Hometown Highlights: Edinburgh

Having spent time in Edinburgh this summer for dissertation research I fell in love with the city in a whole new way as I discovered beautiful walks, cosy coffee houses and quirky vintage stores.  I have always wanted to live in Edinburgh and this summer gave me the chance to break away from the tourist trail we, as St Andrews students, normally follow and instead explore the city as a real-life resident. Here are my top five highlights of our neighboring city.


Where to watch the world go by – Princes Street Gardens : I appreciate that the park doesn’t exactly count as 'off the beaten track' but one of my favourite things to do is to sit and relax on one of the many benches lining the park on a sunny day, whether with friends or just reading. I love watching the world go by and sitting in the shadow of the castle with such an incredible view you almost forget that you’re only a stone’s throw away from the craziness of Princes Street.

Where to wander – The Water of Leith : On a rare day off I sought out The Water of Leith and followed it all the way to the Gallery of Modern Art. If you have a spare couple of hours I really recommend doing the walk, it’s a lovely wander beside the river and you get to see some gorgeous architecture along the way, plus the tea room at the Gallery sells the best scones around as a reward at the end of your walk.

For drinks with friends – Under the Stairs : A friend told me about this casual edgy bar tucked underneath George IV Bridge, just around the corner from the Grassmarket, and as soon as I walked in I knew I was going to love it.  From the mis-matched old wooden tables and chairs, to candles in jam jars, Under the Stairs has a true vintage feel to it and the laid back atmosphere means it pull this off effortlessly. Whether you’re there for coffee, drinks, or something to eat it’s a charming little place and undoubtedly one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets.

For the Gastronome – Farmers' Market : Every Saturday morning the Edinburgh Farmers' Market takes place on Castle Terrace from 9am – 2pm. They have every kind of stall imaginable, my favourite things on offer being the continental bakery with french pastries, the homemade fudge, freshly picked berries and homemade jams.  It’s really relaxing to wander through the stalls taking in all the delicious smells and pausing here and there to pick up something for breakfast.

Best for quirky shopping – Broughton Street : Having never really gone beyond George Street when visiting Edinburgh, this summer I made an effort to explore the city, walking up to Bruntsfield, discovering Falko’s amazing pastries and browsing in a multitude of shops. By far my favourite street I stumbled upon was Broughton Street. Situated just off York Place, it’s only a short walk from George Street and is a great place to wander idly on a lazy afternoon. From browsing in the craft shops and second hand book stores to exploring the organic food delicatessens and florists, this street has everything. Whilst there, coffee-lovers must drop by Artisan Roast for what is known as best coffee in Edinburgh. Take in the cosy atmosphere and quirky furniture which give the coffee house a genuine ‘home- away- from- home’ feel. 

Illustrations by Hong Sun.