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11 Spectacular Places for you to experience the Sunset Edinburgh style

Edinburgh’s got a creative spirit, vibrant nightlife, and charm to spare. One of the most gorgeous cities in all of the United Kingdom, this hilly Scottish capital boasts impeccable views and a unique mix of modern and historic architecture.

There is so much to do and see in Edinburgh like take an underground vault tour, but let’s focus on one of the finest, most simple pleasures of discovering a new city: the local sunset. It may seem pink and orange everywhere in the world, but that’s not always the case. The light and atmosphere of a new place tend to bring a sunset view to life in the most remarkable ways.

So, this post will cover a few idyllic and stand-out spots where the sunset Edinburgh style puts its best foot forward. If you’re travelling in Scotland, these sunset destinations should definitely be added to your bucket list.

Leith Edinburgh sunset
Leith Edinburgh

Edinburgh Sunset Times by Season

It gets mighty cold and damp in Edinburgh in the cold seasons, so it’s best to plan your outings carefully if you want an ideal sunset experience. You can see how late or early the sun sets below to help you figure out what time you should have your viewing spot secured by.

  • Winter (December, January, February): 3-5 PM
  • Spring (March, April, May): 5-7 PM
  • Summer (June, July, August): 9-11 PM
  • Autumn (September, October, November): 4-6 PM

The above times are simple outlines, so it’s best to keep your eye on the weather forecast if you want to avoid getting too cold up on a hill somewhere.

11 Places to Watch the Sunset in Edinburgh

Touring Edinburgh is a fun treat, but seeing the city from a distance will give you some memorable images of this beautiful Scottish hub. The places in this list offer breathtaking views of the city where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

1. Cold Town House

Good drinks go hands in hand with a sunset viewing, and Cold Town House has got you covered in both those departments. Sip on delicious cocktails, share a stone-fire pizza and enjoy the live music on offer. Cold Town House even has cabaret shows on occasion, so keep your eye on their website for upcoming events.

cold town house edinburgh
cold town house edinburgh

This spot has a lovely open-air terrace adorned with hanging plants. The atmosphere is friendly and inviting, so it’s an excellent place for a date or friendly dinner. The rooftop doesn’t have a panoramic view, but instead, you get a unique snapshot of Edinburgh Castle.

2. Cask Smugglers

Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh Scotland is Cask Smugglers, a hip rooftop bar with a speakeasy vibe and an extensive whiskey collection. Fill up on street food style dishes and Old Fashions while you bathe in the sunset colours.

This bar is super hip and you’ll love dining on good food and cocktails while you welcome the dusk light. Cask Smugglers is a must-visit.

edinburgh at sunset

3. Calton Hill

It’ll only take you five minutes to walk to the top of Calton Hill, and the pay-off is enormous. You’ll be able to see some of Scotland’s iconic landmarks from the 360-view on Calton, not to mention the gorgeous sunset settling over the horizon.

Edinburgh sunset from Calton Hill
Edinburgh sunset from Calton Hill

Amongst the iconic buildings in view is the National Monument, Arthur’s Seat, and the Nelson Monument, to name a few.

Calton Hill is in central Edinburgh and super easy to get to. If you’re not up for a stroll, you can also drive to the top and park your car as the sun begins to set.

4. Holyrood Park

With over six hundred acres of flourishing nature, Holyrood Park would be the perfect place for a late afternoon picnic. Also known as Queen’s Park or King’s Park, Holyrood is dotted with glens, hills, and ridges just east of Edinburgh Castle. Salisbury Crags offers one of the best viewpoints in the park for watching the Edinburgh sunset.

Holyrood Park Edinburgh
Holyrood Park

The park is open to the public, and you can enjoy the scenery here 24 hours a day, all-year-round. There’s plenty of parking behind Holyrood for the measly price of £1, and it’s only a two-minute drive from the city centre.

5. Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Hill is a stunning mountain and the highest point in Holyrood Park. Believe it or not, this lush hill was a volcano once upon a time but is now extinct. The mountain sits over two hundred meters above sea level, offering spectacular views of Edinburgh from its summit.

golden edinburgh sunset

Technically, this spot isn’t one hill but many, formed out of the remains of the volcano. Besides its intriguing history, Arthur’s Seat offers astonishing views come sundown.

There are five different routes up the hill to choose from, so you can choose exactly what level of difficulty will suit you best.

6. Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is super romantic and a lovely place to take a stroll. Once you step inside, it’ll be easy to see why the garden is one of the most visited places in all of Scotland. You’ll see loads of colourful flowers, pristinely manicured lawns, magnificent greenhouses, and a nursery on the property.

royal botanic garden edinburgh
royal botanic garden edinburgh

Due to COVID regulations, you’ll need to book a slot online before you pop by for a visit. But booking will only take a few clicks on the garden’s website.

7. Blackford Hill

Another high hill in Edinburgh, this sunset spot is located in Blackford Hill Local Nature Reserve and stands at 164 meters tall. You’ll find an obscure looking fort at the top of the hill, which is actually an ancient historical monument.

blackford hill edinburgh
blackford hill

You can see Edinburgh to the north and Pentland Hills to the south from Blackford Hill once you reach its height. There are plenty of established paths you can choose from, and this is a popular spot amongst joggers.

8. Forth Bridge

This bridge is famous in Scotland and a well-liked attraction amongst tourists and locals alike. Built in 1964, this is the longest suspension bridge outside of the U.S. The bridge crosses over the River Forth, and the sunlight hitting the water makes for an astonishing view.

Forth Bridge

9. Cramond

Cramond is a picturesque suburb on the south shores of the River Forth. You can head out to Cramond Beach if you want to immerse yourself in the quaint fishermen village vibe. Plus, there’s nothing better than sunset on the beach.

Cramond Edinburgh Sunset
Cramond Edinburgh Sunset

There’s also a pub and coffee shop nearby where you can cosy up once the sun goes down.

10. Scott Monument

This Victorian Gothic monument was erected in honour of Sir Walter Scott, a famous novelist and Edinburgh native. The Scott Monument is a looming spire structure just over sixty meters high, and the views from the top are sensational.

scott monument edinburgh sunset
scott monument

After 287 steps up the tower, you’ll be greeted with one of the best sunset views in Edinburgh.

11. Newhaven Harbour

You just can’t beat the combination of sunset, boats, and the ocean. Check out Newhaven Harbour for a stunning sunset shot and a romantic stroll along the docks. When the sun finally sets, and harbour lights come on, you’ll be glad you ventured out to this blissful spot.

Newhaven Harbour Sunset Edinburgh Scotland
Newhaven Harbour Sunset

⇒ Heading to Scotland? Check out my Scotland Itinerary 10 Days, Scotland Itinerary 7 Days, Glasgow Tours, Edinburgh vaults tour, things to do in Dumfries and Galloway, things to do in Ayrshire, my guide to Climbing Ben Nevis, 11 Places to Experience the Sunset Edinburgh style, 11 Best Spots to See the Sunset in Glasgow, 18 Beautiful Places in Scotland and 9 great Spa Breaks Scotland.

Top Tip: Visit Edinburgh during some its key events

Edinburgh has some brilliant events. The Edinburgh Festival is one of the biggest arts festivals in the world and is held every August. Although it has a whole range of artists and events it is perhaps best known for its fantastic comedy talent.

I highly recommend booking some shows as well as checking the schedule as many comedians often do free late-night sets during the festival. 

sunset over edinburgh

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo runs at the same time as the Edinburgh Festival and I can’t recommend this more highly. When I went I didn’t really expect much but I was blown away. The sights and sounds are just fantastic and the atmosphere is electric.

And Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is one of the biggest celebrations of New Year’s Eve in the world.

Getting to Edinburgh

Flights to Edinburgh

A quick and cheap way to get from the airport to the centre of Edinburgh is to take Edinburgh Airport to City Centre Bus Transfer.

edinburgh old town at sunset

The Best Place to Stay – and Eat – in Edinburgh

Have you every stayed at a 5 star hotel that was actually a ship? Me neither until I arrived at Leith Harbour in Edinburgh and boarded The Fingal.

The Fingal

The Fingal was commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1963 and was stationed in Oban for 30 years. The Fingal took supplies and people to and from the lighthouses on the islands of Scotland. It retired from service in 2000.

Fingal boat
The Fingal in Leith Harbour

The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust acquired the boat and brought it to Leith Harbour in 2014. A £5 million refurbishment followed and The Fingal opened to guests in January 2019.

Fingal Red Carpet
The Fingal Red Carpet

Guests are greeted by a literal red carpet when arriving at The Fingal (it was a soggy red carpet when I arrived thanks to Scottish weather!). The boats 23 luxurious cabins are over two floors. I adored my cabin! It was luxurious but comfortable and spacious yet cozy. This is a high end fit out and the investment can be seen from the leather bound closets to the giant fluffy towels to the soft furnishings.

Fingal cabin
My cabin

The throw on my large and comfortable bed was adorned with the soft shades of violet and green of the official Fingal tartan (which can be purchased in the gift shop). I loved the attention to detail in the cabin like the design on the ceiling and the soft suede bed head.

Fingal bathroom

The bathroom in the cabin was decked out with sparkly green tiles and the wonderful Noble Isle products. I am all about my hotel toiletries so I was delighted to see that there were two different options for both the body wash and the body lotion (these can also be purchased in the gift shop as well as teh fantastic diffusers).

Fingal Toiletries
Noble Isle Toiletries

Bathrooms and slippers are supplied and the slippers were some of the soft and squishiest I have ever experienced at a hotel. There are coffee and tea making facilities in the room as well as a great mini bar with loads of enticing local treats plus the classics like Moet.

fingal deck
fingal deck

My cabin had two smallish windows and a second door that took me out onto the deck. From that door it is possible to walk to the top tip of The Fingal where there is an outdoor area for reclining and relaxing.

Fingal Bar
The Bar

The bar and restaurant are located on the second floor of The Fingal. The room has a wonderful sparkly roof that adds to the general feeling on The Fingal of being somewhere quite special. The seating area for the bar is split with some tables near the entrance and others at the top of the ship near the windows.

The bar at The Fingal is known for its cocktails. I am much more a wine drinker so I was delighted to find a large selection of wines available by the glass.

Fingal scallops
Fingal scallops

The menu at The Fingal is heavy on local produce and modern European in style. I started with scallops from Orkney. They were large, plump and juicy and accompanied by a blood orange sauce and segments which complemented them beautifully.

Fingal Halibut
Fingal Halibut

For main I stayed Scottish with local halibut. Often I find halibut can be quite a thin fillet but this one was as plump and juicy as a salmon fillet. The halibut sat on top of a delicious broth that was chock full of more local seafood all conveniently shelled – crayfish, mussels and more. This seafood stew sat on a bed of spaghetti and it was absolutely delicious.

Fingal from the side
The Fingal from the side

Alas all that amazing Scottish seafood (plus the spaghetti!) meant dessert wasn’t on the cards for me. But I was presented with some salted caramel truffles and macarons. I am never too full for a salted caramel truffle and these were amazing.

Fingal breakfast

I had an wonderfully comfortable and solid sleep and then it was time to head up to the second floor again for breakfast. A continental selection was available buffet style with high quality fresh pastries, local yoghurt, fresh fruit etc plus a very long list of selections for a hot breakfast.

Fingal Engine Room
Fingal Engine Room

And don’t miss heading below deck to the engine room. There is a spectacular glass walkway that allows visitors to see the all of the workings in details.

The Fingal Ship
The Fingal Ship

As you may have guessed I really enjoyed my stay on The Fingal. I am lucky enough to stay in many lovely hotels but this 5 star boat felt really special. It would be a perfect way to celebrate a special event and I think the rates are very good value. Even if you don’t stay the night on The Fingal I would highly recommend coming for drinks and dinner while you’re in Edinburgh.

Fingal Stairs

Enjoy a Special Edinburgh Sunset

Edinburgh is filled with unique activities and attractions, and sunset-hopping is undoubtedly a fun excuse to visit some of the best of the city’s observation spots. If you’re looking for more cool travel inspiration, you can check out this post on beautiful places in Scotland.

Hopefully, you’ll get to experience as many of the pretty places on this list as possible during your Edinburg adventure. Be it in a park, a castle, or on a bridge, you’re bound to see some memorable sunsets in this enticing city.

I covered all of the costs in writing this post apart from my stay and dinner on The Fingal. This Edinburgh sunset post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.


Edinburgh scotland at sunset

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