Some of the most secret places in the UK worth visiting are located right in the heart of Edinburgh. Enjoy a wander around the city and you’ll find plenty of quirky things to do and hidden beauty spots. So, what hidden gems should you be looking for?
Open from May – September, Jupiter Artland is a wonderful green space located just outside the city centre. Pre-book your slot and enjoy hidden walks through the trees in this scenic spot and see the works of art that are installed throughout the gardens.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery
Located on Rutland Place at the west end of Princes Street, the Edinburgh Gin Distillery produces a delectable range of gins and gin liqueurs. Book a tour of the distillery to learn all about the history of gin and how it’s made. You’ll see the two gleaming copper stills that make every drop of Edinburgh Gin before tasting a sample for yourself.
Bordering the Water of Leith and just a few minutes from the local favourite Stockbridge, Dean Village boasts some of the most spectacular architecture and is one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets. Follow the peaceful path along the water’s edge and towards the west of the city, admiring the distinctive sandstone mills and stylish Tudor revivals en route. You’re not far from the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art either.
Water of Leith
Continue along the leafy, quiet pathway which weaves its way through the city and you’ll eventually reach the Shore on the Water of Leith, an area of Edinburgh packed full of hidden gems including Michelin-star restaurants, seafood spots and trendy cafés and bistros! Stop along the way at The Pitt Street food market which takes place most Saturdays during the year, or reward yourself with a refreshing pint on the waterfront terrace at Teuchter’s Landing – nothing beats this spot on a summer’s evening!
Panda & Sons
This classic Prohibition-style speakeasy offers an array of classic and creative cocktails, with fun décor and nods to a vintage barber shop. Panda & Sons is a little hidden away in Edinburgh’s city centre but keep looking – it’s worth a visit for a delicious tipple! If you’re looking for more quirky bars to add to your pub crawl, try the legendary boozy ice cream, vending machine treats and slushies at Hoot the Redeemer on Hanover Street.
Dr Neil’s Garden
Sometimes referred to as Scotland’s secret garden, Dr Neil’s Garden is a little piece of haven. Located beside Duddingston Kirk on the lower slopes of Arthur’s Seat, it’s a fabulous place for a little escape from the real world, with brightly-coloured plants to admire everywhere you look. In one corner, there’s Thomson’s Tower, built in 1825 as a place for storing Duddingston Curling Society’s stones, and whilst you’re in the village, a stop to the Sheep’s Heid Inn is a must for a hearty roast dinner.
Rooftop Terrace, National Museum of Scotland
You may have visited the wonderful and unique National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street before, but did you venture up to the rooftop viewing platform on the 7th floor? It’s one of the best places to see incredible 360 degree views of the city skyline.
Looking towards Crammond island at low tide, with Fife visible behind. The causeway’s striking line of of triangular pillars crosses diagonally across
Don’t worry beach bums, a city break in Edinburgh can quickly turn into a beach break holiday with several coastlines to choose from! At Cramond, walk out along the tidal causeway to Cramond Island (be sure to check the tides and leave enough time to return to dry land!), stop for a cuppa at the Boardwalk Beach Club or sit down for fish and chips in the cosy Cramond Inn.
St Giles’ Cathedral
Also on the Royal Mile, why not pop into St Giles’ Cathedral and marvel at some of Edinburgh’s most impressive architecture? As well as Victorian stained glass windows and Gothic style stonework the stunning Thistle Chapel’s magnificent ceiling is a sight to behold. Further down the Royal Mile, look out for Dunbar’s Close Garden, this Edinburgh hidden gem is laid out like a 17th century garden, tucked away down an alley just off the main street.
Surgeons’ Hall Museums
Just a five minute walk from the Royal Mile, the Surgeons’ Hall Museums are a treasure trove of surgical tools, fascinating paintings and – yes – more than a few body parts in jars. Learn about the evolution of surgery throughout the ages and find out how great Scottish minds brought us some of the medical breakthroughs we take for granted today.
Just a few miles from the city centre, Portobello Beach oozes traditional seaside charm. Enjoy a hot crêpe or an ice cream as you stroll along the promenade, play fun games at the amusement arcades or visit the indoor swimming pool with Turkish Baths where you can unwind with three hot rooms, a steam room, a relaxation area and cold plunge pool.
The Stand Comedy Club
Edinburgh is famed for its annual Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, but you don’t need to visit in August to be guaranteed some laughs. One of the cool places in Edinburgh to see a comedy gig is The Stand Comedy Club. Popular comedians who have taken to its stage include Frankie Boyle, Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges and many more.
Lauriston Castle & Gardens
This 16th century tower house on the west side of Edinburgh, is just three miles from Princes Street, in the leafy suburb of Cramond. Explore Lauriston Castle’s beautiful grounds overlooking the sea. The grounds feature a stunning Japanese Friendship garden gifted by the prefecture of Kyoto.
Museum on the Mound
This small but interesting museum explores the history of money, quite fitting as the building was once the former head office of the Bank of Scotland. The Museum on the Mound is just one of the many quirky things to do in Edinburgh where you’ll marvel at millions of pounds, view the country’s oldest banknote, and mint your own coin. Put your problem-solving skills to the test by cracking open the safe, you might even be treated to a chocolatey reward!
Last but by no means least, we have another castle hidden gem to add to your Edinburgh bucket list. Craigmillar Castle sits three miles south-east of the city centre and plays an important part in the capital’s history. Mary Queen of Scots fled here following the murder of David Rizzio, her private secretary, before a plot was hatched to murder Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley.
Today you won’t be faced with any unexpected surprises. Kids can let off steam by playing hide-and-seek in its labyrinth, climb the tower house or enjoy a picnic feast fit for a king or queen in its courtyards.