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Princes Street Gardens is a popular park in Edinburgh.
This Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site is sandwiched between Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town, the garden is split in two.
This is where the infamous Nor Loch was located, the dumping ground that possibly gave the city the nickname, Auld Reekie.
The busiest of the two is East Princes Street Gardens which is close to Edinburgh Waverley Train Station.
West Princes Street Gardens is located between The Mound, which leads up to The Royal Mile, and buzzing Lothian Road.
Edinburgh Castle overlooks the gardens and during spring photographers use the beautiful cherry blossom trees to frame the Castle.
You can read more about the cherry blossoms in Edinburgh here.
In autumn, there are few lovely frames to capture too! Walk along Princes Street for these shots.
Entering Princes Street Gardens
There are various entry points to the gardens:
- Waverley Bridge by Princes Street
- Market Street close Edinburgh Dungeons
- The Mound
- Princes Street
- King Stables Road
The park closes overnight for public safety.
West Princes Street Gardens
There is lots to see in West Princes Street Gardens, including St Margarets Well, The Ross Fountain (below) and the a series of monuments.
One of the most unique things about West Princes Street Gardens is that it houses the world’s oldest floral clock, which dates back to 1903.
Since 1903, the Flower Clock has been planted and today it uses around 30,000 plants.
Each year the design of the floral clock celebrates an individual or group who has contributed to the city, such as the NHS workers.
You can find the clock at the north-east corner of West Princes Street Gardens just before you cross the road into East Prices Street Gardens.
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It is worth taking a walk around the gardens to find the photogenic Gardener’s Cottage aka as Great Aunt Lizzie’s House from the BBC show, Teacup Tales.
Located throughout this garden are a number of monuments such as a memorial to Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish novelist who wrote a very significant book about Edinburgh, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Learn more about Jekyll and Hyde in our spooky Edinburgh legends guide.
There is also a bronze elephant titled ‘Never Forget’ which is dedicated to the children of the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal.
East Princes Street Gardens
East Princes Street Gardens is the busiest garden.
Tourists can mostly be found around the Scott Monument area, looking to climb the 287 steps for views of the city, or at the Waverley Bridge entrance, waiting on a bus tour to start.
On sunny days, workers and groups of friends enjoy lunch and people watching.
From the garden you are access the The Royal Scottish Academy and you are close to the Scottish National Gallery.
Princes Street Gardens in December
In winter, Princes Street Gardens comes alive in the late afternoon and evening as this is where you will find the Edinburgh Christmas Market festivities.
One of my favourite spots is the Johnnie Walker Bothy which has the best views of the twinkling market lights and mulled wine or whisky of course!
Princes Street Gardens also plays its part during Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations at the end of December.
On the 31st, bands take to the Ross Bandstand to play to local and international crowds who are raring to ring in the new year.
Did you know that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is the biggest street party in the world?
Museums at Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens
Both are free to enter unless there is an exhibition at the RSA.
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In February, the RSA showcases award-winning graduates handpicked from Scottish art schools.
My cousin, and Everything Edinburgh writer, Katherine Fay Allan’s exhibition ‘The rest of us, we just go gardening’ was presented at the RSA in 2020.
A very proud moment for my family.
There are lovely views of the gardens from the Gallery Cafe (Contini). These views are best served with a cup of tea and scone with jam.
Princes Street Gardens Facilities
There are toilets dotted around both parks. Disabled access toilets require a radar key.
You can purchase snacks, lunch and drinks at Sir Walter’s Cafe in the Gardens which is a cute kiosk with outdoor seating in East Princes Street Gardens.
There is also a cafe with outdoor seating in the West Garden close to the Ross Fountain.
Princes Street Garden Rules
- Dogs must be on leashes at all times.
- Ball games are prohibited.
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