Home to the world’s largest arts festival and the infamous fire parade during Hogmanay, Edinburgh isn’t short of world attention.
Although navigate your way through the narrow cobblestone streets or wander up the hills and you find Edinburgh has more to offer than just the iconic sound of the bagpipes.
Scotland’s capital city is a town full of hidden gems. From decadent dining in a converted merchant house to a Swedish-inspired coffee shop below Edinburgh’s popular shopping strip, George Street, the charm of the city lies beyond the Castle walls.
The Witchery by the Castle
Coined Scotland’s most famous restaurant, The Witchery by the Castle is dining at its finest. Hidden in a sixteenth-century merchant’s house, the restaurant remains reminiscent of its past with gothic décor and lavish furnishings. The menu showcases Scotland’s seasonal produce including Cairngorm venison and Isle of Mull scallops. Its candlelit charm makes it a popular romantic destination for lunch or dinner. During fine weather, although an unlikely event in the unpredictable weather of the UK, the Witchery also offers al fresco dining in the Secret Garden.
Ting Thai Caravan
This restaurant is a crowd favourite! Serving a variety of authentic Thai street food, Ting Thai Caravan has been the local and tourists go to Thai. This popular restaurant is located beside the Edinburgh University quarter so do expect lines during peak lunch and dinner. But it’s worth the wait! Food is served in simple takeaway boxes which means the flavours to take centre stage. From spicy beef salad to wok fried egg noodles with duck, Ting Thai Caravan provides the goods and the spice! The modern and industrial decor adds to the urban coolness and relaxed atmosphere of the place.
The Tower Restaurant
If fresh local food and stunning views sound like your ideal dining choice, need to look no further than The Tower Restaurant. Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, The Tower offers panoramic views of Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile and National Museum of Scotland. Brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are available at the restaurant with a 200 bin wine list waiting to be explored.
This Michelin star restaurant brings French cooking techniques to British seasonal cuisines. Chef Tom Kitchin’s philosophy is ‘From Nature to Plate’, demonstrating a passion for fresh produce and best quality ingredients which are supplied daily. The restaurant’s décor is also a reflection of this, designed in neutral materials and tones to create an intimate dining experience. The Kitchin, once a whiskey bonded warehouse, pays homage to its past through its creation of Scottish traditional dishes with a modern flair.
The Devil’s Advocate
Whisky is synonymous with Scotland so what would a trip to Edinburgh really be without a whiskey tasting? The Devil’s Advocate holds an incredible collection of both Scottish and world whiskeys from Taiwanese to Dutch classics. The bar shelves over 400 different whiskeys, so a whiskey flight is the best way to taste a variety and pick your favourite. Whisky is not for the faint-hearted, and those less inclined are not neglected with a large range of unique cocktails on offer. Lola Cola and Red Setter are recommended.
The creative duo behind the BrewDog, Martin Dickie, and James Watt are passionate about great craft beer and have made it their mission to bring it to the world. Ten years after their first opening and with now 46 bars to their name, BrewDog is a favourite amongst locals and visitors no matter the city. BrewDog Edinburgh opened in 2011 and has since become a leading player in the Scottish craft beer revolution. Exposed brickwork, quirky furniture, and friendly staff stir feelings of nostalgia of your university days.
The Golf Tavern
This wouldn’t be a true Edinburgh travel guide if there wasn’t at least one traditional pub on the list and The Golf Tavern is your classic Scottish pub. Hidden a little out of the town centre, this small tavern is perfect for a weeknight pint or Saturday night screening of the football. Golf clubs are up for grabs too for any punter willing to take a swing. Serving delicious hearty food and Scottish classic beers, The Golf Tavern is the perfect place for a good night out.
Attention coffee lovers! Lowdown is a coffee shop not to be missed during a visit to Edinburgh. Hidden below one of Edinburgh’s main shopping streets, George Street, this small and simplistically designed café makes a big mark on the Edinburgh coffee scene. Inspired by a Scandinavian kitchen, the minimalistic aesthetic allows the coffee making to take centre stage as customers watch from beans to mug. Homemade soups, sandwiches, and pastries are also on offer for a perfect morning treat.
The Balmoral Hotel
The Balmoral Hotel is a landmark of Edinburgh, rich with history and breathtaking architecture. Situated on one of the city’s main streets, Princess Street, The Balmoral is a five-star luxury experience. Designer, Olga Polizzi designed the hotel’s 168 rooms to perfect a combination of modern and traditional. Guests are offered front row seats to the views of Edinburgh Castle and Scots Monument from the comfort of their suite.
Fraoch House Bed and Breakfast
If you are looking for something a little cosier Edinburgh is full of beautiful guest houses and bed and breakfasts and Fraoch House is no exception. Located in a Victorian building this B&B has 7 en-suite rooms and 2 bedrooms. Fraoch House is only a 15 minute walk to Princess Street offering a suitable alternative to an inner city hotel.
Although only 10 minutes away from the bustling city centre, Prestonfield Hotel feels like a world away. Situated in 20 acres of beautiful gardens with an incredible view of Arthur’s Seat, this hotel is perfect for an escape. Each of the 18 rooms is uniquely designed with antiques and traditional Scottish textures. The hotel prides itself on its opulence and luxury which is unreviled by any other hotel in the city. The large grounds also make this a dog-friendly hotel to ensure everyone can enjoy a getaway.
Summerhall is a creative’s heaven. This multi- arts venue is the Queen of Edinburgh’s art scene, hosting all kinds of creative events such as theatre shows, exhibitions, live music nights and dance performances. The ever changing program keeps the venue fresh and exciting and makes it a hot-spot during the Fringe Festival . As the former Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, the building remains unique through it’s restoration and maintenance of it’s previous purpose. Think taxidermy and dissection rooms as performance spaces. On the unlikely event that the venue has no scheduled performance, Summerhall is still worth a visit for its great menu at the bistro or a drink at its own onsite brewery which produces Summerhall Pale Ale.
Royal Botanic Garden
Now before you jump to conclusions that this is simply a place for families to picnic let me stop you! The Royal Botanic Gardens is a wonderful destination for a wander through the lush flora or for a quick escape from the bustling city. The Tropical Palms Glasshouse is the star of Gardens with romantic design and unique selection of palms. Be sure to check out what’s on with events such as art exhibitions often held during the year.