Edinburgh Castle

Guest Post: “Things To Do In Edinburgh” by Lesley Diack



Places to visit

Edinburgh Castle – Expensive to go into unless an English/Scottish Heritage Member but worth a walk up to the esplanade.  At the top of the Royal Mile. On the way up you pass the Camera Obscura on the right which is fun to visit. And on the other side is the The Witchery – a great restaurant, very old and they do amazing pre and post  theatre menus which are much cheaper.

Also there is the Contini Cannonball Café at the Royal Mile. Again great food and often special events e.g. porridge tasting. This website also lists all the other restaurants run by Victor and Carini Contini – all worth a visit. Great gifts too. Cookery books are fantastic. The café on the Mile was an old school and if you are very good you can get to ring the school bell.

Just down from these restaurants is the Scottish Whisky Experience – if you like whisky, this is a great place to visit, taste some whisky and they too have a great restaurant.

As you continue down the Royal Mile you come to the crossroads that is the Mile (Lawnmarket) and George IV Bridge. Here at the crossroads is a great pub and very historical Deacon Brodie’s Tavern – he was a respectable town councillor and cabinet maker by day and a burglar by night.

If you turn right (instead of going into the pub) but head down George IV bridge past the National Library of Scotland on the right is a café called the The Elephant House – this is where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book.

Carry further on and you come to the statue of Greyfriars Bobby which is considered lucky to touch his nose (it is discouraged now as his nose is wearing away). Good photo op here.

The graveyard is also close by and worth a visit – lots of history plus the grave where Bobby sat for lots of years at his master’s grave. They also have haunted tours that lock you into a crypt in the graveyard.

Gin cocktail image

If you head back to the Royal Mile (but of course you miss the Museum on Chamber St which is worth a visit usually has good exhibitions on), The Tower restaurant there also has great views, food and cocktails.

A must stop place is Ondine on the left as you head back up to the Royal Mile but just before you get back to the Mile again. Marvellous seafood.

Back on the Royal Mile there is St Giles Cathedral with the Heart of Midlothian (on the ground you are meant to spit on it …), but in the car park is the Signet Library great place to taste champagne and eat. Champagne and beer flights are a must, but maybe not much will be achieved after that!! In the car park in the front is the burial place of John Knox who was the bane of Mary Queen of Scots’ life.

Next visit is Mary Kings Close, a street which is under the present day street. It was closed off to protect Edinburgh from the plague and is now a tourist attraction. Well worth a visit.

Great shops as you carry on down the Royal Mile. Good eating pubs – Whiski is one of my favourites – at night good folk music.

Also Monteiths off the mile down a starry close – great cocktails, real fire and comfy chairs. Lovely cheese platter.

At the next crossroads is St Marys Street which if you head down it to the right there is David Bann’s, one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants. Maybe stop at Pinnies and Poppyseeds for some marvellous shortbread.

Back to the Royal Mile there is a great shop for gifts – Cranachan and Crowdie. They usually have tastings on a Thursday, often of Scottish Gins …

Scottish Parliament building imageCarry on down some other great shops etc  but at the bottom of the street is the Scottish Parliament. Worth a trip round, and opposite is Holyrood Palace – the Queen’s house in Edinburgh, and members of the Royal family are often there. This also takes you to Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park – worth a walk round if the weather is nice and the views from the top of Arthur’s Seat are fantastic.

Further away, but within walking distance is Summerhall,  a brewery, gin distillery, restaurant, arts space all based in the old Vet School – amazing bar etc using some of the Old Vet school artefacts.

Calton Hill Image

A bus tour of Edinburgh is well worth it and especially if it takes you out to the Royal Yacht Britannia at Ocean terminal. Most bus tours start just beside Waverley Train Station. A walk around Princes Street and also George Street or Rose Street is great for shops, souvenirs and unusual eating and drinking places. Rose Street is full of pubs and restaurants – lots of them famous. The Dome on George Street is an amazing restaurant (more so at Christmas) but still worth it.

Harvey Nichols – Chocolate Bar, Forth restaurant, cookery shop – all on top floor and all great to visit – love the chocolate and champagne bar as the food revolves like a sushi bar.


Pubs etc

Panda and Sons –79 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4NF. Hairdressers or is it a gin bar?

Edinburgh Gin – 1A Rutland Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2AD The Edinburgh Gin Distillery tours are ranked in the top 20 of Edinburgh Visitor Attractions on Tripadvisor, and the 5-Star distillery offers visitors the chance to discover how to make award-winning gin. They are open 7 days a week, from 9:45am-4:45pm. Advance booking is essential. Please use their online booking system to check availability & reserve your space. – the distillery is located all around the bar and they serve marvellous cocktails especially one with popping candy.

Hoot the Redeemer – No. 7, Hanover Street, Edinburgh EH2 2DL -0131 2200 310. Great place as you pick your drink from a fairground machine sitting in cinema seats – etc.

Bryant and Mack , looks like a seedy detective agency but is really a speakeasy cocktail bar and can be found at 87-89 Rose Street North Lane | Edinburgh EH2 3DT Phone: 0131 225 8225.

Smith and Gertrude –26 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5AU. Wine Cheese and company – a wine and cheese matched flight is out of this world. A nice way to spend a few hours.



The Scran & Scallie – 1 Comely Bank Road, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1DR is Edinburgh’s leading gastro pub run by Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack with reasonably priced food with amazing tastes.

The Honours – 58A North Castle Street EH2 3LU – Martin Wishart, French Brasserie restaurant.

Café Royal – great food including oysters.

Guildford Arms – good pub food and amazing choice of beer.


Walking tours

Lots of these – literary one is good, as is a ghost tour at night. Some of the best ones mentioned on their website.


Other things to do



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