Long weekends in Edinburgh, or in fact anywhere in Scotland, have recently become my regular guilty pleasure. From the historic architecture set against the backdrop of lush green mountains to the friendly locals and easy-to-walk city centre, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy a weekend in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.
But there is still one part of this country that is often misunderstood: its food scene. With haggis, whisky, deep-fried anything and bright orange sodas likely being the go-to menu when you think of Scotland, to any first time visitors I have to say this; you’ve got it all wrong.
Edinburgh has been transforming itself into a culinary capital for years now and with numerous independent restaurants, new coffee houses that can rival even the biggest caffeinated city hubs, and a population who love dining out and socialising, a foodie weekend in Edinburgh of indulgent treats and fresh seasonal produce has never been better.
Teaming up with #UncoverEdinburgh, I set off to discover how many top eats and awesome attractions I could fit into my two days in Edinburgh.
After plenty of research (read: consuming) I present your ready-made, tried and tested, 48 hours in Edinburgh guide to eating your way through some of the tastiest, most Instagram-able snacks and heavenly restaurants on offer. All mapped out to maximise your time and take you on a tour of Edinburgh’s best attractions, and its hidden gems. Enjoy!
9:00 – Breakfast at Eteaket
Kick start your morning with one of the great British obsessions; tea. With many offerings available, from traditional black breakfast tea through to bespoke gin infused leaves from the Isle of Mull, the tea range at Eteaket cafe could keep you sampling all day.
Just nearby you’ll also find the Eteaket concept store where you can sample cold brews, and see tea being prepared and boiled at the perfect temperatures.
As for a bonnie breakfast, I’d suggest plumping for some of the most excellent Scottish salmon served up with a tattie scone (griddled potato) and scrambled eggs. If you want a more Instagram-able cuppa, the beetroot chai latte is going to sit well on any colourful feed! (www.eteaket.co.uk)
9.45 – Sightseeing at Princes Street Gardens
Located just a short stroll from Eteaket is Princes Street Gardens, a must visit on a weekend in Edinburgh. The long and thin gardens right in the heart of the city provide amazing views of Edinburgh Castle upon its rock and are a perfect photo spot in any season.
At one end of the gardens, you’ll find St Johns Church, open to visitors outside of service times and boasting a unique and very photogenic ceiling, with photos allowed for a donation. A walk through the gardens pass by colourful flower beds, fantastic fountains and those epic castle views, eventually taking you to the Scott Monument, well worth a climb to admire the city from above.
The Scott Monument, a Victorian gothic tower which is dedicated to the writer Sir Walter Scott, has a narrow staircase curving around its interior which takes you a to a platform overlooking both the city and as far as the ocean, though tomorrow with more viewpoints on offer you may want to skip one of them.
10.45 – Sightseeing the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle
Perhaps the most famous street and attraction in Edinburgh is the Royal Mile which ends at the esplanade of the Edinburgh Castle. You can’t skip this route on your foodie weekend in Edinburgh.
Along the Royal Mile, you’ll find tartan shops, bagpipes being played, and some of the top attractions in Edinburgh.
With just a weekend in Edinburgh, you likely won’t have time to see them all, but a Mercat walking tour takes you back in time while the Scotch Whisky Experience is perfect for some learning before a tipple. The impressive interiors of St Giles Cathedral might pique your interests while others may prefer the weird and wacky Camera Obscura, World of Illusions. Either way, eventually you’ll wind up at the city’s star attraction, Edinburgh Castle.
12.15 – Snacks at IJ Mellis, Cheesemongers
The colourful facades of Victoria Street, one of the most Instagram friendly roads in Edinburgh, play home to Harry Potter-themed stores and independent boutiques. Here is also where our foodie weekend in Edinburgh continues, all in the name of cheese.
In the small IJ Mellis cheese store, family-owned and operated, you’ll find a plethora of cheeses from throughout Scotland. From the Highlands to the islands, the range of mild to extreme on offer here can be sampled as a tasting plate with the skilled staff picking out the perfect matches to your palate. With a huge dinner on the agenda for tonight, this is the perfect sized snack. (www.mellischeese.net)
13:00 – Snacks at Mary’s Milk Bar
At the bottom of Victoria Street, you’ll find the Grassmarket, a square of pubs and outside seating that boasts some more epic views of Edinburgh Castle.
Here you’ll also find some more dairy based goodness at the ultimate treat, Mary’s Milk Bar. If you have a sweet tooth and an addiction to Ice Cream like me, you might try to fit in more than one visit here on your foodie weekend in Edinburgh.
Go all out with two or three scoops of the creative flavours, with anything salted caramel always getting my vote, before sliding out of the packed shop to enjoy your frozen goodness to one of the best views in the city.
The Vennel sits alongside Mary’s Milk Bar, and although well known by the photographers in Edinburgh, it’s still often not too busy. Take a seat on the steps to enjoy your ice cream and marvel at postcard-perfect views of the castle framed by the leading lines of the narrow staircase.
13:30 – Coffee at Brew Lab
If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a coffee pick up after a sweet treat so taking the short walk to Brew Lab is the way to do it.
Artisanal coffee has become a serious business in Edinburgh, and you’ll notice plenty of independent stores pumping out the good stuff on your foodie weekend in Edinburgh. If you want to learn more about the art of coffee, from latte art to cold press classes, Brew Lab has a training academy where you can book in ahead to enjoy one of the experiences. If not, simply swing by and enjoy a cup of your favourite joe before continuing your sightseeing walking tour of Edinburgh. (www.brewlabcoffee.co.uk)
14:00 – Sightseeing at the National Museum of Scotland
Moments from Brew Lab is the National Museum of Scotland which is free to enter.
Packing a punch with exhibits covering a wide range of focuses, the building itself which is often compared to a matchstick stack, is well worth visiting even if you don’t plan on exploring the exhibits.
A bit of an Instagrammers’ hub in Edinburgh, the tall white beams that surround the Grand Gallery provide some serious symmetry goals while the diverse programme on offer is suitable for any ages.
15:00 Snacks at Land of Bourbon
Well, given this is a foodie walking tour of Edinburgh, it’s time for some more snacks I’d say!
The police boxes around Edinburgh are numerous, and many have been lovingly converted into a hole in the wall style coffee shops or serving up brilliant cuisine. Land of Bourbon is one of these, and it focuses exclusively on vegan food, and seriously good vegan food!
I was really impressed at the vegetarian and vegan options throughout the city, but with the dedicated focus here and the creative and tasty cuisine it pumps out, it’s certainly one to bookmark. (www.landofbourbon.com)