Six beautiful spots to watch the Edinburgh Festivals

As well as being the world's leading festival city, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful in the world. So while you're here enjoying our year-round selection of fantastic festivals, here are six scenic spots, each with festival connections of their own. 

The view over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat, with a group of around 20 hikers bearing lights

Arthur's Seat

Edinburgh’s extinct volcano proudly watches over the entire city and by making your way to the top you can too. If you’re brave enough to hike up the 823 feet you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of the capital (as the above photo from Edinburgh International Festival's 2013 Speed of Light event at Arthur's Seat shows).

Gaze across the city, picture the hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers filling every nook and cranny... and then head back down and join them!

Our advice: Arthur's Seat isn’t the most accessible, so please do take care. And probably best not to go on a windy or rainy day.

 

A photo of Edinburgh Castle, high on the castle rock against a blue sky

Edinburgh Castle

An obvious choice but also an unmissable one, the view from Edinburgh Castle is as magical as you would imagine and with a 360 degree view of the city, the Pentland Hills to the south and the Firth of Forth to the north you won’t leave disappointed.

The castle is steeped in history and tradition, making it a magnificent backdrop to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - so visit for the view in the daytime, and then see it lit up by the Tattoo's spectacular projections at night! 

 

The view across a sunny Edinburgh city centre, taken from Calton Hill

Calton Hill

Boasting arguably the finest view in the entire city, Calton Hill is instantly recognisable from a distance by its famously unfinished, Parthenon-style National Monument to Scottish soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars.

Once atop the hill however, it's the view facing away from the monument which is most celebrated, looking past the iconic Dugald Stewart Monument, over the grand Balmoral hotel and across Princes Street Gardens to the Old Town and the castle. 

It’s a much easier climb than Arthur's Seat and worth every step to witness that breathtaking view - plus it's home to the Collective Gallery, one of Edinburgh Art Festival's many great venues.

 

A photo looking down from St Giles' Cathedral's rooftop platform onto the crowds gathered for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

St Giles' Cathedral

Not for the faint hearted this one, but the view from the roof of St Giles' Cathedral is pretty special. Getting up there requires climbing a narrow, spiral, stone staircase, but once you reach the top you'll find why it was all worth it.

Emerging onto the platform you'll see the Royal Mile's wonderfully chaotic Fringe crowds ebb and flow beneath you, while to the east lies the Forth Estuary and the sea beyond. 

It's only recently that the A-listed 14th century building opened its roof to tourists but the move has proved hugely popular as a new and thrilling way to people-watch.

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Charlotte Square Gardens

Most of our suggestions here were chosen for their sweeping panoramic views of the Scottish capital - but this delightful green quad in the New Town is just as satisfying, albeit in an understated and more tranquil way.

The Square, home to the Book Festival each year, is a gorgeous green space, surrounded by trees and hosting a memorial statue to Queen Victoria's husband, Albert, at its centre. 

It's usually closed to the public, so take advantage in the summer, pull up a Book Festival deckchair and simply soak in the atmosphere. Entry to the square is free and doesn't require an event ticket.

 

Looking across the duck pond on a sunny day in Inverleith Park

Inverleith Park

Travel just north of the city centre to this lovely green park and enjoy a less famous, but nonetheless stunning, view of Edinburgh Castle, soaring above the city centre on its iconic rocky base.

It's a great place to take the kids, with a well-populated pond always busy with ducks and swans, and the Royal Botanic Garden nearby to the east.

Then, if you've chosen the right day, round your visit off back in the park, with a seat on the grass and an exceptional view of the Edinburgh International Festival's end of August firework display.

Think we've missed a good spot? Let us know your favourite parts of Edinburgh to watch the festivals by tweeting us @edfests.

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