Having lived in Edinburgh for over two years now, I often find that a lot of my friends and family come to me for recommendations of where they should go when they come to visit this wonderful city. Moreover, they were looking for interesting places in Edinburgh that they couldn’t go to anywhere else. I found that the more I was being asked, the more I was suggesting the same great places. This gave me the idea to collate a list of my favourite suggestions for fun in Edinburgh from food to leisure, here’s the places I love to go to! As a heads up, many places I would recommend for drinks have slipped in to the Restaurant section because they also have great food but they would be cool to just get drinks at aswell. (This list is absolutely a work in progress and I will update it whenever I find more great places).
Spoon: brunch, lunch, dinner, hot drinks – famed as one of the many Edinburgh locations where JK Rowling penned Harry Potter, it’s pretty easy to see how she found it a chilled but productive creative environment, I love it – pretty central and across the road from the Festival Theatre so a decent hideaway pre-show for food
Mary’s Milk Bar: gelato, hot drinks, chocolate – Mary’s gets pretty busy during peak tourist times since they went viral for their lush hot chocolate ice cream floats (10/10 would recommend though) – it is also located in the quaint Grassmarket so you can eat your ice cream in front of the castle and super close to various other Edinburgh attractions like the adorable Victoria Street (the real life Diagon Alley)
Strumpets: speciality coffee, tea, light lunches and home bakes – Strumpets is a dog friendly establishment and also is pretty versatile for various dietary requirements, vegans will be happy! I love their Fairies’ Blood tea, it is delicious – Strumpets would be an easy one to miss since it’s tucked away in the West End but there you can find loads of hidden gems on quaint cobbled streets
Casa Amiga: Portuguese bakery, delicious pastries and nice coffee – there’s a wee seating area so you can go in and sit, very lovely vibes – down Leith walk a bit so worth doing if you’re over that side of town
The Voyage of Buck: great for cocktails, artisan breakfast, lunch and dinner – TVOB is my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh, I love the concept and the small menu means that every time I go there’s something different to try, I visited when they first opened, read about it here – a tad on the more expensive side, for a student anyway! It’s a place I love to go when I have a parent to pay – the decor is super interesting and TVOB is another hidden gem in the West End!
Indigo Yard: fab cocktails, simple but high quality menu – I’m in love with their fish and chips and pretty much all of their cocktails are delicious – pretty average priced for a restaurant really – the space feels super chill and relaxing, it would be an easy place to miss too considering it’s tucked away in the tiny Charlotte Lane in the West End.
Bar Soba: pan asian street food, super delicious and great if you’re in the mood for a yummy lunch or dinner – the picture below is their Crispy Shanghai Pork which was so good, the menu has small plates that you could combo in a tapas style dinner or their large plates are all great (from what I’ve tasted anyway) – average price point, if slightly on the cheaper side, they are great for student discounts too! – it also feels like a very chill space, cool for hanging out with friends.
Bread Meats Bread: dirty burgers, loads of fries and huge bowls of poutine, perfect for when you need to absolutely stuff your face, you get gigantic portion sizes! It’s also super great for veggie/vegan options even though it’s a burger shop and they are all delicious burgers too – it’s really good value for money, I took some friends here once and they went from food heaven to food coma, it was a great time – really central as it’s only on Lothian Road, just off of Princes St.
Chizuru Tei: japanese fusion and sushi – great value for money, you can get a lot for not very much – cute little place with the cutest and most attentive staff, it’s right beside Haymarket train station so perfect for food if you’re coming or going – delicious food, I’m inclined to agree with the Trip Advisor person who said it’s the best sushi in Edinburgh
Café Rouge: French cuisine at a great price – we had a two course set menu for roughly £10 and the food was unbelievably delicious, it reminded uf of the cute little bistros in Paris – very chill and just off of George St so its central – I will definitely be going back
Ting Thai Caravan: affordable Thai food – it is a great wee place where they pack you in on long tables, if you’re cool with that kind of place, you should have no problems at all here – the food is delicious and everything is nice and cheap for a guy or gal on a budget – please note if you go here that it’s cash only, so be prepared!
Serrano & Manchego: a tapas bar over on Leith Walk – definitely worth a visit if you’re over in the Broughton/Leith side of town and you can pair it up with a trip to Calton Hill or the Playhouse Theatre – I had delicious tapas for brunch and great tapas but I would love to go back for cocktails, wine and more food! Definite recommendation!
The Cellar Door: Scottish restaurant – a place I would recommend if you have people coming to visit Scotland and want a taste of our traditional food but when it tastes amazing – the prices are pretty fab value for money, definitely not too expensive – interior is a really cute nook and it’s pretty central on George IV bridge.
Drinks & Cocktails
The Fat Pony: This is absolutely one of my favourites – a wine bar tucked in on Bread Street off of Lothian Road you’re close to it from Princes St or Grassmarket – the vibe is super chilled and they play great music – prices are pretty fab as you can get wine by the glass £3-£5 meaning you’ve got more chance at trying out different ones, they also serve charteurie and cheese boards, so what more could you want?
Hoot the Redeemer: very often I would say that this is my favourite place in Edinburgh, it is a cocktail bar that is themed like a vintage carnival, there are arcade style games that enable you to get different cocktails or alcoholic ice cream, it gives a child-like joy to going for some drinks – it’s quite a difficult one to spot, the entrance is themed like a palm reader’s shop and as you step through the Zoltar fortune teller door you go back in time – great drinks and a lot of fun, 10/10 would recommend.
Copper Blossom: this place is absolutely adorable! They have a quite extensive but pretty simple cocktail menu and everything is delicious. Average sort of £8 cocktails so it’s not somewhere I could afford to spend all night but it’s like an indoor garden party fantasy and super cute to take a group of friends. They also serve food which is great but I always seem to just go for drinks there.
Theatre Royal Bar: next door to the Playhouse theatre, it’s the best stagey environment for a theatre nerd to enjoy. Plastered in signed posters from various shows the Playhouse has seen over the years, it creates a fun game to look around and see how many you know or have seen. I’ll be honest, otherwise, it’s just a regular bar but I really love the atmosphere in there. I would sometimes go there for drinks after a shift – but most times we’d go to the Spoons in the Omni centre because money.
The Caley Picture House: This is THE cutest Whetherspoons in existance – as far as I know anyway. Obviously since it’s a Spoons, you know what you’re getting, the menu is the same and the value for money is the same. But why drink your £10.99 bottle of prosecco in a dingy pub when you can have it in a massive restored 1920’s art deco picture house, complete with a stage and a balcony. It is so extra and such a great contrast to the familiar simplicity of the menu, I love it.
Dominion Cinema: it is a wee independent cinema and it is absolutely adorable! You can pay to sit in a two-seater reclining sofa to watch your movie and if you go in the evening they also do table service of drinks, alcohol and snacks straight to your sofa and everything. It is definitely worth the extra walk and the wee bit of extra cash to head here rather than a Cineworld if you want to watch movies in perfect comfort and style – 10/10 would recommend.
Blackford Hill: I felt like it was important to include a free option in this things to do list, and whilst everyone knows about Arthur’s Seat, I would recommend the lesser known Blackford Hill – it has a really lovely park you walk through at the bottom and the climb is about the same, if not a bit easier than Arthur’s Seat. Plus when you get to the top, you can just enjoy the view of Edinburgh without pushing around the many tourists…
Ryze: I love trampoline parks – they are so much fun and really great exercise. Other than just the trampolines, there are also basketball nets, foam pits and a high wire/climbing area so there’s loads to do, the hour session really does fly by. Ryze is actually kinda out of town and there’s been a new one called Gravity added to Fountain Park so once I’ve been there I might just have to change my preference here.
Keep checking back for updates when I find new favourite places!