Foodie City Guide: Edinburgh Edition
So I planned this trip to the UK and decided to spend time in Edinburgh instead of Glasgow and boy was that my BEST idea ever. Because as soon as I started researching this Scottish city I made a magical discovery.
It’s the inspiration for Harry Potter.
No, I am totally NOT joking. JK Rowling basically lived here for awhile and if you stumble around you’ll find her everywhere, like little footprints she left behind on a Marauder’s Map of the city. My son and I were enthralled and to be fair, we could have just moved here and I would have been perfectly okay with that. It’s an enchanting city with an alternative vibe and an incredible foodie scene. Who could ask for more?
Let me take you on a tour of all the must-dos,must-eats, and must-drinks in this charming cobblestone city.
DO in Edinburgh
The Harry Potter Tour
The Royal Mile begins at Edinburgh Castle and meanders down the hill and into the heart of the city. Along the way, you’ll tumble into many spots that served as inspiration for JK Rowling, including a crowded, haphazard side street that is the spitting image of Diagon Alley. You can also tour the churchyard where some speculate the names and stories on the graves inspired Potter characters like Tom Riddle. For the die hard Potter fans, there’s always Balmoral Hotel, where JK Rowling wrote the final chapter of the Harry Potter books in Room 552. It costs a pretty penny to stay, so just gaze up at it adoringly. That’s what I did.
This castle perched on a hill overlooking the city is THE attraction in Edinburgh and it’s easy to see why. It’s not just the views, but the incredible chapel, stained glass, and historical museums that’ll leave you feeling as if you stepped into another time. Also- you’re not wrong if you think the lion on the coat of arms looks an awful lot like Gryffindor’s red and gold lion. Three points to whoever’s house that spotted that easter egg. (It was me).
EAT IN Edinburgh
Vietnamese at Ting’s Saboteur
This is more than just Vietnamese sandwiches or pho. It’s street food from Vietnam re-imagined. Just next door to a sister restaurant that takes a similar spin on Indian food, the menu at Saboteur is imaginative and relatively inexpensive. And the minimalist decor and fantastic cocktails will make you forget this is Scotland and not a major cosmopolitan city like London.
Mary’s Milk Bar
We had ice cream nearly every evening, so when I tell you that this was the best ice cream we had on our three week trip into all corners of the UK, you’ll know that’s saying something. Mary’s Milk Bar is a lovely little shop with small batch, handmade ice cream that is to DIE for. But schedule your visit carefully because they’re only open for a few hours on select days. I hope you luck out like we did and catch an Ethyl Mermanesque dance routine complete with mermaids in the square just across the street.
DRINK in Edinburgh
Coffee at Urban Angel
In a world drenched in lattes and flat whites, a good pour over can be hard to find. That’s why I’m giving a shout out to Urban Angel, where ordering coffee is an event. Carefully selected and crafted coffee beans make for the perfect cup along side brilliant breakfast fare.
STAY in Edinburgh
When I started trying to book hotels for this trip, I nearly panicked. Everything reasonable was booked because August is school break and apparently everyone takes their family vacation then. Air bnb came to my rescue with fantastic little gems like this flat on the outskirts of downtown Edinburgh. Cheaper than most hotels, this allowed our family to have access to a kitchen, laundry facilities, and stay in a place with plenty of personality.
TALK OF THE TOWN
Okay. This isn’t REALLY in Edinburgh. BUT it’s only about half an hour outside the city and well worth the trip if you have a car. These enormous horse statues, called The Kelpies, stand in Helix Park just off the roadway and it’s hard to give you a true sense of how enormous and impressive they are. Your jaw will absolutely drop and hopefully, you’ll get a sunny sky to photograph them in their full glory rather than the mood lighting I had to make due with.
Whew. So that’s Edinburgh in a nutshell- my favorite city in Scotland.
We’re not done just yet though. Next up- the natural wonderscape of Isle of Skye.
Come back next week for more foodie fun.