Some like to say that Southside is, when all is said and done, the student central of the entire city.

Now, there are all sorts of things that can back up this claim. It’s home to the main University Of Edinburgh campus and, well, it’s pretty darn trendy. In fact, it’s one of the trendiest areas in all of Edinburgh.

What makes it so trendy?

Well…Quirky bars, independent stores, artisanal bakeries, ethnic eateries…The place just has a vibe to it that excites the young and the young at heart.

But there’s so more to it than that. It is a blistering cultural hive and home to some of the most significant artistic institutions in all of Scotland. There are peaceful spaces, architectural marvels and some of the most interesting streets available to man, just waiting to be discovered by those of razor keen eye and intrepid spirit.

To help you on your way, we’ve assembled some particular treats for you that we think you will especially appreciate. If life, enthusiasm and vibrancy is your deal, then head on down to the Southside of town. You might just be surprised by what you might find… Oh, and make sure to read to the end. There might just be a secret tip hiding for you there.


When it comes to the arts and culture, Southside has pretty much got the situation nailed down. Not only is this place buzzing during Edinburgh’s world famous Festival season, this area has a manic fixation with entertainment and education. There are far too many venues to list here, but here’s a flavour of what awaits you.

Summerhall is all about the creative side of life. With a diverse programme of events all year around, there is always something fascinating going on here that will tickle your interest. It was actually, originally, occupied by a family run brewery and that tradition has continued today. Barney’s Beer and the award winning Pickering’s Gin are both right here on the site and are both well worth a visit.

The Queen’s Hall frequently hosts world class musicians from around the globe and is one of the most cherished venues in all of Edinburgh. A lovely Georgian building, this former chapel on Clerk Street provides an intimate yet powerful experience that is bound to leave you moved. Check out their ‘What’s On’ and get booking. A historic and globally recognised wonder.

The Festival Theatre has seen them all. Charlie Chaplin, Morecambe & Wise, David Bowie…The list goes on and on. This fabulously impressive theatre is the largest performance area in Scotland and is frequently the place to go to see event theatre and world class musical productions. But, if that’s not your thing, check out there café on the ground floor. A great place to gaze out onto Nicolson Street with a nice hot coffee and a pleasant snack. It gets a standing ovation from us.

The National Museum Of Scotland gives your eyes and mind an absolute feast, no matter how many times you go. Absolutely free and with all sorts of amazing exhibits on display (we like the T.rex), you could spend hours just soaking in everything that this beautiful museum has to offer. And you really should. Fun for all the family.

Coffee & Cake

Chilling out with a hot beverage and a tasty bite to eat is something that we in Edinburgh like to do at every given opportunity. Outside or inside, coffee or tea, nothing passes the time better than sipping from a warm mug whilst watching the world gently go by. Here at Southside, this could not be more true. And there are plenty of places for you to go and enjoy.

Black Medicine has an air of the bohemian about it and, perhaps as a result, is extremely popular with the younger generation. Its gorgeous and cosy interior is a wonderful spot to hang out on a rainy day, whether for work, chat or some quality alone time. Great for light lunches and comforting drinks, it is one of the most popular coffee stops in town. Just the medicine you need.

Union Brew Lab gives the impression of being almost permanently rammed, but it’s for good reason. Could this be the most perfect coffee around? It’s certainly difficult to think of anything better. Its reputation locally is one of absolute excellence, so don’t be surprised that it’s always busy. With a chilled out atmosphere and the best avocado and toast in the land (in our opinion), what’s not to love?

Kilimanjaro Coffee is a relaxed and rustic sort of affair that is incredibly hard to dislike. With comfortable sofas and stylish wooden tables, you’ll feel right at home from the moment you walk in. Well established and welcoming, whether you’re into your croissants or a full Scottish breakfast (yum!), this charming place has something for everyone. A definite favourite.

Cult Espresso might be small, but it packs one hell of a punch. Sitting just around the corner from The Meadows, this place is a crazy sort of cosy. Stylish and with a perfect ambiance, this is a proper, full flavoured location. As they say themselves, they’re ‘not an actual cult’. But, if they were, we’d all be signing up. We’re Cult Espresso believers.


To the casual observer, Southside might not spring immediately to mind when considering a spree of shopping. However, upon more clinical inspection, you will find that there is much to excite the retail goblin in your mind. There might not be the razzmatazz of the New Town or the charm offensive of the Old Town, but that doesn’t mean that Southside hasn’t got a few tricks of its own when it comes to the delights of shopping.  The treasures are there. You just need to know where to look.

Tills Bookshop is the sort of store that a city of literature needs to have. There are a handful of them dotted about Edinburgh and this is undoubtedly one of the best. Displaying a range of genres and titles, this lovely second-hand bookshop is a dream for anyone who loves to curl up for a bit of a read. With a fireplace and a few seats lazing about…Well, it’s pretty much heaven.

The Courtyard Antiques hides quietly down a cobbled street on Causewayside and has some of the most fascinating collection of items you are ever likely to come across. Unusual and remarkably varied, this museum like shop is so rich in its content that you may never actually want to leave. Great place to pick something up for the home.

Armstrongs Vintage has a few stores here in the city and is one of the UK’s most adored vintage clothing emporiums. Worthy of the legendary status frequently poured upon it, if a walk down fashions memory lane sounds like the sort of eye candy you need, then pack your retro sunglasses people. Because this eclectic selection of style and funk is going to totally fry your brain. Stupendous fun.

The Meadows Pottery produces a wide range of handmade delights that would be welcome in the arms of any home. Beautifully designed and finished to a tea, this is the perfect way to treat yourself to something nice. Reasonably priced, elegant and with so much to choose from, it makes us happy to know that such a place exists.

Bars & Restaurants

You might not know this, but the good students of Edinburgh like to have a bit of a party from time to time. One of the reasons that Southside is so popular with the student populations is the vibrant nightlife. Now, we know that hitting the clubs at midnight might not necessarily be your thing anymore (or is it?). But we do know that you still like to let your hair down on an evening and enjoy some good food, refreshing drinks and splendid company. And have we got some options for you!

Brass Monkey is probably the coolest bar in town. With a bustling, lively atmosphere and a backroom with floor mattresses (Yes!), this is the sort of place that is both immediately familiar and curiously unusual. Frequently hosts to movie nights, quiz nights and rocking live music, Brass Monkey is the real deal. You’re going to go ape for it!

The Auld Hoose has a great reputation for all sorts of reasons. It’s a top bar with a top rated drinks selections and faultless staff.  There’s a superb jukebox and the atmosphere is second to none. But the real reason you should go? Well, the answer is obvious to those in the know: Nachos. Mountains and mountains of Nachos. Tasty, nutritious, gooey, cheesy, beautiful, yummy, unbelievably massive nachos….You won’t leave this place hungry.

Mother India has been on the go in Edinburgh since back in 2008 and has been a roaring success ever since. Considered one of the best, if not the best, Indian restaurants in Auld Reekie, it is an absolute mecca for all of you curry lovers out there. Full of flavour and very reasonably priced, this tapas style dining experience is best appreciated with a lively group. Hot stuff!

Condita offers that Michelin Star night out that you’ve been promising yourself all this time. With just a small handful of tables, booking is recommended, but any wait will be absolutely worth it. Intimate and with the offer of a surprise menu (and we love surprises!), this is more of an event than your typical eating out affair. Immaculately presented and tasty might be underselling it. This restaurant is utterly astonishing.

And our secret tip?

Newington Cemetery might not sound like the sort of location you’d want to spend your time in, but this peaceful and pleasant place is a little known spot to enjoy a contemplative walk. Deceptively large, the cemetery is currently being restored by the Council and local community. With a War Memorial and some fascinating gravestones, this is a peaceful haven within the busy city. Worth a look.

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