We weren’t surprised last month with the announcement that Edinburgh is the UK’s ‘best’ place to live and work! According to the study commissioned by the Royal Mail, Edinburgh beat cities such as London and Glasgow in terms of cultural services or access to green spaces. With UNESCO World Heritage Site status, a medieval Old Town, and even an ancient volcano right in the city centre, Scotland’s capital certainly is a place with a distinct charm. Whilst we certainly don’t need Edinburgh to be sold to us as the most attractive city to live, with this recognition we’ve compiled a list of insider tips and secrets to help you experience the city like a local.
One of the reasons we’ve been voted best place to live is the sheer number of green spaces around the city. Arrive by train and stretch your legs with a short wander through Princes Street Gardens. Situated in between The Old Town and The New Town, the gardens used to be the site of the old Nor Loch. Now, they are the best-known park in Edinburgh and have the highest visitor figures each year. The Fountain Café found tucked away in the west side of the gardens often has deck chairs outside during the summer and is ideal for watching the world go by while admiring the newly refurbished Ross Fountain.
On leaving the gardens, it’s time for a meander up The Mound. If you need a breather, stop halfway and admire the view of the prestigious Balmoral Hotel, the elegant Georgian New Town, or if you’re lucky with the weather, you can see out to the Firth Of Forth and over to Fife.
At the top of The Mound, you will find yourself on The Royal Mile. While this is a popular destination for the tourists, they don’t often know that Cafe Hub serves the best Sunday Brunch on the street. Why not pop by and say hello before you visit the Grassmarket?
Down steep steps from The Royal Mile, the Grassmarket was originally a medieval market, and eerily was where public executions took place. Now, the lively and energetic square is home to some great cafes, pubs and bars, and a weekly weekend market (sans executions, of course!), which are well worth a visit. One of the local’s favourites is Mary’s Milk Bar, which serves fresh gelato with an amazing selection of peculiar flavours, including Whisky Marmalade and Goats Cheese and Honey – don’t knock them until you’ve tried it!
Leaving the Grassmarket, you can follow Candlemaker Row up to the memorial to Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who guarded the grave of his owner for 14 years. Don’t rub his nose for good luck though, as the locals won’t be impressed – it’s a tourist myth which is destroying Bobby.
You can then cross over the road to the National Museum of Scotland. While there are plenty of amazing exhibitions and artefacts, a little local secret is the Rooftop Terrace. You can look forward to 360° views of the whole city.
Now that you’ve got the insider tips on tackling Edinburgh like a local, we suspect it won’t be too long before your day-trip becomes a permanent move, and then you can share some secrets of the capital for yourself!