After living here for a while now, I want to share some insights on what to visit when you get the chance to do so! These are my favourite places in Edinburgh, I hope you have a good time here!
What to see
So many things to see here! Take a stroll down Victoria Street and Grassmarket, go shopping in Cockburn Street, discover Vintage finds at Armstrong’s (they have a couple of stores throughout the city) or in one of the many charity shops along Nicolson Street (and further south). Don’t forget the Royal Mile (Hunter Square towards the Castle). For more serenity, check out the hidden garden next to Canongate Kirk (Dunbar’s Close). Make sure you give our good boy Bobby a pat on the head for good luck! Right behind you find Greyfriars Kirkyard which is a must see as well.
Take the bus (pay contactless), get off at the bus stop “Wakefield Avenue” and head straight ahead to the shore. Once you are at the beach, turn right and walk along the beach! The first bit is quieter, then you will see some cafes at the promenade. My favourite is “The Beach House” with its cakes. You can take the bus back from Portobello High Street (you can also get off here if you wish) featuring cute book shops and lovely cafes (recommendation: go go beets).
A huge park in the middle of the city! The main attraction is the coffee van on the Old Town side, that’s it! Just grab a can of beer and enjoy the sun (ha!), or just have a little wander around. There is also a Soderberg close by for your cinnamon/cardamom bun fix or the Victor Hugo Deli on the other side towards Marchmont. For brunch visit Don’t Tell Mama just a short walk away.
Leith & Shore
Leith has truly stolen my heart! It’s the edgier/”rougher” side of town undergoing gentrification. I love walking from the top of Leith Walk to the bottom. Check out the little cafes (e.g. 12 Triangles, Artisan Roast), little shops (e.g. Logan Malloch), or restaurants (e.g. La Favorita, Aurora). I would recommend continuing to walk towards the Shore to be teleported into a quaint little fishing village where you can take a stroll and check out the nice cafes (e.g. Toast). Honourable mentions also to the Bundits of Leith (Experimental Bao Buns) and Eleanore (fancy dinner) for great food!
One of the many hills in this city is Calton Hill. It is easily accessible, for example taking the steps opposite of St Andrew’s House. The view is breath-taking (you can see the Firth of Forth with its bridges, the sea, Arthur’s Seat). A beautiful, easy walk (with a café and a fabulous restaurant on the top) that is an absolute must-see for every visit.
Other beautiful areas
- Stockbridge and Dean Village: very cute and sweet, great cafes (e.g. Cowan and Sons for breakfast). Make sure you walk next to the canal from Stockbridge — it’s like a hidden world! Bonus: little market in Stockbridge on Sunday morning/early afternoon!
You can also take a beautiful walk towards Dean Village by turning right at the bridge and walking along the residential area on Saunders Street until you reach the water.
- New Town George Street: fancy chain shops, beautiful buildings!
- Brunsfield and Morningside: fancy independent shops, lots of restaurants
- Arthur’s Seat: climb our very own city hill. Gets you out of breath, but easily doable in good weather — however, I prefer the Salisbury Crags (between Arthur’s Seat and the city) for a less busy and more leisurely stroll that rewards you with even better views.
What to drink
- Black Medicine (Old Town): wooden mystical interior, exceptional coffee
- 🌟 Cult Coffee (Newington/Meadows): very stylish, great sweets (from 101 Bakery) and good snacks (toasties, avocado toast…) –– great place to hang out
- 🌟 Union Brew Lab (Old Town): super stylish, nice snacks, and great place to sit, very good cakes as well — very central, very cool
- Thomas J Walls (Old Town): Viennese feel, exceptional coffee and good lunch options
- Fortitude (New Town): lighter roasts, pretty cool, central location in the New Town
- Wellington (New Town): great for take away, one of my favourite roasts
- Milkman (Old Town): great for take away in the Old Town
- Pear Tree (Old Town): cosy pub experience
- House of Gods (Old Town): good cocktails, fanciest interior
- Heads and Tails (New Town): gin gin gin in the underground vaults
- Paradise Palms (Old Town): colourful pub with very good vegetarian pub food
- 🌟 Spry (Leith): Swanky minimalist wine bar with delicious nibbles — delightful
- 🌟 Superico (99 Hanover, New Town): exceptional atmosphere and delightful cocktails — my favourite!
- Nor Loft (Old Town): Champagne bar for very special occasions
- Lucky Liquor (New Town): rated one of the best cocktail bars in the UK, very experimental and delicious cocktails in a cosy environment
- Scottish Malt Whisky Society (New Town & Leith): if you love Whisky you might want to consider getting a membership (£65) to gain access to the members only venues (in particular, the Vaults in Leith) and their unique, unblended whisky outturns where each dram is an experience of its own.
What to eat
All restaurants have stellar vegetarian options!
Bakeries and snacks (mostly take away):
- 🌟 Twelve Triangles (Leith, Stockbridge): incredible pastries, cakes, and buns, very good coffee — do not miss!!!
- Wee Boulangerie (Newington): great for proper bread
- La Barantine (Old Town, Morningside, Stockbridge): amazing, delicate cakes and patisserie
- Polentoni (Leith): great sandwiches for lunch
- Ben’s Cookies (New Town): I don’t know what they do to their cookies, but get them! My recommendations are Oatmeal and Raisin, Cranberry White Chocolate
- Soderberg (Meadows, New Town, Stockbridge…): nordic-inspired bakery with incredible cinnamon and cardamom buns
Breakfast, Brunch, and Smaller Meals:
- 🌟 Bross Bagels (New Town, Portobello, and a few others): very nice and unusual Bagels stuffed to the brim with goodness — try the (fake) bacon avocado tomato on a Pretzle!
- Don’t Tell Mama (Tollcross/Meadows): a delightfully colourful Greek bar serving comforting breakfast and brunch alongside excellent baked goods. Always a great atmosphere!
- 🌟 Ante (Leith): newly opened on Leith walk the team from the Spry wine bar now serve outstanding coffee, incredible pastries with a French influence, and a daily changing selection of mouth watering small dishes ideal for brunch or a light lunch — my new favourite, great taste and atmosphere!
- 🌟 Dishoom (New Town): hard to get a table, but their breakfast naans and chai lattes are out of this world — definitely worth to queue for breakfast
- Snax (Newington/Meadows): cheap and cheerful all day breakfast, perfect hangover cure
- Cowans and Son (Stockbridge): cute and tasty breakfast
- John Lewis Café (New Town/Leith): hear me out here — the café on the top floor offers one of the best views over the city alongside very reasonably priced (veggie) sausage rolls and decent cake. With lots of space it’s a safe bet. Sometimes that’s just what you need!
Casual (around £10-£15 for a main):
- Civerinos (Old Town): most incredible pizza, an Edinburgh classic
- 🌟 Ting Thai (Old Town, New Town): best value for money when it comes to delicious Thai Food — a must!
- Cold Town House (Old Town): multiple floors (great views from the rooftop terrace) with a great atmosphere. Top Tip: get a table in the prosecco bar and enjoy pizza and home brewed beer
- The Outsider (Old Town): even better and cheaper during the day, but also ok and more expensive for dinner. Very laid back proper food with one of my favourite views in the city
- Harajuku Kitchen (Tollcross): delicious Japanese food that ticks all boxes
- 🌟 Fruit Market Gallery Café (Old Town): you would not expect such delicious lunches and cakes from a gallery café, but this one is definitely the perfect, centrally located spot — ideal lunch!
- Bundits of Leith (Leith): experimental Bao buns ideal for a quick lunch or dinner
A little extra:
- Six by Nico (New Town): enjoy a six course tasting menu without breaking the bank (around £30). They change their dishes quite regularly so make sure to check beforehand what they are serving
- Noto (New Town): small dishes to share so you get to try loads of different things, Asian inspired in a clean Scandi environment. A little on the pricier side (probably around £35 per person for the food), but really worth it.
- Baba (New Town): small dishes to share as well, but this time prime Lebanese food for a good price (around £25 for a lot of delicious food). Really flavoursome food that makes you happy
- 🌟 Borough (Leith): incredible tasting menus (both for lunch and dinner) in a laid back atmosphere, not cheap but very much worth the money — probably the best food I had in Edinburgh!
- eleanore (Leith): exquist menu and wine list in a tiny space
For special occasions:
- The Lookout (Carlton Hill): top of Carlton Hill with a 360-degree view and their 8 course tasting menu is really everything you want for special occasions. More reasonable brunch available as well.
- Afternoon Tea at the Signet Library (Old Town): an old library, incredible afternoon tea, do I need to say more? Book well in advance!
- Timberyard (Old Town): very special location with elegant, local food and an exquisit wine list
- fhior (New Town): stunning, delicate tasting menu that makes you happy
Where to go
Arts and Culture:
- Modern 1 & 2: Great modern art, don’t forget the cool outdoor space
- Botanical Gardens: a beautiful, quaint garden to take a stroll
- RSA on the Mound: check what the current exhibition is!
- 🌟 City Art Gallery: make sure to have a look at their “recent acquisitions” in the basement!
- Fruit Market Gallery: very small, changing exhibitions, with an outstanding café
- Jupiter Artland (outside of Edinburgh): an enchanted forest with modern sculptures scattered throughout (plus a wonderful café). Unfortunately better accessible by car, but definitely worth if you fancy a laid-back walk on a beautiful estate.
- Stramash (Old Town): live music every day of the week from a variety of genres, you will always have a good time here, also do Ceilidh once a week
- Mash House (Old Town): solid techno
- Big Cheese (Old Town): sticky student disco on a Saturday, but a lot of fun!
- Cabaret Voltaire (Old Town): another source for good techno
- Three Sisters (Old Town): huge, more pub like venue