The Scottish city of Edinburgh boasts a growing cosmopolitan reputation, with luxury developments across the city, making it an attractive place for both tourists and new residents.
Though this dense population makes for a lively atmosphere, hidden within the city are some of the most peaceful retreats from the buzz of city life.
Peaceful Retreats from Edinburgh City Life
Royal Botanical Gardens
First established in 1670, the Royal Botanical Gardens are located just a mile outside the city center and yet are the figure of peace and tranquility. Set within 72 acres of breath-taking scenery, the gardens are home to over 3,000 exotic plants as well as some of the tallest traditional palm houses ever built. Dating back to 1858, the glass houses of the Royal Botanical Gardens are stunning features which have brought the exotic to Scotland for 150 years.
The gardens are also home to the contemporary art center located at Inverlin House, as well as multiple cafes and an award-winning restaurant. The garden frames views of the city skyline and is an idyllic escape within touching distance of the city.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Calton Hill resides an impressive 338 feet above sea level, looking out over the city. A famous part of Edinburgh’s skyline, the hill houses numerous iconic monuments including the Nelson monument, the Robert Burns monument and the City Observatory. The Scottish Parliament lies at the foot of the hill and for many years Calton Hill has been a central meeting point and the city’s political heart. Standing tall above the city, Calton Hill is a peaceful spot which offers breath-taking views you are unable to replicate from any other part of the city.
Often referred to as ‘Edinburgh’s other castle’, Cragmillar Castle lies just outside of the old city walls. It offers a welcome retreat from the busy city and a refreshing alternative to Edinburgh Castle. Cragmillar is central to some of Edinburgh’s most prominent history as it was the refuge of Mary Queen of Scotts in 1566, before Sir Simon Preston, owner of the castle, turned her over to authorities. Building of the original castle began in the early 15th century and for the next 250 years it would be residence to some of Scotland’s great families. With countless nooks, crannies and hidden passageways, Cragmillar Castle is the perfect place to get lost in history and escape the noise of the city without venturing too far.
Dr Neil’s Garden
Founded, designed and created by Doctors Andrew and Nancy Neil, this secret garden is a hideaway within reach of the city center. Many claim it is more than just a garden and is in fact a spot engulfed in peace and tranquility, providing the perfect setting for inspiration and self-reflection. Built by the couple and driven by their passion for gardening, it was intended to be a place for their patients to lead a healthy outdoor lifestyle.
The garden has now flourished into a fully functioning visitor attraction. In 1997, the Dr Neil’s Garden Trust was created to take over care of the grounds and safeguard its future and is now a registered charity. With a large collection of exotic and unusual specimens collected from across the globe, it is easy to get lost in the various parts of Dr Neil’s Garden.
Perhaps one of the most famous points in Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is set 823 feet above sea level and thus provides unbeatable views of the entire city. There are many myths surrounding Arthur’s Seat, the most prominent deriving from its name. It is claimed that it is the possible site of Camelot and thus the ruling seat of King Arthur. Regardless, at its peak can be found the remains of hill fort defenses which date back to 600 AD.
This spot is also the center of numerous works of literature including James Hogg’s The Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, a brief mention in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and both the novel and film adaptation of David Nicholls’ One Day.
Edinburgh is quickly evolving into the perfect mix of city buzz and natural beauty, as it is home to some of the best quality luxury apartments on a backdrop of world heritage sites for the perfect break.