Certainly one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Edinburgh has its way of charming you. With the castle towering over the city, the contrast of the New Town and the Old, it was easy to move between the two. In one breath, you can be a hip coffee shop with coffee made from a local roaster, in another, you’re in a neo-gothic building looking at historic art. The transition between the two is seamless — Edinburgh has a way of savoring the old and fueling the new.
It felt like home after the first day in the city. The streets are easy to navigate, making it comfortable to explore without a cellphone in hand to tell you your next turn. I think that’s what I loved discovering most about Edinburgh. That energy that felt familiar for a buzzing city but so unfamiliar in the sense of space, culture, and history. Edinburgh’s intimate entanglement with the landscape is mesmerizing, where hills roll in and out of the city and in the distance, the Water of Leith can be spotted. It’s airy in a good kind of way and yet still there are plenty of nooks and corners that draw you in.
Are you ready to discover more of Edinburgh? Take a look at what took my interest on my four night, five days stay in this stunning city.
[This post is in partnership with Visit Britain. Support was provided from ASVA to enter certain attractions and was a gifted experience from Visit Scotland. As always, all opinions are own.]
The Ultimate Edinburgh Travel Guide
Getting to Edinburgh / Glasgow to Edinburgh
Whether you’re beginning your journey in Edinburgh or already in Scotland, it’s easy to get to the city. Direct flights from major airports are available into Edinburgh and from there a taxi or Uber is the quickest way into the city.
Getting from Glasgow to Edinburgh is simple as well as you can take a direct train between the two. It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or so. There are plenty of trains each day so have a look at the train schedule to plan out your journey. There are other direct trains from major cities across the UK as well.
Getting Around Edinburgh
You will not need a car for your time in Edinburgh as the city is very walkable and public transportation is extensive. In the city for longer distances, Uber is the most cost-effective way to get around.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Eden Locke: Well designed, Eden Locke is located in the New Town district and only a fifteen minute’s walk from the train station. The all-suite hotel is ever-so-comfortable and loved how each suite had pops of color. The space is like having an apartment but with the amenities of a hotel. Downstairs, the lobby is airy and bright and has a coffee shop with a curated menu. This hotel is perfect for a longer stay in the city with a location that couldn’t be better.
No. 28 Two Bedroom Apartment: For the first two nights in the city, I stayed in this Old Town Victorian apartment. The decor is chic and understated and the location was perfect in the heart of the Old Town. (To receive $40 off your first stay with Airbnb, click this link first to sign up.)
Edinburgh Restaurants to Check Out
Cannonball Restaurant & Bar: Whether it’s the view of Edinburgh Castle or the cozy space, Cannonball is somewhere you’ll want to dine at least once. I would try their prix fixe menu that showcases Scottish cuisine and ask for a table with the view of the castle.
(Address: 356 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NF, UK)
TIMBERYARD: One of the stand out meals in Edinburgh was a long lunch in this former warehouse. All locally-sourced ingredients were presented in a modern yet approachable way.
(Address: 10 Lady Lawson St, Edinburgh EH3 9DS, UK)
Hawksmoor: Around the corner from St. Andrew Square, Hawksmoor focuses on a meat and seafood menu. You can order steaks by the cut or fresh seafood and accompany it with sides. I’d recommend trying the bone marrow here!
(Address: 23 W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA, UK)
BABA: This is a must for either lunch or dinner if you love Mediterranean food. Their charcoal grilled dishes are delicious and their mezze is wonderful.
(Address: 130 George St, Edinburgh EH2 4JZ, UK)
El Cartel: For those who love a great street taco paired with Mezcal, then this is your spot. I’d also recommend getting their street corn and bright guacamole.
(Address: 64 Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1EN, UK)
Archipelago Bakery: May or may not have had their baked goods twice as it’s that great. Try their loaves which usually have a fruit mixed in with yummy icing.
(Address: 39 Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6QQ, UK)
Söderberg Bakery Shop: Another yummy pastry shop that is doing Swedish style baked goods.
(Address: 45 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3JU, UK)
Kenji: For a casual Japanese meal that has everything from sushi, ramen, curry and more, come here. It’s cash-only and recommended to reserve in advance.
(Address: 42 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AL, UK)
Côte Brasserie: On my last night I was craving some brasserie food so I came here and had great meal. Their French onion soup is the real deal and the beef tartare was incredible.
(Address: 51 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 1LH, UK)
A few others that came highly recommended:
- Fhior: Run by one of the most exciting chefs in town, this modern take on Scottish cuisine is one to experience. Be sure to reserve far in advance.
(Address: 36 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3SB, UK)
- The Gardener’s Cottage: Housed in a stone cottage with gardens, the communal menu is made with local produce in a charming setting.
(Address: Royal Terrace Gardens, 1 London Rd, Edinburgh EH7 5DX, UK)
- L’Escargot Blanc: For upscale French food, head here.
(Address: 17 Queensferry St, Edinburgh EH2 4QW, UK)
- Kanpai: A chic Japanese restaurant that also has a sake menu to pair with their sushi.
(Address: 8-10 Grindlay St, Edinburgh EH3 9AS, UK)
Favorite Coffee Shops in Edinburgh:
- The Milkman (Address: 7 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BP, UK)
- Williams and Johnson Coffee Co. (Address: 3 Waverley Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1BQ, UK)
- Lowdown Coffee (Address: 40 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LE, UK)
- Cairngorm Coffee (Address: 1 Melville Pl, Edinburgh EH3 7PR, UK)
- Fortitude Coffee (Address: 3C York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB, UK)
Grab a Drink Here:
- Bramble Bar & Lounge (Address: 16A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JE, UK)
- The Dome (Address: 14 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2PF, UK)
- Lucky Liquor Co. (Address: 39A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 3NH, UK)
- Edinburgh Gin Distillery (Address: 1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD, UK)
What to do in Edinburgh
Spend a morning at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: A highlight of the visit was a long morning roaming the gardens and glasshouse. The interior space is stunning and makes for a picturesque experience.
Walk around Dean’s Village: This Bucolic village is set with a stream and gardens that you can walk through for a charming visit back in time. I loved walking around this peaceful area of Edinburgh.
Tea + Art at Scottish National Portrait Gallery: One of the museums that have a complimentary entry, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a stunning building. Inside they also have afternoon tea (book in advance online) and you could pair the two for an afternoon of art.
Take a Highlands Day Tour: One of the best ways to see destinations outside the city is with Rabbie’s, my preferred tour company for Scotland. They offer incredible tours of the Highlands from the city and you can opt for one day to up to week-long tours.
Distillery Tour of Edinburgh Gin Distillery: If you want to experience one of the best gins from Edinburgh, you can do so with a tour of the distillery and tasting. This distillery offers a few tours (they book 1-2 months in advance) for an opportunity to experience a local tradition.
Explore the Old Town: The historic side of Edinburgh has much to discover. You could spend an hour or two working your way from the castle, in and out of the layered streets.
Walk around the Circus Lane Neighborhood: The famous Circus Lane is beautiful and this neighborhood has much to offer. Small boutiques and shops line the streets parallel to the lane, so if you’re up to go shopping, head here.
Shop local at the Farmers’ Market: There are two popular farmers’ markets in the city you can’t miss if you’re there on the weekend. The first is on Saturday called the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market on Castle Terrace. The second one is on Sunday called Stockbridge Market on Saunders Street (this one was my favorite), you can even have lunch from one of the vendors.
Catch the sunset at Calton Hill: One of the best views over the city, sunset from here is worth the short climb. I’d come here with friends and soak in the last light over Edinburgh.
Visit the Edinburgh Castle: You can visit inside the castle or take in views of it from the courtyard. I didn’t have time to go inside but it came highly recommended to visit. Be sure to purchase your tickets well in advance to avoid lines.