Words & Photos Ingrid Hofstra

7 Local Edinburgh Spots More Magical Than Harry Potter Himself

Oct 23, 2016

In Edinburgh, the people are kind, the streets look like Diagon Alley, and the castle resembles Hogwarts (the stadium next to it even looks like a Quidditch pitch).

It’s no surprise Edinburgh so resembles Harry Potter’s world, since J.K. Rowling wrote her first book here. But there is so much more to Edinburgh than this wonderful quirkiness. I mean, the kilts, the pipe bags, that accent! The Scottish are one of a kind and their small but cozy capital has a lot to offer. During my three days in Edinburgh I climbed Arthur’s seat, one of the city’s hills with a magnificent view from the top, spent a quiet afternoon in the botanical garden, and ate so much good food, not to mention all the tasty whiskey. And perhaps there was a bit of magic involved after all, because I didn’t feel a single drop of rain all weekend!

01.

Brew Lab Coffee

Brew Lab isn’t easy to find for a tourist, hidden away in the middle of University Area south of Old Town. But that makes it all the more fun. They serve single-origin filter and espresso coffees and delicious treats in an old, big, and slightly crooked industrial building. Their selection of food & drinks changes weekly.

Try: A classic, but worth it—their flat white.

02.

Fortitude Coffee

More coffee! In contrary to Brew Lab Coffee, you’ll find Fortitude on the other side of the city, near the National Portrait Gallery in New Town. When you order a coffee and an avocado toast, you’ll immediately notice the pretty V60 and Aeropress machines next to the counter. Aside from coffee, Fortitude also serves a stellar lunch, loose leaf teas, hot chocolate, and cold drinks.

Try: Brioche with homemade jam.

03.

Brandon's of Cannonmills

A recently refurbished hip gastropub outside the busy city center with gorgeous exposed brickwork and herbariums lining the blue walls, serving hearty Scottish soul food with a modern twist.

Try: Goat’s cheese beignet with harissa mayo and avocado.

04.

I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger

Looking for a fine piece of cheese? This is the place for the best local dairy products, crackers, olives, quality meat, and other Scottish delicacies. They’ve been open since 1993 and supply many of the city’s best restaurants. Visit their store in the quaint neighborhood of Stockbridge after you’ve wandered the farmer’s market on Saturday morning.

Try: Isle of Mull cheddar.

05.

Stockbridge Market

A trip to Edinburgh isn’t complete without a visit to this lovely farmers’ market. About twenty stalls packed into an old square in one of the prettiest neighborhoods of the city, selling a wide range of local produce, fish, meat, bread, and baked goods. A visit to this market is a great way to beat the crowd and be amongst locals. I promise, it’s a Sunday well spent.

Try: Scotch egg: hard-boiled, wrapped in meat, and deep-fried.

06.

Under the Stairs

When you want fancy dinner but don’t want to spend a lot of money, this is the place to go. Near the National Museum of Scotland and Greyfriars Kirkyard (famous for the Thomas Riddle tombstone), this cozy restaurant is hidden in a basement, very popular with students, and very low on the tourist scale. Not only do they serve good food, but they’re also well-known for their cocktails.

Try: Beef burger with sweet potato fries.

07.

Mary's Milk Bar

Even in a city where rain is more common than rays of sunshine, people still love good ice cream. This cute 1950s inspired spot is painted in pastels, and has some of the best gelato and old-fashioned milk shakes. Plus the best view of Edinburgh’s castle.

Try: A cone with two scoops of salted caramel ice cream. You know you want to.