The Old Town in Edinburgh is a captivating warren of historical wonders. From the stunning Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile down to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament at the bottom, the entire area is a World Heritage Site. You’ll find attractions, restaurants and nightlife galore.
See & Do
The original city grew from a defensive fort on the volcanic plug which is now home to the castle. The main street, known as the Royal Mile runs down a ridge to the foot of the crags and tenements, shops and churches sprang up on either side. The medieval layout plays host to a number of wynds and closes (narrow alleys) which make the Old Town an interesting place to explore. This is the main tourist area of the city and there are many statues and beautiful historical buildings to behold.
From fine dining to decent pub grub the Old Town does it all. There are the standard chain restaurants and cafes you’d expect to see anywhere but you’ll also find some classy restaurants, enticing bistros and cafes with real character. The cuisine on offer ranges from American to Indian and beyond, naturally you’ll find plenty of authentic Scottish dishes as well. If you’re not in a rush then browse the area and take your pick, but be warned – the best restaurants are generally fully booked so it’s best to plan in advance.
As you descend from the Royal Mile down towards the Cowgate and the Grassmarket you’ll find a wide range of late night pubs and clubs. The Grassmarket area is especially popular with visitors to the city and you’ll find pubs serving traditional Scottish ales and whiskies. The winding Victoria Street that joins the Grassmarket to George IV Bridge is well worth a visit. The majority of clubs will stay open until 3AM and you’ll find a wide range of musical tastes catered for from rock to drum and bass to jazz to electro and beyond.
There are some basic options when it comes to hotels, hostels and vacation apartments but the Old Town is also home to some special luxury hotels with real historical style. You’ll find boutique hotels with stunning Gothic or Victorian décor that will make you feel as though you have stepped back in time. You’ll also find some functional and reasonably priced accommodation ideal for groups or families keen to stay in the heart of old Edinburgh. Apartments serve as an ideal base for an Edinburgh holiday where you can go at your own pace.
Since the Old Town plays host to thousands of tourists each year you’ll find a lot of souvenir shops and stores packed with traditional Scottish wares such as tartan and whisky, especially at the top of the Royal Mile. There are also a lot of speciality shops with unique jewelry and fashion in the surrounding streets and you’ll find a great joke shop on Victoria Street and an interesting fossil shop in the Grassmarket. Some of the independent boutiques offer retro fashion and cutting edge designs for trendy and eccentric fashionistas.