Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile. Check. Now you’ve seen the big sights, it’s time to explore Edinburgh’s lesser-known attractions, from art galleries and museums to green spaces and gin joints.
Art and café combos
You can grab coffee, Firth of Forth views and a slice of new art at Collective. Housed in the City Observatory on Calton Hill, the gallery showcases emerging artists, with drop-in tours available Wednesdays at 1pm, and warming cappuccinos from open-air café MILK.
A five-minute walk off the Royal Mile in converted Victorian swimming baths, Dovecot Studios doubles up as a craft and design gallery and tapestry studio. A knitted cosy keeps your drink hot in the gallery’s café, run by Stag Espresso.
Edinburgh museums and history
Ever wondered what a million pounds looks like? The Museum on the Mound shows you, and lets you try your hand at cracking open a safe or applying for a 19th-century life insurance policy.
If you’re curious about Edinburgh’s New Town, you can discover a glimpse of upstairs and downstairs life during the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the restored Robert Adams-designed Georgian House. On Saturday afternoons in July and August, costumed characters engage you in light gossip.
Gardens and green spaces
North of the New Town in the Royal Botanic Garden, you can spy clusters of pink rhododendrons in spring, clamber up the Rock Garden’s teeny trails or inhale tropical scents inside the glasshouses. Inverleith Park next door gives panoramic photo ops of the castle and Arthur’s Seat.
Sprawling outdoor sculpture park Jupiter Artland lies 25 minutes west of Edinburgh’s centre. A trail weaves through woodland and fields via eye-catching contemporary artworks, including swirling, climbable grass mounds and a 12-metre-high orchid.
The Scottish capital is renowned for its cracking nightlife. How about trying these hidden gems?
- Film fans can lounge on comfy sofas at the independent art deco Dominion Cinema in Morningside.
- It’s easy to locate a pub in Edinburgh, but finding your way into speakeasy-style Panda & Sons requires cunning. Clue: Look for Queen Street’s vintage barbershop.
- Tucked in a West End basement, Edinburgh Gin Distillery runs afternoon gin-making tours, so you can start as you mean to go on.
For more information on things to do and places to stay in Edinburgh, visit our destination guide.