If you’ve never been to Edinburgh then you’re in for a real treat. A magical city in Scotland’s central belt, it’s known for its medieval old town, historical buildings, bustling city centre and the majestic Edinburgh Castle. The moment you arrive at Edinburgh Waverly station you’ll be greeted with beautiful architecture, and can start your wonderful adventure in this Scottish gem.
Edinburgh has a little bit of everything, whether you’re into your shopping, delving into delicious food or love to go on long walks. For the latter, the walk to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park is guaranteed to hit the spot.
Just under 5 hours on the train from London, the journey along the way is filled with coastal views, lush countryside and city landscapes. Plus, if you want a taste of luxury, you could always go on the first-class LNER service which includes a meal, drinks and access to the lounges in both cities.
If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh, one of the first things you might research is the best places to eat and drink there. Luckily, the city is home to plenty of fabulous eateries from cheap options to Michelin-starred delights. To get you kick-started, we’ve created a list of the top places to try in the city, along with with some accommodation options.
Top places to indulge in delicious food
Let’s start with the food. From traditional Scottish dishes to something a little more exotic, here are some options to sink your teeth into.
Set in the centre of the city is Tigerlily. Offering delicious cocktails and a varied menu, there’s something for every palate at this Instagram-ready restaurant. Whether you’re looking for more traditional dishes like pan-roasted cod loin or want to tantalise your tastebuds with Asian delights like the crispy pork belly steamed bao bun, Tigerlily is a fabulous choice. Due to its expansive menu, it’s somewhere you can visit more than once on your trip or one that you’ll want to head back to next time you’re in the city.
If you’re looking to try local produce and you love steak, then Kyloe is a great choice. Using cuts from pedigree Aberdeen Angus, there are so many options to choose from; whether you like a juicy fillet or a rib-eye. Alternatively, Kyloe offers delicious local seafood and tasty vegetarian options.
Modern and stylish, Rabble offers a cocktail bar, restaurants and boutique hotel rooms in the centre of the city. What makes Rabble so unique is that it has a Josper Grill, in which it cooks its meats and fish, making them tender and juicy. Great to visit whether it’s summer or winter, Rabble should be on your list when visiting Edinburgh.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more relaxed meal, then The Beehive in Grassmarket is perfect. Offering typical pub grub, including fish and chips, sausage and mash and Hunter’s chicken, it’s an easy option located just moments from the castle and Grassmarket’s iconic row of shops.
Ok, so we know what you’re thinking. Why would I go all the way to Scotland to eat in a chain restaurant? Well, if you’re anything like us, sometimes it’s nice to tuck into some hearty food that you’re familiar with. Offering sizzling Latin American dishes and refreshing cocktails, Las Iguanas in George Street is a great option after a day of exploring the local sights.
For those pushing the boat out
Bonnie and Wild Market
If you’re on the hunt for tasty food within a cool setting, then the Bonnie and Wild Market is fabulous. Featuring a selection of Scotland’s best independent food and drink producers, you can pick and choose what you want to tantalise your taste buds with. Whether that’s Hong Kong street food, Scottish seafood or something a little fancier, this Edinburgh market is extraordinary.
Looking for a restaurant that combines international flavours? Maison Bleu will tick off every box. From French to North African and Scottish cuisine, this contemporary restaurant is stylish fine dining at its best. From spiced goats cheese & spinach breewats to deep-fried Haggis balls, this restaurant has it all.
Within a short walk of Waverly station lies the sophisticated Gaucho. An Argentian steak restaurant, it has a delightful menu, including mouth-watering shrimp ceviche and marinated pork matambre. To pair with your meal, Gauchos has a wonderful selection of wines from across the world.
Take a seat and indulge in a delectable menu at The Table. Overlooking an open-plan kitchen, guests are able to interact with the chefs as they cook up classic European dishes. Although it’s a little on the pricey side, the Michelin-style dishes and the atmosphere within the restaurant is ideal for a special occasion.
Hard Rock Cafe
You might not initially think of Hard Rock Cafe as on the pricier side, especially when you compare it to the restaurants above. But if you are celebrating an occasion or simply want to let your hair down in Edinburgh and have a few cocktails, then this restaurant may be one that you want to budget for. Having said that, it’s well worth the visit. With tons of rock memorabilia from artists across the decades, tasty burgers and a buzzing atmosphere, this chain restaurant is popular with people around the world.
Top places to enjoy a tipple
Just outside the centre of the city lies the Hanover Tap. A quirky craft pub, it has a great selection of beer, ales and cider to choose from. It even offers a menu that includes small plates (such as haggis bites, tacos and halloumi skewers), sharers, pizzas and burgers. A must-visit for any beer lover, their extensive menu and friendly staff make it well worth a trip.
If you love wine, then Toast in Edinburgh should be at the top of your list. Located at The Shore in Leith within a former art gallery, it’s a hub for wine drinkers and foodies alike. Whether you like to satiate in a glass of Primitivo rose or Rioja, the wine selection at Toast is superb and complemented by the surrounding vibrant waterfront.
Situated in Grassmarket is Dragonfly. A charming cocktail bar with plenty of character, its unassuming exterior makes it a wonderful surprise for all that visit. Offering unique signature cocktails, including ‘Shakes on a Plane’ with gin and elderflower & raspberry green tea, the ‘Strawberry Masquerade’ with vodka and mascarpone whey and ‘Xantes’ Inferno’ with rum and pear cognac, you can branch out and treat your palate to something a little different to your usual choice of cocktail.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Due to the popularity and size of Edinburgh, there are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation. Something for every budget, there are hotels, hostels and Airbnb offerings throughout the city. When travelling to Edinburgh via the train, you’ll find that many of the accommodation options are within easy reach, either via a bus, cab or by walking; which gives you an opportunity to explore the delights of the city ahead of settling in.
Kick Ass Hostels – with two options to choose from, one in Greyfriars, and one in Grassmarket, these extraordinary hostels are perfect for those looking to meet new people, relax in a beer garden, or take on a pub crawl in Edinburgh. With comfortable accommodation and a chillout area, it’s every hostel-enthusiasts’ dream.
St Christophers – a new hostel in Edinburgh’s Old Town, it offers both shared and private rooms in the heart of the city. Within easy reach of Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat and the Royal Mile, its affordable price and convenient location make it great for interrailers travelling in the city.
Hotel Twenty – also known as the Playfair House Hotel Edinburgh, Hotel Twenty is set near a handful of bars and restaurants. A small hotel with 12 rooms and a restaurant, it’s also within walking distance of Calton Hill Mountain; a picturesque hill that grants views out towards the city. Part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and the headquarters of the Scottish government, it’s frequently on the list of best sights to visit in Edinburgh.