Laurence Overmire once said ‘Fantasy, Myth, Truth, Legend – all are intertwined in the story that is Scotland. Truly Scotland is a place of mystery and history, full of ghost stories.”
The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, has a lot of stories of its own to tell. Every nook and cranny of this ancient city tells a different one.
That’s why it’s so hard to figure out where to stay in Edinburgh! This article will be your guide, offering options to help you create any kind of story you desire in this historical European capital.
Poetry of The Highlands
The rolling hills of Scotland have inspired many writers, poets and influencers. Here are some famous lines about Scotland and Edinburgh to get you in the mood and give you a feeling of the vibe.
A Snippet of Scottish Sonnets
- “This is my country, the land that begat me, these windy spaces are surely my own…” -Sir Alexander Gray
- “Did not strong connections draw me elsewhere, I believe Scotland would be the country I would choose to end my days in.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “Give me but one hour of Scotland, let me see it ‘ere I die” – Aytoun
- “Wherever I wander, wherever I rove; the hills of the highland for ever I love.” – Robert Burns
- “God help England if she had no Scots to think for her.” – George Bernard Shaw
- “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization” – Voltaire
- “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter.” – Billy Connolly
So be sure to dress right for the time of year! Moving on to Edinburgh…
- “Edinburgh is a hotbed of genius” – Tobias Smollett
- “It is quite lovely – bits of it.” – Oscar Wilde
- “Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream” – Hugh MacDiarmid
- “Piled deep and massy, close and high; Mine own romantic town.” – Walter Scott
- “There are no stars as lovely as Edinburgh street-lamps.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
- “This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” – Alexander McCall Smith
- “When I looked out in the morning it is as if I had waked in Utopia.” – George Eliot
- “Coming back to Edinburgh is to me like coming home.” – Charles Dickens
- “Yet the place establishes an interest in people’s hearts; go where they will, they find no city of the same distinction.” – Stevenson
- “There’s no leaving Edinburgh, No shifting it around: it stays with you, always.” – Alan Bold
The Many Mysteries of Scotland
Scotland is full of legends and mysteries, the most famous being the Loch Ness monster, the famous lizard fish dragon creature haunting the Ness Lake. But did you know Scotland is also the site of heavy unidentified alien phenomena? It’s true, whether you and Ripley believe it or not. The most famous incident is the Dechmont Woods Encounter in 1979.
Edinburgh even has its own mysterious legends, like the Fairy Coffins, a collection of tiny coffins that were discovered in a cave in 1836. Eight remain and are on display at the National Museum of Scotland. The coffins have been linked to witchcraft, since Edinburgh is the city that burned the most ‘witches’ in Scotland.
Later in this article, you will find out which is the most haunted neighborhood in Edinburgh.
Scotland’s history dates back to the Roman Empire in the first century. Today it is part of the United Kingdom. An important detail! Because of this Scotland no longer belongs to the European Union, although nearly all of its citizens voted down Brexit.
It is admittedly strange to have to leave the Schengen Zone to board a plane to Edinburgh after years without long security lines, but that’s the reality these days. Be ready, depending on what country you are from, to know the passport and visa requirements for citizens of your country and be prepared to potentially spend more time at the airport, depending on where you fly to or from.
Scotland has a population of an estimated five and a half million, not a huge country, although Scotland’s territory stretches almost eighty thousand square kilometers.
Just about ten percent of that population reside in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, around five hundred and fifty thousand people. Interestingly, despite being the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is not the biggest or most populous city in Scotland. That honor goes to Glasgow.
Next, some tips for ease and convenience while in Edinburgh.
An Education In Edinburgh
First to know, since Scotland is under United Kingdom rule, they use the Sterling Pound, not the Euro or a local currency. Be prepared to make the exchange.
Weather is unpredictable and the best tip is simple: expect rain. Scottish fog is not a myth like the Loch Ness. Wear layers and carry an umbrella.
For public transport, you can buy single tickets for under two pounds. A daily pass will cost you four. A weekly pass is one pound less than twenty. The transportation will get you all around the city and the maps are pretty straight forward.
Taxis and ubers are available and you can self-drive, on the left side of the road. But be forewarned the center can get pretty cramped with traffic and that can cramp your style.
There are a number of discount websites for dining and entertainment. Try Groupon, Itison or 5pm.co.uk.You can visit edinburghtheatreguide.com to find information about what’s happening in Edinburgh.
PRO TIP: Bring a convertor for your power supply! Often the airbnbs don’t come equipped with them. Scotland runs on a British current and your country’s standard plugs probably won’t fit their outlets.
Edinburgh is known for its theater culture, among other artistic disciplines. FUN FACT! Did you know it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter, according to legend, specifically a place called The Elephant House? Keep an eye out for the many tours of Harry Potter filming or related locations.
The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, is also closely linked to Edinburgh. And of course this is Scotland so…Scotch, anyone?
Edinburgh is a very walkable city with a rich history of unique architecture, a blend of Victorian, Georgian and Medieval styles. Edinburgh is nearly two centuries old!
Time to start wandering around its many colorful neighborhoods so you can find out what part of Edinburgh is the best area for you to stay in Edinburgh!
If you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely want to stay in Leith. It’s where Scottish cuisine was born! It’s not just for foodies, it’s decidedly hipster, where the cool kids go for their Scotch. Leith has become gentrified in recent years. The Leith Port dates back to the fourteenth century.
Leith has a dock zone, so you can enjoy fresh seafood on the waterfront. Restaurants feature Scotch pairings with classic Scottish dishes, starting but far from ending with Haggis. You can indulge in a pub crawl. Or seek out rare books and vinyls at one of a few classic book and record stores.
You might walk around Leith and wonder to yourself, “looks familiar…”. That’s because the famous Danny Boyle movie ‘Trainspotting’, starring Ewan Mcgregor, was set and filmed here. You can even tour locations from the film. More than one company offers them. Take your pick!
I Love The Nightlife!
If you’ve got to boogie, check out New Town or Santorini, both of which feature thriving nightlife.
New Town was built in the aftermath of a great fire in 1824. So it’s not so ‘new’ anymore. Situated in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, New Town can be considered the heart of the city.
And the area isn’t just for partying. Enjoy some fine art browsing at the National Gallery, located in New Town. If you are in the market for a laugh, you can find Edinburgh’s most famous comedy club, The Stand, in New Town.
That’s not all! The Parliamentary building is in New Town. Plenty of scary ancient dungeons you can tour. Even a speakeasy! It may be New Town, but it will take you back in time!
Hotel options range from Luxury to Boutique to Budget.
So Many Sights To See!
Old Town is the neighborhood to explore and stay in if it is your first time in Edinburgh. Many of the must see attractions in Edinburgh are grounded in Old Town.
And as promised, the big reveal! Old Town is considered the most haunted neighborhood in Edinburgh. In fact, according to Conde Nast, Edinburgh is on the top ten list of most haunted cities in the world! Infamous killers Burke and Hare called Old Town their stomping grounds, no pun intended. No, they didn’t boot people to death.
Old Town is also home to the aforementioned Elephant Cafe, where much of Harry Potter was written. Plus, Old Town is the center of the action when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is in town!
Living On The Fringes
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is one of the most world renowned theater festivals held today. Presented annually, the festival attracts over a half a million people and lasts over three weeks and fifty-five thousand performances combined! It began in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival.
The Fringe model has been copied around the world. Comedy is a main focus of the festival, encompassing nearly forty percent of the programming at the Festival. Celebrity performers who got their gold stars at The Fringe include ‘Mr. Bean’ Rowan Atkinson, actor Alan Rickman, Steve Coogan, Graham Norton, Miranda Hart and Russell Brand.
The Fringe Festival is just one of many festivals hosted in the city, including the previously mentioned Edinburgh International Festival, and also the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. It’s a festive city!
Of course, you don’t have to be in town for the Festival to get a taste of Edinburgh’s esteemed dramaturgical culture. Edinburgh is like a mini-West End where you can find a one-of-a-kind live experience every night.
Back To The Old Town
Old Town also hosts a number of free museums if you’re into that sort of thing. One of them is the National Museum of Scotland where, as noted earlier, the Fairy Coffins reside. Another unique free museum is the Childhood Museum, where a mish mash of kiddie knick knacks and toys are on display.
The only distillery inside city limits is in Old Town, called The Whisky Experience, where you can learn how whisky is made. Great to wash down some free samples from The Fudge Kitchen nearby. You can find many alternative distilleries on the outskirts of town if you like.
If it’s stories you’re after, try the National Storytelling Center, where you can appreciate the great Scottish tradition of storytelling. The People’s Story Museum, another free option, tells the story of Edinburgh’s development in one hundred percent smell-o-vision. You gotta smell it to believe it!
Old Town will truly transport you into the historical atmosphere of one of the world’s oldest cities.
Shopping and Such
If you consider your style upscale, the place to stay in Edinburgh is Morningside! Don’t believe me? Ask ‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling, who settled in Morningside.
Shopping is super fun in Morningside due to all the quirky independent boutiques. You will also find a place which has been dubbed the ‘best pub in the world’, The Canny Man Pub. It’s been in operation for over 150 years!
Wanna watch a movie? Try the Art Deco Streamline Moderne Dominion Cinema, the last family-run cinema in the country. The Meadows is where many of the festivals plant their flags or a great place to just have a picnic.
What’s more fun than the library? In this case, the street behind the Morningside Library, which is a replica of an Old Wild West street complete with canteen and jail. It was built for an ad campaign in the nineties.
Morningside is a nice, quiet neighborhood not far from the Centre, so you can escape the touristic madness but still access the sightseeing easily. Morningside leaves you with a vintage impression.
But I’m On a Budget, Baby!
On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, the best neighborhood to stay in Edinburgh is West End. Although home to many of the wealthiest residents of Edinburgh, there exists a wide range of moderately priced accommodation and plenty of things to do and see.
Rugby, for one! Murrayfield Stadium, the official home of Scottish Rugby, is on the West End. So is the Zoo, where you can chill out at a Penguin Parade. No, really!
The Edinburgh Farmers Market is held weekly, where you can procure the freshest ingredients possible for your homemade haggis experiment. Wash that haggis down with some Gin! You can learn the history of Gin at Edinburgh Gin Distillery.
No shortage of things to keep you occupied on the West End! Hostels and Hotels offer spacious, moderately priced rooms.
You can also check out plenty of free things to do in Edinburgh when you’re on a budget.
Fun With The Fam
Finally, the most family-friendly neighborhood in Edinburgh. Stockbridge. Stockbridge offers a quaint village atmosphere. The bohemian vibe makes the neighborhood cozy and comfortable.
Stockbridge is close to the City Center. You can stay in gorgeous Georgian or Victorian hotels. Nearby you’ve got the Royal Botanical Gardens as an option for a pleasant stroll. Another popular attraction is a nearby river, the Waters of Leith.
Families can take the kids to Inverleith Park, which boasts a children’s playground. Stockbridge is also a great place to educate the young ones. Take them to a poetry reading at Edinburgh’s top Bookstore, Golden Hare Books, then over to the National Gallery of Modern Art for a diet of Picasso and Warhol.
There’s even a tasty foodie tour. Fun for Mom and Dad too!
Alright then, mate – you’re all set! Practice that Scottish brogue and don’t let the Loch Ness Monster getcha!
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.