Tips from the Locals: Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a truly beautiful, beguiling city – one that grabs at your heart and refuses to let go.

Having lived in, and been enchanted by, the city for five years, my tip for visiting is to just soak up the cityscape by walking.  Walk the length of the Royal Mile and feel history whispering to you from its cobbled closes and historic buildings; wind down onto the Grassmarket and look up at the iconic Edinburgh Castle, balancing atop an extinct volcano (my favourite view of it); meander through Holyrood Park and bathe in this green corner of the city, flanked by the statuesque Arthur’s Seat.  I couldn’t agree more with the tip given to us by Edinburgh-based travel writer Robin McKelvie – ‘after you’ve done the main sights ditch the guidebooks and explore all the wee closes and hidden corners that make the Old Town so special.’

If you’re looking for lesser-known places to visit, why not escape the crowds at Dunbar’s Close Garden near the bottom of the Royal Mile (a little hidden public garden) or take a short bus trip out to Gilmerton Cove – a heritage site which is well worth exploring (and an archaeological mystery!).

Take a look below for other suggested walks and more tips from EmbraceScotland holiday home owners.

Take the No 41 bus to Cramond for a lovely country walk on the edge of town – either on the beach or up the River Almond.  Cramond lies four miles north west of Edinburgh and is a great place to explore. (Matthew Haggis, Craobh Haven Cottages)

Explore the Pentland Hills on Edinburgh’s doorstep.  Gentle strolls, more strenuous strides, amble round a reservoir or clamber up hills.  Don’t forget Arthur’s Seat – even small children can reach the summit and revel in the free view.  And if it’s raining, there’s a cultural feast awaiting in the vast range of free museums and galleries. Enjoying Edinburgh and the Lothians does not need to be too taxing on the purse! (Geraldine Hamilton, Crosswoodhill Farm Cottages).



The Roseleaf Café Bar in Leith is a fab breakfast spot.  Return later for cocktails served in teapots. (Hester Ross, Coillabus Cottage).

A visit to Scotland’s People Centre at Register House in Edinburgh can shed light on your Scottish roots, and the many introductory sessions they run there can help get you started researching your family tree.  For me, nothing can quite replace the feeling you get when you look upon one of the original records and see a piece of paper which your ancestor has signed.  You can do all the research you like on-line, but when it suddenly dawns on you that the original signature which you are looking at on an official document was actually written by your ancestor, it’s a really special moment.  I was looking at the record of my grandmother’s death, when it suddenly “clicked” for me that the signature on the paper was my father’s.  Even the colour of the ink evoked memories of him – I could imagine the very pen he signed the paper with.  Imagine what you’d feel like if you made that connection after travelling all the way from Australia or New Zealand in January to do some of your research.  While you’re at Scotland’s People, the added secret tip is that there is an Archivist’s Garden to the side of the building where you can see over 50 plant species connected to Scotland.  (Susan MacNaughton, Craigwell Cottage).

Start from Stockbridge and take the riverside walk beside the Water of Leith through the Dean Village to the Gallery of Modern Art.  Take in an exhibition, have brunch, lunch or afternoon tea in the lovely café there, and then stroll back.  You’ll probably see a heron, you might even see a kingfisher! (Margaret Craik, 3 Raeburn Mews).

Start from the Modern Art Gallery and head down the path to Leith.  You go under the Dean Bridge, and see Edinburgh from a completely different angle.  The No. 20 bus gets you most of the way back. (David Smythe, Cloag Farm Cottages).


Why not make Edinburgh self-catering your home-from-home and enjoy life as a local in Scotland’s beautiful capital city?


For more Edinburgh photos, take a look at our Instagram page.


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