On the shores of the North Sea and only three hours from the Highlands, Edinburgh enjoys access to fresh, quality seafood and game as well as Scotland’s famous Angus beef. Restaurants like Ondine and Michelin-starred The Kitchin use the best of them.
Scotland’s cuisine is unique in more ways than haggis and black pudding (which Whiski Bar does well). Nights out are usually finished with chip shop specials like deep fried pizzas, macaroni pies and tattie dogs (potato hot dogs, which can be found at The Pie Maker). You’ll find yourself going back for these on late night jaunts. There are also plenty of international options, should you want something different. Dishoom serves up Irani fare, and is a local favorite.
Edinburgh was originally a cluster of villages built around Edinburgh Castle that have merged into the city as we now know it. There are cobbled streets and ups-and-downs that lead to areas with their own personalities, like Leith, which is carved by water and looks out to the North Sea, and the vibrant, student-heavy Marchmont.
Take a walk along the Water of Leith through the heart of picturesque Stockbridge for a tour of beautiful Georgian homes. Though you’re surrounded by the sounds of nature, you’re still only a stone’s throw away from the middle of town. Stop in at independently run shops, like I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger, on your way to the acclaimed Scottish National Gallery on Princes Street.
Standing on an extinct volcano, the castle dominates the city’s skyline. It’s well worth a visit, but the quieter bottom of the Royal Mile shouldn’t be neglected. Save a couple of hours to take in the Scottish Parliament building, Holyrood Palace (the official Royal residence in Scotland) and scale Arthur’s Seat to see Edinburgh from her best angle. Plan your route over the mountain (not as daunting as it sounds) to end with a well-earned pint at The Sheep Heid Inn — the oldest pub in Edinburgh.
Hotel Du Vin offers dark and brooding rooms situated between the pubs of the Grassmarket, George IV bridge and Potterrow. Meanwhile, Le Monde is a contemporary boutique option on George Street, parallel to Princes Street, which runs through the middle of the city.
Edinburgh’s transport system relies mostly on buses, and few operate late at night. It’s best to stay within walking distance to the city center, where you’ll be spending most of your time. Whether it’s at a pub or in the queue at a chippy, be sure to get to know the locals. Scots have a distinct humor and dialect (albeit a baffling one) that they’ll happily share with you, if you can take a few friendly jibes first.
Want to continue exploring Scotland? Enjoy Richard Gaston’s photographs of Lochaber from Herschel Supply’s Well Travelled series…
Written by Emily Badiozzaman
Headline image by J A Uppendahl/Shutterstock