5km Edinburgh Scenic City Run
Experience the sights and sounds of the city along this short 5km run. You can extend it by rerunning this circular route or lapping the gardens. Depending on the time of year and time of day you start this run, be aware of tourists and other pedestrians, especially along the main roads near the Royal Mile. Nonetheless, this route offers picturesque sights and enjoyment in any season.
We start in Princes Street Gardens (East and West), which is set in the foreground of Edinburgh Castle, alongside the Scott Monument, and in the middle of Old Town and New Town. It is beautiful in any season and perfect for a picnic, and there’s lots to see, from statues and sculptures to a flower clock and Ross Fountain. You can get a quick meal and a cool beverage at any of the small cafes. Feel free to use this park as a “warm-up zone” before you set off on the rest of the route.
Starting at Princes Street, run down The Mound, where the Royal Scottish Academy is on your left. Follow the curve of the road into North Bank Street, then right into Bank Street and right into Victoria Street. This street is quite an uphill if you’re up for a run challenge.
Victoria Street is said to have inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Colourful shop fronts among the old buildings make this street most picturesque and iconic. A wonderful assortment of independent shops, from artisan cheesemakers to old-fashioned book shops, can keep you busy for hours.
Following the curves of the street, turn right into Grassmarket.
Grassmarket has a rich history: an open-air market for traders (even today), a place to stay for William Wordsworth and Robert Burns at the White Hart Inn, and “The Last Drop”, where it is rumoured that men had their last meal and “one for the road” whiskey before they were publicly hung.
Just opposite the castle on your right is a set of stairs. Run up these stairs to see Vennel Viewpoint.
Vennel Viewpoint is one of the most popular photography spots to view Edinburgh Castle. Offering an unobstructed view even if there is a crowd. Framed among the row of houses on either side of you with the light touch of the street lamps.
Continue up these stairs away from the castle along the cobblestoned wall (Heriot Place) to turn left onto the main road, Lauriston Place. Continue down this road until you see a pillar with a miniature horse statue on top, on your right. Turn into Middle Meadow Walk, which leads into the Meadows.
The Meadows is a favourite spot for university students after class and dog parents after work. Beautiful cherry blossom trees in spring line the pathway. And in winter, misty fog creates an eery yet peaceful atmosphere. You can lap this park if you’d like to add more distance.
Exit the park at North Meadow Walk onto Lauriston Gardens.
At the next intersection, turn right then left at the next street, Lady Lawson Street. Continue straight until you see the castle on your right, then turn right towards the castle on Castle Terrace. Just after the bike racks on the right, go down the stairs, then turn left into and through the tunnel bridge along King Stables Road.
Continue until you see a short, wide tower on your right at the end of this road. You will see stairs going down into St Cuthbert’s Kirkyard.
Parish Church of St Cuthbert is tucked away from the main road, and you’d almost miss the entrance if you don’t look for it. Founded in the 7th Century and first recorded in 1128, it was presumed that this church was completed in 1894 and designed in a Baroque and Renaissance style by Hippolyte Blanc.
Turn left onto the pathway, then around the church on the left, run into Prince Street Gardens, or continue going left to end on Princes Street.
If you enjoyed this route, see our 3km Relaxed Circus Lane and Princes Street Gardens Run.