Today the Edinburgh Festival officially kicks off, so why not celebrate by stepping off the tourist track and discovering something new in Edinburgh that isn’t in the guidebooks? Here’s a flavouring of sights and things to do in Edinburgh that most tourists don’t know about.
By now the city is packed with visitors from all over the world, anxious for the festivities to begin! Such is the vibe of August every year in Edinburgh. You won’t likely be able to get away from most of the crowds but if you’re taking a break from the festival, then here are some places to check out.
What to do
Something weird: Surgeon’s Hall Museum
This museum is not exactly for the faint-hearted. We’re talking tumours preserved in jars, limbs and slices of human brains. This place was once used as a teaching centre for scientists and doctors but has also served as a public museum since the 1830s! It’s one of the oldest museums in Scotland.
- Address: Nicolson Street
- Open: Mon-Fri 12:00-16:00
- Admission: £5
Something artsy: Edinburgh Printmakers
This place is a working studio, funded by donations where you can see artists at work and explore their gallery of finished works. This space even offers weekend courses so if you’re the creative type, why not sign up for one? Many of the artworks are for sale, some under £50.
- Address: 55 Union Street
- Open: Tues-Sat 10:00-18:00
Something to write home about: Cramond Island
You can reach this island by foot but only during low tide. It’s just off of Firth of Forth. Make sure you check the tide times before heading out or else you could see yourself stranded there overnight! There are a few WWII ruins to explore and great views of the Firth. Are you willing to play a game of roulette with the tide?
Where to eat
This place serves up the best brunch in the city. Its walls are covered in contemporary art and when the weather is nice, its patio offers prime seating. Like meat? Order the carnivore special for a hearty £8 worth of bacon, sausage, black pudding and oven-baked hash browns. This place also doubles as a chic cocktail bar at night.
- Address: 15 Charlotte Square
- Open: daily 10:00-01:00
In the mood for something simple? Try Bell’s Diner in Stockbridge. The menu is undoubtedly American but oh-so-delicious. It’s small and has that old-time diner feel to it. If you head there on a weekend, make sure you call in advance for a reservation.
- Address: 7 St. Stephen’s Street
- Open: Sun-Fri 18:00-22:00, Sat 12:00-22:00
- Phone: 01312258116
Best place for a pint
Sheep Heid Inn
This pub is reputed to be the oldest pub in Scotland, so what better place to drink a local ale than here? There has been a pub standing in this spot since as early as 1360 and has seen the likes of even Mary Queen of Scots here. It’s clad in, as you would expect, traditional pub style.
- Address: 43-45 The Causeway
- Price of a pint: £3.50
- Open: Mon-Fri 11:00-23:00, Sat 11:00-23:30, Sun 12:30-23:30
Jekyll & Hyde
This gothic-themed pub looks dark on the outside; it’s even creepier in! Based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson (an Edinburgh local), this pub will excite anyone looking for something strange and odd. Grab a pint and find yourself a dark nook to enjoy it in.
- Address: 112 Hanover Street
- Price of a pint: from £2
- Open: Mon-Sat 12:00-01:00, Sun 12:30-22:00
This place is definitely for those on the trail to find real ale. With around ten guest beers, there’s always plenty of selection. Located in an old church, this pub has enough character to start a conversation. Take a seat near the open fire, choose your brew and sit back.
- Address: 26 Brougham
- Price of a pint: £2.90
- Open: Mon-Thu 12:00-midnight, Fri-Sat 12:00-01:00, Sun 12:30-midnight