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Nature Walks & Hiking in Edinburgh

Edinburgh stands as Scotland’s proud, and stunning, capital. It has become a city renowned for its restaurants, hotels, history, and gothic architecture. As a bustling hub of art and culture, Edinburgh comes alive in the Spring and Summer months but, aside from exploring the city’s museums and gothic spires, why not take to the great Scottish outdoors on foot and explore the nature walks surrounding Edinburgh? 

We’ve put together the most picturesque and enjoyable nature walks and hiking near Edinburgh, Scotland. We hope this encourages you to lace up your walking shoes, get out there in the fresh air on a hiking day trip, or even just discovering places to walk in Edinburgh City.

Calton Hill: Stunning Sunsets

Calton Hill is a proud landmark in Edinburgh and has become a popular spot for locals and tourists to enjoy a beautiful sunset in the warmer months - or in the cold if you’re feeling brave! Settled on top of an extinct volcano, Calton Hill is home to several historic monuments, such as The National Monument, an unfinished structure meant to replicate the Parthenon in Athens. It was intended to honour Scottish soldiers who lost their lives in the Napoleonic wars but lost funding and has now become a famous landmark of the city where it sits unfinished. Alongside the Nelson Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument, you can also visit the City Observatory on Calton Hill. Functional from the late 19th century until 1938, but was shut down as light pollution made it difficult to use and a new one, located on Blackford Hill was erected as a result. The City Observatory can still be visited and now stands as a centre for contemporary art

The views from Calton Hill are unmatched, as you admire the city sprawled out before you - a view that is even better during a sunset. On clear days, you can even see Fife in the distance. Elevate your experience and pack a picnic basket to enjoy at the top, filled with light bites and refreshing drinks to toast to an evening well spent in Edinburgh. 

The walk up Calton Hill is a steep one but takes around 20 minutes, and you’ll likely see other walkers, as it's so popular, on the way up. Calton Hill is the perfect spot for relaxing while you soak up every inch of the spectacular view. In the summer months, you’ll find kite flyers and even some events like small concerts taking place on the hill. 

Arthur’s Seat: A View From the Top

Perhaps Edinburgh’s most famous viewpoint, a hike up Arthur’s Seat is a must-do for a trip to Edinburgh. For those hoping to get some fresh air, enjoy the joys of spring and summer and engage in some light exercise, Arthur’s Seat has everything you need. Like Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat is located on an extinct volcano, reaches a height of 823 feet above sea level and is the largest peak from the set of hills it’s nestled in. Although the origins of the name are unknown, legend says that the site might have been home to Camelot, the mythical court of King Arthur. 

The trip up is considered to be a bit of a challenge, especially for those not used to hiking. It takes around 1hr 40 mins in total but, of course, will vary. The way up is signposted and you simply need to follow the path on Arthur’s Seat Edinburgh hike. There are a few different routes you can choose, each varying in challenge, but the most popular one is the route that begins near the Scottish Parliament building

The hill offers some of the best views of Edinburgh where you can view the ancient spires of the Old Town and the bustle of the New Town. Like any hill-walking venture, ensure you bring plenty of water and snacks to help you on the way up. How about a cup of tea at the top as you take in the glorious views of Edinburgh below you? 

As Arthur’s Seat is a part of Holyrood Park, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To respect this, and our beautiful city, please ensure you leave the famous peak exactly how you found it as you walk Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. No litterbugs here, please!

The Water of Leith Walkway

 If you’re looking for the best walks in Edinburgh, the Water of Leith walkway is the perfect choice. Mostly flat and suitable for any fitness level compared to Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat, this walk offers a new, more peaceful side to Edinburgh. Spanning 13 miles from Balerno, running through the city and finishing at the outflow into the Firth of Forth at Leith, there is no spot more ideal for a quiet walk away from the crowds of the capital. 

On the way, you’ll pass idyllic bridges, plenty of lovely flora and fauna, and Edinburgh’s iconic Dean Village with the river bubbling by your side the whole way. 

Dean Village was founded in the 12th century and was once a thriving milling community, a past the preserved buildings still reflect even today. Known for its sandstone buildings, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, Dean Village is a delightful spot to spend an hour or two exploring. Now a sought-after residential area, the village has become a haven for tranquillity which you can enjoy in the small garden areas dotted throughout the village. You can also visit the Dean Gallery where you can view contemporary art pieces. The village is a stunning contrast to the flurry of the city centre, making it the ideal spot for a nature walk near Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh Walking Tours

There are many ways to explore the glorious walks near Edinburgh, one of these may include a guided walking tour. There are many walks, or Edinburgh hiking guides, to choose from that run daily from Edinburgh city centre. These walks will take you up Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat and more, offering guidance and snippets of history as you go. 

There are plenty to choose from so decide what you’d like to see and pick one that suits you. 

Recharge at The Witchery

After a long day of exploring Edinburgh on foot, retire to our decadent dining rooms and enjoy a light lunch or an evening meal at the foot of Edinburgh Castle in Old Town. Awarded the AA’s Best Restaurant With Rooms, Scotland 2023/2024, immerse yourself in decades of Edinburgh’s history as we sweep you away with delicate flavours, award-winning wine, and an unforgettable atmosphere. 

Discover our two-course lunch offering and á la carte menu and book your table for a dining experience you can treasure for a lifetime. 

Explore more of Edinburgh

Discover more wonderful things to do in Edinburgh, and continue reading: