Whatever your fancy, Edinburgh is a cultural playground. From gallivanting across the historic cobbled streets to fine dining, traditional folk music, museums, whisky tastings, epic shopping sprees, and famous artworks, this Scottish city is the perfect blend of old and new. Consider this your four day Culture Trip itinerary.
Start your Edinburgh adventure with a good old cup of joe at Artisan Roast. This little gem of a coffee haven is a treat to say the least. The first speciality roastery and coffee shop in Scotland, expect to be injected with exceptional espressos and a plethora of ingenious brewing methods. The chilled vibe is welcoming. Oh, and don’t expect a counter — these coffee extraordinaires are way too cool for that.
Artisan Roast, 57 Broughton St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 7858 884756
Embark on an afternoon of adventure and explore the sights surrounding Princes Street. Bask in the glory of the Princes Street Gardens and watch the world go by. See the autumnal colours on the deciduous trees and don’t forget to gaze up at the castle, which casts its impressive shadow and ever-present curious gaze across the city. After a well-deserved moment of pontification, witness the stunning works of art at the Scottish National Gallery. Sandwiched in between both gardens, this neoclassical building hosts artworks from the likes of Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh.
Prepare for a tantalizing immersive experience and go all out at the Whiski Rooms. Fountains of fun can be had tasting every single type of whisky on offer. With over 300 malts to try, picking one is always a pleasure and never a chore. Those with a penchant for this Scottish tipple can take matters further and schedule an epic whisky tasting session. Traditional accents, exposed brick walls, and a jovial atmosphere make the perfect backdrop for indulging in the impressive menu, which features the finest Scottish cuisine with a contemporary twist. You will leave dancing the Highland Fling.
Whiski Rooms, 4-7 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 225 7224
Stepping inside The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street is like walking into an alternate universe. It has to be done. Put on your anthropological thinking cap and explore the World Cultures gallery. Fashion followers will have a field day at the new Fashion and Style collections too. The Mammal collection is amongst the most celebrated across the globe. From Dolly the Sheep to F1 cars, Moby the Sperm Whale, the Schmidt telescope, coffins of Arthur’s Seat, and the Cramond Lioness, there is more than enough to make the mind reel. Reflect on the exhibits and a bygone past over a cuppa and a piece of tasty cake from the café. The curious collections within this museum are not just solely for the cultural heritage of Scotland, but for the world.
Whether a trusty bargain or high-end luxury find is on the cards, Edinburgh is a shopping dreamland. Strut around the city like Naomi Campbell on the catwalk and see what this city has to offer. Tour the Royal Mile to find quintessential Scottish staples like tartan, tweed, cashmere, and wool. For such staples, ‘Harris Tweed’ and Johnstons of Elgin are firm favourites. Those with the vintage bug can gravitate to the historic Grassmarket area and pay Armstrong’s a visit— prepare to be lost for days. For the best of current designer labels, start striding towards George Street before delighting in high-end luxury store Harvey Nichols — expect an abundance of It bags and the best of everything. If bespoke or unique designer collections catch your eye, pay Edinburgh’s array of boutiques a well-deserved visit — Jane Davidson and Epitome are a good start.
There is no better way to end the day than catching a play or seeing a show. The Edinburgh Playhouse is a fantastic place to start. This former cinema opened in 1929 and was modeled on the Roxy Cinema in New York. Today, it hosts an array of Tony award-winning musicals, highly acclaimed ballet performances, and live shows from notable musicians. Whatever the time of year, check out the schedule and book a seat. Who knows, it may be riveting. For those who want meatier theatre performances, check out the Traverse Theatre, a haven for new theatre works since 1963.
The Royal Botanic Garden is a sight for sore eyes, so much so that you will want to return time after time. From the wise tribes of trees to happy faces of flowers in full bloom, expect 70 acres of pure magic. Tour every single surface of this horticultural haven or bring a book to escape the confines of the concrete jungle. Explore the largest collection of wild-origin Chinese plants outside of China, before absorbing the unwavering beauty of the world famous rock garden. Don’t leave without tasting a touch of the Highlands in the Scottish Heath Garden. Stock up on caffeine and a breakfast nibble from the Terrace Café or The East Gate Coffee Bar.
Give in to popular tradition (and temptation) by indulging in afternoon tea. From exquisite fine china sets to overwhelming amounts of loose leaf teas, sweet and savory scones, delectable cakes, and miniature everything, nothing screams decadence like this culinary craze. For those who like the finer things in life, make way for Palm Court at the iconic Balmoral Hotel. From the Isle of Mull cheddar to traditional Scottish ham, scones fresh from the oven, and the chef’s signature seasonal pastries, expect nothing less than perfection. Finally, appreciate the grandeur of the décor and impeccable architecture.
Palm Court, Balmoral Hotel, 1 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 557 6727
To visit Edinburgh without paying a visit to Sandy Bell’s would be sacrilege. Experience a real party and sway the night away surrounded by the sweet sounds of local and international folk sensations. As the traditional tunes of Scotland reverberate off the walls, appreciate the heritage and symbolism that remain riddled amongst the songs. This highly sought-after folk hangout has been impressing music lovers since 1942. Absorb the very best of live traditional music every night of the week and knock back a dram or two.
Sandy Bell’s, 25 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 225 2751
In Edinburgh, gin o’clock is on the hour, every hour. Start the day with a scheduled tour at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. Marvel at the two stills — Flora and Caledonia — and allow your mind to process the unraveling of riveting information regarding the entire distilling process, from start to finish. Like all good tours, the end is the best. Once the glorious taste of the multi award-winning Edinburgh Gin or fruit based liqueurs hits the tongue, you will never look back.
What better way to end an Edinburgh adventure than a fancy meal? Words simply cannot do The Kitchin justice. Go there, taste the grub, and see what all the fuss is about. This Michelin-starred restaurant is the brainchild of esteemed chef Tom Kitchin. The way in which he uses local delights from Scotland’s natural larder, and sprinkles a touch of fine French cooking techniques to create the most delectable dishes, is truly admirable. From the un-intrusive service to the rustic yet sophisticated setting, fresh Scottish produce, and melt-in-the-mouth good food, everything about this restaurant is spectacular.
The Kitchin, 78 Commercial St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 555 1755
Take in the city by evening and then cast a gaze upwards at the chandeliers of stars dancing in the evening sky from The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. Although the original observatory was on Calton Hill in the centre of town, this observatory sits at the peak of Blackford Hill. Peruse the website for the flurry of Public Astronomy Evenings, which are held weekly during the winter months and try your hand at guessing the constellations. Those with a penchant for planets can stop into one of the weekly winter talks on Monday evenings. Either way, a visit to this sparkling sanctuary will leave you over the moon.