There’s always a hint of the holiday blues in Edinburgh at this time of year. It seems like overnight the influx of festival visitors vacate the city, making spaces that once seemed filled-to-burst seem a little sparse.
During August natives of Edinburgh become living Google maps, dutifully providing directions to eager tourists, and every now and again a traveller will ask the whereabouts of a place you had forgot existed. With two coffees in tow I was halted in the street with the request for directions to The Black Cat pub. I hadn’t been to The Black Cat since my student days, back then it was my drinking-hole of choice mainly because it was halfway and thus a natural meeting point between my flat and where my best friend stayed, but also because it has an endless library of whiskies and fantastic folk music.
The encounter got me thinking about my other most beloved (and sometimes forgotten) places in Edinburgh…and here’s my top ten!
1 Queen Street, EH2 1JD
One of the most beautiful buildings in Edinburgh. The gallery hosts a permanent collection as well as frequent temporary exhibitions from the best-known names in portraiture. Be sure to check out the stunning Great Hall ceiling depicting the zodiac.
145-147 West Port, EH3 9DP
Located just off the famous Grassmarket, Edinburgh Books it a treasure trove of rare books with a small but excellent selection of books on architecture and design. You may even be lucky enough to pick up some first editions for next to nothing!
151 West Port, EH3 9DP
Just next door to Edinburgh Books is Herman Brown, a boutique vintage clothing shop. It’s often overshadowed by the popular Armstrong’s vintage but with a carefully curated selection of vintage accessories and jewellery Herman Brown always comes up trumps for me.
Most beach visitors will head to Portobello Beach, Newhaven harbour with its tiny beach accessible only when the tide is out, and the newly open The Fishmarket boasting the best fish and chips in the city makes it my favourite.
Newbattle Terrace, EH10 4RT
Watch the latest movie releases in Art Deco settings, with comfy armchairs to boot.
1 Customs Wharf, EH6 6AL
A centre for design and craft located at The Shore. The space hosts regular talks and exhibitions to promote modern design and making in Scotland plus they have an excellent coffee shop, Williams and Johnson, that roasts their own coffee on site.
The Sheep Heid Inn
43-45 The Causeway, EH15 3QA
Another student favourite, mainly for its skittle alley. The Sheep Heid is the oldest serving pub in Edinburgh and they’ve definitely perfected the art of a perfect pint. Oh, and its dog friendly!
Blackford Hill, EH9 3HJ
Blackford Hill boasts one of the best views in Edinburgh, looking on to the city centre as well as Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags. It’s also home to the Royal Observatory, which at night comes alive and is a view in itself! From here it is a short walk down to the Hermitage of Braid, one of the best nature walks in the city.
21 Hawthornvale, EH6 4JT
Another lovely setting for a coffee, this time at ESWS’s Milk café. The venue also boasts a fantastic range of courses in many mediums. It is the go-to place if you’re looking to learn a new skill and just let your creative juices flow.
Some of you may be confused by the title of this piece, Edinburgh is often referred to as the Athens of the North – a term coined by the city around the turn of the 19th century to express it’s growing intellectual and scientific accomplishments during the Scottish Enlightenment. Edinburgh developed Calton Hill as Edinburgh’s Acropolis, with The Royal High School as its Temple.
One of the best places to view Edinburgh Castle, the site also boasts the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the city, if not the UK. It’s also home to a new addition, The Lookout by Gardeners Cottage which boasts fine dining with near 360 degree views of the city.
One of the things I love most about Edinburgh is its size. My favourite places are dotted all around the city and yet all are within walking distance. If you’re visiting Edinburgh, or even if you’re a resident, you’ll have a grand old day wandering streets and discovering your own hidden treasures.