This is a little bit different from my usual, as I headed up to Scotland’s capital. I stayed for 48 hours in Edinburgh and filmed and photographed everything to show you, because as you might know, I don’t like to do the tourist-y stuff, and love to share alternative things to do with you wherever I go.
In 48 hours in Edinburgh I did a ton, including drinking at a panda-filled speakeasy behind a bookcase, browsing a beautiful secondhand bookshop, walking the Water of Leith waterway, and tasting whiskey and gin at a hyper local Edinburgh distillery. You’ll get tons of inspo for your future Edinburgh visit, especially if you want to discover the more “local” side of the city.
If you prefer to watch instead, here’s the youtube video:
Day 1 in Edinburgh
Image Courtesy of Edinburgh Larder
Breakfast at Edinburgh Larder
Edinburgh Larder, located just off the Royal Mile, is a cafe that serves seasonal local food with ingredients sourced from Scottish producers. They are really known for their Scottish breakfasts, with typical veggie and vegan options. I tried out their vegan one and it was de-li-cious and very filling!
The vibe at Bermondsey Larder is super chill, the staff were friendly and prices are London-level but you’ll have a pretty great meal and good coffee too.
Edinburgh Larder | ££ | 15 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB
Secondhand book shopping at Till’s
I love shops that sell secondhand stuff, so when an Instagram follower of mine recommended Tills, I had to pop in.
Tills bookshop has a mix of titles and genres so give yourself some time to browse the very reasonably priced secondhand selection. Inside the shop there are a couple of reading corners and that, paired with the old-timey jazz music, makes the shop vibe feel a bit like you are stepping back in time.
Till’s | £ | 1 Hope Park Crescent, EH8 9NA
Sustainable shopping at Treen
Treen is a boutique shop located in the Stockbridge area that sells eco-friendly, vegan and sustainable products, so it’s right up my alley. They have beautiful clothes, accessories and homeware, all from brands that keep the planet and people in mind. Notably, they have an incredible jacket collection and I picked up some Girlfriend’s collective leggings when I visited.
The staff are super nice and if you visit, please tell them I said hello! Because the pieces are sustainably made, expect higher prices than you might find in other stores, but this is the place you go to to get that one piece that you wear for years that always reminds you of your visit to Edinburgh.
Treen | £££ | 2-4 St Stephen Pl, Stockbridge, EH3 5AJ
Image Courtesy of David Bann
Vegetarian-friendly lunch at David Bann
David Bann is a fully vegetarian restaurant with loads of vegan options and I had read some really positive reviews about it, so I was excited for a yummy meal.
The dishes are inventive and beautifully presented, and I tried their quinoa courgette wrap with roast potatoes that was delicious. I’d advise that you go for dinner as at lunchtime there was not much of a vibe going on. I think in the evening it would make for a beautiful date night spot. Prices are mid-range for Edinburgh.
David Bann | ££ | WA | 56-58 St Mary’s St, EH1 1SX
Whiskey and gin tasting at Holyrood Distillery
I’m not the biggest fan of whiskey but I figured that when you are in Scotland you just have to do it, don’t you? Holyrood Distillery is new to the Edinburgh distillery scene, making both whiskey and gin on-site. The ingredients and processes that they use are very Edinburgh and Scotland-focused, so if you want a hyper local distillery experience this is a good one to go to.
The distillery tour and a four drink tasting flight of either whiskey or gin is about £25 per person, and it’s only a 15 minutes walk from the Royal Mile so it’s a pretty easy stop to fit into your schedule.
Holyrood Distillery | £ – ££ | 19 St Leonard’s Ln, EH8 9SH
Image Courtesy of Saboteur
Dinner at Saboteur
After finishing at the distillery I popped into this Vietnamese fast-food-ish kind of restaurant called Saboteur. They don’t take reservations, so if you just want something that isn’t too expensive then this is a good spot. It still has a good vibe to it even though it’s casual dining so you can still have a fun and cool evening here without breaking the bank.
Saboteur | ££ | WA | 19-20 Teviot Pl, EH1 2QZ
DAY 2 in Edinburgh
Breakfast at Fortitude
To start the day I went for coffee at Fortitude, a local favourite. This tiny cafe is great for coffee snobs who know their roasts. I personally don’t really know them but I do know that the coffee was delicious! They also have a small selection of breakfast options that they source ingredients for as locally as possibly.
Even though it’s small, Fortitude is a nice, relaxed spot to have some breakfast (I had a nice little granola bowl) and a damn good coffee!
Fortitude | £ | 3c York Pl, EH1 3EB
Walk to Leith on the Water of Leith Walkway
The Water of Leith Walkway is a footpath along a beautiful stream that runs almost 30 miles or 20 km throughout Edinburgh. It was opened in 2002 and is used for walks, cycling and even horseback riding.
I managed to walk the part closest to Leith, but a local told me to next time start in Stockbridge, which is even more picturesque than where I was. But it was a great way to get to Leith for my next activity, taking me only about 30 minutes to walk.
Tour of Leith by Invisible Cities
This alternative tour of Leith is run by Invisible Cities, a social enterprise that employs people that were at some point homeless as tour guides. My guide was Paul, he had grown up in Leith making his stories even more interesting to listen to and he was super energetic and entertaining. He also taught me how to pronounce Leith correctly, which is pronounced as leeth so don’t make the same mistake I did 🙂
The tours are reasonably priced at just £15 and your money goes back to paying fairly to the tour guides and to the business as they are a non-profit organisation.
Invisible Cities | £
Take the tasting menu at Aizle
This came from a follower recommendation that said this was the best tasting menu in the world, with such a bold statement I had to go and check it myself (I have done some amazing tasting menus so my standards are high.)
Aizle is located in the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel in the Garden Room, which gives the restaurant a relaxed and yet incredible high-end feel to your experience. It’s all tasting menus here and they actually hand you a sealed envelope with your menu in it, in case you want to keep your courses as a surprise.
The service was incredible as well as the presentation of the dishes, so this is really a high-end special experience. The food wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but I definitely enjoyed it.
The tasting menu is £85 per person and you can pair that with a wine tasting for £60 per person, so this is likely to be one of, if not, the most expensive meal you have in Edinburgh.
Aizle | ££££ | 38 Charlotte Square, EH2 4HQ
Go for cocktails at Panda & Sons
I loooove a bar behind a bookcase and luckily that’s where Panda & Sons is.
As you are led into the bar you will see old-school panda decor scattered all over, really living up to the bar’s namesake. I sat at the bar as I was on my own and chatted with the bartenders, who really know their stuff. The cocktails are fairly off-the-wall, I tried one called ‘Dubai in the Sky’ and it had a cotton candy stick adorning it.
If you love an eclectic cocktail and don’t mind paying a pretty price for it then you’ll love the vibe here.
Panda & Sons | ££ | 79 Queen St, EH2 4NF
That’s a wrap on my 48 hours in Edinburgh, enjoy exploring the more local and alternative side to the city with these recommendations.
- 14 Cheap Eats in London You Have to Try
- Comparing London’s Top Afternoon Teas
- 8 Unique Souvenirs to Get in London