One of several peaks in the long-extinct volcanic ridge that towers behind Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat offers hill walking in the heart of the city. Set within the 640-acre (260-hectare) Holyrood Park, it’s also the site of a 2,000-year-old hill fort. On a clear day, the summit promises spectacular views of the cityscape.
At just 823 feet (251 meters), Arthur’s Seat isn’t exactly Everest, but it is an uphill climb. Climbing the peak is a great way to get some exercise while sightseeing. Choose between several easy ascents that typically take 30 to 60 minutes. Hop-on, hop-off bus tours and private sightseeing tours of the city usually stop near the Palace of Holyroodhouse on Queen’s Drive, with visitors continuing on foot from there. The path from the Holyrood side of the park is scenic but also one of the longer routes to the summit. If you’re tight on time, park near Dunsapie Loch and walk from there instead. Radical Road, which runs along the base of the Salisbury Crags, also offers excellent city vistas.
Things to Know Before You Go
Bring a camera to capture the panoramic city views from Arthur’s Seat.
Wear sturdy footwear with good grip as the rocky, uneven terrain can be slippery—particularly after rain.
Visitors often become hot during the hike, and it can be cold and windy at the top. Wear layers that can be easily removed/added as needed.
Arthur’s Seat is not wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
A parking lot is located on Queen’s Road near the Palace of Holyroodhouse, at the east end of the Royal Mile. The lot is a 15-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley railway station. The No. 6 bus runs from Edinburgh Old Town to Queen’s Drive.
When to Get There
Arthur’s Seat is busiest during the summer season, when vacationers flock to Scotland’s capital. Go in the early morning hours to avoid the crowds and witness the city springing to life. It can be bracingly cold between November and April, so dress in warm clothing.
Exploring the Rest of Holyrood Park
While you’re in the park, seek out the romantic ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel, which stands on an outcrop near St. Margaret’s Loch and is visible from Arthur’s Seat. Little is known about the chapel’s origins, except that it has existed since at least the 15th century. Nowadays, just the north wall of the crumbling gray stone structure remains standing, bearing more resemblance to a castle than a chapel.