Where to stay in Edinburgh: Best areas and neighborhoods

Where to stay in Edinburgh
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The charming and vibrant metropolis of Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. Within this active urban center, the medieval Old Town in contrast to the stylish Georgian Newtown offers a fascinating mixture of historic and modern gardens along with medieval, neoclassical and contemporary architecture as examples of the many neighborhoods in Edinburgh.

Impressive Edinburgh Castle overlooks the city from its steep hillside site, where visitors can view Scotland’s crown jewels as well as the Stone of Destiny, which was used in the coronation ceremonies of all the rulers of Scotland, and later, of all the British monarchs.

The majestic hill’s peak called Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park offers breathtaking scenic views during an enchanting stay in Edinburgh, and nearby Calton Hill has many interesting memorials and monuments.

The city has a population of approximately 489,000 residents, and there are many friendly, attractive areas, making it easy to choose where to stay in Edinburgh.

The Royal Mile is in the central part of this historic city. Everywhere visitors turn their gaze in this area, there is another attractive or intriguing site to explore. Within this ‘Scots Mile,’ along with Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House, the Queen of England’s official residence in Scotland, you will find the Scottish Parliament.

Nearby stands St. Giles Cathedral with its famed medieval stonework and beautiful Victorian stained glass windows. You can also visit the Camera Obscura for an exhilarating virtual tour of the city, the Museum of Childhood, the Storytelling Centre and the Museum of Edinburgh.

Then view Our Dynamic Earth to experience the primeval forces of nature as they shaped our planet. Afterward, relax and enjoy the Scotch Whisky Experience, where you can take a barrel ride and take part in the actual process of making whisky.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh: Best areas to stay in Edinburgh

Travelers can find many varied types of visitor’s accommodations, from large upscale hotels to comfortable inns, guesthouses, B&B’s and backpacker’s hostels.

These guest suites and rooms are available for a wide range of nightly or weekly rates, from upscale, elite prices to very low-cost rates, and all offer top quality guest visits with attractive amenities and full, friendly services.

Our list of the best areas to stay in Edinburgh include the following neighborhoods:

1. Oldtown

This unique area of the city with its small, hidden pedestrian walkways, corners and winding alleys and paths (pends and wynds) is home to the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and much more. Within easy walking distance of the Edinburgh Waverley Train Station, this district is the most popular sightseeing site for all visitors to the city.

Among the myriad charming shops and friendly restaurants, bars and pubs of the neighborhood are lush, serene gardens and amazing views of the city-scape below. The wide variety of restaurants, pubs and eateries of all kinds offer delicious food and beverages to suit every traveler’s budget during a stay in Edinburgh.

Walking along Victoria Street, you will discover Grassmarket and Next, you will arrive at Cowgate, a compelling street scene with lively bars and restaurants frequently filled with students, tourists and festival enthusiasts.

There are also plenty of night spots for enjoying music, dancing and good times nightly in this exciting example of the neighborhoods in Edinburgh.

Whether you favor a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties (a savory stew containing sheep’s heart, liver, oatmeal and other ingredients served with yellow turnips, rutabaga and potatoes) or a gourmet dinner in an upscale restaurant, you will find it all in this neighborhood.

Along with popular chains like Pizza Express, you will also find Bow Bar for sampling specialty malts and Howles on Victoria Street for fine traditional cuisine. For top quality seafood, visit the celebrated Tower Restaurant and enjoy a gorgeous view of the city while dining.

These city streets are filled with people throughout many hours of the day and night. No wonder that Oldtown is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for most of its visitors.

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2. Newtown

Newtown is considered the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment among the different neighborhoods in Edinburgh. This area is designed according to an organized grid structure, creating a very different neighborhood from the Old Town with its many winding streets and walkways.

Together, Old Town and Newtown form Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage site. Along the streets of Newtown, you will discover some of the very best examples of Georgian town planning and stunning neo-classical architecture. You will see for yourself why Edinburgh is called the ‘Athens of the North.’

In this neighborhood, you will also find a wide variety of trendy, exciting retail shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. There are also many beautiful green public spaces for sitting and relaxing. Elegant Princes Street Gardens, a large public park, runs through this vibrant shopping, dining and relaxing area of the city to be enjoyed during your stay in Edinburgh.

St. Andrew Square at the East end of the neighborhood is the location for holding numerous events each year like Film Fest in the City, concerts and other performances.

For easy transportation, the Waverley Train Station, the city’s main bus station and the Edinburgh centre tram terminus are all within a short walk’s distance. There are many art galleries in this area, along with the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Newtown is a shopper’s haven, from luxurious Multrees Walk to Jenners’ department store and many shops and boutiques at the Waverley Mall. Princes Street hosts some of Britain’s best-known brands, such as Marks and Spencer and Boots the Chemist, and on George Street, you will discover favorite elite brands like LK Bennett, Coast and Karen Millen.

Bars, restaurants and all types of eateries are plentiful in this neighborhood as in many of the neighborhoods in Edinburgh, and you can enjoy delicious meals, snacks and beverages offered at a wide range of prices.

Rose Street is lined with attractive bistros and bars like The Rosehip and Mussel Inn. On George Street, you can enjoy Contini and Cafe Andaluz for Mediterranean menus.

Some of the city’s most elite hotels are located in Newtown, although there are plenty of good quality inns and guesthouses that are very budget-friendly as well. One of the top-rated hostels for backpackers is also located in this district.

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3. Newington

Newington is a beautiful, active community with an abundance of natural green areas to enjoy. It is just a 20-minute stroll from the city’s Royal Mile. This neighborhood is rich with Victorian architecture and features a wide variety of restaurants and boutiques.

It offers a calm, charming ambiance and never seems as busy or crowded as some city areas can be. One favorite spot of residents and visitors alike is the lovely ‘back garden’ called The Meadows.

This district has excellent choices of pubs, restaurants and cafes of all varieties. Whether you are seeking a superior culinary experience or a casual venue for inexpensive eats during your stay in Edinburgh, Newington has just what you desire.

At the Apiary Restaurant, you will enjoy the cozy atmosphere and the original, creative meals and snacks. August 21 Coffee House serves up delicious cakes, coffee and other beverages in a bohemian atmosphere, while The Old Bell Inn specializes in authentic Scottish pub food and drinks with an abundance of friendly conversation.

In this neighborhood, as in many of the neighborhoods in Edinburgh, you can take leisurely walks, see the sights with other travelers, play sports or have a picnic lunch or supper.

At the Prestonfield Golf Club, you can play a professional game of golf, or at Bruntsfield Links, enjoy a casual, relaxed game. Just a short walk away are Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park where you can hike or simply enjoy the breathtaking views.

Visit the marvelous leisure and sport center of Commonwealth Pool and enjoy use of the gym and many activities for both children and adults.

Be sure to visit Summerhall, a multi-arts complex and popular venue for many varied events during your stay in Edinburgh. Such well-known events and venues as the Edinburgh International Magic Festival, the Edinburgh Science Festival and a Gin distillery are housed here.

Countless fine art exhibitions and music performances also take place at this center, and there are exciting events held throughout all seasons of the year featuring top artists and performers from many areas in Edinburgh, Scotland and abroad.

‘Visit Scotland’ proclaimed the Pickering Gin Distillery as the best visitor attraction in the city of Edinburgh for 2017. When you visit this intriguing distillery, you will learn all the old traditions and tricks of fine quality gin production.

Your choice of low-cost B&B’s or upscale hotel accommodations are available in this charming neighborhood. Newington is one of the best areas to stay in Edingburgh.

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4. Morningside & Bruntsfield

This enchanting area is one of the most affluent of all the neighborhoods in Edinburgh, yet if offers many inexpensive eateries and pubs along with more costly restaurants. Attractive contemporary, trendy shops abound here, and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming to visitors.

This neighborhood is accessed by traveling southward from the west end of Princes Street and up Lothian Road, passing through Tollcross. Here you will arrive at Bruntsfield and Morningside.

The Bruntsfield Links forms a section of The Meadows parkland, a popular place for picnics, walking and relaxation. Nearby are the local pubs, cafes and eateries for you to enjoy later in the day or early evening.

This neighborhood also features some stunning architecture, which greatly contrasts with the medieval style of Old Town and Newtown’s classical Georgian designs.

There is never a shortage of new pubs, cafes and restaurants to enjoy in this area. A large number of bistros and brasseries in the neighborhood serve meals enriched by locally grown produce. There are also multiple choices of international restaurants from which to choose, and some popular menus are Italian and Indian.

This is an ideal spot for cafe frequenters, and these coffee and tea-serving havens also offer marvelous baked goods fresh from the oven. Of course, throughout the warmer seasons, you can enjoy the outdoor table service and colorful street views and activity.

Share some lively conversation over your favorite drink in one of the local pubs in this area in Edinburgh. Then enjoy a savory meal and take a leisurely stroll, stopping in other attractive pubs or cafes along the way. If you are in the mood for some ‘late nighttime revelry,’ you are definitely in the right locale.

Two popular pubs in this neighborhood are the Bisque Brasserie and The Blackbird. At the Bisque, you can enjoy some cheerful sunlight in the garden terrace while relaxing over a hearty breakfast, lunch, snack or evening meal with the beverage of your choice.

You will welcome the casual atmosphere at The Blackbird during your stay in Edinburgh, which is located in a beautiful stone building near

The Meadows. Its interiors are fresh and bright during daylight and warm and cozy at night. This pub also has an attractive beer garden along with a large craft beer, wine and cocktail selection to enhance the excellent pub-style menu.

There is a variety of guest accommodations in the Bruntsfield and Morningside neighborhood that includes some lower-budget yet very nice B&B’s, inns and guesthouses.

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5. Westend

The Westend neighborhood of Edinburgh is a large section of the city centre and one of the best areas to stay in Edinburgh. It is home to a large number of the city’s arts institutions and venues, including Usher Hall, the Royal Lyceum, the Traverse Theatre and the Filmhouse. Many arts festivals and craft fairs are held in this Village rather than other areas in Edinburgh.

In this area, Georgian architecture is plentiful, and there are many attractive retail shops and boutique here. The Westend Village is one of Edinburgh’s hidden treasures to experience during your stay in Edinburgh. On William and Stafford Streets, the stylish shops and colorful pubs and cafes create a charming bohemian world to be explored by both locals and newcomers to the city.

Landmarks in this region include Bute House, the official office of the First Minister of Scotland. Its highly impressive Georgian facade includes giant-pillars and an ornate doorway.

Traveling westward on Shandwick Place, you will arrive at historic Haymarket Station, now providing good train networks for city centre travelers and Westend commuters.

Nearby is the grand BT Murrayfield Stadium, home of the Scottish Rugby teams and seating more than 67,000 spectators. Join the fans to see an exciting, fast-paced match while you are in the neighborhood for a great Edinburgh experience.

Traveling west toward the airport located on Corstorphine Hill, you will reach Edinburgh Zoo, a very popular city attraction. Be sure to take time to admire the giant pandas, TianTian and Yang Guang while there as a fascinating moment during your stay in Edinburgh.

The Westend has a bountiful supply of attractive and inviting eating and drinking spots, including One Square, a bar offering over 70 different varieties of gin. At the famous Heads and Tales bar near Rutland Place, you can delight in a Gin & Tonic made with the Iconic Edinburgh Gin while observing more gin being distilled.

If you have the desire for the flavor of Paris while visiting the heart of Scotland’s capital city, book a table at Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, offering classic French cuisine prepared with fresh Scottish produce.

At the Ghillie Dhu, you can sample a huge burger spiced with haggis while enjoying local music entertainment that is popular in many areas in Edinburgh.

You will find a variety of prices for guest accommodations in this area, from hostels to hotels, with something to fit each and every budget.

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6. Leith

Your first destination when visiting the neighborhood of Leith in Edinburgh is the Royal Yacht Britannia, Scotland’s best-loved visitor attraction. Surround yourself with maritime history and stunning water views while enjoying the dockside cafes, bistros and bars.Here, you will enjoy relaxing in the natural, casual atmosphere and beauty.

Visit the charming shops and boutiques, then step aboard the Britannia, the former floating Royal Residence. The yacht is now berthed two short miles from the centre of Edinburgh and easy for visitors to reach.

This enchanting residence on water is where the Royal Princes William and Harry spent their summer holidays while growing up and where many royal monarchs, world leaders and famed celebrities stayed to enjoy luxurious relaxation, leisure pursuits and top quality entertainment.

The mesmerizing tour of this massive yacht begins at the Bridge and continues through the State Apartments, Crew’s Quarters and Engine Room. You can also enjoy a sweet fudge sample made by the resident confectioner. Then, take time to enjoy the Royal Deck Tea Room, the most famous dining place in Leigh and the entire city.

Sample delicious foods, specialty teas and coffees as well as beer, wine and Champagne while exclaiming at the amazing views from this extraordinary yacht during you stay in Edinburgh.

Leith offers many creative venues such as independent merchandise brands displays and innovative art studios as well as large shopping centres and marketplaces. At Coburg House, you can meet an exciting group of artists, designers and crafts-persons, visit their gallery and browse through their eclectic shop of artworks.

Nearby is the Scottish Design Exchange exhibiting top-tier high street names and brands. On Leith Walk, you will delight in the many antique shops and second-hand bookstores. Favorite spots include Elvis Shakespeare for vintage records and Lovella for beauty products and gifts. A new surprising venue awaits you around every corner.

Visitors are assured that there is no possibility of leaving Leith hungry for food or drink. Every imaginable dining, snacking and drinking preference will be well satisfied here. From friendly pubs and vegan cafes to the finest Michelin-starred restaurants, you will find it all in Leith.

For upscale dining, top-rated Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart are highly recommended. Quality pub eateries include The Roseleaf and The Compass, and for Scottish Fish and Chips, be sure to visit Pierinos.

Popular evening relaxation and entertainment take place at local drinking spots like Lionness of Leith and Boda Bar.

Guest accommodations in Leith range from elegant and costly to streamlined and low-budget. There are truly guest rooms suitable for all in this neighborhood.

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7. Broughton & Calton Hill

Broughton & Calton Hill deserves to be on any list of the best areas to stay in Edingburgh. This is a neighborhood with a variety of visitor’s sites, including the faux-classical National Monument, Nelson’s Monument and the Old City Observatory on top of Calton Hill, which is just a short walk from the east end of Princes Street.

This hilltop offers outstanding views of Leith, the north area of Edinburgh and beyond, including Fife across the water. When you turn around, you will have full sight of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags located in Holyrood Park.

The most often photographed of all areas in Edinburgh is actually the Dugald Stewart Monument with its famed colonades on Calton Hill, created to honor a professor of moral philosophy in the early 1800’s.

You will also delight in the spectacular view of Edinburgh Castle from the top of Calton Hill during your stay in Edinburgh. To the north-west at Greenside is the Omni Edinburgh with the Vue cinema, art galleries, lively bars and friendly eateries.

Here, also, you will find the Playhouse Theatre and the many pubs, bars and eateries of Picardy Place and Union Place and nearby on Broughton Street. Calton Hill and Broughton are now a focal point for Edinburgh’s LBGT community.

The most popular cafes and restaurants in this neighborhood include 21212 and The Gardener’s Cottage. At 21212, you can enjoy some of the most top-rated, creative cuisine of all areas in Edinburgh and all of Scotland today.

Titles of Chef Paul Kitching’s original dishes include ‘Exotic Mushroom & Truffle Bowl’ and ‘Lamb Curry CCCC.’ Their fascinating and unique recipes often leave diners guessing the ingredients of their favorite menu selections. This restaurant is also known for its fashionable decor and very professional service.

The Gardener’s Cottage is a short distance away and features local produce and a modern British menu with a set dinner, à la carte lunch and casual weekend brunch. Low-priced, good quality meals, snacks and beverages are available at the many smaller eateries, pubs and bars.

Night life is very popular in this area at busy clubs like Studio 24 where live music and lively conversation thrive and top bands and performers are featured.

Both upscale and low-cost guest accommodations are plentiful in such areas in Edinburgh as this neighborhood at elite hotels, B&B’s, guesthouses and hostels.

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This is our list of the best areas to stay in Edinburgh. Read also:  Where to stay in Glasgow

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