Calton Hill

Price guide: Free

Waterloo Place, Edinburgh

Price guide: Free

View up to Calton Hill from The Bridges
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#16 of 22
expert-rated things to do in Edinburgh
Expert overall rating:4.5 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Backpackers / Students, Couples, Culture vultures, First-time travellers, Seasoned travellers, Education, Escaping the crowds, Great views / scenery, History, Nature / wildlife

Best for Posing - Expert review of Calton Hill

Robert Louis Stevenson believed this was the best place to view Edinburgh.

If you see anyone reporting on TV from Edinburgh, chances are it will be from Calton Hill. The whole city is laid out beneath you, including Princes Street - from one end to the other. Apart from amazing views there are three landmarks: Nelson's Monument, which you can climb - 143 steps - for a small fee but it quite restricted size-wise; the City Observatory, which dates back to the mid 1800s; and the edifice, that looks very like The Parthenon in Athens.

The plan: this was to be the national monument to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives in the Napoleonic war. Unfortunately, they ran out of money so it was never finished. Thus it has since been known as Edinburgh's disgrace. This embarrassing tale is also why Edinburgh is referred to as the Athens of the North.

Now, history lesson over, you can drive up to the top or you can walk. It's an easy walk and you can access it from Waterloo Place, which is a continuation of Princes Street.

The Beltane Fire Festival takes place up here on April 31 every year; 12,000 people gather to celebrate the coming of spring and have a grand old time. Any excuse for a party!

It is worth the climb. But bear in mind: don't hang around after dark as this is a favourite place for young single men to find other young single men. Enough said.

Expert tips: 
Clear off before dark.
Don't forget your camera.

More information on Calton Hill:

Price guide:
Historic site, Landmark / monument, Viewpoint
Waterloo Place, Edinburgh
Months open:
All year round
Free tags / Keywords:
National monument, City Observatory

Have you been to Calton Hill? Would you recommended it?

Community comments (1)

It is worth the effort to attend the Beltane Fire Festival and the New Year celebrations on Calton Hill, both are well organised spectacular events.

During daylight the panoramic view of Edinburgh and the surrounding countryside is amazing