There’s more to Edinburgh than just a big castle. Let’s take a romp around Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is probably one of the best day-trip cities in the UK. With their main train station smack bang in the middle of city (it literally acts as the dividing point between the city’s New Town & Old Town) navigating the town should be easy enough. But with one of the world’s busiest tourist attractions right there in the middle of town, it can be a tough time navigating the hills and small streets of the Scottish Capital.
Without finding yourself spending an afternoon in another tourist trap (looking at you Edinburgh Dungeon) or having to suffer through the queue at Starbucks to inevitably get in a stalemate with a Chinese tour group over who owns a tall vanilla latte (really did happen to me once), what are some of the gems Edinburgh has hidden in plain sight that most people would imss out on.
Let’s have a romp around town and find out shall we?
The Brass Monkey
I spent some time in the city as a student, and while it is a great place for nights out and has lots of tiny nightclubs, there aren’t many bars that can appeal to students to essentially act as a second home on those days you can’t face going to class. I swear by The Brass monkey as one of the best bars in the Old Town. It’s only a small two room place but always gets lively in the evening. If you go during the day, the back room which is nothing but pillows and raised seating (effectively making a really big bed) shows all films on a big screen.
The Cameo Cinema
Why would anyone travel all the way to Edinburgh to just go and sit in a cinema? Well take a trip to the Cameo and you’ll see why it’s one of the best cinemas in the country. Although some paint may be chipping off some of the walls, this cinema has maintained its original theatre style façade and feels like stepping back in a time machine to a cinema trip in the 1950s. They show a mixture of art-house and popular films here, and are known to show classics every other weekend.
The Auld House
So a good rule of thumb is that anything past the University is basically residential. That means that the majority of the city centre going southwards is usually pretty quiet with a few nice restaurants dotted here and here. Up on St.Leonard’s is a bar that look quaint on the outside, but a step in will quickly see you sitting in one of the city’s best looking Metal bars.
With a jukebox chock full of deep cuts (we’re talking NIN, Acid Bath & Misfits albums you pretended to own), a cupboard full of boards and what they guarantee to be the LARGEST nachos in the capital, this is the ideal hangout spot to channel your inner teen angst and sip on a craft beer.
Roof of the National Museum
So you need to pay £16.50 to get in to Edinburgh Castle on a good day. And if you’re a budget traveller like me, that’s money that could be better spent on a slap up meal or pint in a local pub. Do yourself a favour and go visit the National Museum. While there are many great exhibitions, I’m advising you to head straight to the rooftop. It’s one of the quietest spots in the middle of town and the perfect place for panoramic shots.
It’s always surprisingly quiet anytime I’ve taken someone up and is one of the only places you can get a good pic of the castle in all its glory.
A mainstay and well-known name in Glasgow, TriBeCa has one location need the student hub of town, which makes perfect sense when you see their breakfast offerings that could fix any hangover. Pancakes as big as your face and milkshakes that exceed the weekly recommend dose of sugar, it is the perfect brunch spot and is usually queued out the door on weekend. If you can’t handle the portions but still want something sweet in the middle of the morning, The Chocolate Tree is a special café just up the road that serves amazing hot chocolates and coffee concoctions.
If you go towards the end of Prince’s St in the direction of Haymarket, you’ll notice that the corners of the main junctions have a number of big name chain restaurants dotted on every building. Once you spot Pizza Express you might have a hankering for some pizza but don’t be fooled in to going for a table there. Down a side lane (Charlotte Lane) is Sygn. It’s a mixture of a pizza place and cocktail bar with a laid-back vibe and some amazing tunes playing all day long.
And on the chance you’re in Edinburgh for a few days, check and see if there are any spaces free at one of their cocktail masterclasses where of course you get to drink everything you make.
So that’s our romp around Edinburgh done for the day. Do you have any tips and secret spots I should mention? Please get in touch by emailing or tweeting me your advice.
This weekend break to Edinburgh was made possible after finding a last minute deal online from Thomas Cook. You can get a city break for cheap too by looking online for Thomas Cook voucher codes.