Lined with shops on the north side, Princess Street is Edinburgh’s principal shopping street. To the south, this heavily trafficked thoroughfare borders the memorial-dotted Princes Street Gardens, a park overlooked by Edinburgh Castle. Princes Street is also known for being one of the principal venues for Hogmanay, Scotland’s famous New Year’s celebrations.
With its shops, park, prominent position, historic monuments, and views out over the Old Town, Princes Street is undeniably an important lane—second in importance only to perhaps the Royal Mile. Walking tours of Edinburgh’s New Town typically follow a route down Princes Street, allowing visitors to see and, in some instances, even climb the Gothic-style Scott Monument dedicated to the famous Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. It’s also a stop on hop-on hop-off bus routes and is even included on some Harry Potter-themed city tours, which typically pass by the lavish Balmoral Hotel, where J.K. Rowling composed the final chapters in the series.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Princes Street is a great place to people-watch and observe everyday life in the Scottish capital.
- The weather in Edinburgh can change quickly and without warning. Wear layers and bring an umbrella or raincoat.
- Both Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Princes Street is located in Edinburgh’s city center and is extremely well-connected. Edinburgh Waverley railway station and Princes Street tram station both provide direct access. Edinburgh Waverley offers connections to destinations all across the United Kingdom, including London.
When to Get There
Shoppers swarm Princes Street on weekends and during the lead-up to Christmas. Beat the rush of the crowds by coming early in the day. During the Christmas period, festive lights and a holiday market add to the atmosphere, while Hogmanay parties and performances are staged here over New Year’s. Princes Street Garden is at its prettiest in spring, when daffodils sprout.
The Floral Clock
Stroll along Princes Street, specifically at West Princes Street Gardens near where it meets the Mound, between July and October to encounter the 1903 floral clock. Gardeners plant and tend the clock—which changes every year—using thousands of small, colorful blooms to create a clockface around which the electric-powered hands move.