A mythical city tucked beneath the gaze of a magnificent castle, Edinburgh draws hordes of annual visitors—be that for its position beside the whisky world, proximity to historic golf courses, or the acclaimed annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Tucked among seven hills, this capital city binds deep history with a cosmopolitan energy, and matches striking architecture with stunning views of bare land and sea. Among the vast offerings in a city of bustling creativity, the following selections are worthy stops for any visitor.
With a decidedly modern Scottish menu, Devil’s Advocate utilizes the best seasonal produce to complement the best of local meat and fish. The food is tasty and rich while the environment is charming and nuanced—located in the historical Old Town of Edinburgh, in an old Victorian pump house hidden away in Advocates Close. As one would expect, its mesmerizing back bar also contains over 200 whiskies.
Edinburgh is not short on beautiful public parks, and while Holyrood Park might be the most well-known, centrally located Calton Hill provides remarkable, easy-access views, a curious combination of historic buildings and monuments and even an unfinished attempt at reconstructing the Acropolis. The beautiful grassy slopes offer a quiet reprieve and unprecedented panoramas of Princes Street and Edinburgh castle. And, on top of it all, there are two observatories for stargazing: the Old Observatory House and the City Observatory, which hosts both exhibitions and viewings of the night sky.
The Fruitmarket Gallery
Not only does The Fruitmarket Gallery play host to the works of amazing contemporary artists, it also happens to be a very good cafe and independent book store. The superior quality of each seasonal exhibition, and a series of talks and panels hosted monthly, makes this a venue worthy of repeat visits. Originally built as a fruit and vegetable market back in 1938, it’s now a great place for casual intellectual pursuits or just plain fun.
The Manna House
More than your average patisserie, The Manna House bakes their goods through the night, every night, so that each morning visitors are offered the freshest breads and sugary treats. A dedicated seating area allows visitors to sit down and enjoy, along with a cup of locally blended coffee or tea from Eteaket. This highly awarded bakery and cafe uses time-honored traditional techniques and it definitely shows in each bite.
Being seated at the gateway to the world of Scotch, Edinburgh has many locations for discovering rare blends and single malts. That said, they’ve also got an exceptional cocktail scene for those who don’t want to sip things neat. Bramble Bar stands out as a premier location. Located below ground, it can be tough to locate, but that only contributes to the refreshing speakeasy vibes. It’s tiny, dimly lit and the drinks are top quality. Brambly is also conveniently close to a myriad of other acclaimed cocktail bars, be that Under the Stairs, the Lucky Liquor Co. and The Bon Vivant.
If no trip to Scotland is complete without the purchase of some Harris tweed, then a stop at Walker Slater is mandatory. Their menswear and womenswear stores exist side-by-side, and provide everything you can imagine in quality tweed. There’s a rousing selection of accessories, whether you’re looking for a nice hip flask, thick socks or bow ties. Its central location makes it a easy to get to, and really there’s nothing better for a distinctly Scottish, but classy, souvenir.
Lead, Calton Hill, and The Fruitmarket images by David Graver, other images courtesy of respective venues