During your trip to Edinburgh, you will no doubt be exploring the top attractions that this city has to offer. Edinburgh Castle for the one o’clock gun, the view from the top of Arthur’s Seat, the dark history of the Vaults and the Royal collection at the Queen’s Gallery. However, these hidden gems are loved by locals and those lucky enough to stumble across them.
If you are planning a visit to Edinburgh, be sure to add our top 10 to your must-see list:
Edinburgh Farmers Market
Situated on Castle Terrace every Saturday with stunning views of the Castle and only a hop, skip and a jump from the Royal Mile you will find an award-winning market showcasing the very best of Scottish produce. If you’ve booked a self-catering apartment it is the perfect place to catch the highest quality, local ingredients to cook up for dinner. You can find fresh scallops, smoked salmon, venison, cheese, seasonal fruit and vegetables from this renowned foodie haven.
Operates every Saturday from 09:00am – 14:00pm
Queen Street Gardens
Residents of Edinburgh’s New Town hold the keys to exclusive private gardens hidden amongst the townhouses. There is none more desired than the splendid Queen Street Gardens, where Robert Louis Stevenson spent much of his childhood. Most visitors to Edinburgh must wait until the annual Open Door’s Day to venture inside but guests of 34a Abercromby Place, a new luxurious dog-friendly self-catering apartment by the Royal Scots Club, receive a key to access this secret garden for the duration of their stay.
Available to book from 26th April 2021
Mary’s Milk Bar
This marvellously modern milk bar in Edinburgh’s historic Grassmarket has been producing handmade gelato and chocolates since 2013 and its founder Mary is a graduate from an actual Gelato University in Italy. With weird and wonderful seasonal flavour combinations like Toast & Marmalade and Goats Cheese & Figs mixed with favourite staples like Salted Caramel and Milk, all ages will be pressing their noses against the window checking out the latest flavours.
Reopening in May, check out Mary’s Instagram for updates
4. Wild Swimming in Wardie Bay
If you are feeling bold, grab your swimming costume and head out for some wild swimming in the Forth. Don’t let the temperature put you off, wild swimming has been proven to boost your energy and happiness. The perfect way to start a day of sightseeing! Wardie Bay is within walking distance of the City Centre so enjoy a swim in this sheltered spot which is well cared for by the community and loved by locals.
Open every day of the year come rain or shine
Dunbar’s Close Gardens
Any Edinburgh visitor will be familiar with the Royal Mile which connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyrood House. The network of Closes lead off the Royal Mile through the Old Town and are steeped in history. With over 70 Closes to explore don’t miss Dunbar’s Close, this beautiful garden sanctuary in the very centre of the City. You will find those in the know soaking up the sun or chatting with friends over lunch in this secluded spot.
Open from 07:00am, closing times vary throughout the year
Dovecot Studios Photo by Shannon ToftsDovecot is a world-renowned tapestry studio and centre for contemporary art, craft and design in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. The Tapestry Studio is in the former swimming pool that was once the old Infirmary Street Bathhouse and the original viewing gallery is open daily for visitors to observe the weavers create their masterpieces. Dovecot offers a programme of popular exhibitions and events with the likes of Grayson Perry and Mary Quant plus a shop full of beautiful hand-made gifts and a fantastic cafe ‘Pinks at Dovecot’.
Open on Monday to Saturday from 10:00am
Café Culture is thriving in Edinburgh with independent coffee shops showcasing the best roasters in Scotland and across the UK. If you are looking for exceptional coffee one of the local heroes is Little Fitzroy on Easter Road. Passionate about everything coffee, Little Fitzroy rotate their selection regularly, always making the perfect flat white. Not to mention their wonderful selection of cakes including one of the best vegan Cinnamon Buns in Edinburgh.
Open weekdays from 07:00am – 17:00pm and weekends from 08:00am – 17:00pm
The wonderful beach at Portobello (Porty to locals) is the perfect place to fill your lungs with sea air and go for a bracing walk along the sands or the fine promenade. Once you’ve finished building your sandcastles or taking a paddle, grab lunch at Edinburgh’s Little Chart Room on the Prom or take a stroll to the high street and visit the Montreal-inspired Bross Bagel shop.
Open every day of the year come rain or shine
Not your average sandwich shop this is the home of the Big Hot Sandwich in Leith. Alby’s feature a rotating menu of inspired and delicious fillings sandwiched between a large wedge of soft focaccia. This is the perfect pick me up after a packed morning of sightseeing. Run by couple Natasha and Matt these sandwiches have cult status thanks to their strong Instagram following and adorable namesake Alby the Dachshund.
Open Wednesday to Saturday from 12:00pm – 20:00pm and Sunday 12:00pm – 16:00pm
You may have heard of the Festival Theatre, the Playhouse or the Lyceum Theatre but there is another institution tucked away in Leith which was given as a gift to the Burgh from the people of Edinburgh in the 1920’s when Leith was incorporated into the capital city. This lively creative hub caters to all ages so be sure to check out their programme of what’s on during your visit.
Reopening in June, check out their website for more details