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Calton Hill

Grab your camera and head for the hill that features monuments, superb views and the seat of the Scottish government.

Visit Calton Hill to see a collection of monuments and magnificent buildings dotted around the summit of this extinct volcano. Calton Hill also has some of the best views of the city.

The hill is 561 feet (171 meters) above sea level. It only takes a few minutes to walk to the summit. There are steps on the south side of the hill to make your trek a little easier.  

Once you are at the top, pause for a moment to enjoy the sights. Immediately to the south are the Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat. Look to the west and follow The Royal Mile all the way up to the castle. To the north you’ll see stretches of Fife’s coast and the Forth Estuary.

For even loftier vistas, stand on the public viewing gallery of Nelson’s Monument. This 100-foot (30-meter) tower is the tallest structure on the hill. It resembles a telescope and commemorates Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s famous victory at Trafalgar. Watch the huge time ball drop from the mast at the top of the monument. It falls to coincide with the firing of the One O’Clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle. Ships used to set their chronometers by both signals.

Climb the steps and weave in and out of the Doric columns of the National Monument. This replica of the Parthenon in Athens was commissioned to commemorate Scottish soldiers who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Construction began in 1826, but the project ran out of money and was never restarted.

Have your picture taken by the Burns Monument, dedicated to Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Admire the art deco architecture of St. Andrew’s House on the southern slope of the hill. This is the headquarters of the Scottish government.

Calton Hill is about a five-minute walk from the east end of Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping street. There is metered parking near the south and east access to the hill.

Guide to Exploring around Calton Hill

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Lodging Near Calton Hill

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The Scotsman Hotel

The Scotsman Hotel

20 North Bridge, Edinburgh
of 5, from 1,310 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

On North Bridge, and one block from both Princes Street and the Royal Mile, this hotel is a half-mile from Edinburgh Castle, and directly opposite Waverley railway station.

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel

23-27 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh
of 5, from 2,069 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This handsomely updated landmark building stands at the east end of Edinburgh's famous Princes Street. The Waverley train station is a two-minute walk. Edinburgh Castle is just 0.9 km (0.6 mi) away.

The Principal Edinburgh George Street

The Principal Edinburgh George Street

19-21 George Street, Edinburgh
of 5, from 494 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located amid the shops and restaurants of Edinburgh's fashionable George Street, this hotel is a block from Princes Street and a quarter-mile from the National Gallery.

Cairn Hotel

Cairn Hotel

10-18 Windsor Street, Edinburgh
of 5, from 829 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in New Town, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre and Calton Hill. Palace of Holyroodhouse and St. Giles' Cathedral are also within 1 mi (2 km).

The Balmoral Hotel

The Balmoral Hotel

1 Princes Street, Edinburgh
of 5, from 666 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, this luxury hotel is on Princes Street in the main shopping area and adjacent to Waverley Station. The hotel overlooks Edinburgh Castle and is close to the historic Old Town.

Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

19 North Bridge, Edinburgh
of 5, from 306 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Old Town, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Museum of Childhood, St. Giles' Cathedral, and Real Mary King's Close. Greyfriars Kirk and Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre are also within 10 minutes.

Old Town Chambers

Old Town Chambers

Roxburgh's Court, Edinburgh
of 5, from 766 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in Old Town, this luxury apartment is steps from City Chambers, St. Giles' Cathedral, and Real Mary King's Close. Gladstone's Land and Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are also within 5 minutes.

Eden Locke

Eden Locke

127 George Street, Edinburgh
of 5, from 92 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in New Town, this aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Charlotte Square and Princes Street Gardens. Edinburgh International Conference Centre and Scott Monument are also within 15 minutes.