City Secrets: Dunbar’s Close Gardens

Edinburgh has been a part of the Scottish landscape since the 7th century; thus, it is no surprise the city is full of surprising secrets to be explored and enjoyed. One of my favourites is Dunbar’s Close Gardens.

Just off the Royal Mile, it is easy to dismiss this central location as just another tourist stop, but part of the attraction of these gardens is their central, yet out-of-sight location. Just east of the Canongate Church (where the Queen goes to church) on the north side of the street, the entrance is easily missed, as the senses can be tempted by the aroma of Starbucks, just across the street.

Through the iron gates you are presented with a tranquil and serene mini-paradise. The gardens are segregated into a number of small squares, each with its own sculpture or two, bench, and a plethora of greenery. Every spot has fantastic views of the Calton Hill stretching out from left to right, and on each side of the gardens one can find the architecture that makes the Old Town so wonderful.

Dunbar’s Close was created in 1977 and is named after Edinburgh writer David Dunbar who used to own the tenements on either side in the 18th century.

Maybe this is why the gardens are a wonderful place to sit, write, and perhaps find your literary muse here in the heart of UNESCO’s first City of Literature.

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Andrew Hayes

Andy is a travel writer who has his own blog 'Sharing Experiences' on

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