West Princes Street Gardens is the larger of the two tracts of green space (the other being East Princes Street Gardens) that run parallel to Princes Street in the heart of the city. The gardens were formerly the Nor' Loch, a body of water that provided added defence on the North face of Edinburgh Castle. The famously stinky loch was drained and ornamental gardens put in their place from 1816 onwards.
West Princes Street Gardens, the larger of the two sections of gardens, extend West from the Mound to St John's Church at the West End of Princes Street. The hilly gardens are bounded to South by the railway line between Edinburgh's two train stations, Waverley and Haymarket. A small footbridge across the railway allows you to watch trains passing back and forth and cross to the Castle Gardens which wrap around the Edinburgh Castle rock and connect with the Castle Esplanade by way of a steep, zigzag path.
As well as a good place to look up to the castle perched imposingly on its rugged, volcanic rock, Princes Street Gardens provide a scenic route for traversing the city centre East-West.
There is also a children's play park in the West End and look out for the famous floral clock display on the staircase at the entrance to West Princes Street Garden at the foot of the Mound. The floral clock is not just a pretty face. It's a reliable time-keeper too.
Ross Band Stand
The Ross Band stand in Princes Street Gardens West is the main outdoor venue for all types of live music from cha cha cha for old folks to ceilidh, old style jazz swing at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival to up-and-coming Edinburgh bands. You can buy tickets to live concerts in the gardens at Hogmanay and to watch the fireworks display at the end of the Festival in August - always massively popular