Top 10 Tranquil Edinburgh Spaces for a Breather

17 August 2022

There’s no denying Edinburgh is a bright, vibrant and dynamic city, with an array of exciting things to see and do.

But for those times when you want to escape the bustle and take a breather, the city offers a whole host of possibilities.

We’re delighted to have partnered with local breathwork expert Stuart Sandeman to shine a light on peaceful places across Edinburgh’s distinctive neighbourhoods where you can relax and enjoy all nature’s beauty.

Tranquil Edinburgh Stuart Sandeman Credit Mike Wilkinson(Image Credit: Mike Wilkinson)

Radio 1 DJ & Sunday Times bestselling author Stuart (whose new book ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ is a Sunday Times bestseller and top three on Amazon) divides his time between Edinburgh and London. Stuart said “One of the best things about Edinburgh is you can easily escape the hustle and take a breather in so many beautiful places across and around the city. You’re spoilt for choice, really, from waterside walks to tranquil parks, where you forget you are even in a city! 

“Although my breathwork techniques can really be done anywhere, there’s something very special about finding a peaceful space in nature to help recharge your batteries, and I’m delighted to work with Forever Edinburgh’s The Story Never Ends campaign to help even more people discover the hidden hideaways in Edinburgh’s fantastic neighbourhoods.” 


1.  Portobello Beach

Portobello Waterboarding Beach

Take a beautiful seafront stroll along the award-winning 2.2-mile Portobello Beach with its classic Victorian promenade and old-world waterfront. Beach wheelchairs are free to hire for those who require additional support, including their x8 All Terrain Power Wheelchair, which is perfect for exploring the sandy beach. And there’s no end of top-notch eating and drinking places for when you’ve worked up an appetite! To get there, hop on a Lothian Bus 26 or 45.     


2. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Botanic Garden View Of Chinese Garden Pagoda With Sitter Autumn Colours

Within walking distance from the city centre, the 70-acre Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh near Stockbridge is home to a 350-year-old collection of plants, fossil trees, tranquil water features, a Rock Garden and sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy – as well as excellent food and drink options like the John Hope Gateway café and Terrace café, serving fresh, light meals and scrumptious cakes.  


3. Dunbar's Close

Dunbars Close Garden

The sheltered and tranquil garden at Dunbar’s Close off The Royal Mile in the heart of the Old Town is one of Edinburgh’s best-kept secrets. Laid out in the style and character of a 17th century garden, it’s accessed via a narrow, cobbled path which emerges on a parterre of clipped shrubs under a green canopy of trees. You’ll feel like you’ve discovered something few others have.


4. Hermitage of Braid

Beloved by legendary Edinburgh crime writer Sir Ian Rankin, Hermitage of Braid is a beautiful woodland walk below Blackford Hill in Morningside in the south of the city. Ian Rankin described this local nature reserve as a ‘little piece of wilderness in Edinburgh’, with mature trees, bridges to play Poohsticks in the stream from and hillside to clamber up. Sturdy footwear is recommended! Lothian Buses 5, 11 and 16 all stop close by on Comiston Road (get off opposite South Morningside Primary School and walk along Braidburn Terrace)


5. Scottish Gallery of Modern Art

Scottish Gallery Of Modern Art

Wind your way round the stepped and serpentine grassy mounds and three circular pools which make up Charles Jencks’ iconic 2001 ‘Landform’ sculpture in the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in the West End at Belford Road. Feed your appetite as well as your soul in the gallery’s popular café with its delightful garden terrace. Walk to the gallery from the city centre or hop on an Edinburgh Coach Lines service 13 from the city centre.


6. Water of Leith Walkway

Dean Village Coloured Housing

Wander along the Water of Leith Walkway Edinburgh’s main river, and spot kingfisher, heron, otters and more among the wildlife who make this lovely place their home. The walkway passes many areas of interest, including Colinton Village (home to Scotland’s largest historic mural in an old railway tunnel), Craiglockhart Dell, the Union Canal, Saughton Park, Murrayfield Stadium (home of the Scotland Rugby team), the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village, Stockbridge, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Leith. An audio commentary to accompany your walk is available online from the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. 


7. Princes Street Gardens

Ross Fountain And Castle

Painstakingly landscaped in the 18th and 19th centuries on the drained site of what was once Edinburgh’s Nor Loch in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens are two adjacent parks forming an oasis of green space where the Old Town meets the New Town. Featuring the splendid Ross Fountain and the Ross Bandstand, home of the world-famous Hogmanay Street Party, as well as numerous eye-catching statues and sculptures, you’re sure to feel rested and restored after a visit here.


8. South Queensferry

Forth Bridge

Head out to South Queensferry (via train to Dalmeny or the 43 from Lothian Country Buses) and embark on the 4.5-mile Shore Walk to Cramond, one of Scotland’s most important archaeological sites and oldest continuously occupied settlements. Starting from the Hawes Pier opposite the Hawes Inn (said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped’) under the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, the walk boasts fabulous and ever-changing views over the Forth to various islands and the Fife coastline, passing Barnbougle Castle and Dalmeny House.


9. Corstorphine Hill

Costrophine Tower Spring

A woodland walk up Corstorphine Hill near Edinburgh Zoo is the perfect way to blow off the cobwebs. Get there on the 26 bus to check out Corstorphine Tower and the Corstorphine Hill Walled Garden and enjoy some truly spectacular views in all directions: across to the Pentland Hills to the south, the Kingdom of Fife to the north, Ben Lomond in the west (on a very clear day!) and the gentle terrain and coastline of East Lothian to the east.


10. Love Gorgie Farm

Love Gorgie Farm Alpacas

Commune with animals as well as nature at the small and family-friendly LOVE Gorgie Farm – a little piece of countryside in the heart of west Edinburgh. Feed the goats, meet alpacas, guinea pigs, ducks and even a tortoise at this compact city farm, where there’s also a lovely café, outdoor play area and events space. Buses 1, 2, 25, 33, 4 and X22 all stop near the farm. 


‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ by Stuart Sandeman is a practical guide containing a series of simple yet effective exercises that are guaranteed to improve people’s performance in any field. With Stuart's daily breathing practices, people can learn to develop better focus, boost their creativity and find their flow. The book contains tools to help lessen stress and anxiety, reduce pain, and overcome loss. Readers will discover how they can use their breathing to break out of the habits, patterns and beliefs holding them back.