Princes Street Gardens

Spend time in this attractive green space that separates Edinburgh’s Old Town from its 18th-century New Town.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the grounds of Princes Street Gardens, the city’s most famous open space. For hundreds of years the area was known as Nor’ Loch, but after a long draining process, the gardens were created in the 1820s.

The large green space runs the length of Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping street, and is divided in two by the Mound, an artificial hill. The two parts are East Princes Street Gardens, which is the smaller of the two, and West Princes Street Gardens.

One of the main attractions in West Princes Street Gardens is the floral clock, an attractive display made from thousands of plants. The fully functioning timepiece was first planted in 1903 and is believed to be the oldest floral clock in the world. Even the clock hands and numbers are made from flowers.   

Visit the Ross Fountain, a gold-colored cast-iron structure featuring sculptures of mermaids and four female figures representing the arts, science, poetry and industry. Take your children to the large play area that has lots of amusements including slides, carousels, tunnels and climbing ropes.

Princes Street Gardens is also well known for its collection of monuments and memorials. Climb up the 287 steps of the Scott Monument in East Princes Street Garden. This tribute to the writer Sir Walter Scott charges a small admission fee. While you are in this part of the gardens look for the David Livingstone monument that honors one of Scotland’s most famous explorers.

The gardens are a lovely place to visit year-round. One of the best times is in December when they are transformed into the annual “Winter Wonderland.” There are attractions and activities for all ages including an ice rink, Ferris wheel and sleigh rides.

Due to its central location the gardens are easily accessed by public transportation. Princes Street Gardens are open daily from dawn until dusk and have public restrooms.

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