & Observatory
Where better to kick off your exploration of Edinburgh than at a hill that boasts a panoramic vista of the entire city? This one climb will tick off prime views of some of the most iconic Edinburgh landmarks including a uniquely full-scale perspective of Arthur’s seat as well as Edinburgh Castle in all its glory. On a clear day you should be able to see all the way across to Fife, but if it’s gloomy you’ll still enjoy an atmospheric view of Edinburgh’s uniquely elegant skyline. But it’s not just the view that makes it worth a visit, the hill is itself peppered with historic monuments – most notably the National Monument that was intended to honour the fallen of the Napoleonic War, but stands famously unfinished, offering a strikingly bleak but beautiful presence on the edge of the hill. If you can handle an early start, it’s a stunning spot to perch and watch the sunrise over the historic landscape. Calton hill is well renowned as the birthplace of astronomy, and the City Observatory that’s located there brings a recently restored, spectacular gallery to this iconic location. It pays homage to the Scottish Enlightenment, whilst curating varied and engaging exhibitions that appeal to a broad audience – there’s also a panoramic restaurant if you fancy a bite with a view. It’s a steep but brief climb to the top of Calton hill, but it grants instant gratification once you reach the top. It’s easily accessible from Princes Street, so it could be the perfect peaceful pause from a day out shopping there. Or if you’ve been spritely enough to make the sunrise, the top of the walk curves round into the Royal Terrace, where you can follow the cobbled street down to the bustling Leith Walk, this picturesque thoroughfare links the docks at Leith with the city and is a bustling and vibrant contrast to the relative quiet of Calton Hill.