Edinburgh City Guide

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If Edinburgh were a person, how would we describe her? With ancient architecture, meandering cobbled streets and rich history, Edinburgh is distinguished and beguiling.

She’s highly creative, entertaining millions of visitors from around the world with Festivals showcasing the arts, performance, literature, science, music and comedy.  Edinburgh is nothing but congenial, offering comfortable hostelries for her guests, seeking out her finest produce and conceiving a diverse collection of watering holes and venues.  

But at heart she’s an outdoor kind-of-a girl with rolling hills, waterways and parklands to enjoy. She’s the sum of her parts, a split personality kind of a city, encompassing anything from a haughty Morningside grandeur, working class Leith to the haphazard chaos of the Old Town.

She proudly embodies the best of the Scottish spirit, playing host to a Parliament passionately chasing Independence. And all this with her unique sing song lilt and funny phrases; auch aye the noo (Oh I know).

Yet Edinburgh’s eclectic style and beauty has inspired generations of writers, musicians and creative, everyone from 19th Century Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, to Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling.  Quite simply people adore her. And for all these reasons, Edinburgh is worth meeting and getting to know better.

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Been to Edinburgh and seen it all?  Haud yer wheesht – keep it down – not on your Nelly you haven’t. For a seriously small city, there’s a never-ending range of possibilities to keep everyone busy.  First timers should tick off their favourites and returnees delve further into her ancient nooks and crannies.

Edinburgh Castle

A site of Scottish Royalty, bloody battles and grizzly secrets this is an absolute must-do. Built on the tip of an extinct volcano, meander through the cobbled streets and soak up the city’s rich history and proud heritage.  Visit the Crown Jewels and Heritage Stone, and take in the breathtaking views to the Firth of Forth.

Camera Obscura – Royal Mile

This quirky Castle-side house of illusion is a hidden gem.  Wend your way up through the optical illusions and nostalgic befuddlement to the camera obscura itself, an 1853 device that use lenses and mirrors to project upside down images of the outside world.

The National Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh’s equivalent to the London’s Natural History, Transport and Science Museums all melded into one, this tarted-up classic is a great distraction to the ancient architecture and free.  If nothing else the giant galleried Great Hall is eye-popping and the mid-level cafe great for people watching.

The Real Mary King’s Close

When the 18th Century Royal Exchange was built, a medieval alleyway was entombed below and remained virtually intact for three hundred years. Take a costumed ghost tour of the preserved thoroughfare for a neck-tingling peek into Edinburgh’s past.

The Royal Mile

Nothing more clearly encompasses Edinburgh’s history than a walk along the cobblestone streets of The Royal Mile, linking Holyrood Palace to the Castle, which houses some of the city’s oldest and most important buildings.  Try spotting a cannonball and a heart or take after dark Ghost Tour.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Like all good palaces, Holyrood has plummy staff and its own ghost – Bald Agnes, a witch who’s been around since 1592.  Be charmed by this historic part of local history, peek into HRH’s State Rooms – closed only when she’s in town – or venture into the extensive Holyrood Gardens.

The Edinburgh Dungeons

Easily spooked folk should best avoid this vaudeville jaunt through Edinburgh’s grim and grizzly past.  A cast of larger-than-life actors combined with gory sets and special effects to vividly bring to life Edinburgh’s most macabre characters and instruments of torture from history.

The Scott Monument

A much-loved icon, this monument celebrates Scotland’s famous author Sir Walter Scott. Work off those foodie excesses by climbing all two hundred and eighty seven steps to the top; the view of Princes Street Gardens sixty metres below is a fiver well spent.

Edinburgh Zoo

Meet the Zoo’s star attractions, Chinese-born giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang whose antics make the trek to Corstorphine worthwhile.  Or frolic with the jaunty penguins and sea lions that thrive in the cool weather climate on the edge of The Pentland Hills.

Inchcolm Island

Venture to the city limits at South Queensferry for a boat ride to the middle of The Firth of Forth and Inchcolm Island.  Visit the romantic medieval priory, see basking grey seals and seabirds whilst taking in the unique perspective back to the city and Castle, and the Firth of Forth’s famous bridges.

The Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh

It’s easy to wax lyrical about the number of plants, rich biodiversity and the fact that it’s Britain’s second oldest garden. But the reason most folk love The Botanics is because of its’ wide-open space, lovingly tended gardens and stunning glasshouses; that and great cakes in the café.


Nothing makes a holiday better than a comfortable bed and Edinburgh serves up plenty of options.  From high-end boutique hotels and opulent country retreats to reliable chains and understated apartments, the only problem is how to settle on just one. So before you lock it in, here’s some inspiration

Cringletie House

For a touch of class beyond the city hustle, settle into this award-winning country house-style hotel in outlying Peebles.  The property has a contemporary-styled interior and fine dining within an elegant Victorian facade.

Doubletree By Hilton Edinburgh

Branded a corporate-esque Art Deco hotel where room, service and food are of an expectedly high standard.  The hotel is well situated for sightseeing in the city centre, a 15-minute walk to The Castle and 30-minute drive from the airport.

Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh

Escape the hoards of Old Town in the classy confines – and sturdy walls – of this medieval classic. Take a dip in the sparkling basement pool or grab a Scottish bite at the popular Itchycoo Bar.

The Carlton Hotel

The Carlton offers modern four-star facilities housed within imposing classic Edinburgh architecture, with stylish rooms, some looking to Arthur’s Seat.  Work off the restaurant’s canny charms in the health club and sweat off the whisky on the squash court.

The Knight Residence

A good option for groups and families, The Knight’s crisp, modern apartments have all mod cons and quirky contemporary artworks throughout.  The central location is a hop, skip and a jump from trendy Grassmarket.

With its landmark clock tower marking the end of Princes Street, The Balmoral is an icon of Edinburgh gentility in a prime location.  The former railway hotel exudes nostalgic Edwardian splendour with elegant rooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant and sumptuous spa.

Nira Caledonia

Within adjacent Georgian townhouses, at the Caledonia you can expect attentive service, richly furnished rooms and locally sourced produce.  With hot tubs and private garden, it makes for an understated yet luxurious Edinburgh base that ticks all the boxes.

Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa

Edinburgh’s local version offers luxury and elegance and is a great choice for conferences. Rooms are large and comfortable with all mod cons; glass walled bathrooms are a glorious touch. Be sure to make time to wind down in the rooftop hydro pool.

The Chester Residence

Chic and indulgent serviced apartment suites in four Georgian Townhouses near Princes Street. Reception and concierge services deliver hotel-like facilities – cleaning, in-room breakfast and spa treatments – in a comfortable home-away-from home setting.


Wake up to the sound of highland cows and peacocks in this baroque seventeenth century five star experience.  Opulent decor, handpicked antiques and Edinburgh’s finest dining, Prestonfield is well worth the budget blowout.  High tea like everything else is indulgent.


From exceptional Michelin-starred experiences to simple basement eateries, Edinburgh is a foodie’s paradise catering to all budgets and genres.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner- delight those tastebuds with the best ideas, innovation and produce Scotland has to offer.  

Make sure to book before you go, to experience these must-eats.

SPECIAL: Kitchen, Restaurant Martin Wishart, 21212, Castle Terrace, No 1 at The Balmoral

The best of Scottish food and ambience delivers plenty of Michelin stars, but prices are hefty and tables hard to come by.  Lunch deals – the full Michelin experience at a fraction of the price – are a great alternative.  

INNOVATORS: Aizle, The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh Food Studio, Timberyard and Norn. Experimental restaurant at the vanguard of modern Scottish cooking; expect set menus featuring the day’s freshly harvested ingredients. Gardener’s and The Food Studio’s both have communal seating if you’re feeling sociable and according to locals, newcomer Norn, featuring fare from Scottish foragers, is the place to watch.

MEAT LOVERS: Buffalo, Field Grill House, Steak and Leith Chop House.

Scotland is all about the beef and carnivores drooling for sirloin and rib eye are well served. The burgers are best at Buffalo’s, for aged-cuts go to Steak and sister Field Grill or meet for a succulent Sunday Roast at The Chop House.

PIZZA: Origano and La Favourita

Origano’s antipastos, sharing plates and home-baked breads make this Leith Walk eatery a choice spot, but it’s the pizzas, catering for all appetites and tastes, which really shine.  La Favourita’s attention to detail cements it as a local’s favourite.

FISH N’ CHIPS: The Ship on The Shore, Fishers, The King’s Wark, and Teuchters Landing

For traditional Scottish fish dinner local chippies – fish and chip takeaways – abound. Head to the pubs and eateries of Leith’s shoreline for crisp battered fish and salted chips, or try grilled fish, mussels, shellfish, soups, platters or fishcakes.


Still in Leith seek out rock solid bistros along the waterfront.  The Canons’ Gait, Edinburgh true gastro pub, or in New Town enjoy the relaxed setting at The Dogs or The Cumberland’s beer garden.  Pricier options include Scran and Scullie and The Honours.


Mother India’s, Bollywood or the basic Mosque Kitchen are the curry go-tos.  Chop Chop offers Chinese with a difference and former pop-up Ting Thai Caravan is recommended.  El Cartel & Bodega are the go-tos for tacos or Broughton Deli’s global menu can’t be beat.

BRUNCH: Bluebird Cafe, Brandon’s of Canonmills, Earthy, Loudon’s & The Pantry

Bluebird delivers huge portions of Southern comfort; vegetarians rate The Pantry and for a treat, try Brandon’s truffle oil chips. Ethical diners head to Social Bite and any of the Earthy venues are best for oddball dietary requirements.

AFTERNOON TEA: Mimi’s Bakehouse, Lovecrumbs and The Elephant House

Mimi’s – of Leith, Old Town and Corstorphine – help pull in the crowds thanks to delectable devilish pastries and gooey cream-stuffed cakes.  For those who prefer savoury, Mimi’s also have plenty of tasty options – pastas, pies, soups and the like. The Elephant House has a wonderful selection of cakes, great coffee and of course is most famous for being the place where J.K. Rowling sat down to write Harry Potter.

ICE CREAM:  Mary’s Milk Bar

Get your lips around some of Edinburgh’s tastiest ice creams, gelatos and sorbets made by the marvellous Mary herself, graduate of Bologna’s Gelato University.   At weekends punters lining up outside her charming Grassmarket store.


What was once a city dominated by old-bloke pubs is today an actual “bar scene” bursting with hip all-inclusive establishments boasting craft beer, locally produced gin and fancy cocktails. Visit for a whole year and never drink in the same place twice. For those with only a few days however, here’s where to go for a bevvie.


If it’s whisky you want, then head to Whiski Rooms on The Mound. With tasting chamber, shop and restaurant, staff know their drams and tipples.  Try a steak or burger with whisky sauce or chutneys or for afters whisky-infused raspberries.


Thirteen is the luckiest of numbers at cocktail joint Lucky Liquor Company which has a revolving quarterly list of just thirteen cocktails. Indulge in something unexpected whilst challenging your drinking buddies to a game of pool.


If gin’s your thing, then Heads and Tales ticks all the boxes. By day visitors come to tour the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and in the evenings the place transforms into a cosy bar celebrating all things juniper, where drinkers can craft their own concoctions.


Beer nuts (get it?) will fall head over heals with Edinburgh’s beer paradise – a hundred and fifty varieties of bottles and cans and a plethora of keg and cask beers on tap.  Can’t decide? Ask the nice beer geeks behind the counter for a sample or book a beer tasting or brew day.


For a Swedish vibe visit one of these – a mini-chain with homely decor and distinctly Scandinavian drink and food vibe (think fish and smorgasbords). Quirky themed events like Sunday arvo pet and owner meets – make them popular all-day social venues.  


Originally a water pump house, today a low-key industrial venue. Grab a comfy booth and choose a dram of whisky from the hundred-plus brews on offer. In the words of one local “The D.A. just gets everything right”.


Lock up your daughters; the naughty funfair theme, alcoholic slushies and retro styling are some of the many reasons HTR is Edinburgh’s hippest cocktail destination. Grab a church pew and use the claw machine to choose your cocktail flavours (yes really).


Where better to experience Edinburgh culture than in the now-achingly cool dockside suburb of Leith. Dating back to 1785, The Carriers is the area’s oldest local and with an unpretentious and cosy air. Hearty food and lively music make for a well-rewarded stopover.


Like its famous Bloody Marys, Morningside’s The Canny Man is a tad old fashioned but still draws crowds wanting an alternative to the hipster vibe.  Expect traditional Scottish hospitality from this family run pub bedecked top to tail with quirky paraphernalia.


Edinburgh does such good coffee, that it’s hard to single out a winner.  Order a take-out from Artisan Roast on Broughton Street, Southside’s Filament, Cairngorm Coffee (West End and Old Town), The Milkman or new kid on the block, August 21 in Comiston and choose.


For such a cosy destination Edinburgh’s shopping scene is eclectically diverse.  From Princes Street’s malls and high street brands, upmarket George Street, the designer labels on Multrees Walk and independent boutiques of the Grassmarket and Victoria Street, all tastes are catered for.


Jump off the tram at Princes Street and experience one of Edinburgh’s original department stores.  Since the 1800s Jenner’s has been feeding locals via its beautiful but faded Food Hall.  Stock up on goodies for the folks back home.  Upmarket Cranachan & Crowdie is another top spot.


While Edinburgh’s old school set chooses Nicolson’s for sporrans and kilts, fashion-forward Scots prefer 21st Century Kilts.  Traditional kilts are tailor made or off-the-peg designer garments in a range of fabrics as well as tartan.  Leather “hipster” kilt anyone?


You know a place has a great range of vintage gear when it’s the go-to for local’s fancy dress clothing. Armstrong’s has a huge and relatively affordable collection of men and women’s vintage clothing. Those Were The Days is another favourite.


Red Door Gallery is a retail hub spruiking artwork, jewellery and gifts and an exhibition space, featuring works from local designers and artists.  Pick up some unique souvenirs or simply browse to see where the Edinburgh art scene is at.


The Grassmarket and meandering Victoria Street is boutique heaven with quirky buys. Keep your head warm with the wares at Fabhatrix. Liquid deli Demijohn has a potion-esque collection of British-made drinks (Gooseberry Gin anyone?), which customers can sample. Or browse the antiquities at nearby Mr Wood’s Fossils.


For hard-to-find or pre-loved vinyl, locals point to Voxbox or Hog’s Head Music. Underground Solu’shn is the go-to for new releases and in-the-know staff are mine of information on local acts. For musos in search of instruments or accessories, Red Dog Music’s range is impressive.


Bookworms wiggle their way to Edinburgh Bookshop in Bruntsfield.  Edinburgh’s Bookseller of the Year is a local favourite thanks to book-related events and an impressive kids section; writer Ian Rankin oft sings its praises.  For pre-loved books, head to Tills or Armchair Books.

Foodie Markets

The Saturday Farmers Markets on Castle Terrace or the Stockbridge version on Sundays are must-go destinations for lip-smacking fresh local produce.  Stock up on smoked salmon, venison burgers and artisan breads for a tasty picnic.

Man Treat

For old-fashioned male grooming and hipster beard-trims, chaps should make a beeline for Ruffians.  With their unique blend of traditional barbering, personal service and modern frippery such as iPads and freshly brewed coffee, it’s a top spot for a discrete man scaping.

And relax

Many of the city’s high-end hotels offer a spa and wellness facility, but The Floatarium Spa’s prime Grassmarket location, delivers on-the-spot post-retail therapy. Will it be a massage, a beauty treatment or a touch of reflexology to recover from hours of energetic shopping?

Sweet treats

Lickety Split’s sweet shop has retro treats in giant glass jars. Fudge connoisseurs favour the fifty-plus varieties on offer at Fudge Kitchen and chocoholics are well served at specialist chocolatier Coco. Catering for traditional and quirky tastes, flavours include Earl Grey, there are also vegan options.


Girls can stay on-trend with local designers, independent brands and hand picked vintage clothing at indie boutique Godiva. The local boy Kestin Hare’s innovative collections have made his boutique the go-to place for hip men’s fashion. ACTIVE

For a city that evolved as a collection of villages, modern day Edinburgh still has a high concentration of green spaces in which to recreate.  When the weather forces even the hardiest of locals to stay undercover, there are still of plenty of ways to keep active indoors.


For first-timers to Edinburgh, the five-kilometre circuit up Arthur’s Seat is a must-do.  Run or walk one of several routes for fantastic views over The Castle and city, or get lost in Holyrood Gardens or Calton Hill.


Limber up for the challenging rock climbing, bouldering and abseiling at one of Europe’s largest indoor climbing centre; Ratho.  For those less keen on rocks and ropes, do a fitness class or tone up in the gym.


Regardless of the weather skiers are guaranteed downhill action all year round at the Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend.  Rent all the gear, take a lesson or experience a twilight run on Europe’s longest artificial ski slope.


Experienced golfers are spoilt for choice at Edinburgh’s myriad of golf clubs.  For novices wanting to try out Scotland’s oldest game, head to Bruntsfield Links where anyone can play the short hole course for free.  Hire clubs from the nearby Golf Tavern.


Visit the city’s many parks or explore walking trails along waterways and into the countryside.  Or head to the city outskirts and The Pentland Hills, a sprawling network of sign-posted paths with spectacular views of the Midlothian countryside.


The Commonwealth Leisure Centre has three pools, gym and the popular Aquarun inflatable obstacle course.  In the shadow of Arthur’s Seat and boasting a recent refurb, the Commie is a popular indoor option for locals.


Try your hand at this traditional Scottish sport played on ice using flat stones and brooms; think a cold version of lawn bowls.  The Edinburgh Curling Club runs occasional try-out sessions and they’re a hoot.


Explore Edinburgh on two wheels via a network of cycle paths and off-road routes tracing redundant nineteenth century railway lines. The Inner Tube is a locally produced map detailing routes and places to stop en route. Paddle

Hire sea kayaks and paddle the magnificent Forth estuary amongst seals, dolphins and sea birds (if you’re lucky you might even spot a puffin). For inner city aqua adventures, Bridge 8 Hub rent kayaks, SUPs and other craft for exploring the canals and waterways of South West Edinburgh.


In summer the locals head to North Berwick, Portobello or Crammond beaches for sand castles, swimming and strolls along the beach front. Don’t miss the seaside amusement arcades and fish and chips.  The Turkish Baths at Portobello are a treat.


The area around Edinburgh is one of the top Scottish destinations for sea and inland fishing. Cast a line in the River Almond or off the waters of Leith.  Local tackle shops and tour operators are a rich source of knowledge.


In August Edinburgh transforms into Europe’s premier cultural hub, doubling in size as it hosts world-renowned festivals of art, performance, comedy, music and literature.  The cultural aura lingers throughout the year with plenty of options to indulge in favourite and surprising cultural experiences.  Here’s our pick of the best:

Memory Lane

Step back in time at The Museum of Childhood, a treasure trove of childhood memories bursting with toys, books and artefacts from the past.  Take the kids by all means, but adults nostalgic for a simpler and technology-free yesteryear will love it most.


Edinburgh has a veritable trifecta of Scottish National galleries – National, Portrait and Modern.  With its city centre site, most visitors dip into The National for a peek at the Great Masters, but on a clear day nothing beats a wander through the gardens and a cuppa at The Modern.


During August’s Comedy Festival upwards of three thousands acts perform.  For the rest of the year, locals head to stalwarts including The Pleasance, The aptly named Banshee Labyrinth and The Stand. The latter’s intimate cabaret bar offers laughs every night and a free Sunday lunchtime show.


Experience dramatic renditions of the works of 18th century Scottish poet, Robert “Rabbie” Burns at his birthday celebrations on January 25th. Raise a toast to the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race” – the haggis – and dine on traditional haggis, neeps and tatties.


The Playhouse, Festival Theatre, Royal Lyceum, The Trav and Summerhall – Edinburgh is bursting with theatre and shows for all tastes and budgets. Around Christmas The King’s Theatre puts on Scottish pantomimes with men dressed as buxom dames, dastardly villains and audience participation – look out behind you!


Inspired by quirky TV host and pianist Jools Holland, The Jam House is the city’s most fun jazz-blues-dinner venue. Dress up for a rousing performance at the former BBC TV studio reborn as an adult only venue.

Live Music

For an offbeat folk experience Sandy Bell’s has a unique vibe. Expect jamming sessions of Celtic-inspired tunes. If you know your way around a harmonica or a ukulele, bring it along and ask to join in. At Sandy Bell’s anything can – and often does – happen.

Scottish Dancing

Grab your partners and head to Lauriston Hall for some boot-scooting Scottish Country dancing. Let passionate local Ken Gourlay and his ceilidh band introduce you to the Dashing White Sergeant and eightsome reel at his popular monthly dance night.

Independent Cinema

The Filmhouse is a popular choice for art house, Indie and current movies.  Home of The Edinburgh International Film Festival it packs a punch throughout the year with its’ international film offerings and occasional presentations by famous filmmakers.


Edinburgh bursts to life in the summer months when the sun sets long after ten o’clock, visitors descend and festival season is in full swing. But beyond that no matter the weather, there’s never a dull moment in the Scottish capital. So make a date to see …

January: The Great Winter Run

Beat the freezing temperatures and short days by joining the other runners in this much-loved Edinburgh fun run up and around Arthur’s Seat. With fantastic views over The Castle, The Forth and Holyrood Palace and proceeds going to charity, why wouldn’t you?

February to May:  Six Nations Rugby Tournament

Snare a ticket to see the National Rugby Union team face their English, French and Italian rivals on the hallowed turf at Murrayfield Stadium.  Nothing stirs the loins quite like a hundred thousand Scotsmen in kilts belting out a chorus of the “Flower of Scotland”.   

April:  The Beltane Fire Festival

Edinburgh celebrates the end of a long cold winter in this Gaelic-Celtic Spring Festival.  In ye olden days communities would perform all manner of fire-related rituals and dances, many of which feature at Beltane. The end-of-summer version is October’s Samhuinn.

June:  The Royal Highland Show

Celebrate the best in Scottish food, farming and rural life the way locals have been doing for nearly two hundred years. Who wouldn’t want to write home and tell the folks about The Highland Cows, Caber Tossing and Scottish Dancing Competitions?

August:  The Edinburgh International Festival

Billed as the world’s premier Arts Festival, for over seventy years audiences have flocked to the EIF to see the best of music, theatre, opera and dance from around the world.  For those with the cash for the hefty ticket prices, performances are world-class.

August:  The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The fringe totally transforms Scotland’s capital when thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages for shows catering for every taste. Highlights include The Edge, featuring new and established music acts and the belly laughs at the perennially popular Comedy Festival.

August:  Royal Edinburgh Tattoo.

A show featuring British and Commonwealth Military regiments isn’t an obvious crowd pleaser, but it’s essential to see The Tattoo at least once.  Expect marching bands, dancing and vehicular thrills, but the scale, pomp and Castle setting, make this an iconic and mesmerising spectacular.

September:  Riding of the Marches

Where but Edinburgh would you celebrate the defeat of the Scottish Army in a 16th century battle?  The spectacular cavalcade of over two hundred horses and riders making their way up the Royal Mile really is quite unique.

November / December:  Christmas Markets / Winter Festival

Princes Street Gardens transforms into a twinkly winter wonderland with ice-skating, Ferris wheel and traditional German markets.  Warm the cockles with a glass of mulled wine or eggnog and imbibe in the Christmas spirit.

December / January: Hogmanay

Join Edinburghers for their unique three-day New Year celebrations inspired by ancient pagan winter solstice shindigs.  With a bagpipe-lead torchlight street procession, Princes Street Party, Castle fireworks and The Loony Dook, a morning-after dip in The River Forth, go the whole “hog” and do it all.


There must be something in the water in Edinburgh. For centuries the city has inspired hundreds of movies, books and TV series and many famous creatives call the city home. Just off The Royal Mile, be sure to visit The Writers Museum in Lady Stairs Close, home to a great collection of memorabilia related to the city’s famous writers. Before you visit, crack open a bottle of red, curl up in a tartan blanket and get into the zone…


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson (1886)

An absolute classic in which Edinburgh features as the setting for Dr Jekyll’s struggle between his good and dark personalities.

The Inspector Rebus Books by Ian Rankin (1987-)

Ian Rankin has made a career out of the maverick policeman DI Rebus who investigates murder, crime and corruption in Edinburgh and in 2017 expect some celebratory publishings.

Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling (1997-2007)

Credited with opening the city to a new cult following, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize Edinburgh’s influence in the classic world of Hogwarts and the boy wizard.

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (2005)

A modern tale of the quirky characters that live in a house in the Bohemian New Town suburb of the City.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox By Maggie O’Farrell (2006)

Esme Lennox is locked away in a mental institution by her family and forgotten.  Sixty years later family secrets and betrayal are exposed when she is released into the care of her grand niece.

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (2006)

A page-turner about a curmudgeonly private investigator that witnesses a violent crime during the Edinburgh Festival.


The Prime of Ms Jane Brodie (1969)

Inspired by writer Muriel Sparks’ own time at local Gillespie’s School, the tale of a select group of female students in the 1930s under the tutelage of an Edinburgh teacher.

Shallow Grave (1984)

Danny Boyle’s big screen debut about a suitcase stashed with cash and a dead flatmate made home hunters across the city think twice.

Trainspotting (1994)

No film has done more to put the city on the map in modern times than this gritty tale about Edinburgh’s drug scene.  Who can forget the opening scene of Ewan McGregor and Ewan Bremner sprinting along Princes Street?

Burke & Hare (2010)

This modern adaption of Britain’s eponymous body snatchers uses Edinburgh’s grim architecture to successfully recreate the spooky 19th century graveyards including a scene set in – but not the actual – Greyfriars Kirkyard.

One Day (2011)

A soppy romantic comedy starring Anne Hathaway in which the paths of two Edinburgh University graduates criss cross over the decades.

Sunshine on Leith (2013)

A feel good musical movie featuring songs from Scottish crooners The Proclaimers and the city’s portside suburb of Leith.


A perfect day in Edinburgh.

Whilst she’s small, Edinburgh packs a punch with the sheer amount on offer, but explore by foot or the hop-on-hop-off circular bus route and an overnight stay will easily deliver a packed but satisfying schedule.  

7:00 am

Rise and shine! In summer the sun will have been up for an hour already so limber up and take a power run up Arthur’s Seat and breathe in the beautiful Scottish air.

8:30 am

Time for a caffeine hit. Follow The Royal Mile to The Milkman, where size is not everything and the brew is top notch.  

09:15 am

Those in the know pre-book Castle tickets and are first in the line when the Gates open.  If not, you’re in the right spot for the Camera Obscura or The Real Mary King’s Close.

10:30 am

Head to Mum’s Great Comfort Food on Forrest Road for a plate of pancakes and maple syrup to boost your energy levels.

11:30 am

Visit the shops around The Grassmarket and Victoria Street. Hunt for gifts and get something nice for yourself while you’re at it.

1:00 pm

Take your pick of cafes and restaurants in The Grassmarket – our picks would be Mary’s Milk Bar for a pasty and a lemon sorbet, or Ristorante Gennaro for pizza or Panini.

3:00 pm

Wander through the Galleries at Chambers Street Museum of Scotland or if you’d rather some fresh air, nip down to Princes Street Gardens, before nipping into Jenner’s Food Hall for some Scottish Oatcakes to take home.

4:00 pm

Jump on a tram (or bus) and head to Bruntsfield. Wander through the Meadows or have a game of golf on the Links course; no one minds how bad you do, honest.

6:00 pm

As my Morningside granny used to say, “The sun’s over the yardarm so it must be time for a gin”.  Better still, a cocktail at Princes Street’s Hoot The Redeemer


Make yourself presentable and catch a cab to Norn’s on Henderson Street to experience the zeitgeist of modern Scottish cuisine.

9:30 PM

Time for a show. During Festival time pre-book tickets to the hottest shows in town at The Pleasance Theatre Trust or have a lucky dip on an unknown comedy act. For the rest of the year, check out what’s on at the Edinburgh Theatre Guide.


Wander through Princes Street Gardens to The Whiski Rooms on The Mound for a nightcap or two, the perfect end to the perfect day.

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