Published On: 4th July, 2024
“Whether you are new to town or have been a local here for years, we are here to guide you through some of the best activities to unearth the treasures hidden around Edinburgh.”

A city nestled by an extinct volcano, Edinburgh has an international reputation for its dramatic landscapes and stunning natural beauty. For those passionate about Earth sciences and sustainability, Edinburgh has a lot to offer and, it is no surprise that this city has been the inspiration to some of the greatest minds in science, like Dr James Hutton, the father of modern geology.

Whether you are new to town or have been a local here for years, we are here to help you unearth the treasures hidden around this iconic city with 5 things to do in Edinburgh.


1. Walk in the footsteps of Dr. James Hutton around Arthur’s Seat

Edinburgh’s biggest tourist destination has drawn in millions of people over the years to walk into the heart of the extinct volcano, which erupted 342 million years ago. This is the site that inspired one particular visitor to a scientific discovery that changed how we view the world forever.

His name was Dr James Hutton, and he discovered while examining igneous and sedimentary rocks at Salisbury Crags, that the two different rocks had been formed during different periods and by different processes – which meant that the Earth was far older than people had believed and that the Earth was able to continually change.

Walk in his footsteps and who knows what you might discover.

2. Embark on billions of years of history in a day out with Dynamic Earth

After you’ve hiked around Edinburgh’s extinct volcano, visit the Dynamic Earth science centre and planetarium to learn more about how Arthur’s Seat was formed and its place in Earth’s history! Feel the ground move under your feet as our tour lets you experience the effects of an active volcano.

In our galleries, you’ll find more stories to uncover about how Scotland has contributed to our understanding of planet Earth over the years, and how you can get involved in protecting our planet.

3. Search for sedimentary rocks along the Water of Leith in Stockbridge

Locals of Edinburgh will know this stunning walk along the Water of Leith well, but what they might not know is that underneath Dean Bridge, the river flow exposes the bedrock to show some of the dramatic gorges visible in the Water of Leith. These gorges were eroded by glacial meltwater at the end of the last glacial period, around 15,000 years ago.

Next time you plan a visit to Stockbridge, wander down to Dean Bridge and see if you can see them.

4. Enjoy The Best Views in Edinburgh at Calton Hill

If you’re looking for the best views to take in the dramatic landscape of Edinburgh, Calton Hill should be at the top of your list. If you approach Calton Hill from Regent Street, your journey will take you past the beds of lava and ash that came from Arthur’s Seat when it was an active volcano – but don’t worry, the lava has long since cooled down and solidified.

If you continue to go further up the hill, past the monument, you can see how the igneous rock changes into a softer yellow-orange sedimentary rock that dates back 340 million years ago. But don’t forget to look up and enjoy the beautiful sights of the city too.

5. Travel Back in Time to See the Origins of Castle Rock

Exactly one mile away from our science centre lies Edinburgh Castle, a key feature in the Edinburgh skyline, but what about what it’s built on? Beneath our castle, which has been the site of human activity since the Iron Ages, lies a history 340 million years in the making. Castle Rock is a volcanic plug, formed when the volcanic magma hardened inside a vent back when Arthur’s Seat was an active volcano. Since its formation, it has become an essential photo opportunity for anyone visiting the city.