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How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Edinburgh


How to Get Off the Beaten Path in Edinburgh
Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

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Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

see more

Edinburgh’s top attractions are popular for good reason. When the year-round crowds of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile get too much, take a trip off the beaten path to some of these laid-back locations.

Get lost in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Beautiful plants and buildings at the Royal Botanic Garden. Photo: peizais/Shutterstock

Enjoy the exotic plants in Europe’s oldest botanic garden.

A haven of tranquility, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of Europe’s oldest botanic gardens. Established in 1670, the garden covers an area of more than 70 acres (28 hectares) and features elegant Victorian glasshouses, a giant water lily pond, and a rock garden.

Visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Photo: PhotoFires/Shutterstock

Enjoy masterpieces of modern and contemporary art.

Just west of Dean Village, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is just far enough from the city center to feel more secluded than Edinburgh’s other galleries. The galley showcases its collection of modern and contemporary art in two neoclassical buildings and across landscaped grounds. It’s also the starting point for a tranquil walk along the Water of Leith. 

Escape the crowds in Dunbar’s Close Garden

A view of the stunning Dunbar's Close Garden. Photo: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

Relax your mind and get lost at Dunbar's Close Garden.

The perfect antidote to the crowds of the Royal Mile, Dunbar’s Close Garden is tucked away at the end of the Old Town close to the Scottish Parliament Building. Laid out in the style of the 17th century, the garden has winding pathways; herbs, flowers, and shrub gardens; and several benches where you can sit in and enjoy the calm.

Explore Gilmerton Cove

Old underground city. Photo: John Dale/Wikimedia Commons

Walk down the passageways of Gilmerton Cove.

Located beneath the streets in the south of Edinburgh, Gilmerton Cove features a series of mysterious sandstone chambers and passageways. Their purpose has puzzled Edinburghers for more than 200 years—come up with your own theories by taking a tour.

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Where to Find the Best Views in Edinburgh
Where to Find the Best Views in Edinburgh