Calton Hill

Crammed with monuments, Calton Hill is part of Edinburgh's UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers splendid views over the city.

TravelCurious Tip

The Beltane Fire Festival, inspired by an ancient Gaelic festival, is held on 30th of April every year — go and let loose at this thrilling, pyrotechnic ritual

Rising over the eastern end of Princes St, Calton Hill bears Edinburgh’s acropolis. It is peppered with monuments from the first half of the 19th century, but also offers an extraordinary panorama of Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood and Arthur’s seat, making it both a great viewpoint and a spectacular sight itself.

In 1456 James II gave over the land which contains Calton Hill to the city of Edinburgh. As part of his policy of military preparedness, the ground was reserved for sports and warlike deeds; in the following year he banned golf and football and ordered archery practice every Sunday.

Today Calton Hill offers a more peaceful respite in the heart of Edinburgh. Among the sights to see are the Burns Monument, dedicated to the Scottish poet Robert Burns, the Political Martyrs’ Monument, the Old Calton Burial Ground, which contains the philosopher David Hume’s tomb, and Regent Bridge, made famous in the opening scene of “Trainspotting" and which was built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather.

National Treasure

The Scottish National Monument was intended to be a replica of the Parthenon, built to commemorate Scottish soldiers killed during the Napoleonic wars. Construction began in 1826, but stopped three years later due to lack of funds. It has never been completed, and over the years has variously been called, among other things, “Scotland’s Disgrace” and “the Pride and Poverty of Scotland”. Since then, people have come to accept it for the curious piece of history that it is.


Built in 1818, The City Observatory is a Greek temple styled building. It was here that Professor Thomas Henderson, the first Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1834, discovered how to measure parallax and the distance of stars. Today it offers exhibitions and views of an occasionally starry night sky.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Edinburgh
The Royal Mile
The picturesque historic thoroughfare of the Old Town of Edinburgh.
John Knox House
Rumoured to have been the home of the 16th century Protestant reformer, this historic house tells the story of the Reformation and life in Edinburgh 400 years ago.
Museum of Edinburgh
Edinburgh's treasure box - a maze of historic rooms full of objects from the capital’s past.
Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland.
Scottish Parliament Building
The first in almost 300 years of history, the home of the Scottish Parliament is the most controversial building in Scotland.
Royal Mile Closes
The Closes of the Royal Mile are historic narrow alleyways named after their owners.

Related Tours

A Tale of Edinburgh's Two Cities: Full Day Private Highlights Tour
Discover the history and beauty of Edinburgh's cobbled streets as you explore Medieval Old Town and Neoclassical New Town.

On this tour you will:
  • Walk along the iconic Royal Mile. 
  • Explore the interiors of the imposing St Giles Cathedral and Edinburgh Castle. 
  • Discover the artefacts and artwork of the world-famous National Galleries of Scotland and the Museum of Edinburgh.
  • Step inside the historic John Knox House.
  • Admire the Palace of Holyroodhouse and hear about political controversy outside the Scottish Parliament. 
  • Enjoy a lunch at your leisure - ask your guide for recommendations on the best local fare!
  • Enjoy a breathtaking view from Calton Hill. 
  • Venture into the beautiful neoclassical New Town. 
  • Stroll through the beautiful Princes Street Gardens.
Medieval Old Town 

Walking along the Royal Mile, a remarkable street housing Europe's original ‘skyscrapers’, discover a maze of streets and concealed courtyards. Learn about the city’s ‘closes,’ cramped alleyways, and ‘wynds’ and hear about many characters who lived and died here, including Deacon Brodie, town councilman by day and master thief by night, who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Explore the imposing St Giles Cathedral - the cradle of the Scottish Reformation during the 16th century, pay a special visit to the world-famous National Galleries of Scotland, and to the Museum of Edinburgh. Then visit historic 15th century John Knox House, home to an influential church leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. 

A tour of Edinburgh would not be complete without a visit inside  Scotland’s most famous historic attraction: Edinburgh Castle. Here you will learn about the fascinating history of this enigmatic castle, including many of the bloody battles, such as the War of Independence between Scotland and England in the 14th Century. 

Stop to enjoy a lunch at your leisure (price not included). Your guide will be happy to point out the best place whenever you're ready to give your legs a rest and grab a leisurely bite. 

You will have the chance to view the Scottish Parliament, one of the most controversial buildings in Scotland given its construction going 10 times over budget, and to admire the grand Palace of Holyroodhouse, 16th century home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. The breathtaking view from Calton Hill will make you fall in love with the Scottish capital forever.

Neoclassical New Town

Venturing into the beautiful neoclassical New Town, built in the 18th Century, enjoy a true marvel of urban planning. As you walk through the main streets and squares of  Edinburgh's New Town, you will find yourself impressed by the lavish 18th century neoclassical and Georgian architecture. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the beautiful Princes Street Gardens, which lies at the centre of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. 

Please note: The Scottish National Gallery is only open Thursday to Saturday. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is open seven days a week and will be substituted when the National Gallery is not available. 


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