Holyrood Park is a heavenly slice of wild, rugged Scotland right in the heart of Edinburgh, complete with dramatic cliff faces, ambling pathways, an extinct volcano and archaeological remnants dating back thousands of years. Here, you can escape the busy streets and wander into a natural realm of windswept beauty and breathtaking views – just a stone’s throw from the city centre.
Holyrood Park is adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which should also be a must-see on your Edinburgh itinerary. The park served as a royal pleasure ground for nearly 1,000 years; the likes of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria came here to revel in its peace and tranquillity. The highest vantage point, at 251 metres above sea level, is Arthur’s Seat, a portion of a 350-million-year-old volcano. Taking the steep but sturdy path to the summit will reward you with spectacular views of the city, including famous Edinburgh Castle.
Also within the park is the medieval ruin of St Anthony’s Chapel, which perches on a little hill overlooking St Margaret’s Loch. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, built the loch, which is now home to mute swans, tufted ducks and greylag geese. In fact, the park teems with wildlife, from squirrels and brown hares to pretty butterflies in the warmer months.
The Ranger Service offers guided walks through the park as well as activities for all ages and interest levels. After you’ve conquered the park, you’re also close to Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, a series of streets buzzing with shops, restaurants, pubs and other tourist attractions. To get to Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park, follow the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. From there, turn right and walk to the park entry point.