The Old Town in Edinburgh refers to the oldest part of Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, along with New Town to the north. The Royal Mile is the most well-known street in Edinburgh. Let’s learn more about the best hotels and restaurants in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Guide to Old Town Edinburgh
The city of Edinburgh has two sections: the Old Town and the New Town. The Old Town was built on a glacial ridge during the Middle Ages. Later, the New Town appeared in the 17th century in a Georgian, Neoclassical style. The Old Town in Edinburgh winding streets wind through the tall stone buildings, towers, and chimneys that comprise Scotland’s ancient skyscrapers. Its architecture is a mishmash of styles from the 12th, 16th, and even 19th centuries.
Old Town Edinburgh is made up of historical landmarks after historical landmarks, monuments, tours, markets, and so on. There is so much to see, so let’s break down all of Old Town’s most captivating attractions.
Explore the eerie depths of the Real Mary King Close.
Step back in time to the 17th century to discover what life was like for the residents of Mary King Close 400 years ago. The close lied beneath the Royal Mile after the Royal Exchange appeared on top of it in the nineteenth century. Despite hundreds of years of wear and tear, it is in good condition. It’s also rumored to be haunted.
The Holyrood Palace stands at the end of the Royal Mile and has been the official residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 16th century. Parts of the palace, including St. Margarets Abbey, were constructed in 1128. The ruins of the Abbey, as well as Mary Queen of Scots’ chamber, are still standing and open to visit. Holyrood Palace tickets are available online.
Holyrood Palace remains Scotland’s official royal residence, and Queen Elizabeth II spends at least one week there each summer.
Royal Mile – Old Town Edinburgh’s most famous street
Climbing Castle Rock will take visitors to the Royal Mile, one of Edinburgh’s busiest and most popular streets. Aside from the magnificent architecture and a variety of shops, stores, and whiskey bars, the Royal Mile is home to a number of landmarks and attractions along its length.
There are haunted tours through historic closes, including the famous underground Mary Kings Close, and the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions interactive experience in the Outlook Tower museum.
Just beyond the palace is Holyrood Park, home to the royal gardens and the impressive Arthur’s Seat, which towers over Old Town in Edinburgh.
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano that is the highest point in Holyrood Park. It is one of the sites to be the location of King Arthur’s Camelot, and the ruins around it could be prehistoric forts.
Hotels in Old Town Edinburgh
Apex City has the highest rating.
The Apex City Hotel is 200 meters from the castle. It’s an excellent starting point for exploring the city because you can walk everywhere. Furthermore, the location is convenient for transport links at Waverley Train Station.
ibis Centre Royal Mile – Most popular
The Ibis South Bridge Hotel provides a convenient location at an affordable price. The rooms are quiet and comfortable, and the size is typical for the city. Breakfast is full of organic and free-range foods. There is also a 24-hour bar!
Fraser Suites – Closest to the castle
Fraser Suites combines a homey atmosphere with a fantastic location – only 350m from the castle and just steps from Waverley Station. Every room has a kitchenette, so you can easily prepare your own coffee, tea, or snacks. Some of the rooms have spectacular city views.
Best restaurants Edinburgh Old Town
Ondine is a luxury seafood restaurant located off the Royal Mile and on the trendy cocktail bar-filled George IV Bridge. Fine diners can take a seat at the bar for champagne and light bites, or sit down and feast on the legendary shellfish platter, which includes lobster, crab, razor clams, surf clams, mussels, scallops, and oysters.
The Witchery has an almost legendary reputation in the city. The original and darkly romantic sixteenth-century Witchery restaurant welcomes you in with its red leather booths, oak paneling, and flickering candles. Outside The Witchery, you find yourself in the fantastical Secret Garden, an open courtyard canopied by vines and intricate wooden carvings.
Grain Store is located on the upper floor of No. 30 Victoria Street, away from the tourist crowds on George IV Bridge, and is beneath the stone vaulting and archways of the original store rooms used by the historical shops below.
Tips for travel Old Town Edinburgh
- Don’t avoid Haggis-the most well-known dish in Scotland
- Avoid spending over your budget on the Royal Mile
- Make the most of Edinburgh magnificent museums such as – Most of them are free! Discover more free things to do in Edinburgh here.
- Discover its local neighborhoods
- Don’t take a bus tour. If you want to get a feel for Edinburgh, walking is absolutely the best way!