New Town

If you’re the sort of person that always likes to be slap bang in the middle of everything, the Edinburgh New Town is most definitely the place for you.

Sure, the Old Town across the way might almost always be the first point of play for new visitors of the city. And who’s to blame them? But don’t think that its younger sibling has nothing itself to offer. The face of modern Edinburgh, this central location has everything that you could possibly wish for and more.

Elegant neoclassical and Georgian architecture, stunning parks and squares, chain stores, independent stores, bars, restaurants, cafes…Have we missed anything? Well, of course we have. The New Town is a marvel of urban planning and the centre of all artistic life in the capital.

It might be best known for its shopping, but there’s so much more to it than that.

So, come with us now as we dive head first into just some of what Edinburgh’s New Town has to offer. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but the New Town would be the place it would dream of if it did… Oh, and make sure to read to the end. There might just be a secret tip hiding for you there.

Park Life 

Okay, first thing’s first. You’re in the centre of town and it’s great. The atmosphere is buzzing, there’s tonnes to do and you are in your absolute element. But before we get stuck into some of the more busy aspects of the area, it’s important to know that there are places you can go to chill out, get some air and escape all of the excitement. Sound agreeable? Let’s take a look at what we’re talking about.

Princes St Gardens is the most iconic park in all of Edinburgh and for good reason. Host to the city’s world famous Hogmanay celebrations and Christmas Markets, this beautiful area in the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage site is a popular area the whole year around. A perfect spot to enjoy your lunch on a sunny day. Stare up at the mighty castle. Watch the squirrels play in the looming trees. Does life get any better?

St Andrew’s Square sits on the east end of George Street and is a popular hangout for coffee and chat, whenever the weather is feeling generous. With lovely plants and trees dotted around, this peaceful square is only a short skip away from all of the action and will often be the go to place for those who fancy a bit of escape.

Calton Hill can be accessed via the east end of Princes St and offers the most spectacular views of the city. A favourite for both locals and tourists, you have to go here at least once to witness all that it has to offer. As well as the sites over the capital, there are numerous monuments here to discover, study and be amazed by. Did we say come here at least once? We meant at least once a month. Utterly astonishing.

Arts & Culture 

If you’re considering a move to Edinburgh, or are just coming along for a day out, you will surely be aware of the city’s reputation when it comes to history, art and culture. This is the town of festivals after all. And world famous ones at that. But what does the New Town have to offer in that regard? Isn’t everything worth looking at over in the Old Town?…Well, no. New Town is overflowing with goodies for you hungry culture vultures out there. Here’s a peek of what it has to tempt you.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery might be one of many museums and galleries in Edinburgh, but this one really should be up there at the top of your list as one to visit whenever you get the chance. A remarkable looking building of a red sandstone neo-gothic style, if you’re wondering along Queen Street it’ll be impossible to miss. And you won’t want to. Home to a collection of images telling the long and fascinating story of Scotland, this stunning gallery will leave you in awe. Essential viewing.

Scottish National Gallery sits just off Princes St and is here for you just in case the Scottish National Portrait Gallery wasn’t quite enough. One of Scotland’s top free visitor attractions, this beautiful gallery displays a collection of Scottish and international art that will be sure to take your breath away. Spend hours gazing up at remarkable masterpieces and feel the history seeping into your body. Oh, and don’t forget the gift shop when you’re done! Who doesn’t like a wee momento?

The Georgian House is a grand townhouse designed by renowned architect Robert Adam and is a symbol of luxury in the enlightenment era. Restored and furnished by the National Trust, this is a must for any history buff. A real step back in time, you’ll never be at a loss of fascinating things to catch your eye. An impeccable snapshot into a time long past. Fascinating.

Scott Monument, much like the castle, is not something that you’re likely to pass by without seeing it. A Gothic monument from the Victorian era, this remarkable looking landmark, dedicated to Scottish Author Sir Walter Scott, is the second largest monument dedicated to a writer in the world.  Dare you climb 287 steps to the top of the tower? Go on. It will be worth it. The view at its peak is jaw dropping.

Coffee & Cake 

After all of that walking around museums and the like, you’ll be forgiven for wanting a bit of a sit down and a nice warm beverage. Well, don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. New Town has a tonne of great coffee shops to choose from, and we’re not just talking about the big brands that you’d expect to find in such an affluent area. Fancy a cuppa? Us too!

Wellington Coffee lives down a short flight of steps on Edinburgh’s gorgeous George St. It might be small, but it makes up for its size with charm, comfort and dead good coffee. But it’s not just that. The scones are unbelievable! Fresh and tasty, you would not want to go anywhere else. The best in Edinburgh? We’ll let you decide.

Social Bite might not look like anywhere particularly special, but it most certainly is. Boasting George Clooney and Leonardo Dicaprio as some of its customers (that’s right!), this wonderful café on Rose St employs and helps people who have found themselves without a home. At the centre of all sorts of projects for the homeless, Social Bite is an ultimate force for good. And the coffee and sandwiches are awesome! Definitely worthy of your support.

Lowdown Coffee is a modern entry in the more modern side of town. Stylish and buzzing with youthful energy, this contemporary coffee shop keeps what is most important: Top notch coffee. And that’s not all. The food is close to perfect (Oh my God, the carrot cake…) and the staff are just super lovely. Do pay it a visit.

Rose St Theatre Cafe brings you something a trifle different. A lovely building that hosts a variety of shows throughout the year, this is a great place to hang out, have a chat and have some great vegan friendly food. Comfortable and with a great atmosphere, this place pretty much sums up what Edinburgh is all about: art, conversation and food.

Bars & Restaurants 

Sometimes, a coffee and cake just doesn’t quite do it. Something a bit more substantial is needed. And that is where New Town’s bars and restaurants come in. And, good reader, there are so, so many of them. We’ve narrowed it down to four here for you to take a look at, but this is just a taster. There’s a whole long and tasty buffet there just waiting to be sampled.

Whighams is an intimate wine cellar bar that is high on the romance and low on the pretention. As you might expect, the wine selection is a dream for anybody who’s a fan of the magical grape juice, but don’t shy away from the exquisite food menu.  Leaning heavily towards the seafood variety (though not exclusively), this beautiful bar has got class written all over it.

The Oxford Bar may sound like it belongs slightly south of the border, but this unassuming little bar holds an important part in Edinburgh’s literary history. A fan of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series? If so, you’ll know that this is John Rebus’s favourite pub in all of Edinburgh. And don’t be surprised to see Ian Rankin himself propped up at the bar enjoying a pint. Come on in. Pull up a stool! Breathe in the legend.

The Table is a dining experience like none other in the city. With just one table in the whole restaurant, two chefs cater modern European dishes for up to ten people in what has to be one of the best places to eat in town. It is fine dining and booking is essential, but don’t let that put you off. This is…amazing! You will never forget that you dined at The Table.

The Cumberland Bar has a proper, old fashioned pub feel to it. And we love it! With a great beer garden and a super selection of ales to enjoy, what more could you possibly want? Food? Well, it’s a good job that they have top quality in that department too. If you’re a meat eater, you have to go for the beef Sunday lunch. A pure classic. This is how pubs are supposed to be. Comfortable, atmospheric and friendly. You won’t be disappointed.

And our secret tip?

Panda & Sons is one of a few ‘secret’ bars in the capital and this one is a stunner. It might look like a barber shop from the outside, but look a little closer and venture down the stairs. You might just be in for one heck of a surprise. Voted one of the top 50 bars in the world….And it doesn’t exist (wink!).

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