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Edinburgh’s Top Secret Spots

Posted by daniel@vibetail.com on August 17, 2018
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1. Wild West, Morningside.

There isn’t much left of Edinburgh’s Wild West these days, but the remaining cantina and jail are still worth a visit. This odd but authentic replica street is hidden directly behind Morningside Library and was built in the mid-1990s as part of an advertising campaign for a furniture business.
Wild West Cowboy Street, Edinburgh

Wild West Cowboy Street, Edinburgh

 

2. Kyoto Friendship Gardens

Explore the grounds of 16th century Lauriston Castle in Cramond thoroughly and you’ll eventually stumble upon the Japanese Kyoto Friendship Garden, which opened in 2002. Created to celebrate the twinning of Edinburgh with Kyoto in Japan, the garden has blossom trees, calming water features and zen galore for those lucky enough to find it.

Kyoto Friendship Gardens, Edinburgh

Kyoto Friendship Gardens, Edinburgh

3. Dovecot Studios

Concealed just off bustling South Bridge, Dovecot Studios was once a Victorian swimming pool and now houses a one-hundred-year-old tapestry studio. You can visit here to watch the talented weavers at work, peruse some art in the attached gallery or just enjoy a tasty cup of Stag Espresso coffee somewhere slightly off the beaten track.

Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

4. Tom Riddles Grave

The grave of Thomas Riddell in Greyfriars Kirkyard is rumoured to have inspired JK Rowling when naming the villainous Lord Voldemort for her Harry Potter book series. Although Rowling’s spelling (Tom Riddle) is slightly different, she did a lot of writing at a nearby café on George IV Bridge so she may well have borrowed the name from this two hundred-year-old gravestone.

Tom Riddles Grave, Edinburgh

Tom Riddles Grave, Edinburgh

5. Water of Leith

Stretching over twenty miles from Balerno to Ocean Terminal, you’ve no doubt heard of the Water of Leith before, but have you ever explored its green and leafy banks? Often forgotten in favour of the Union Canal, the river flows through much of central Edinburgh and offers a peaceful escape from busy city streets surrounding it.

Water of Leith, Edinburgh

The Water of Leith, Edinburgh

6. The Royal Observatory

You’d be forgiven for never venturing up Blackford Hill in Edinburgh’s south side, especially if you don’t live around that area. If you do make a special trip up, though, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful Royal Observatory building on top of the hill, as well as the jaw-dropping city view from the summit. Built in 1896, the observatory has been at the forefront of astronomy ever since.

The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

7. Cramond Falls

If you take a walk along the River Almond in Cramond you’ll soon discover the striking Cramond Falls – Edinburgh’s answer to Niagara. Although nowhere near as big as their Canadian counterpart, these Falls are just as beautiful and calming to watch on a sunny day.

Cramond Falls, Edinburgh

Cramond Falls, Edinburgh

8. Pickering’s Gin Distillery

Pickerings Gin is made at Summerhall in the first exclusive gin distillery to be established in Edinburgh for over 150 years. You can get a glimpse behind the scenes by booking a tour of the distillery, available Mondays and Tuesdays at 4 pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm, 2.30pm, 4 pm and 6 pm. See how their handcrafted small batch gin is made, find out more about the botanicals used and sample the gin at different stages in the distilling process. The tour costs £10 a head, lasts 45-50 minutes and is a must for any gin fan.

Pickering’s Gin Distillery, Edinburgh

Pickering’s Gin Distillery, Edinburgh

Top Tip:   After you’ve finished your tour, pop next door to the Royal Dick pub which has a pipe straight from the distillery and serves Pickering’s Gin on tap!

9. One Spa – The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa

The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa is home to One Spa, widely regarded as one of Europe’s finest city Spas offering a range of holistic Spa treatments including a collection of Made for Life Organics treatments, all with 100% organic ingredients and specialized massage techniques to de-stress and unwind. Breathe new life into mind and body in the rejuvenating Thermal Suite, complete with iconic rooftop Hydropool.
The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

10. Lauriston Castle

This beautiful castle in the north of Edinburgh was gifted to Scotland by its last private owner Mrs Reid and the interior maintains the look it had when it was left in 1926. Mrs Reid’s husband Mr W. R. Reid took much care and attention to decorating the castle and you can see his stunning collections of Italian Furniture, Sheffield Plate, Crossley Wool Mosaics and Blue John ornaments when you take a guided tour – the only way to gain access inside this stunning building. The Castle’s incredible gardens were originally laid out by William Henry Playfair in the 1840s and boast breath-taking views of the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island. The Japanese Friendship garden, gifted by the prefecture of Kyoto, is truly spectacular when in full bloom and well worth the trip.

Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh

Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh

11. St Giles’ Roof Top Tours

On a clear day on the roof of St Giles’ Cathedral, the panoramic views of the surrounding hills punctuated by the spires and towers of Edinburgh are not to be missed. Even on a rainy day, a bird’s eye view of the Royal Mile provides a unique photo opportunity of Edinburgh Castle all the way down to Holyrood house.
The tour of the rooftop also gives visitors a rare glimpse into how the cathedral has been altered and extended over the years. Visitors will be able to get close up to the famous 50-meter-high crown spire and will learn some of the more interesting occurrences at St Giles’, especially the tower itself. You’ll hear all sorts of tales about the tower and even be able to stand where prisoners would have stood when the tower was used as a jail.
St Giles’ Roof Top Tours, Edinburgh

St Giles’ Roof Top Tours, Edinburgh

Some Shops we like too!

Studio One

In terms of shopping, there is this hidden gem in the heart of the West End is the place to go for quirky gift ideas. Head down the stairs into the mythical below street level store and as soon as you walk in, the sweet smell of their huge collection of scented candles will hit you. You can spend hours wandering around their labyrinth of rooms, stuffed with lots of pretty things including toys, sweets, books, and cookware. It’s the perfect place to find a gift that is just a little bit different.

10 Stafford Street, Edinburgh EH3 7AU. Open Mon, Tues & Wed 10.00am – 6pm, Thu 10.00am – 7pm, Fri & Sat 10.00am – 6pm and Sun 11am – 5pm.

Joey D

This is unique, there is nowhere quite like it. It is an antique shop which only supplies one of anything. Therefore, once it’s gone, it is gone. Based in Stockbridge makes it easily accessible and Joey himself is well-known in Edinburgh and super friendly. He hosts the occasional gin and vodka tasting nights which always go down a treat. Pop in and say hi to Joey if you’re passing- warning- you might not be able to leave without buying something.

54/54A Broughton Street, Edinburgh

Fudge Kitchen

Have a sweet tooth? Follow the sweet smells wafting down the Royal Mile and you’ll soon come across the Fudge Kitchen, selling a delicious variety of fudge in all the flavours you could imagine. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are always happy to let you sneak a taste.

With big generous slabs of yummy sweet fudge on sale, this is the perfect place to stock up on gifts… if you can resist the temptation to eat it all yourself!

30 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1TB. Open 10 am – 5.30pm, seven days a week.

 

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