1 March 2023

Top 10 Tranquil Edinburgh Spaces for a Breather

Botanic Garden view of Chinese garden Pagoda Autumn colours

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
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.” 

Top 10 tranquil Edinburgh spaces for a breather. 

1.  Portobello beach

Perfect for

Breathing in the salt air and feeling the sand on your feet

Portobello Beach
Image Credit Kenny Lam

Take a 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

Perfect for

Seeing gorgeous seasonal blooms

Botanic Garden view of pond and statue

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, which serve fresh, light meals and scrumptious cakes.  

3. Dunbars Close

Perfect for

Escaping the hustle and bustle of the Old Town

Dunbar Close

The sheltered and tranquil garden at Dunbars 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

Perfect for

Getting in touch with nature

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 National Gallery of Modern Art

Perfect for

Getting lost in a world of beautiful art

Modern Art Gallery

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

Perfect for

Listening to the gentle flow of the water while you take a stroll

Dean Village

Wander along the Water of Leith Walkway 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, Scottish Gas 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

Perfect for

A picnic with a stunning view

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

Perfect for

A coastal nature walk

Forth Bridges Trail (Hawes Pier)
Image Credit: Forth Bridges Trail and Stephen Sweeney Photography

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 Hawes Pier opposite the Hawes Inn (said to have inspired writer Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped) under the iconic Forth 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

Perfect for

An enchanting woodland walk

Corstorphine Hill

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. Craigies Farm

Perfect for

Animal lovers looking for a piece of the countryside in Edinburgh

Craigies Farm
© Martin P. McAdam

Commune with animals as well as nature at the family-friendly Craigies Farm – a little piece of countryside in South Queensferry, just a short journey from the city centre. Make new friends with the sheep, pigs, chickens, horses and even their hairy highland coos, Iona and Skye . There is also a lovely café, farm shop and lots of exciting events for little farmers all year round.

‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’

‘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.


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