How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s top attractions are popular for good reason. When the year-round crowds of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile get too much, take a trip off the beaten path to some of these laid-back locations.
Royal Botanic Gardens
A haven of tranquility, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of Europe’s oldest botanic gardens. Established in 1670, the garden covers an area of more than 70 acres (28 hectares) and features elegant Victorian glasshouses, a giant water lily pond, and a rock garden.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Just west of Dean Village, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is just far enough from the city center to feel more secluded than Edinburgh’s other galleries. The galley showcases its collection of modern and contemporary art in two neoclassical buildings and across landscaped grounds. It’s also the starting point for a tranquil walk along the Water of Leith.
Dunbar’s Close Garden
The perfect antidote to the crowds of the Royal Mile, Dunbar’s Close Garden is tucked away at the end of the Old Town close to the Scottish Parliament Building. Laid out in the style of the 17th century, the garden has winding pathways; herbs, flowers, and shrub gardens; and several benches where you can sit in and enjoy the calm.
Located beneath the streets in the south of Edinburgh, Gilmerton Cove features a series of mysterious sandstone chambers and passageways. Their purpose has puzzled Edinburghers for more than 200 years—come up with your own theories by taking a tour.