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Looking for the best parks in Edinburgh to meet friends, have a stroll or get involved in a local event? This guide details free popular urban green spaces and smaller community parks kept by volunteers. We also have a guide on the loveliest gardens in Edinburgh.
Popular Parks in Edinburgh
The Meadows is a 63-acre park in the southside of the city.
Once home to Borough-Loch, this urban park is popular with students, families, dog walkers and sports enthusiasts all year round.
According to this Meadows website, locals have an Act of Parliament passed in 1827 to thank for this huge green area as the law prevented anyone from building on it.
In spring, photographers get very excited as the blossom tree arch blooms and create a tunnel of pink!
Find out more in our guide on where to find the prettiest blossom trees in Edinburgh.
At the junction of Middle Meadow and North Meadow Walk, you will find a series of art murals covering the Scottish Power wall.
Artist Astrid Jaekel and poet Rachel Woolf were commissioned by a series of groups including the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links to create the five-piece mural called ‘Processions’.
The work includes two processions.
The first in honour of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” by Muriel Spark and the second, the May Queen’s Coronation with a nod to the cherry blossoms and illustrates the poem “A Throng of Folk” by Rachel Woolf.
Due to its proximity to Teviot Place, the park is often used during the annual Festival Fringe in August.
I’ve definitely danced to the Harry Potter theme tune in The Meadows, along with others taking part the in silent disco tour.
A tad tipsy on Fringe booze I will add.
Other events are held throughout the year such as the Meadows Marathon which is an annual race with 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon and relay options.
Previously, the park had a whale’s jawbone called Jawbone Arch. This feature was removed in 2014 for restoration purposes.
Currently, Greening Our Street looks after The Meadows Community Garden and encourages locals and visitors to drop by every Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm.
Greening Our Street fronts the banning of disposable BBQs in The Meadows campaign, “Don’t Burn The Meadows’
Disposable BBQs are not allowed in The Meadows and cause a nuisance to locals and damage the park.
The grass is charred and firefighters are called to put out smoking bins which melt. You can see the issue in this video.
Dogs are allowed in The Meadows but there are specified areas such as the play parks and the tennis courts which are prohibited.
Visiting Edinburgh with your pup? Here’s the best pet-friendly hotels in the city.
Most locals and every tourist will spend time in the city centre green space, Holyrood Park because this is where many of Edinburgh’s top attractions can be found.
Things to do in and near Holyrood Park include visiting the Scottish Parliament, a tour of Holyrood Palace, family fun at Dynamic Earth, an easy hike up Arthur’s Seat or an even easier walk to Salisbury Crags. If you’re looking for more walks in Edinburgh don’t miss these suggestions.
Holyrood Park is 650 acres in size and terrain changes around different sections of the park.
The park has three lochs (Duddingston Loch, St Margaret’s Loch and Dunsapie Loch), one peak at 251m (Arthur’s Seat) and historic ruins (St Anthony’s Chapel).
In spring you can enjoy the light fragrant smell of yellow gorse while hiking up Arthur’s Seat for 360 views of the city and beyond.
If you prefer to hike without the crowds, check out Crow Hill close to Arthur’s Seat.
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During the Hogmanay festivities, the Torchlight Processions leave from different points around the Old Town and assemble at Holyrood Park.
Many of Edinburgh’s demonstrations take place at Holyrood Park such as the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020 where Sir Geoffrey Palmer addressed a calm crowd.
Starbank Park is a well-manicured green space located in Newhaven with impressive views of the Firth of Forth.
This 2.7-acre Victorian sloped park is looked after by Edinburgh Council and volunteers at the Friends of Starbank Park.
Parts of the garden stretch back to the 1800s, Starbank House was constructed in 1815.
Wheelchair and pram access can be found at Laverockbank Road and there is a public toilet on site.
There are two other access points off Starbank Road.
Friends of Starbank Park host a series of events throughout the year including Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties and wreath-making classes at Christmas.
There is a nature trail inspired by the author, Hans Christian Anderson, which was created by volunteers and Victoria Primary School.
One of the coolest things about this park is its tardis-shaped free library so you can grab a book and chill out at one of the benches.
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Leith Links is a 46-acre park, split into two, in the area of Leith, funnily enough.
The park is located in a residential and historical port area of Edinburgh, a welcomed green space in an old industrial area.
There’s plenty of space for a kick-about (game of football), sunbathing and jogging.
I used to run around the park with my friend a couple of nights a week when I lived in Leith.
Houses surround the park but that doesn’t stop the sport in which the park was intended for, golf!
This is where the first recorded rules of golf were created and the bronze statue of John Rattray, surgeon, Jacobite and golfer commemorates this.
The story of the statue isn’t a straightforward one.
Since Leith Links is protected by an Act of Parliament, the organising committee had to apply to Westminster for permission.
The UK Government sent the application to the Scottish Parliament.
Local councillors in Leith and Edinburgh finally managed to get the request approved ten years later and 275 years after the rules were written.
Leith Links is where you will find live music, food and community spirit at the annual Leith Festival.
It is also home to the free Mela Edinburgh, a festival that celebrates dance and food from around the world and the BAME community in Scotland.
Leith is a diverse and fun neighbourhood.
There are plenty of options for food, drink and independent shops.
You can walk from Leith to Stockbridge using the Waters of Leith Walkway which you can read more about in our guide to Edinburgh walks here.
Leith Links can be reached by public bus and there are stops at the park.
The 34-acres of Saughton Park (Balgreen Road) can be found in the southwest of the city and much of the work done in this green space is organised by Friends of Saughton Park.
The park dates back to the 12th and 13the century with the Rose and Winter Gardens being the oldest part.
Today, volunteers have helped plant trees and build plant beds in The Physic Garden and Community Orchards.
Not only can you find fruit growing in the park but wildlife such as otters have been spotted in the Water of Leith which runs alongside Gorgie Road.
Kingfishers nest in Saughton Park and the Grey Heron can be spotted in the park near Fords Road.
Cyclists and walkers often pop into the park while using the Waters of Leith Walkway from Balerno to Leith.
You can refuel at the Garden Bistro cafe.
The cafe itself has 60 seats inside and another 60 outside.
The menu consists of soup and pies to go or burger, pasta and baked potatoes for sit down meals.
While the historic paddling pool and monkey swings are a thing of the past, the Playground for All is a popular spot for young children.
The Playground for All has a tarmac path system and equipment for wheelchair uses to enjoy.
Ball games are prohibited at the walled garden.
A firm favourite with locals is the Saughton Bandstand.
This is the only cast-iron bandstand in the city and one of five in the whole world.
Saughton Bandstand was home to live shows in the 60s and 70s.
In the 80s it fell into disrepair and was removed. It made its revival in 2016.
Saughton Park has events running throughout the year.
You can keep up to date by joining the Friends of Saughton Park Facebook group.
Other Parks in Edinburgh
- Inverleith Park (Next to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)
- Victoria Park (Newhaven/Trinity)
- Lighthouse Park (Newhaven)
- Lochend Park (near Easter Road)
- Harrison Park (Union Canal)
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