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The Ultimate Guide to Edinburgh

The moment your eyes land upon the craggy cliffs and mist-laden walls of the Edinburgh Castle, you’ll instantly comprehend the near-mystical inspiration that captivated J.K Rowling and provided the home of her hero Harry Potter. The crooked steps of medieval tenements and cobblestone closes of Old Town lend themselves to re-tracing the steps of Robert Louis Stevenson as he created the hair-raising Dr. Jekyll and gentlemanly Mr. Hyde. Edinburgh is a city meant to get under your skin and into your imagination.

It’s not impossible to navigate the city by bus or on foot. If you choose the latter, secret gardens, stunning vistas, and vibrant pubs will not disappoint. The city center balances its past and present seamlessly, while the immediate outskirts offer quaint countryside walks dotted with antique stores and royal residences.

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Here, our favorite places to stay, shop, eat and do in this city of nearly half a million people.

WHERE TO STAY

  • gandvhotel/Instagram

    G&V Royal Mile

    1 George IV Bridge

    131 220 6666

    quorvuscollection.com

    Sitting atop the winding Victoria Street is the G&V Royal Mile. Centrally located, its 136 rooms are outfitted with a playful wallpaper that outlines Edinburgh’s cityscape. Request a chamber that overlooks the High Court or National Library of Scotland, two historic buildings that bookend the property.

WHAT TO DO

  • Shaiith/Getty

    Hike to Arthur’s Seat

    Holyrood Park, Queens Drive

    historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/holyrood-park/

    131 652 8150

    The remains of a volcano, Arthur’s seat is the highest point in Holyrood Park and provides an uninterrupted view of Edinburgh’s skyline and crags. Whether you’re in the mood for a picnic or a hike, the park provides ample space for both. St. Anthony’s Chapel, a medieval ruin within the park, provides a fascinating backdrop for any photograph.

  • dewarsaberfeldy/Instagram

    Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery

    Aberfeldy PH15 2EB

    dewarsaberfeldydistillery.com

    188 782 2010

    Even if Scotch isn’t your favorite spirit, touring a whisky distillery is a must-do in Scotland. Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery is roughly 75 miles north of Edinburgh and presents an atmospheric warehouse tour and an opportunity for visitors to customize their own bottle of single cask whisky. Tip: Figure out how to score admission into the Scotch Egg Club. Aberfeldy is the postcard perfect neighboring village, and the en-route scenery of green hills and shimmering glens is a can’t miss.    

  • thebalmoral/Instagram

    High Tea at Balmoral Hotel

    1 Princes St

    roccofortehotels.com

    131 556 2414

    Second only to a dram of whisky is a proper high tea service. The Balmoral’s Palm Court, with its arching skylights, palm fawns and hand-painted De Gournay wallpaper, offers afternoon tea daily from 12-5 pm. Splurge on the full service, which includes tea, champagne, finger sandwiches, scones (get the devon!) and sweets.

WHERE TO DRINK

  • Courtesy Devil's Advocate

    Devil’s Advocate

    9 Advocates Close

    devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk/

    131 225 4465

    Nestled in an old Victorian pump house, Devil’s Advocate boasts a whisky shelf 200 bottles deep (this is the home of the spirit, after all).  Not your alcohol of choice? Fear not, the steel-and-brick lined spot has a robust seasonal cocktail program that includes drinks like the Fisherman’s Folly, with coconut washed rum, seaweed and soda or Rest on Your Laurels, a vodka, prosecco and bay leaf limoncello concoction suitable for sipping.

WHERE TO EAT

  • thegardenerscottage/Instagram

    The Gardener’s Cottage

    1 Royal Terrace Gardens

    thegardenerscottage.co

    131 558 1221

    Built in 1836, the restaurant is literally a former gardener’s cottage turned locavores delight. From the vegetable patches on either side of the gravel entrance path, to the in-house pickling and complete vegetarian dinner menu, The Gardener’s Cottage is a charming countryside spot in the heart of the city. Its springtime broth is hearty while its braised lamb is bountifully accompanied with buttermilk dribbled asparagus. Bonus: they also serve weekend brunch and their freshly juiced Bloody Mary’s are not to be missed.  

  • Courtesy The Dogs

    The Dogs

    110 Hanover Street

    thedogsonline.co.uk 

    131 220 1208

    This place has definitely not gone to the dogs, but that’s the running joke at the mezzanine-level, eccentrically decorated gastropub. Everything from the pop art canvasses on the walls to the tchotchkes on the tables are dog-centric. The Dogs’ cuisine underscores Scottish and British classics; its fish and chips are superbly executed, with a flaky golden crust, its roast beef brisket complimented by a pickled cabbage and onion salad. Scotland’s national dish, haggis, is reimagined as a hash with whisky sauce and sausage with crispy bacon.         

  • Courtesy

    Lovecrumbs

    155 West Port

    lovecrumbs.co.uk

    131 629 0626

    Daily offerings range from cakes like bacon chocolate, rose and blueberry, and orange polenta to homemade hot chocolates with flavors like orange, chili and clove to rose and cardamom. This is a dessert stop at its finest that’s beginning its entrée into more savory items likes pies and scones.

WHERE TO SHOP

  • Courtesy Walker Slater

    Walker Slater

    20 Victoria Street

    walkerslater.com 

    131 220 9750

    Warm, water repellent, and “carelessly elegant” as co-founder Paul Walker has often said, tweed is the denim of Scotland. Walker Slater stocks traditional Harris as well as lighter Borders tweed in colors the reflect the countryside: mossy greens, sapphire blues and rustic browns. The shop spans several storefronts on the winding Victoria street as its carries full men’s and women’s lines.

 

 
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