As pretty as a storybook happy ending, Scotland’s capital offers a romantic backdrop with old-world charm while giving Americans the convenience of not having to deal with the hassle of pesky language and communication problems. Everyone here speaks English, though your ability you get the Scottish and Edinburgh accents comes down to your own ear for dialects and your patience.
Best ideas: You want castles? You got ‘em. Edinburgh offers wallpaper-pretty medieval scenes that’ll make your lover feel like a princess (or prince) as you get down on one knee. Besides that, the Scottish capital is a diverse cultural mecca that gives you plenty of options for perfect occasions and settings to pop the question. And are you into Harry Potter? Then read on, because this city is magical — literally.
Tip 1: Scotland can get cold. Keep your proposals indoors during winter or you might find yourself wrestling off a glove before putting, in the words of Beyoncé, a ring on it.
Tip 2: Location, location, location. Make the most of Edinburgh’s striking scenery when you snap those all-important proposal pics.
Getting there: If you’ve got your heart set on getting engaged in Edinburgh, you’re not alone; the Scottish capital is one of the most romantic proposal destinations in the world, even taking into consideration those blustery winters and short, sharp summers. It’s a direct train ride from London — a little under four and a half hours to Edinburgh Waverley railway station for as little as $36 — and, if you can afford it, a nonstop flight from the U.S. at a little over six hours from New York–JFK to Edinburgh Airport, though you can find considerably cheaper flights if you accept a connection in a city like London or Dublin. A taxi from the airport to downtown Edinburgh will cost about $26 (20 GBP) but Airlink has a 30-minute shuttle service to the Waverley Steps for about $4.50 (3.50 GBP) one-way or $8 (6 GBP) round-trip.
But focus! How are you going to avoid carbon-copying literally everyone else’s Edinburgh proposal ideas? Well, whether your soon-to-be-betrothed likes the great outdoors, Insta-friendly backdrops, or cozy bookstores, here are a few places where you might want to consider getting engaged in Edinburgh.
10 Best Places to Propose in Edinburgh
Most Edinburgh Proposal: Edinburgh CastleEdinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh, UK
Nothing says quintessential Edinburgh proposal like Edinburgh Castle. But don’t write off this popular proposal spot for being just that — popular. There’s a reason the 12th-century edifice, which sits on an extinct volcano and offers dramatic views over the city, is one of the best places in Edinburgh to pop the question. If you’re looking for some more intimate Edinburgh Castle proposal ideas, slip inside the charming St. Margaret Chapel for a more private setting, or skip the castle completely and go to Ross Fountain instead, where you’ll still get the benefit of that Edinburgh Castle backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)
Best Book-Lover Proposal in Edinburgh: Armchair BooksArmchair Books, West Port, Edinburgh, UK
If your partner loves nothing more than curling up with a good paperback, take them to Armchair Books to pop the question. Towering bookshelves and tight corners offer plenty of intimate spots, although you might struggle to actually get down on one knee. Cozy and cute, a bookstore proposal is an ideal rainy-day option, which is nothing to be sniffed at in the stormy Scottish capital — and it’s free! Or, if you’re in town in August, stop by the Edinburgh International Book Festival and propose to your book-loving future spouse under the summer sun. (Photo by @purewowbookclub)
Best Spring Proposal in Edinburgh: Arthur’s SeatArthur's Seat, Edinburgh, UK
Bracing winter walks might be fun after a big meal, but not so much before asking the most important question of your life. Save the Arthur’s Seat proposal for spring, then, when the weather is milder. That way, you can make the most of the (hopefully) good weather to woo your would-be husband or wife. There’s really no need to rush into things though — do a loop of St. Margaret’s Loch, prepare a pre-proposal picnic and enjoy the views over the rest of Holyrood Park before asking, “Will you marry me?” (Photo courtesy of The City of Edinburgh Council / Flickr)
Best Instagram Proposal in Edinburgh: Circus LaneCircus Lane, Edinburgh, UK
Enjoy all the charm of Old World Edinburgh — think cobblestone streets, a church clock backdrop and climbing plants — at Circus Lane. Instagrammers may have cottoned on to its appeal ages ago so pick your proposal time wisely, but it’s worth the hassle if your soon-to-be-spouse is all about social media. Scope out Circus Lane in advance and find the prettiest door or cutest corner in front of which to pop the question. If you’ve got a willing wingman or want to hire a professional photographer, you can easily have them hide out until it’s time to capture the all-important moment. (Photo by @lovegreatbritain_fr)
Best Scenic Proposal in Edinburgh: Calton HillCalton Hill, Edinburgh, UK
Skip the 200-foot-tall Scott’s Monument for a less vertigo-inducing — but just as scenic — Edinburgh proposal. It only takes five minutes to reach the top of the free-to-access Calton Hill, so you’ll soon be rewarded with panoramas over Edinburgh Castle, the Balmoral Hotel and Arthur’s Seat, perfect for those post-proposal photos. Visit at sunset to add some extra sparkle — from the lights in the city below, of course — to your big question. Or if you’re there in April, propose by the roar of a bonfire at the Beltane Fire Festival. (Photo courtesy of Edinburgh.org)
Best Secluded Proposal in Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Garden EdinburghRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, UK
Whatever the season, the shifting scenery of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which sits just outside the city center, offers lots of opportunities for a secluded proposal. You’ll have plenty of space — 70-plus acres of it, to be precise — to stroll around while you look for the perfect place to pop the question, although the Chinese Hillside is a favorite. Struck by a surprise downpour? Take shelter in the Glasshouse (for a small fee) and make your marriage proposal surrounded by exotic plants while the rain pitter-patters on the roof. The Edinburgh skyline views are an added bonus. (Photo by @shinecontent)
Best Harry Potter Proposal in Edinburgh: Department of MagicDepartment Of Magic: Prophecies Quest, Blair Street, Edinburgh, UK
Edinburgh is practically a Harry Potter pilgrimage site. If your fiancée (or fiancé) is a J.K. Rowling devotee, take advantage of the ready-made magic of the city and plan the perfect Harry Potter-themed proposal. The Department of Magic, just off the Royal Mile, is both escape room and a bar. It’s up to you, but we recommend a visit to the latter, where you can woo your future wife (or husband) as you whip up magic potion cocktails during a private masterclass. Secure a spot online for less than $20 per person. (Photo by @department.magic)
Best Christmas Proposal in Edinburgh: The DomeThe Dome, Edinburgh
Who wants numb fingers when the love of their life is midway through a marriage proposal? Answer: nobody. So, word to the wise, skip the freezing-cold outdoor proposal ideas if you’re hoping to seal the deal in Edinburgh this holiday season. Instead, head to The Dome — well-known for its over-the-top, elaborate Christmas decorations, garlands, and string lights — for finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries in the opulent (and warm) Georgian Tea Room. You’ll need to make reservations well in advance, but, hey, if you really like it, you can hold the wedding here, too. (Photo by @lovegreatbritain)
Best Restaurant Proposal in Edinburgh: Divino EnotecaDivino Enoteca, Edinburgh
There’s no shortage of romantic restaurants for the perfect proposal in Edinburgh, but few are quite as intimate as Divino Enoteca. Specializing in Italian cuisine, it will impress your soon-to-be-fiancée (or fiancé) by pairing a different wine with each course — on the recommendation of the in-house sommelier, naturally — before you pop the question over your candlelight dinner. And given the central location in Edinburgh’s Old Town, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to finding somewhere for post-proposal cocktails or a cozy city-center stroll. (Photo courtesy of Divino Enoteca)
Best Beach Proposal in Edinburgh: Portobello BeachPortobello Beach, Promenade, Edinburgh, UK
You didn’t think Edinburgh had a beach? Think again! Portobello Beach might not be the most temperate spot for a winter marriage proposal, but it’s the ideal place to declare your intentions during the warmer summer months. (Well, I say warmer, but you can never be sure in Scotland.) Choose your time wisely to escape the biggest crowds — you can’t go wrong with sunset if you want to set the mood, though. Just don’t get too close to the water … this isn’t Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of The City of Edinburgh Council / Flickr)