Where to Stay in Edinburgh – A Guide To The Best Places and Neighborhoods

Written By: Karen Worrall

When visiting a new city, choosing accommodation can be confusing. Local writer Karen Worrall shares her expertise on where to stay in Edinburgh and all the things to do in each neighborhood. 

Edinburgh is beautiful but doesn’t seem to know it, in that it isn’t pretentious (except perhaps some of the more fashionable bars on George Street).

Reputedly one of the most haunted cities in the world, you may come face to face with some of its past residents.

It is also the center for history, architecture, and the arts. Edinburgh is one of the world’s most walkable cities and truly has something for everyone.

Overall, it is one of my personal favorite cities in the world – hence the reason my husband and I bought an apartment to have as our base there.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh – The Ultimate Guide

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If you want to skip directly to any of the neighbourhoods in Edinburgh, click on the links below.

About Edinburgh

edinburgh neighborhoods places to stay

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. It is the official capital for politics and business, with the Scottish Parliament residing here, and many large companies also calling Edinburgh home.

This literary city is the birthplace of Harry Potter and the setting for Ian Rankin’s thrillers and Trainspotting.

It’s the home of Arthur Conan Doyle and Greyfriar’s Bobby.

The walkable city center is attractive in any season.

It has whatever you’re in the mood for; nightlife, history, museums, galleries, shopping.

Edinburgh has nature, castles, hundreds of pubs, fantastic food from Scotland and many countries around the world.

Edinburgh fascinates and draws in visitors with its living history.

The “new town” is almost two centuries old, and there are stories within every winding cobbled street and down every staircase.

It appeals to the young and old alike, with activities as varied as visiting dungeons and castles, discovering museums, taking in world-class shopping, and sampling Scottish gastronomy.

Best Edinburgh Neighbourhoods

Map courtesy Peter Fitzgerald – Wikimedia

Edinburgh has many small neighborhoods with 32 official council areas. Its center is small and compact making it a walkable city like other European capitals such as Vienna, or Rome.

The actual surface area of Edinburgh covers over 260 square kilometres, but the best stuff is located in the central 40 square km.

This central heart of Edinburgh is where I’ll focus most of the guide on, to help you make the most of the time you have there.

Edinburgh Quick Tips

As I stated above, Edinburgh’s city center is mostly walkable, but public transport is widely available and pretty easy to navigate.

If you are planning on visiting several areas in a day, getting a day pass, weekend pass or week pass for the bus system is a smart move with Lothian Buses.

  • Single tickets are £1.70.
  • A day pass that is valid from 5 am, until midnight costs £4.00.
  • Weekly tickets on the bus cost £19.
  • Night buses are available too, simply look out for the N sign on bus stops and they cost £3.00.

You can find full details for timetables for Lothian buses here.

Getting to and from the Airport: Take a private transfer to your hotel for only $17 USD

To go further afield, buses and trains leave regularly for Glasgow, south Lothian towns, and sunny Fife to the North from the St Andrews Square Bus station and Waverley Train Station respectively.

Edinburgh has a thriving theatre, comedy and live music scene. Here you can find details of what’s happening while you’re in the city.

There are many apps in the UK that are useful for finding deals for restaurants, bars, tickets to events, galleries, activities, concerts etc. The three that I use most often that I find very useful are these ones;

  • Groupon – General site, with everything from lunch deals to haircuts, to spa breaks.
  • Itison – This site has a mixture of things on, and worth a look, especially for events and shows.
  • 5pm.co.uk – This is the site I check first for dining deals. Search by area or style of restaurant you’d like to find something tempting.

Places to Stay in Edinburgh – The Breakdown

Where to stay in Edinburgh streets

Edinburgh is comprised of quite a few neighbourhoods but, like all cities, some of them are not the most attractive ones to base yourself out of.

For example, while you may be a fan of the book or movie Trainspotting, it doesn’t mean you want to stay in most of the areas portrayed in it – which is why those areas aren’t featured here.

Most of the main events are located in the central area which – like a good European city should have – spans out from its heart, Edinburgh Castle.

Each of the neighborhoods featured here spans out from the castle in one direction or another. All of them are not more than a 30-minute walk or 10-15 minute bus ride away from Princes Street.

1. Leith – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for Foodies

Leith Walk
Leith Walk. Picture courtesy Kim Traynor -Wikimedia

What used to be one of Edinburgh’s roughest addresses has gentrified. Its history of welcoming immigrants has made this one of the best parts of the city to sample international cuisine.

The area of Leith is made up of a couple of different parts; there is Leith Walk, which still has weird and wonderful people and things going on especially at the ‘foot’ of it, and there’s the Leith Docks area – which traditionally was the roughest part of Edinburg. , It now has fancy balconied apartments, mews dwellings, and even a royal yacht making its home there.

If you are into food and character this is one of the best places to stay in Edinburgh.

Leith is where I live in Edinburgh, at the top end, close to Princes Street. It has character, and is the most international part of Edinburgh, with restaurants and grocery stores from six continents and dozens of countries.

This is a great area to have as a base, as it is cheaper than most of the others mentioned in this, but has some of the best food in the city.

Leith’s lively Saturday market is always fun, and if you are fond of antiquing, you can’t beat Leith Walk’s. It houses a myriad of retro and ‘pre-loved’ stores for finding something unique that you really don’t need, but have to have.

For the gastronomically inclined, you can find everything from Thai, Japanese and Indian to Turkish, Scandinavian,  and Middles Eastern cuisine all on the one main drag.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh near Leith

Leith where to stay in Edinburgh neighbourhood

Malmaison Edinburgh – This exquisitely decorated hotel on the banks of the Forth in Leith has modern conveniences. An acclaimed restaurant & luxurious rooms.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Mayfair House – Located in a central neighbourhood near the Playhouse. This hotel has a warm and cozy atmosphere.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Hermitage Guest House – From around £50 a night, with free full fry up breakfast, Wi-Fi and in quiet but accessible and pretty location by Leith Links.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Things to see near Leith

Royal Yacht Britannia now acts as a floating museum
Royal Yacht Britannia now acts as a floating museum. Picture courtesy Benjamin Brock – Wikimedia

Leith Market – This weekly market has a variety of wares on offer. Anything goes at this Saturday Market. Located at Commercial Street, EH6 6LU.

Royal Yacht Britannia – For some regal regalia, check out the Royal Yacht, which has been docked here and used as a static floating museum since 1998. It also serves some superb afternoon tea in the onboard restaurant.

Ocean Terminal Shopping Center – The largest shopping mall in the Leith area spanning two floors of Ocean Terminal.  The second floor has a varied food court and a cinema.

Sweet treats at the Sicilian Bakery – Situated on Albert Street, just off Leith Walk, this bakery is famous throughout Edinburgh. It’s owners are genuine Sicilians and their sweet treats are so loved that the cannoli sells out by 11 am daily.

Leith Walk – Restaurants and bakeries from cultures around the world are found along Leith Walk.

Antiquing – There are many charity and ‘vintage’ stores in this area. Leith is probably the best area in Edinburgh to buy something classic.

Community spirit – Check out  The Leither to find out all the events in the area.

Suggested Tours

Royal Yacht Britannia – If you like the glamour of old-style cruising, you’ll love visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia herself. She’s been moored in Leith for several years now, right next to the Ocean Terminal shopping center, and is available for tours and afternoon teas.

Trainspotting Tour – Relive the lives of Renton, Begbie and pals with this fun tour of Leith, which incorporates part of the book, as well as giving you a well-informed history of Leith.

Edinburgh City Shore Excursion – Lonely Planet Tours provides a comprehensive tour of the city leaving from Leith’s Shore area.

Edinburgh Food Tour –Journey through the food culture of Edinburgh on a 3-hour guided tour and introduce your palate to some authentic haggis served with “neeps and tatties”(swedes and potatoes) before meandering past the famous Edinburgh Castle.

Getting There

If you arrive in Edinburgh by train or bus, you can walk to the top end of Leith within 10-15 minutes.

Bus 12, 16 or 22, takes you from by the bus station along Leith Walk, and stretches all the way to Leith Docks.

From the airport, take Airport Bus 100 to get the bottom of Leith Walk (York Place) or 200 to go to Ocean Terminal and the docks area, bypassing Leigh Walk. Airport bus costs £4.50 one-way or £7.00 return.

You can also take the tram. It stops outside the train station and York Place as it’s final stop (at the moment, but plans are underway to extend it all the way to Ocean Terminal). The tram costs £6 one-way, or £8.50 for a return.

For more information, check the Lothian Bus site or the Edinburgh Tram site.

Google Maps and Moovit are both good Apps to get transport information easily.

2. Stockbridge – Best Place to Stay in Edinburgh for Families

Royal botanical gardens in Edinburgh

Trendy village in the city center

One of Edinburgh’s most sought after areas, this village near the city center earns its good reputation with its renowned artisan market and shops.

This is Edinburgh’s trendiest, affluent “village” within the city. It is situated very close to the city center but has its own distinct character and identity.

Close to the picturesque Waters of Leith, Stockbridge boasts fine restaurants and pubs selling locally brewed beers. There’s also fine cheese shops and artisan coffee cafes.

Its Sunday Farmer’s Market is popular citywide and beyond.

If you are looking for where to stay in Edinburgh and you want to be close to all the city center treats Stockbridge is the place for you.

Here you can enjoy the artistic hipster vibe while feeling like you are actually in a charming village.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh near Stockbridge

The Raeburn – The Georgian building, slick décor, many amenities, including its own library. The central location makes this an ideal Stockbridge base.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Nira Caledonia – Centrally located, gorgeous décor in this Georgian Townhouse. Period features with all modern amenities and gardens make this a peaceful hideaway.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor Booking.com

Inverleith Hotel – Elegant rooms in this Victorian House, breakfast included, and location near the Botanic Gardens make this a good choice in the area.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Things to See in Stockbridge

The Sunday Stockbridge Farmer's Market
The Stockbridge Sunday Farmer’s Market

Stockbridge Sunday Farmer’s Market – This weekly market has a reputation as one of the best markets for foodies in the country.

The Water of Leith – This pretty river stretches through much of Edinburgh runs 24 miles into and through the city. There is an accessible, pleasant walkway through Stockbridge to Leith..

The Royal Botanic Gardens – One of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions is the peaceful and beautiful Botanic Gardens. Taking in 72 acres of the city, with over 17,000 species of plants from around the world this is the place for any lovers of plants. Free to visit.

The gardens are also part of various performances throughout the summer, including the Fringe Festival.

Located at Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ. Open daily 10am-5pm.

The Best places to stay in Edinburugh

Inverleith Park – Located close to the Botanic Gardens, this is one of Edinburgh’s most popular green spaces. Families will enjoy the children’s play park, while sports fan can utilize the football pitches or running track. Located at: Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5NY.

Golden Hare Books – One of Edinburgh’s top bookstores (of which there many great ones), with poetry evenings, special events and book launches.

National Gallery of Modern Art – Located to the west of Stockbridge, this neoclassical building boasts works by modern masters such as Matisse, Picasso, and Warhol. Free entry for the permanent exhibits and special exhibitions sometimes carry a fee. Located at: 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR. Open daily 10am-5pm.

Suggested Tours

National Gallery of Modern Art – Does tours of the main building, Modern Art One, and a smaller building. Check website for times and details.

GPS My City – Follow this self-guided tour of Stockbridge by downloading the map and app from their site.

Savoring Edinburgh Food Tour – If you are a foodie fan, then this walking tour of Stockbridge that takes in may of its tastes, will be right up your alley.

Hidden Edinburgh: Dean Village Tour – Discover the joys of the Water of Leith and secrets of the picturesque Dean Village, one of the highlights along it, with this detailed tour.

Getting There

If you arrive in Edinburgh by train or bus, you can walk to the top end of Leith within 10-15 minutes.

There is no direct bus from the bus station to Stockbridge so take a taxi, Uber or walk (18 mins).

From the airport, take Airport Bus 100 to get to Princess Street and then take Bus 24, 29 or walk the rest of they way (13 mins). Airport bus costs £4.50 one-way or £7.00 return.

You can also take the tram, which stops in the same place as the Airport Bus. The tram costs £6 one-way, or £8.50 for a return.

For more information, check the Lothian Bus site or the Edinburgh Tram site.

Google Maps and Moovit are both good Apps to get transport information easily.

3. Old Town/Royal Mile – Best Place to Stay in Edinburgh for first timers

Iconic Edinburgh Castle
Iconic Edinburgh Castle

History in Every Cobblestone

The oldest part of the city is bursting at the seams with history and possibly ghosts of past residents

Old Town is Reputedly the most haunted part of Edinburgh. (and Edinburgh is one of the top ten most haunted cities in the world, according to Conde Nast, and many others) But it has a lot to more to see than ghosts.

The architecture alone is worth a trip.  You’ll be transported back to the times of infamous residents Burke and Hare, and Deacon Brodie at each cobbled turn.

Royal Mile Stretches from the iconic Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace down the hill.

Free museums a-plenty here, as well cozy pubs tempting you in with a wee dram. With tweed and tartan in every window, you definitely know you’re in Scotland’s capital.

If you want to be close to the action then this is where you should stay in Edinburgh.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh near Old Town/Royal Mile

Radisson Blue – Its enviable location is right on the Royal Mile, chic décor, and a great in house restaurant and cocktail bar make this a popular spot to stay in the Old Town.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Apex Grassmarket Hotel – Located in the center of the hip Grassmarket area with a great in house restaurant (look out for deals on Groupon ), this chic hotel is a great base right behind the castle.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Ibis South Bridge – Conveniently located on South Bridge, this hotel is well situated for most Fringe Venues as well as any vacation year round.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Things to see near Old Town/Royal Mile

National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh Castle – This is the biggest tourist attraction in the city and the emotional and physical heart of it.

Free-guided tours every hour take the sting out of the high entrance fee somewhat, and provide thorough information on the castle’s long history, and are well worth the time.

Don’t miss the dungeons, crown jewels in the Royal Apartments and the Great Hall. The dungeon is my favourite part of the castle as its history is fascinating and really shows what life was like there.

Try to plan to be there at 1 pm, for the ‘One O’clock Gun’, which goes off from a canon on the main wall every day still.

Admission prices to the castle have gone up quite a lot over the past few years and now is at £18.50 for adults on site (£17 advance) and £15 for concession (£13.50 advance).

Note: If you have any family who served in any of the wars in Edinburgh, you are permitted to go in to visit the Memorial Hall to pay respects without charge.

Where to stay in Edinburgh near the Castle

Dynamic Earth – The earth’s progress from the primordial swamp, through the Jurassic period, ice ages, to a rainforest which actually rains, is showcased in this interesting and educational family-friendly attraction.

The National Museum of Scotland – Four floors of fantastic exhibitions on everything from Ancient Egypt and natural history with a life-sized tyrannosaurus rex skeleton to the new section which is about all things Scotland.

This is my favourite museum in all of Scotland due to the diversity and quality of things to learn here – there really is something for every taste.

  • Permanent exhibits are free, with charges for some of the temporary ones, such as this year’s 100 Best Wildlife Photographs exhibit.

Greyfriar’s – Greyfriar’s Kirk (church), and churchyard and pub, are now also synonymous with the legend of one the most treasured local residents – a small terrier named Bobby. This loyal canine was adopted by the community after his master John Grey passed away and the wee dog slept on his grave loyally for his remaining 14 years.

Visit the church and adjacent graveyard to learn about local history, and hear tell of the loyal wee doggy who showed the city the power of friendship. The touch the wee nose of his statue at the top of Candlemaker’s Row for good luck.

The Elephant House – This Gourmet tea and coffee house has been popular since its opening in 1995 and found fame as one of the spots JK Rowling frequented to write early Harry Potter. novels.

Holyrood House where to stay in Edinburgh

There are many places of interest situated along the oldest and most regal of Edinburgh’s thoroughfares, so I’ll highlight my top picks of them here, in order of how you’d walk to them heading down the hill from the Castle:

  • The Tartan Weaving Mill & Museum – Free. Learn how traditional Scottish tartan is made here with live demonstrations on looms in the bottom floor. Learn about why each clan (old family) of Scotland has their own tartan and the significance of the colours in them.
  • The Whisky Experience – This small distillery is the only one in the city. It shows you how Scotland’s most popular export is made.
  • St Giles Cathedral – Edinburgh’s oldest and largest cathedral has regular concerts from local choirs and classical musicians.  A plaque at the door lets you know when to expect the next performance too. Free.
  • Main drag of the mile – Between St Giles and Cockburn Street, is the main drag of the street and is the spot to find street performers year round. Especially busy during the Fringe Festival, which takes place throughout August each year.  Free, but tips are always appreciated for the artists.
  • Tron Kirk Market – One of the city’s most hipster of markets, you can find Tweed repurposed into all manner of clothes and bags. There’s also handmade jewellery, organic soap, and local painters.
  • Cockburn Street – This character-filled old street winds down the hill from the mile to the train station. Look out for fairy stores with healing crystals, funky t-shirt shops where you can design your own or buy locally designed ones with hand-drawn Nessie, Harry Potter, and odes to ‘gingers’, making appearances.
  • Museum of Childhood – This newly refurbished museum pays homage to the toys of yesteryear. My favourite is the ‘Haunted House’ animatronic old fairground style machine that runs on 5p pieces. Free, and open daily 10am-5pm.
  • The Fudge Kitchen – Sweet tooths will not be disappointed here, where you can try before you buy. Samples are always offered by the friendly staff, and lowered priced deals are available if you buy four slices.
  • National Storytelling Center – Scots love to hear, and tell, a good tale. Here you can witness some of the city’s professional storytellers in action. Children and adults can enjoy some of Edinburgh’s history and legends here, with varying lineups of the tales on offer. Check their website to see what’s on when you’re visiting.
  • The People’s Story Museum – Edinburgh’s old Tolbooth is the setting for this smell-o-vision look into the history of the city. Each floor tells of different aspects of Edinburgh’s past, taking you from high society to the old washer houses, Leith docks to the fish market. Free. Open daily 10am-5pm.
  • Clarinda’s Tearoom – Have you ever been to a Scottish grandmother’s house? Well, you can see the next best thing at this doily-filled, chintzy, twee, plates on the wall, slightly fussy tearoom. Enjoy your proper cup of Scottish tea in a proper china teacup with a saucer with a slice of one of their abundant tasty homemade cakes.  Located at: 69 Canongate, Edinburgh. Open daily 10am-4.30pm.
  • Scottish Parliament Building – One of Scotland’s Government’s most unpopular commissions with public money due to its somewhat jarring appearance. This is where the big decisions and main politics of the country are taken care of.
  • Holyrood Palace – The palace where Queen Elizabeth and family take their summer vacations to Scotland, is open as a museum whenever they are not in residence.

Suggested Tours

Edinburgh Castle – Skip the line with this ticket. Tours of the castle are free with your entry ticket, check which time the next one departs as you enter.

Whisky Experience – Learn how the golden good stuff is made in the only distillery located within the city.

Ghost Tours – Edinburgh is supposedly one of the world’s most haunted cities, and you can see for yourself on one of the many Ghost tours on offer. The Double Dead tour: which takes in the underground vaults, as well as a graveyard.

Mary King’s Close – One of the scarier tours on offer is run from here, with an exhibition on site as well as a walking tour.

Scotland’s Parliament Building – All of Scotland’s major decisions and plans are made, here in Scotland’s Westminster. Tours are available if you’re interested to see how it all works inside. Tours are free but have to be booked in advance.

Getting There

Edinburgh Old Town is right next to the bus and train station.

From the airport, take Airport Bus 100 to get to Waverly Bridge in the center of the Old Town. Airport bus costs £4.50 one-way or £7.00 return.

You can also take the tram to get to Princes Street, which is then a short walk to the Old Town. The tram costs £6 one-way, or £8.50 for a return.

For more information, check the Lothian Bus site or the Edinburgh Tram site.

Google Maps and Moovit are both good Apps to get transport information easily.

4. New Town/City Center – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for Nightlife

View of Princes Street from Edinburgh Castle
View of Princes Street from Edinburgh Castle

Shopping, Gardens and Pubs

Shopping, bars, restaurants and the ever popular Princes Street Gardens under the watchful eye of the Castle above help make the center still the heart of Edinburgh.

The “new” town was built after the great fire in Edinburgh in 1824 that wiped out almost all buildings in this area.

Located in the shadow of ‘the castle’, the very heart of the city is home to some of its most popular attractions like Princes Street Gardens. There’s shopping galore on Princes Street, pubs for days on Rose Street, and high fashion and swanky bars on George Street.

Transport links to the city are very easy to navigate with the main train station and bus station right here.

Suggested Hotels near New Town/City Center

The Balmoral Hotel – Iconic Edinburgh Hotel filled with history, sumptuous décor and excellent service in its rooms and many lounges and restaurants.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

The Bonham – This Victorian Townhouse hotel has tasteful elegant décor, well-appointed rooms, and a delicious in house restaurant, which is popular with locals, especially for its lunchtime and afternoon tea menus.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Easy Hotel Edinburg – This no-frills, basic, but very clean hotel is exceptionally located for the price tag. Pay the extra £10-20 per night to get a room with a castle view – it is well worth it.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor /Booking.com

Things to See in New Town/City Center

Princes Street is always bustling with tourists and locals
Princes Street is always bustling with tourists and locals

Princes Street – Edinburgh’s main shopping mecca still hasn’t been outshone by the various malls that have sprung up on the city’s fringes over the past few decades.

Jenners & House of Fraser – Located on Princes Street are Scotland’s two most prestigious department stores which bookend each side of the street.

Princes Street Gardens – right across the street from the shops, you can enjoy some respite, or a picnic, in the gardens. Once a lake, the area was drained to create the gardens, and creat a spot for trains in the city center. Live music and Ceilidhs (Scottish parties with traditional music and dancing) happen here whatever the weather decides to do.

Edinburgh Dungeons – Edinburgh’s love of things macabre are applauded in this tourist attraction that scares with tales of grave robbers Burke and Hare, cannibal Sawny Bean, and a trip to the gallows.

Rose Street – Located behind Princes Street, this street haa more pubs than any other. Many restaurants are also sprinkled along it, with a variety of dining options.

Where to stay in Edinburgh best places to shop

George Street – Running parallel as the next main street behind Rose Street this is Edinburgh’s fanciest shopping and dining street.

Panda & Sons – Increasingly become one of Edinburgh’s hippest hangouts, this underground hidden speakeasy appears to be just an innocent barber shop from the outside. You have to walk through a bookcase to be transported to 1920.  Located by Charlotte Square at the West End of Princes Street, on Queen Street.

The Portrait Gallery – Centrally located behind St Andrews Square, this is the place to find portraits of famous Scots to modern-day poets and cultural icons.

Scotland’s National Gallery – Situated on The Mound, right smack in the middle of Princes Street, this elegant gallery has a wealth of Scottish art. Permanent exhibitions are free, with changing charges for certain temporary ones.

The Stand Comedy Club – Edinburgh’s most famous comedy club. Delightfully dark, located in the basement, the venue is almost always full to the brim any day of the week, Early to mid-week shows new talent and very low prices, which etches up to the big names and bigger ticket prices (but still usually not over £15) at the weekend with famous names the norm.

Suggested Tours

Pub Crawl Tour –Enjoy four shots & unbeatable drink deals in each place along with drinking games, bad dancing, new friendships and even a shot of the bagpipes (yes, really!)

Edinburgh Dungeons – You cannot walk around here unsupervised, and must take a led tour. (book ahead during busy seasons and at weekends year round as it is popular).

Princes Street Gardens Tour – Green Yonder gives a walking tour of the gardens that takes in the foliage, history and scenery of the city center’s most popular picnic spot.

Hop On Hop Off – Edinburgh’s green Hop On Hop Off Bus begins its tour of the city’s major attractions from Waverley Bridge.

Getting There

Edinburgh New Town is right next to the bus and train station.

From the airport, take Airport Bus 100 to get to Princes Street in the center of the New Town. Airport bus costs £4.50 one-way or £7.00 return.

You can also take the tram to get to Princes Street. The tram costs £6 one-way, or £8.50 for a return.

For more information, check the Lothian Bus site or the Edinburgh Tram site.

Google Maps and Moovit are both good Apps to get transport information easily.

5. Morningside/Bruntsfield – Upscale Neighborhood in Edinburgh

Quirky Morningside shops
Quirky Morningside shops. Photo courtesy Kim Traynor- Wikimedia

Elegant Leafy Avenues, and Independent Stores

The leafy avenues of these sister neighborhoods just south of the center are home to some of Edinburgh’s most elegant addresses.

Morningside has the reputation of being one of the most well-to-do neighborhoods in Scotland, and its next-door neighbour Bruntsfield isn’t far behind.

This combined area located just south of the city center has leafy terraces, beautiful Victorian and Georgian mansions, quirky independent shops, churches and parks.

Quieter than the other neighborhoods in this guide, it is one of the safest in the city.

Famous Irish comedian Dylan Moran resides here and at one of his recent gigs I was at, in The Stand said “he thinks the leading cause of death in Morningside is too much Earl Grey tea.”

The area has inspired other famous names to locate there too including s JK Rowling, Muriel Spark, Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith.

The fictitious characters of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Sparks’ creation) and Maisie the Cat from children’s stories by Aileen Paterson have made the area famous as one of Edinburgh’s fanciest postcodes.

If you want high class, peaceful parks, tantalizing tearooms and beautiful bistros, this is the best place to stay in Edinburgh.

Suggested Hotels near Mornigside/Bruntsfield

Black Ivy – Situated on the cusp between Bruntsfield and Morningside, this hotel overlooks Bruntsfield Links, has classy décor, cocktail lounge and a popular in house restaurant.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

The Lane Hotel – Hearty breakfasts, modern styling and great location on Morningside Road make this a good choice for anyone wanting to stay in the heart of this upmarket area.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Best Western Braid Hills  – Traditional Scottish décor replete with stag’s heads in public rooms, terrace with views, and library dining room make this a fine retreat in the area.

Check out Availability & Prices – Trip Advisor / Booking.com

Things to see in Mornigside/Bruntsfield

Dominion Cinema. Photo courtesy Kim Traynor -Wikimedia

The Meadows & Bruntsfield Links – This is a great spot for a picnic, stroll with a four-legged friend or a romantic partner. In summer look out for festivals and the circus tent erected here as Theatre Big Top during the Fringe.

Morningside Library – This beautiful Edwardian building  had a million pound makeover in 2011 to return it to its former glory, and is a lovely building to visit on Morningside Road.

The Canny Man Pub – Dubbed the ‘best pub in the world’ by Rick Stein, this is one of Morningside’s best-known landmarks dating back to  1871. It also houses many artifacts from vintage clocks and china to musical paraphernalia. Located on Morningside Road.

The Bore Stane – Morningside Parish Church is a pretty church worth a visit, but many visitors frequent it to see the curious landmark built into its wall outside it – The Bore Stane (or stone). The holey rock marks where King James IV led his army south to the battle of Flodden in 1513. Located on Morningside Road.

Holy Corner – Situated between Morningside and Bruntsfield it houses four churches – Morningside United (Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church), Morningside Baptist Church, Christ Church (Scottish Episcopal Church), and the Eric Liddell Centre. The Eric Liddell Centre changed its name in 1980 to honor the Scottish athlete whose story is told in movie ‘Chariots of Fire’.

Streamline Moderne Dominion Cinema – This impressive art deco cinema has been family run by the Camerons for four generations, and is Scotland’s last family run cinema.

Where to stay in Edinburgh colourful streets

Golf – If you’re a fan of Scotland’s most famous sport, Bruntsfield Links has been operating its course since the 1680s. It is also one of the city’s few free public courses (in that you don’t have to be a member to play there), so a good place to give the gentleman’s sports a try.

Shopping – Quirky independent shops in Victorian buildings all along Morningside Road ran by their owners and often makers of their wares are de rigueur in Morningside, with some fine local crafts, art, and clothing to be found.

The Morningside Gallery – This small gallery where you can take home the art showcases local art, sculpture and ceramics. Looking is free.

Morningside Wild West – One of the more odd places of note in Morningside is the street behind the library, which is a replica of a wild west street built in the 1990s for an ad campaign. The cantina and jail can still be seen. Located at 10-14 Springvalley Gardens.

Suggested Tours

Morningside Heritage Association – This local association provides various tours throughout the year, from tours on Edinburgh’s Curious Curiosities to historical tours. Check their website to see what is on when you are there, as they are only on selected days.

Bruntsfield Links – Play a free round of pitch and putt in the world’s oldest short hold golf course. Located South of Melville Drive, you can play the 36 hole course in summer (April-September) or the nine-hole course in winter (October-April). No experience necessary. The course is free if you bring your own clubs. If you do not have any, simply borrow some from the bar The Golf Tavern for £3.50.

Doodles Ceramic Workshop – Decorate your own mug, plate, bowl or more at Edinburgh’s first informal “Paint your own” ceramic shop. Located on Marchmont Crescent. (Be aware it’ll take 4-5 days for it to be ready to take home, so if you’re interested, do this at the start of your trip).

Unlock Tours, Meet the Artisans of Bruntsfield – Hear stories by, see, smell, and taste produce from and learn how many local products are made by artisan bakers, tea merchants, beer brewers and fishmongers on this tasty tour that supports making and eating local.

Getting There

Bus 11 or 16, takes you from the Bus Station through to Morningside.

From the airport, take Airport Bus 100 to get to Princes Street and then transfer to Bus 11, 15 or 16. Airport bus costs £4.50 one-way or £7.00 return.

You can also take the tram to get to Princes Street, and then transfer to Bus 11, 15 or 16. The tram costs £6 one-way, or £8.50 for a return.

For more information, check the Lothian Bus site or the Edinburgh Tram site.

Google Maps and Moovit are both good Apps to get transport information easily.

Plan Your Edinburgh Trip

Edinburgh is on the Pound Sterling, or Great British Pound (GBP) £1 = 1.13 Euro as of July 2018 – For up to date conversions get the XE Currency Converter App 

Being situated in Scotland, the weather can be unpredictable. Jokes like asking someone if they’re visiting Edinburgh during the Scottish summer, and replies such as “Ah, you’ll be there for the second Thursday in August then” are common.

Being in Britain, expect rain at any time of the year, or day, even if it was sunny when you left in the morning. Dressing in layers is always a smart move, and bring a small umbrella.

For more advice on how to pack check out our Packing for Europe – Tips That Will Make Your Travel Life Easier post!

Gear You can Use:

Eagle Creek Plug Adapter – This all in one adapter is all you need for Edinburgh and other European and world travels.

International Data Roaming – Use KnowRoaming for unlimited data/cellular for $3.99 per day. Easy application sticks to your existing SIM Card. Save 50% using promoDDSave50

Belkin Mini Surge Protector: A perfect accompaniment to the plug adapter this will help protect all of your electronics from unwanted power surges. We take this wherever we go.

If you are looking for something more rugged than the city check out one of the best road trips in the world

North Coast 500 – The Ultimate Trip Guide to Scotland’s Epic Drive

Suggested Movie and TV Tours in Edinburgh

We use Viator and Get Your Guide when booking day tours and can confidently recommend their tours when visiting a city.

Harry Potter Tour of Edinburgh – J.K. Rowling starting writing her books while living in Edinburg.

Edinburgh: Outlander Locations Tour – This full day tour takes you and 3 friends (price per group of 4) to the iconic filming locations of Outlander.

2 Day Outlander Tour –  Viator takes the Outlander filming locations one step further and explores over two days.

Harry Potter Highlands by Steam Train – Board the Hogwarts Express and explore several key Harry Potter filming locations.

Get the Complete Harry Potter Book Series written by JK Rowling.

Buy the original Outlander Novel on Amazon

Top 3 Tours in Edinburgh you Won’t Want to Miss

Day Trip to St Andrews Dunfermline and the Fife Coast in a Private Minibus from Edinburgh 
A full day visiting South Queensferry, Dunfermline, Lower Largo and the iconic St Andrews. Plus a visit to the 11th century abbey of Dunfermline and the Tomb of King Robert “The” Bruce.

Skip-the-Line Edinburgh Castle Walking Tour

Save valuable vacation time with skip-the-line access to Edinburgh Castle on this 1.5-hour walking tour.

Private Tour: ‘Outlander’ TV Locations Day Trip from Edinburgh

Private day trip of Scotland’s Outlander filming locations from Edinburgh. Visit the village of Falkland, Explore Doune Castle, the rural village of Culross and visit Lallybroch, Jamie Fraser’s childhood home.

Edinburgh is a vivacious city, which effortlessly blends and celebrates its colorful history with modern forward-facing innovation.

It continues to inspire artists of all kinds, as well as being an economic heavyweight.

Locals are friendly and happy to give directions or their tips on their favorite places to eat/drink/party/visit – Edinburgers like to talk!

Whether you’re visiting in the height of summer, in shoulder season with the pretty foliage of spring and autumn, or are braving the winter for Christmas markets, and Hogmanay, you are sure to have a grand old time.

I think Morningside based author Alexander McCall Smith described Edinburgh’s charm best when he said, “ This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”

Enjoy these tips on Where to Stay in Edinburgh? Be Sure to pin it for future planning!

Where to stay in Edinburgh a guide to the best neighborhoods and attractions.

Read More about Travel in Scotland

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links in the post above, but these are all products we highly recommend. We won’t put anything on this page that we haven’t verified and/or personally used.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About Karen Worrall

Karen Worrall is a travel blogger and freelance writer. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, she has lived in six countries, including London in England, and sailed the seven seas entertaining on cruise ships for 13 years. You can find her on FacebookInstagram, and on her website Cruise Ship Karen.

Leave a Comment

14 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Edinburgh – A Guide To The Best Places and Neighborhoods”

  1. Of course there will also be the re-built St James shopping centre once it is complete. So, finding a place near the new mall will certainly be a top priority for any shopping addicts when deciding where to stay in Edinburgh!

  2. I was just able to plan most of our 2 day trip thanks to you. So, thank you! Your attention to detail and links has been most helpful.

  3. Don’t tell people to rub Greyfriars Bobby’s statues’nose! its not lucky its silly! Spoken as a born bred Edinburger and therefore custodian of Bobby. Have you seen the state of his nose!

  4. Very detailed and well laid out description. Thanks for all the fascinating tips. I’m going to book the ghost tour, visit the tea rooms that J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter and may even take a trip to Holyrood Palace.
    So many quirky places I never knew about and can’t wait to discover. Fantastic thanks Karen

  5. These are some great tips, I am planning a few days in Edinburgh and was looking for a place to stay, plus the whisky experience sounds really good.

  6. @Karen Worrall you have shared perfect reasons why Edinburgh is the second most popular short break destination in the UK. Pictures and descriptions are so perfect that it has blown my mind. Thanks

  7. This is a very informative post, thanks for covering the multiple aspects of Edinburgh, as without such information it is easy to get lost and miss several amazing spots like you have covered in this post.

  8. Great tips! You describe the detailed information of adventure travel very well. I really enjoy reading your blog and I will definitely bookmark it!

  9. These are some great tips as I am planning a few days in Edinburgh and was looking for a place to stay, plus the whisky experience sounds really good.

  10. Such a fantastic place and post you shared!! This place looks really cool and you captured awesome pictures. Thank you so much for sharing this post and experiences. keep it up.