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Nine viewpoints in Edinburgh to explore this winter

Photo by Robin Canfield on Unsplash 5 min read

Edinburgh‘s well-known viewpoints and hidden lookouts have astounding views Photo by Robin Canfield on Unsplash

Famous for its spectacular views from Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat Edinburgh is less known for its other hills, but the less visited hilltops offer equally magnificent vistas over the city and surrounding landscape. Edinburgh is built on the ‘seven hills’ and is connected to a hill range, so the area has no shortage of peaks to climb. Here are some best viewpoints to discover this winter.

Walkers climbing Arthur’s Seat Photo by Diego Allen on Unsplash

Arthur’s Seat

251m, 4 hours, moderate

Everyone who has visited Edinburgh has seen Salisbury Crags towering over the city, but not all visitors climb Arthur’s Seat (although many do). The impressive volcanic rock in the popular Holyrood Park can be quieter in the winter but don’t count on it on a sunny day, especially near the summit. The park has a network of trails, so if one looks overly crowded, pick an alternative path. Steeper backtrails are great for hill views and wildlife spotting.
B5 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Hilltop Viewpoint / Edinburgh Zoo

161 m, 1.5 hours, easy

Walks in this wooded hillside zoo not only mean encountering exotic animals but also great views over the city for visitors and residents alike. Located on the side of Corstorphine Hill the best view opens from the Hilltop Viewpoint. If you don’t want to buy the eye-watering zoo ticket (approx £20), hike the slightly more modest Corstorphine Hill Viewpoint managed by the local nature reserve.
B3 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

A passage with a view, the vista from Vennel viewpoint Photo ©Magnus Hagdorn / Flickr

The Vennel Viewpoint & Castle Rock

140m, 1 hour, easy

For some great wintery snaps of Castle Rock take a detour through this historic passageway connecting Lauriston Place to Grassmarket. The view from hidden steps is especially scenic after the snowfall. After you have admired the vista warm up in one of the many cafes in Grassmarket or if you want to continue to the castle (and are up for a steep climb), follow the narrow Castle Wynd passageway that takes you directly to the entrance.
B4 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Cramond Beach & Island

2-3 miles, 2 hours, easy
Cramond island is one of the twelve islands in the Firth of Forth and can be accessed via a mile-long causeway during the low tide. It has some good views over the coastline and you can get a glimpse of Forth Bridge without leaving Edinburgh. Check tide times on the city council notice board to make sure you have enough time to get back on the land or just take a stroll on the beach and take in the sea views over the estuary from the shore.
A2 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Visit Calton Hill during the golden hour Photo by Colin + Meg on Unsplash

Calton Hill

103m, 1,5 hours, easy

One of the most visited in Edinburgh, Calton Hill has views of a different light in the winter when the sun rises later in the morning and sets earlier in the evenings. Golden hour is the hour after sunrise and before sunset when the light is soft and Edinburgh looks especially magical during these times. Climb the hill on a clear sunny day and look out for the spot with a clear view. Wrap up warm and bring a hot drink in case you have to wait for a perfect shot.
B4 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Buckstone Snab

208m, 2 hours, easy

Buckstone Snab is the highest point of Braid Hills with nearly 360-degree views over the city and Firth of Forth. Walk up the Braid Hills Trail until you reach the viewpoint with an indicator pointing to all seven Edinburgh hills. After you have rested on the bench and admired the view, continue hiking the whole loop circling the local golf club or even continuing to close by Blackford Hill.
C4 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Blackford Hill

164m, 2 hours, easy

360 degrees viewpoint on Blackford Hill is a local nature reserve and popular recreation point crisscrossed with pathways. It’s connected to Braid Hills with pathways and you can combine the two hills on one walk. Royal Observatory is located here, so with clear winter skies it’s a great place for stargazing. If you want to try out bouldering, check out the Agassiz Rock beside Blackford Quarry.
C4 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

View of Glencorse Reservoir, Pentland Hills, Edinburgh Photo by David Spalding on Unsplash

Allemuir Hill / Pentland Hills Regional Park

493m, 1 day, moderate

If Arthur’s Seat is well traversed then few visitors know that Pentland Hills Regional Park is a spacious mountain range right next to Edinburgh with easy access from the city. Only a short bus ride from Edinburgh (Stop Snowsports Centre) Allemuir Hill is the closest summit with panoramic views over Edinburgh and twice the height of Arthur’s Seat. Follow the way-marked trails down to beautiful Glencorse Reservoir and catch a bus back from Castlelaw Inn.  
D4-E4 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Craiglockhart Hill & Nature Reserve

158m & 175 m, 2 hours, easy

With two summits hidden between the urban landscape, this hill is one of Edinburgh’s best-kept secrets. Easter hill is a secluded local wildlife reserve with woods, nature trails and wildlife. Wester hill, the more exposed and higher of the two summits is a great place to watch the sunset. Take the bus 36 (Stop at Glenlockhart Bank) and the trails take you up to both summits.
C4 on Edinburgh Greenground Map

Find these viewpoints on the Edinburgh Greenground Map – your guide to 200+ green spaces, waterways and nature sites. Walk along the official paths, discover hidden gems or tailor your own custom adventures – you’ll never run out of ideas with this tube-style map with a new perspective.