You can tour the Royal Observatory’s interior only by booking in advance for a group of 10 or more people, or by visiting on select days in September. Pre-booked tours and open-access days showcase the observatory’s visitor center, Crawford Library, astronomy tower, and telescope. Even without access to the interior, the observatory is worth a visit—the grounds offer one of the best 360-degree views of the landscape, including the North Sea and the Pentland Hills.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Royal Observatory Edinburgh is ideal for astronomy enthusiasts and families with children.
The observatory is often visited in conjunction with the Blackford Hill Nature Reserve.
Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for some uphill walking.
Resident astronomers can answer your astrology questions on tours and via email.
The Royal Observatory is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Royal Observatory Edinburgh is located on Blackford Hill, just 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) south of the city center and west of Holyrood Park. The nearest transit stop is Royal Observatory on bus 41. If walking, enter the grounds from Observatory Road or from the path off of Oswald Road. If driving, there is free parking at Blackford Hill Car Park.
When to Get There
The observatory itself is open to the public only on select days in September, and by reservation for large groups. The grounds are busiest around midday but it never feels overly crowded. Go in the morning for a quieter experience or in the evening to catch unobstructed views of Edinburgh illuminated at night. The observatory also hosts public astronomy talks throughout the year; check the website for a calendar of events.
Front-Row Seat at the Fireworks
During major celebrations and festivals, fireworks displays are launched from locations around Edinburgh’s city center. For unobstructed panoramic views, head to the Royal Observatory grounds, where crowds are thin and you’ll have a front-row seat to the dazzling show. Don’t miss the fireworks during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year).
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