Edinburgh is not just one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s also a contender for Europe’s prettiest city. Most of the city’s buildings are built with the unique local dark sandstone, and like the city of Bath, Edinburgh has a distinctive look. Stunning Medieval architecture characterizes the Old Town, whilst elegant Victorian designs can be admired in the New Town. But where is the best place to stay in Edinburgh? Keep on reading to find out more about the top neighbourhoods in the city.
The Old Town
Edinburgh’s oldest district lies in the center and is home to Edinburgh Castle and many other famous landmarks. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this medieval maze of ‘wynds’ (the local name for the narrow streets between buildings) is a huge draw with tourists. At the heart of the Old Town is the Royal Mile boulevard, which English writer Daniel Defoe once described as “perhaps the largest, longest, and finest street for buildings and number of inhabitants in the world”. The Royal Mile has four different segments – Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, and Canongate and runs from the castle down to Holyrood Palace. Aside from the much talked about castle, there’s plenty to see in this part of town. St Giles’ Cathedral is worth visiting, as is Greyfriars Kirkyard graveyard. The Scottish Parliament building is also worth seeing due to its controversial design by Catalan architect Enric Miralles.
Situated just north of the Old Town, New Town is famous for being one of the largest Georgian developments in the world. Some of the houses date back more than 250 years and it is the Britain’s largest historic conservation area. It’s possible to reach this neighborhood in about 15 minutes on foot from the city centre. It is made up of a network of picturesque squares and terraces and there are a number of pleasant green spaces such as the pretty Regent Gardens. Perhaps New Town’s most famous landmark is the world renowned Edinburgh Playhouse, the UK’s largest working theater. It is modeled on the Roxy Cinema in New York! Looking to stay in the New Town? Take a look at this pleasant Wimdu apartment here.
Situated just north of the New Town, the exclusive Stockbridge feels more like a small village than a suburb of the Scottish capital. It’s home to a tight-knit community and plenty of excellent independent shops. Many elegant buildings can be found in the area such a Royal Circus and Stockbridge Library. The main draw of the area for tourists is undoubtedly the Royal Botanic Garden. Another highlight is the well regarded family-run Stockbridge Restaurant, which can be found in the heart of the neighborhood. Excellent public transport connections link Stockbridge with the city center, though it can be reached on foot. This is perhaps the best way to experience this unique part of town.
Located to the north of Edinburgh, the district of Leith boasts a distinct character as well as lively nightlife options. Whilst its inhabitants proudly claim to be independent of the city, over the years Leith has come to be part of Edinburgh. It rests on the shores of the Firth of Forth, the name for the large body water next to the city which leads to the North Sea. Whilst in the past the area has suffered from a poor reputation, today Leith is thriving. It is the famed location of the 5-star Royal Yacht Britannia, a former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II. Berthed by the Ocean Terminal Shopping Center, the yacht (which has clocked up over 1,000,000 miles sailing around the globe) is now a very popular tourist attraction. Leith is also something of a hub for creativity and is home to several independent art galleries including the Corn Exchange Gallery. A number of festivals such as the Edinburgh Mela are held throughout the year too. An excellent Wimdu apartment which boasts views over the Firth of Forth can be booked here.
These are Edinburgh’s most popular neighborhoods – they’re waiting to be discovered by you!