A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh

Welcome to the third post of my blog series ‘A Local’s City Guide to’. In this series I’m asking travel-savvy women from around the world to share local knowledge on the city they call home. Meet Louise Brown, an Edinburgh-based travel and lifestyle writer at The Little Things. Louise is passionate about her city of Edinburgh and has curated this guide exclusively for The Travelista. Here is a Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh…

Edinburgh Castle

An Introduction to Edinburgh

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, and although small – it’s got a big personality. Edinburgh is only an hour train journey away from Glasgow, with just a few hours drive to the heart of the highlands; a perfect location in the central belt of Scotland.

Edinburgh has been my home for over four years now since graduating from university. I was brought to Edinburgh by a matter of fate, when my boyfriend Luke, who studied here as a student, moved here for university seven years ago.

I boarded the train to Edinburgh from my small hometown of Preston in England. It was in December that I first visited Edinburgh and I remember the glistening Christmas lights illuminating the city I would become to call home. Passing by the lit up gothic architecture as the train pulled into the station, I was in love and it was just the beginning.
 national museum 2

Weekend Highlights

My favourite way to spend a weekend here is taking a walk away from the city centre, and heading down to the urban village of Stockbridge. Passing along the Water of Leith and the Dean Village, taking in a moment’s peace from the hustle and bustle of the city above.

Stopping off at the farmers market, taking a look at the best local produce on offer, from artisan bread to cheeses. Stopping along my way back to grab a cup of tea and a slice of cake at one of Edinburgh’s many independent cafes. Walking home along Circus Lane, full of the most beautiful mews houses I one day aspire to own!

In the evening I’ll take a look at what’s on at one of the many independent theatres and cinemas Edinburgh has to offer. Be sure to check out the Dominion Cinema, a beautiful art deco cinema, which first opened in 1938. It’s also a well-known local fact that this is one of film director, Quentin Tarantino’s, favourite cinemas to visit.

circus lane

water of Leith

The Edinburgh Festival 

Edinburgh is home to the world’s largest art festival – the Fringe. Happening annually each August, it’s home to some of the best theatre, cabaret, comedy, and even circus acts. There’s no place like it in the world, you can be watching Shitfaced-Shakespeare one moment, to turn around and find someone swallowing fire whilst balancing on ten chairs over on the next street corner.

Edinburgh Fringe

stockbridge food market

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
The Top 5 of Everything

With Edinburgh being such a small city, it’s very easy to see all the main sights in a 72-hour visit. Home to so many fabulous independent coffee shops and restaurants, it’s even got a few Michelin stars under it’s belt too. Not that we like to brag that is…

Top 5: Restaurants

Dishoom
3 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2BD

Dishoom has quickly become one of my all time favourites. After first opening in London, it opened its first restaurant in Edinburgh back in 2016. Serving up incredible Indian food, and even a brunch menu – of which their bacon naan bread is quite possibly one of the best things on offer for breakfast. 

The Witchery
352 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2NF

Although definitely an indulgence, The Witchery is located at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle. If that isn’t grand enough for you, its interiors remain classically old school and steeped in historical gothic surroundings. 

The Scran & Scallie
1 Comely Bank Rd, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1DT

The creation of two Edinburgh Michelin starred chefs, the gastro pub The Scran & Scallie was always going to have high expectations. Serving up Scottish delights, from lobster ravioli, fresh oysters, and pub staples of game pie to classic fish and chips.

Locanda De Gusti
102 Dalry Rd, Edinburgh EH11 2DW

Located in Edinburgh’s west end, Locanda De Gusti feels like you’ve been transported to an Italian nonna’s kitchen. With the interiors feeling like a classic Italian dining room, utensils hanging on the walls and chefs from Naples themselves, they have a very high standard. Locanda De Gusti is great for steak and seafood.

The Gardener’s Cottage
1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Rd, Edinburgh EH7 5DX

First opening it’s doors in 2012, The Gardener’s Cottage has a simple ethos: a great sense of place, with seasonal food, connecting the diner, producer and landscape. It’s menu changes daily depending on seasonal fresh produce, which has all been locally sourced.

30276358531_89fc48fd7c_o steak-food-photography

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
Top 5: Cocktail Bars

Bramble Bar & Lounge
16A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JE

Winner of countless cocktail awards, Bramble can be a bit hit and miss whether you can even get in. Only small inside, it’s full of hidden alcoves, with a distressed cosy look inside, full of tea lights with a relaxed speakeasy feel.

Under the Stairs
3A Merchant St, Edinburgh EH1 2QD

Wonderfully cosy and relaxing, you’ll find Under the Stairs, quite literally, under the stairs as a basement bar. It’s dimly lit inside and is full of cosy furnishings and old armchairs with vintage clocks. Open from noon for teas and coffees, and even hot chocolates with a little extra tipple of liqueur inside. A delightful place to rest your feet and rewind after a days adventure, they also offer great food with local produce and ingredients.

Panda & Sons
79 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 4NF

One of the coolest ‘secret’ bars around, and a convert bar for cocktail connoisseurs. On the outside it looks like a regular barbershop, but look a little closer, and hidden behind a secret bookcase door, you’ll find the entrance to Panda & Sons.

Dragonfly
52 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LD

Dragonfly bar is a unique and award-winning cocktail bar in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. A mix between glamorous Oriental luxe and a vintage shop, its interiors include everything from oversized chandeliers, to karate wallpaper. Best known for their amount of gins on offer, everything is dedicated to the art of mixology.

The Devil’s Advocate
9 Advocate’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1ND

Arguably one of the most beautiful bars in the Old Town, you’ll find The Devil’s Advocate down Advocates Close. A wonderfully atmospheric bare-brick interior with beams and dark wood, it’s a combination of a modern bistro-bar with some of the city’s best cocktails.

cocktail-bars-edinburgh

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
Top 5: Places to go for Breakfast or Brunch

Hula Café, West Bo
103-105 W Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2JP

Combining a love of the Scandinavian way of life with coffee and culture. Hula has been serving up fresh juice delights and wholefoods for over ten years. Try their popular sourdough avocado sandwich or acai super-food bowl with an organic boosting chia shake on the side. They also offer great food options for gluten free and vegan diets.

Milk, Morrison Street
232 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8EA

One of my all time favourites, Milk is my most attended local café. Serving up wonderful fresh meals daily, with the most amazing cakes. They also offer breakfast all day on weekends, which is just my cuppa tea.

New Town Deli
23 Henderson Row, Edinburgh EH3 5DH

Situated just on the outskirts of Stockbridge, the New Town Deli is always a hive of activity with the locals. Try one of my personal favourites, a Cumberland sausage baguette with caramelised red onion and mango chutney with a caramel latte on the side. It’s only small inside, but all food can be taken to go.

Badger + Co
32 Castle St, Edinburgh EH2 3HT

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Badger & Co is effortlessly cool and oh so Pinterest-worthy inside. All of their food is locally sourced and homemade daily. Try a full Scottish breakfast to keep you fuelled for the day, or some homemade granola with fresh oranges and bananas with a dollop of yogurt. Wash it all down with a giant cup of tea, of course.

Stockbridge Saturday Market, Stockbridge

If you’re looking for something on the go, head to Stockbridge for their weekly fresh produce market, with everything from savoury pies to paella. My personal favourite vendor here is Harajuku Kitchen, fulfilling all my pork dumpling cravings and transporting me back to Tokyo, in the heart of Edinburgh.

milk

badger & co

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
Top 5: Coffee Shops

Lovecrumbs
155 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP

Lovecrumbs is one of my personal favourites. You’ll find it on West Port, approaching Grassmarket. Grab yourself the window bay seat amongst the cushions and watch the world go by outside. Serving up delightful daily cake creations and the finest loose tea. 

The Milkman
Toddle In, 7 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BP

A small and cosy coffee stop, The Milkman was previously a traditional sweetshop, which has been lovingly restored, maintaining the original sign. Take a step back in time for a while and relax with a hot cup of coffee.

Cairngorm Coffee
1 Melville Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7PR

One of the latest cool kids on the block Cairngorm Coffee is a popular spot amongst locals. A mix between ski-chalet and highland bothy, it’s a perfect cosy spot to watch the world go by. Also serving up the likes of a classic cheese and bacon toastie, with a damn fine cup of coffee.

Brew Lab
6-8 S College St, Edinburgh EH8 9AA
 

If you’re both a science nerd, and a coffee lover, Brew Lab is for you. With their periodic elements chart of coffee on the wall to choose from, they’re dedicated to serving up the best brew.

Wellington Coffee
33A George St, Edinburgh EH2 2HN

Escape the hustle and bustle of George Street, and head below to the basement café of Wellington Coffee. Although only small inside, it has a lovely relaxing atmosphere and is the perfect spot to grab a cream scone with your coffee or tea.

coffee-shop-spring-time

coffee-shop-brownies

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
Best Place to go for Haggis

Teuchers Landing
1c Dock Pl, Edinburgh EH6 6LU

If you’re coming to Scotland, you’ll know that aside from bagpipes, highland cows, Irn Bru and kilts – haggis is a pretty big thing. If you’re going to try it, do it properly. Good haggis is great, and should have a hint of spice to it too. Head to Teuchters Landing, tucked away on the Shore; where they serve haggis neeps and tatties (that’s parsnips and potatoes to the nae Scottish folk) by the cup. Because well, plates are over rated anyway.

greyfriars bobby

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
The Hidden Gems of Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh is home to so many great museums and galleries, that it’s easy to spend a day getting totally immersed in them. The National Museum of Scotland is popular with tourists and locals alike. It’s a less than known fact however, that you can take a ride up to the roof terrace garden. Here you’ll find a breath-taking view across the whole city and a little moments peace to yourself too.

royal mile bagpipes

Stockbridge Colonies

Being such a historic city, Edinburgh has some truly beautiful buildings. First built back in 1861, the Colonies of Stockbridge is a tiny almost village like community. Step back in time as you explore the Colonies and their beautiful stone features. Still to this day the community living here host street parties and local quizzes and even have an annual duck race. We are all a little mad here in Edinburgh, after all!

stockbridge

Calton Hill

Although it’s an obvious viewpoint from Princes Street, it’s not often Calton Hill gets the attention it deserves. Take a short walk up to the top to get the best view of Edinburgh’s skyline, and see out to the ocean. It’s here you’ll also find what appears to be an ancient Athenian acropolis. But don’t be fooled, the building began in 1822 and was never finished due to a lack of funding. So instead it was left to look like a ruin, but makes for a great photo opportunity today!

Louise forth road bridge

A Local’s City Guide to Edinburgh
Where to Stay

The Grassmarket Hotel
94-96 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JR

In the heart of the Grassmarket itself, you’ll find The Grassmarket Hotel. As an area, the Grassmarket is an iconic part of the Old Town, and has great access to almost every sight in the city. Combining modern living with Scottish throwbacks, its interiors are fun and inspiring. Great for if you’re on a budget, the hotel rooms average around £112 a night for a double room. Book Now.

Old Town Chambers
3, Roxburgh’s Court, 323 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1LW

The Old Town Chambers are tucked away down Roxburgh’s Close just off the Royal Mile. Although it’s just off one of the busiest streets in the city centre, you’ll not hear a peep at night. These are services apartments and are great for couples or families wanting their own space in the heart of the city. You’ll also be able to cook for yourself here and they offer all the facilities you could need for a home, away from home. Prices start around £180 a night for an apartment for a family of four. Book Now.

One Royal Circus
1 Royal Circus, Edinburgh EH3 6TL

For something with a little more modern luxury, try One Royal Circus; A boutique B&B one of Edinburgh’s most elegant Georgian crescents in the New Town. Where antiques meet Philippe Starck furniture in the same living space. Have a play on the baby grand piano, or enjoy a tipple at the retro bar. The run of the house is yours, live like a local for a while. Book Now.

old town chambers 3

old town chambers 1

About the Author

Louise is an Edinburgh based travel and lifestyle writer at The Little Things. Sharing all of the little things in life, which make her smile. Alongside her day job as a graphic designer, she attempts to travel the world one photograph at a time, and is always looking for the next adventure. Follow her travels over on Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin.

What did you think to Louise’s city guide to Edinburgh? Are you planning a trip to Edinburgh soon or do you know the city well yourself? If there’s anywhere you think that has been missed out or if you simply enjoyed this post, then please leave a comment in the box below! Jess x 

Want to read more in the ‘A Local’s Guide to’ series? Check out

Louise

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2 Comments

  1. 1st April 2017 / 9:44 am

    I’ve only visited Edinburgh once and it was years ago for work! I’d love to go back, The Witchery has always been on my bucket list!

    • Jessica
      4th April 2017 / 9:15 am

      My Dad is from Edinburgh so my Grandma lives there but honestly I still don’t know the city that well! I love the vibe there though and feel like it’s somewhere I could definitely live. Loads of cool cafes and a very artistic feel. The Witchery looks great also! xx

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