Holyrood Park

Arthur's Seat as best vantage point in Edinburgh

Arthurs Seat and Salisbury Crags are natural rock formations in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park. The park is probably the most astonishing urban park in the UK and not only because it is ideally suited for a wide range of activities but because it's one of the best vantage points in Edinburgh.

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While Salisbury Crags are remains of glaciered rocks, Arthur's Seat is an extinct volcano and has been called by this name since the 15th century. Some say that the name comes from the legendary Arthur of Camelot while some say that the extinct volcano is probably named after a local hero that had nothing to do with King Arthur. There are also three lochs in Holyrood Park: St. Margaret's, Duddingston and Dunsapie.

Walks around Holyrood Park

The topography of Holyrood Parks gives visitors several ways to approach Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags. The most difficult way up on the Crags is along the obvious and steep pathway that starts from across the street from Holyrood Palace. It is so steep that sometimes it feels like climbing a wall and an increased level of fitness is therefore required.

An easier approach is to start from Holyrood Palace and walk along Queen's Drive, the road that surrounds the base of the park. A good 30 minutes are required to go around the park and get to the smooth paved slope up Salisbury Crags.

Of all possible paths in Holyrood Park, this is probably the most scenic. You walk along the dramatic sheer drops that are Salisbury Crags or even on top of them looking down. The views across to Edinburgh with its Castle and Old Town are truly impressive.

Holyrood Park is very popular with bikers riding along the road surrounding the base of Arthur's seat to Duddingston and Dunsapie loch, walkers, wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. In the summer Holyrood Park is a popular spot for watching sunsets as tourists and locals alike enjoy the evening sunlight.

It only takes about one to two hours to climb to the very top of Arthur's Seat. The easiest way up Arthur's Seat from Dunsapie Loch which is behind it. A shorter way up is a staircase-like path formed of secure slabs which allows approach of Arthur's Seat from the front.

Views from Holyrood Park

The views from Salisbury Crags and the top of Arthur's Seat are extraordinary. You get a sweeping view of Edinburgh's Old Town skyline -- the Hub, St Giles' cathedral, the Royal Bank of Scotland building, the Balmoral clock tower, Calton Hill and of course, Edinburgh Castle. Closer at hand you have a view of the new Scottish Parliament and also a view down Holyrood Palace and Abbey.

You can see the Pentland Hills to the South, the Bass Rock to the East and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Stirling and the Forth bridges -- Forth Road and Forth Rail bridge -- to the West.

Photography tips in Holyrood Park

The best time to photograph Edinburgh from Holyrood Park is between 7 and 11am during the summer. The city has, however, a certain magic about it at sunset when the evening light makes Edinburgh's skyline stand out. Salisbury Crags themselves become unusually red in colour at this time of the day.

Holyrood Park during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Every year on the first Sunday in August called 'Fringe Sunday', thousands used to come to Holyrood Park to enjoy colourful displays of street theatre and entertainment free shows and soak up the sun. In 2005 the festivities are moved to the Meadows which allows more space.

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