I recently visited this dreamy city with two close friends, and it was a trip full of memories that I will cherish forever. Every corner that you turn in this place uncovers a treasure trove of independent cafes, shops, book stores and more. I was there for four days but there’s plenty to be done over 48 hours, especially if you prioritise and move fast! I have compiled some of the best places to visit, shop, eat and drink, so that if you go, you can have the Edinburgh experience without wasting any time.
Food and Drink:
Edinburgh had an abundance of places for food and drink, with some being more expensive than others, but I have a dangerous “treat yourself” mentality on holiday so I don’t usually mind spending a little extra here and there if I know it’s going to be some good grub. If you’re looking for breakfast or brunch, Urban Angel on Hanover Street is the place to go, serving up a quintessential brunch menu, including fresh avocado on crispy sourdough bread and sweet french toast. I had Eggs Benedict with bacon and a latte and it was so delicious. The great thing about this place is that they serve breakfast and brunch all day, so if you’ve woken up feeling a little rough from a night out, you know where to go.
If it’s lunch that you’re looking for, Maison Bleue was a great spot on the popular and very central Victoria Street. This restaurant caught my eye due to its 2-course lunch menu for £12.90, and I also saw bruschetta and steak and chips, which won me over (that’s basically my desert island meal). This was good quality food for a fairly reasonable price, especially when considering its location.
Finally, for dinner my friends and I wanted to visit somewhere that was very iconic to Edinburgh, which lead us to Cafe Royal on Register Street. This is a lofty and ornate tile-adorned Victorian bar. A little tip to keep in mind if visiting this restaurant is that it’s split in to two sections, one being the oyster bar serving seafood specialities on the pricier side, and the other being the drinks bar that was a lot more casual and laid-back, perfect for students like my friends and me.
Other Places for Food and Drink…
- The Wall (coffee and pastries)
- The Milkman (coffee and pastries)
- Cold Townhouse (pizza and beer)
- Brewhemia (cocktails)
- The Devils Advocate (cocktails)
- Dragonfly (cocktails)
As a lover of vintage clothing, my mission was to track some down in Edinburgh. Those Were The Days on St Stephen Street is a small bridal and vintage boutique, bursting with colourful and eclectic pieces. For some more affordable vintage, Armstrong’s Vintage is your place and it luckily has three stores across the city. I bought what look like a brand-new pair of jeans for £15 in one of the branches, which was also full of colourful shirts, cool belts and unique jewellery. If you were looking to jazz up your room at university or home, Caoba on Raeburn Place is a perfect little shop, full of hand-made and hand-picked Mexican-style goods. I bought the most beautiful painted tiles that have various patterns on them, which ranged from £1-5 depending on size, so this shop was really great for affordable and cool decorations. For the book-worms out there, Edinburgh is definitely the city for you. Armchair Books on West Port looks as if it has been plucked from a fairy-tale, full of charm and all of the literature that you’d ever want. The historian in me jumped out and I ended up buying four books despite having no space in my hand luggage for the flight home, but they only came to £10!
Other Places to Shop…
- Paper Tiger (gifts and stationary)
- The Edinburgh Book Shop (books and more books)
- Fudge Kitchen (fudge, need I say more?)
- Homer (home-ware and gifts)
- Godiva (clothes and jewellery)
- Cranachan and Crowdie (Scottish food, drink and gifts)
Things to Do:
Of course if you’re in Edinburgh, you should probably visit the Castle. My friends and I weren’t too fussed about going inside and instead opted for just walking around the main archway at the front of the castle, which still gives you amazing views of the building. I feel like I still got to experience the castle despite not paying to properly go inside, so I would really recommend this if you wanted to save some money for something else. If you do choose to go inside the castle I would recommend booking online, as the fee is a little cheaper (£17.50) rather than buying tickets at the gate (£19.50).
If you leave the castle and walk along the famous Royal Mile, you will reach the gorgeous Palace of Holyroodhouse. Students can go in for £13.50 and, I may be biased as a humanities student, but this place was so worth it. You can spend an afternoon exploring the rooms where our current Queen Elizabeth II resides when in Scotland. During my visit there was an exhibition on called A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, featuring the wedding outfits worn by Meghan and Harry at their wedding in May 2018. To see the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding dress, created by the British designer and Artistic Director at Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller, was a real treat as it is such a poignant piece in fashion history. This exhibition runs until the 6th October 2019.
Other Things to Do…
- The Real Mary King’s Close (creepy but fun underground walk, £14.25 for students)
- Arthur’s Seat (cardio plus gorgeous views, free)
- Calton Hill (Athenian-style architecture and an observatory, free)
- The National Museum of Scotland (an array of fun and interactive exhibitions, free)
- Dean Village (picturesque oasis of calm in the city, free)
If you are looking for a chilled but memorable city break, whack on some tartan and get to Edinburgh!