Credit

Courtesy of Jacek Nowak/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Edinburgh Area Map

Neighborhoods

When visiting Edinburgh, first-time travelers will be able to easily differentiate between Old Town and New Town. New Town's planned streets, squares and public greens occupy Edinburgh's northern section. And tucked into medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town, a number of interesting districts and neighborhoods can be found.

This street, running parallel to Princes Street Gardens, is New Town's main thoroughfare. A shopping street with British department stores like Marks & Spencer, and Scottish specialty stores such as Jenners, Princes Street also affords beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens. The resplendent Balmoral Hotel resides on Princes Street, too. 

Just a couple of blocks north of Princes Street is George Street, another shopping street, filled with high-end boutiques, independent shops, pubs and cafes. If you meander east down George Street, you'll run into St. Andrew Square, which is just a block away from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Queen Street Gardens off of North David Street.

Located north of Edinburgh Castle, New Town's Stockbridge is located along the Water of Leith and is known to have a more village-feel that the bustling city center. A handful of cafes, pubs and antique boutiques – including some second-hand shops – line the neighborhood. For an idyllic Scottish scene, replete with lush greenery and winding waterways, travelers recommend strolling or biking along the Water of Leith walkway to the old mill town of Dean Village.

New Town's Dean Village is located southwest of Stockbridge and northwest of the Edinburgh Castle. An old milling community, the village maintains a sense of history with some of its original architecture intact (one of the old mills can be found under Dean Bridge), while also welcoming innovation. Dean Village is home to the free Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the affiliated Modern Art Two (previously known as the Dean Gallery).

Filling the gap between New Town and Old Town, the verdant Princes Street Gardens used to be a polluted loch. But thankfully the Scots drained the Nor Loch and turned the wasteland into a sloping meadow speckled with trees and flowerbeds. Today, the 29-acre west gardens and the nearly 9-acre east gardens – collectively known as the Princes Street Gardens  play host to picnics and concerts, especially during Hogmanay.

And from late November to early January, the gardens are transformed into a winter carnival, outfitted with an ice skating rink, a Christmas market, and a huge Ferris wheel, to name a few attractions. Also, make sure to check out the Scott Monument – a Victorian Gothic memorial to Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott. If you climb the 287 steps to the highest deck, you'll enjoy a sweeping view of Edinburgh.

Connecting the Edinburgh Castle to the west and the Holyroodhouse Palace to the east, the Royal Mile spans four streets and is known for its deluge of historical attractions. Along the Royal Mile is the modern Scottish Parliament building; the centuries-old St. Giles' Cathedral; the Witches' Well, a cast-iron fountain that memorializes 300 alleged witches who were burnt to death at the stake in the 16th century; as well as numerous wynds and closes plentiful with pubs, restaurants and shops. Note that this area tends to be a tourist trap, too, but experts and recent travelers say it's a must-visit for first-time Edinburgh travelers. You can also take in the view through Edinburgh's Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.

Beyond Holyroodhouse Palace is Holyrood Park, a sprawling swath of Scottish mountains and moorlands. The most popular hike is the summit trail to Arthur's Seat. Plan to take your camera because Arthur's Seat affords a breathtaking view of the Scottish countryside.

Located to the south of the Royal Mile in Old Town, the Grassmarket and Cowgate areas are known for their compilation of pubs, clubs and live-music venues. Although only a block away, you're likely to find fewer crowds in this area, not to mention Greyfriars Kirkyard and Bobby memorial, whose tombstones are said to have served as inspiration for the names of some "Harry Potter" characters.

East of Edinburgh's city center is Calton, home to the famous lookout point, Calton Hill, which is rumored to be one of writer Robert Louis Stevenson's favorite places to take in the city. The Hill is what helped Edinburgh earn the distinction of the "Athens of the North." The park is filled with monuments galore, including the National Monument, also known as "Edinburgh's Disgrace," the Burns Monument and Nelson's Monument.

Edinburgh's old port town, Leith, is just about a couple miles north of Princes Street and rests on the bank of the River Forth. With its proximity to the North Sea, Leith has a handful of quality seafood-centric restaurants and pubs. It's also home to the famous floating royal residence, the Royal Yacht Britannia

Explore More of Edinburgh

Recommended

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Gwen PratesiJune 12, 2019

The 16 Best Seattle Tours

Explore the Emerald City's natural beauty and urban offerings with these guided excursions.

Lyn MettlerJune 12, 2019

The 24 Best London Tours

Whether it's your first time in London or you're a repeat visitor, you'll experience a side of the city you've never seen with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJune 6, 2019

The 21 Best Paris Tours

Enhance your visit to the City of Love with one of these top tours.

Claire LawtonJune 5, 2019

The 20 Best New York City Tours

These guided tours help make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

John RodwanJune 4, 2019

The 24 Best Rome Tours

Enjoy the efficiency of an organized tour led by experts who bring Rome's history to life.

Kyle McCarthyMay 31, 2019

The 8 Best Savannah Ghost Tours

Prove you're not afraid of the dark by taking one of these terrifying tours.

Gwen PratesiMay 31, 2019