Edinburgh is a stunning and intriguing place and like any city, there are hidden gems scattered around which many tourists or even locals may not even know about. The Scottish capital is well known for its creativity and unique way of looking at the world which has helped bring some of the most influential inventions such as the telephone, penicillin, Xrays, and Dolly the sheep. So with this innovative outlook which seems so naturally woven into the fabric of the city, there is no surprise that the city boasts a variety of great hidden gems to include mouth-watering attractions ideal for any foodie as well as picture-perfect spots for the instagramers.
Here is our favorite top 10 Edinburgh Hidden Gems
1. The Pitt – Street Food Market
The Pitt Market is Edinburgh’s pioneering street food venue which is both child and dog-friendly. Fill your stomach with mouth-watering grub and watch live music then pop to Leith’s popular dockside bars and shops which all have a unique charm and make Leith a vibrant place to hang out. It’s only a short walk or taxi ride to the center of town.
2. Wild West (Morningside, Morningside Rd)
Hidden away down a side street in Morningside sits a portal to a complete another universe; Edinburgh’s very own Wild West town. Built in the 1990s to increase attention for a Southwestern style furniture venture, rumor has it that one of the creatives who helped with the construction also worked on Euro Disney. Although somewhat dilapidated today, there’s nothing more surreal than stepping into this perfectly preserved Western world. A true hidden gem and stellar photo op.
3. Edinburgh Kyoto Friendship Garden
A scene from your most memorable dream, the Edinburgh Kyoto Japanese Friendship Garden is a sanctuary of peace within the extensive grounds of Lauriston Castle. It’s incredible to think that a place of such beauty is so close to the center of the city. Created by Takashi Sawano, the garden, which opened in 2002, was built in honor of the twinning and friendship between Edinburgh and Kyoto. Here you will find an abundance of bamboo, picture-perfect stepping stones, gushing waters, divine reflections dancing on the ponds, and an artist’s palette of colours.
4. National Museum Rooftop
Touching the sky never seemed so feasible. The museum, although a total jewel in its own right, hosts a little slice of paradise in the rooftop garden. Take the lift all the way to floor 7 and take in the stunning 360-degree panoramic view. Perfect for travellers, signs pick out the names of specific buildings in the landscape. A handsome array of plants and vegetation adorn this rooftop terrace garden.
5. The Union Canal
Stretching all the way from Glasgow to Edinburgh, the Union Canal was a real testament to Scotland’s ingenuity. Nowadays, it’s the perfect place to come for a stroll or cycle to really begin to discover Edinburgh off the beaten path. My favorite spot along the canal has to be the Counter coffee shop, although it’s not really much of a shop, but actually, a canal boat that floats on the water. These guys are known to produce some of the best coffee in the whole city, alongside a really good selection of home-baked treats too for when you’re in need of something sweet. They also serve coffee from police boxes across the city too, so keep an eye out for them whilst you’re walking around. You can’t beat the amazing setting of the boat though, you can sit back and relax in one of their deck chairs whilst sipping a coffee from one of the finest hidden gems in Edinburgh.
6. The Cameo Picturehouse
For somewhere so small, Edinburgh seems to have its fair share of independent cinemas. One of the finest is Cameo Picturehouse, a historic landmark of the city’s art scene that dates back over one hundred years! This place is one of the best-hidden gems in Edinburgh, and although locally it’s very famous, tourists don’t seem to go there all too often. This is a truly independent cinema, so don’t go expecting to see the new Fast and Furious, think more along the lines of arthouse and foreign-language movies instead. If that’s not your thing, then you can always just enjoy a drink in the cinema’s ever-popular bar area. For real cinephiles, there’s another alternative Edinburgh cinema called the Filmhouse. This is actually located on the same street and just as popular as Cameo, so why not do both!
7. Maison de Moggy (Edinburgh’s Cat Cafe)
Let’s talk cat cafes. If you’re a cat lover then the thought of hanging out with a bunch of cute kitties for an hour or so is probably up there as one of the number one activities you can do in your spare time. Right? So what should you know about Maison de Moggy in Edinburgh? Well, it’s the ONLY cat café in Edinburgh and it’s the first cat café in Scotland. There are two other cat cafes in Scotland now. Maison de Moggy gets brilliant reviews on Tripadvisor. Pretty much every review there is gushing with enthusiasm, so I was sure I’d have a great time. You do only get 60 minutes per session, so here’s how to make the most of it…
8. Edinburgh’s Chihuahua Cafe
Not a cat person? Dogs and cake then? At Edinburgh’s Chihuahua Cafe, seven bundles of fluff are on hand for cuddles, selfies, and a good old game of fetch. Through the hot pink doors on Frederick Street, guests can meet Lady Bee, Cleopatra, Elsa, Faery, Gatsby, Hepburn, and the dog that inspired the whole venture, Ama. Opened by Tanya Salitura in 2017, the business was brought to life when the dog lover wanted to share the support her pooch offered her with others.
9. Library of Mistakes
Open from Monday to Friday and dedicated to the study of financial history, the Library of Mistakes was set up to document all of the economic mistakes experts made in both 1929, and then again in 2008. The collection comprises some 2000 economic and financial literature and can be visited by appointment only. In order to visit, you’ll need to first register as a reader.
10. Cramond Island
The pretty tidal island of Cramond lies just off mainland Scotland and can be accessed twice a day when the tide recedes. Now uninhabited, it’s thought that the island was once an outpost for Roman troops. In the estuary nearby, the most important Roman find ever found in Britain was discovered in the form of the Cramond Lioness. The quaint village of Cramond itself is just metres from Cramond Beach, on the edge of the mainland. Just outside the village centre, Cramond Falls is Edinburgh’s (albeit small) answer to Niagra Falls!
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