If you’ve been to Edinburgh before, you’ll know of the “typical” attractions, like Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and Palace of Holyroodhouse, but there are so many more places to visit in this beautiful city! In no particular order, let’s go through 5 of our favourite off-the-beaten-track places in Edinburgh!
1. Dean Village (including Dean Gardens)
Dean Village is probably the most well-known of all on the list. It is a wee, quiet village near the West End of Edinburgh, close to the Stockbridge neighbourhood, with 19th-century buildings that the Water of Leith crosses. Originally, it was an area used for grain milling for over 800 years. Now, it’s become a popular residential area.
There are great views from Hawthornbank Lane.
You can also walk along the Water of Leith Walkway, which passes through Dean Village and stretches nearly 19.6 km (12.25 miles) from Leith to Balerno, which is just outside of Edinburgh.
Make sure to also wander along to Dean Gardens, which is actually a private, members-only garden, but some parts are accessible to all, including St George’s and St Bernard’s Wells.
Why are the gardens private, you ask? Well, in Edinburgh, there are a number of “private parks” that are only open to local residents. This was first put in place in the 19th century and most of these parks or gardens are in neighbourhoods where the house prices are extortionate, so those who can afford to live in these upscale houses could therefore have exclusive access to the neighbouring green areas. This seems a bit unfair now in the 21st century, but there’s no sign that this will be changing anytime soon.
Address: Dean Path, Edinburgh EH4 3AY
2. Lauriston Castle & Grounds
Most people will have heard of Edinburgh and Craigmillar Castles in Edinburgh, but there is actually a 3rd castle in the city! Lauriston Castle is a 16th-century tower house overlooking the Firth of Forth (a body of water) in northwest Edinburgh.
It has very big grounds known as Lauriston Castle Gardens, which is a local park. There are various different styles to the garden, with the most recent one being the 1-hectare Edinburgh-Kyoto Friendship Garden, which opened in 2002.
It’s a lovely place to spend a sunny day in Edinburgh.
Address: 2 Cramond Road South, Edinburgh EH4 6AD
Cost: (for castle) £8.00 per adult, £6.00 for concessions, free for under 5s; (for grounds) free
3. Cramond Island
Able to be seen from Lauriston Castle is Cramond Island. Cramond is a village in northwest Edinburgh and Cramond Island is a tidal island that sits 1 mile out to sea. On low tide, the island is connected to the mainland and has a proper path to allow access.
Obviously, you can only walk to the island on low tide, and you need to be careful to allow enough time to get back to the mainland before the tide rises. There are a number of websites that list the tide times, but we used TidesChart.
While walking to Cramond Island, you’ll notice the concrete pylons to your right. These were put up during World War II as part of an anti-boat boom.
Back on the mainland, there is also a beach where you can spend your day if the weather is so favourable!
Address: Cramond Village, Edinburgh EH4 6NU
4. Portobello Beach
Portobello is a wee seaside suburb to the east of the Edinburgh city centre, and Portobello Beach is its beach. It’s also the closest beach to Edinburgh. Now, Portobello Beach can’t be compared to beaches in places like Hawaii or the Maldives, but it’s nice to have a beach quite close by to the city centre.
There is a long promende with various bars and cafes and you’ll often find families playing on the beach as well as people walking their dogs.
Address: Portobello Beach, Edinburgh EH15 1DT
5. The Shore of Leith
Last but not least is the Shore of Leith! Leith sits on the northern tip of Edinburgh and is a port district. It used to be very industrial and quite a run-down area but it’s since evolved and is now hip and thriving.
Tourists may come out this way to see the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former yacht of the Queen, but the Shore is worth strolling along as well. It feels like you’re walking along a fishing village and it’s very scenic.
This is also where the Water of Leith ends, and is also the area of 2 Michelin-starred restaurants: The Kitchin (78 Commercial Street, Edinburgh EH6 6LX) and Martin Wishart (54 Shore, Edinburgh EH6 6RA).
Address: Shore, Edinburgh EH6 6QU
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Have you been to any of these places before? Which one looks the most appealing to you? Let us know in the comments!