For years as a family we travelled to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, enjoying numerous small theatre productions and comedy shows in nooks and crannies within the city. Attending a weekend of the Fringe is a great way to discover the city, but also leaves little time to spend in the areas you find.
As a birthday surprise, I decided to drive my other half to Edinburgh as he had never been and I wanted him to see the city I had fell for years before.
We stayed in a wonderful little Airbnb close by to Arthurs Seat and with on-street parking – bonus!
It was great to explore the city without any time restraints of shows, and to finally visit the shops and cafe’s I was always passing and peering in.
We started our weekend walking up the Royal Mile which is a long stretch of road leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Along the way are various pubs, restaurants, shops and beautiful architecture to admire. We made a visit to the castle, absorbing some serious history before we explored the rest of Edinburgh.
Tucked away off the Royal Mile is Hunter’s Square, where there is normally a street performer entertaining those sitting on the steps enjoying some lunch el-fresco. A gorgeous pizza restaurant sits overlooking the steps, Civerinos, with a menu including everything from pizza, pasta to small plates but the real discovery was their incredible Nutella calzone. My goodness!
One of my favourite areas of the city has to be the very beautiful Candlemakers Row. A beautiful street with layered buildings and a wonderful selection of independent shops and eateries. It also gives off ‘Diagon Alley’ vibes, especially as there is a joke shop in residence too!
Red Door Gallery is a gorgeous shop with so many lovely prints by illustrator and artists. Filled with artwork, jewellery, stationary and everything in between. I just wish I had more wall space in our house!!
There are a number of lovely shops, including a cute second-hand book shop, so enjoy a stroll along here and see what you discover.
Edinburgh has so many beautiful buildings, its great to just get lost within the city and find numerous buildings to admire and streets to wander.
We had been recommended Mum’s Great Comfort Food by my parents (my dad is Scotland’s biggest fan and would love to relocate there!), and so we headed there for a delicious heart-warming breakfast. With Beano comics to enjoy with your morning brew, it was a great little find and only a couple of minutes from Candlemaker’s Row. Thank you Mum and Dad!
Whilst in that area, I wanted to explore Greyfriars Kirkyard Cemetery. Apparently, the inspiration behind the weird and wonderful names within Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling would collect names she saw on the gravestones. Located just behind the Grassmarket area, it’s a must if you’re a Potter fan! Also be sure to check out the imprints of the famous author’s hands within the City Chambers quadrangle.
We passed Mary’s Milk Bar, and though didn’t stop by for an ice cream – it looked incredible and somewhere to visit if you fancy a milky or chocolatey treat!
Since it was a birthday weekend, we obviously needed to fill up on as much tea and cake as we possibly could. We headed to Lovecrumbs which I had read about and been recommended. With misty window seats and a welcoming warm glow, we sat down and enjoyed a wonderful (huge) slice of cake and a coffee and discussed where we wanted to head next.
Of course, knowing us two, we wanted to explore the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. They are a little further out in Inverleith, so we decided to grab the car and take a drive to the gardens. Whilst on route, we passed a lovely street with lots of independent shops so made a note to return there after the gardens.
The gardens were not a disappointment. Home to 10 glasshouses, each with a different climate and species, and the gardens measuring over 70 acres, we explored so many different plants from all regions of the world. The glasshouses are a thing of beauty and truly a must visit when in Edinburgh if you are as plant obsessed as we are!
Heading back to the road we had passed, Broughton Street, we parked up and jumped out to visit some of the beautiful stores. We bought a print from Curiouser and Curiouser, a wonderful independent shop with amazing artwork and I spied lots of potential gifts for family (namely, my dad!).
Around the corner on London Street is Life Story, a Scandinavian inspired home and lifestyle shop with the most beautiful minimalist interiors and homewares sourced from independent designers.
We grabbed a coffee in Artisan Roast, a charming little coffee shop in the heart of Broughton Street.
Realising it was actually dinner time, we looked no further than a Mexican restaurant we spotted across the road, The Basement Bar, which had gorgeous cosy interiors and the food was incredible! At the weekend, there is also live music which we unfortunately were a bit early for.
Heading back to our cosy abode, we got spruced up and headed out for a whiskey at the Whiski Bar along the Royal Mile to celebrate my other half’s birthday. Not a whiskey drinker, let’s say a small sip went straight to this lightweight’s head!!
The next morning, we headed for a walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat within Holyrood Park which is actually an ancient volcano. It was sunny to start with but rapidly changed, getting windy with a little drizzle, but the views were spectacular.
After a wet and windy walk, we dried off at our apartment and then headed to Princes Street, which is one of the main busiest streets in Edinburgh with all of your typical shops. We wanted to do some more sight-seeing so we headed up the Scott Monument which is a Victorian Gothic monument in memory of Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott. You can reach dizzy heights and overlook Edinburgh.
Somewhere I had visited every year that we attended the Fringe is The Dome, a stone’s throw away from Princes Street. We grabbed a drink here and admired the beautiful ceiling. This place is a must if you are visiting Edinburgh around Christmas as they erect a ginormous tree reaching the top of the domed ceiling.
Not quite satisfied with the amount of walking we had done that day(!) we headed to Calton Hill, which has breath-taking panoramic views of the city and has a handful of monuments at the top to explore. With the weather clearing up, we enjoyed beautiful blue skies and watched the world go by.
More than ready for some coffee, we discovered Spoon cafe, a cosy cafe and restaurant with the most gorgeous collection of vintage furniture! We filled up on a delicious lunch before heading back to rest our weary feet.
Edinburgh is such a beautiful picturesque city with so much history to discover along the way. I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope to explore more of Scotland in the future!