Last Sunday, we took a walk to the other side of Edinburgh’s city centre to visit a market, bumped into some friends, took a walk into town with them, and grabbed a hot chocolate with a view of the castle before heading home again. It was, given the storm of 2020, a perfect day.
It reminded me that I actually had a draft blog post title about how to spend the perfect Sunday in Edinburgh, so I’ve decided to finally write it.
Why Sunday, you ask? Well, Sunday might just be my favourite day of the week, and one of my favourite things to do in Edinburgh is peruse the stalls at Stockbridge Market, which is only on Sundays!
But there’s a whole itinerary of things you can do in that part of Edinburgh, and in fact this post is exactly what we did one Sunday last year.
Start off in Dean Village
Depending on which way you’re walking from, I can always heartily recommend a stop in the ever picturesque Dean Village.
If you’re coming from Princes Street, you could always grab some breakfast on Rose Street – I recommend the Rose Street Café, but don’t eat too much as you’ll probably want to grab some food from a market stall later on!
Dean Village isn’t quite the hidden gem it once was, and it’s only a ten minute walk from the end of Princes Street, but lots of people still seem to miss it! In fact, the first time I went down there (years ago when I heard about it but hadn’t really checked out the iconic viewpoints or where they were), I only went to the bridge on one side and didn’t even go to the best view.
Dean Village used to be full of industrial flour mills, the remains of which you can find in the area, but mostly it’s now residential rather than commercial. Everything about this charming neighbourhood is striking, from the sandstone Wells Court on the left, to the yellow building and black & white Tudor-style building on the right. It really feels like you’ve accidentally stumbled into Belgium, or gone back in time, or both!
From there, it’s a relatively short walk (around 15 minutes) to Stockbridge, but it feels like you’ve left the city and full-on entered the countryside as you wander along the picturesque Water Of Leith.
Be sure to check out St Bernard’s Well and stumble across the impressive statue of Greek goddess Hygieia. I honestly have no idea why this statue is here, but it’s a welcome surprise on this lovely part of the path.
Check out Stockbridge Market
Stockbridge Market is arguably the best market in Edinburgh, and attracts all sorts of local artisans, farmers and street food stalls. My favourite is the paella although my friend swears by the gyozas – unfortunately during lockdown, the gyoza stall hasn’t been there, but there’s still been plenty of other things on offer!
Ash’s favourite? These scotch eggs!
Apart from delicious food, it’s the perfect place to find gifts, whether you’re looking for artworks, Harris Tweed, local cakes, preserves, tea, jewellery, and much, much more! We like to try to pick up some good quality meat or even a pre-made meal to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. (Last weekend, we got a delicious venison cottage pie!) I usually give in to a cake as well – last weekend, it was a delectable Victoria sponge, and the time before that was a salted caramel vegan brownie!
Stockbridge Market opens at 10am so it’s great for brunch, or just lunch.
(Want to check out a different market? Leith Market features a lot of the same stalls on Saturdays, and Grassmarket too, also on Saturdays!)
Aside from the market, Stockbridge is a really lovely (and upmarket) area of Edinburgh. There are a couple of particular highlights here that you may have seen on Instagram.
First up: Circus Lane (pictured above).
This adorable mew is where you’ll find all the incessant Instagrammers, but it’s for good reason! It’s a really pretty street, and boasts a great view with St Stephen’s Church in the background.
Just around the corner from Circus Lane is NW Circus Place. However the real star of this street is actually on India Place, where the entrance to 33 NW Circus Place lies.
Please remember when taking photos that this IS someone’s house, although I am sure they are well aware that their efforts are being appreciated by thousands of locals and tourists alike. Just please don’t walk up their steps or hang out outside their house.
Stockbridge high street is also full of boutique stores, coffee shops, cafés and charity shops – I haven’t really explored the charity shops yet, but I’ve been told that because it’s an upmarket area, the donations in the charity shops… also reflect that. So you could end up finding some real bargains, rather than Primark tops for a pound less than their original value! I’m going to have to have a look for myself the next time I’m in the area.
Walk up to the Royal Botanical Gardens
One thing I absolutely love about Edinburgh is how easy it is to get into nature. With a literal volcano a stone’s throw away from the city centre, and gardens everywhere, you’re never far from getting away from the hustle and bustle.
I recommend going back to the Water Of Leith path and following it up for about ten minutes to the Royal Botanical Gardens, our next stop on this lovely Sunday tour.
Edinburgh’s botanical gardens are beautiful in the summer, although if you’re in Edinburgh in the winter, they are definitely worth a visit then for their Christmas At The Botanics event!
It’s well worth a wander around the free gardens, but if you fancy more of an experience, there’s the beautiful glasshouse that will transport you to a more tropical climate. Entry is £7 (£5 at the moment as some of the exhibitions are closed in 2020) but I think it’s well worth it for what they have on display.
Water Of Leith
After a wander around the gardens, if you fancy some more walking, you can follow the Water Of Leith all the way to Leith Shore, which we did. This will probably take 30-45 minutes from the Botanical Gardens (I didn’t time it!).
There aren’t many sights to take in along the way, it’s just a really pleasant walk, and Dean Village – Leith is a popular stretch.
The Shore, Leith
Well, I think you’ve earned yourself a drink, don’t you?!
Welcome to Leith. This is our neighbourhood, and The Shore is my favourite part of Edinburgh, which is handy, because this is where the Water Of Leith ends.
If it’s a nice day (and if you’ve been walking all this way, hopefully it has been!), there’s nothing better than a sit down in the beer garden of Teuchter’s Landing. This is my favourite beer garden in Edinburgh, as it sits right by the water. It’s really peaceful but can also be a great atmosphere when it’s busy – unfortunately I’ve only visited it this year, so as you can imagine it’s not been that busy!
If you fancy a pub meal for dinner, I recommend The King’s Wark for a great menu and fantastic service. Or if you just want to sit by the water with some fish & chips, Pierino’s is our favourite fish & chip shop. Leith is a foodie’s dream though, and there are tons of options, from seafood restaurants to high-end gourmet chef stalwarts, to cocktail bars to hipster dives.
Of course, you could spend a whole day just in Leith, and I have a guide to the whole neighbourhood here!
What if it’s raining?
I mean, it is Scotland, after all.
Stockbridge Market is outdoors but we did end up being there in the rain for some of our visit last Sunday. You can always duck into a coffee shop to avoid the worst of the rain, but I do recommend heading to the market with an umbrella anyway if it’s not too bad.
Obviously that means an entire day of walking is out of the question (unless you really don’t care!), and a wander around a garden isn’t an ideal rainy day activity either.
The good news is, there are plenty of museums in Edinburgh to keep you occupied.
So today, we headed up to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which would make an enjoyable addition to nearby Stockbridge (it’s *kind of* in between Princes Street and Stockbridge!). Ironically, the sun had been out all morning, so we headed out sans umbrella. Ten minutes into our walk, the heavens opened and we were drenched!
I have to admit I’m not really one for art galleries, but this one is absolutely gorgeous inside and I actually loved all the history that came along with the portraits – I think I learned more about Bonnie Prince Charlie today than I’ve ever learned, and I had his pictures to really put him into context.
There are also a ton of really stunning, huge portraits of royals gone by, plus some famous names such as Rabbie Burns. There’s even a statue of him in the grand hall, which you can see in my photo above.
If you don’t fancy an art gallery, most of Edinburgh’s museums are concentrated in the old town, which means a bit more of a trek, but there are plenty to check out (and they’re mostly free!) such as the Museum Of Edinburgh, the Museum Of Childhood and of course, the National Museum Of Scotland.
Whatever you enjoy doing, there is plenty on offer in Edinburgh, but hopefully this has given you a few ideas for going off the beaten path.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little guide to some lesser-visited spots of Edinburgh! This is a bit different to my usual posts, but I really enjoyed writing it and hope you’ve enjoyed reading it!
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