This post's overview:
- 1 Non-touristy Edinburgh: 7 off-beaten path spots in the capital of Scotland
What comes to your mind when you think of Edinburgh? Probably Edinburgh Castle, medieval buildings and crooked little streets. Yep, everybody thinks of that. Sometimes, especially during the festive periods, Edinburgh gets so crowded, that you don’t enjoy sightseeing at all. Or walking. Or shopping. Believe me, I lived there for 1.5 years and December and April – October were crazy. In this post, however, I wanted to focus on non-touristy Edinburgh and tell you about my 7 favourite off-beaten path spots that are a must when visiting Edinburgh.
If you’re looking for a hotel, I have a guide to 10 best affordable hotels in Edinburgh, so feel free to check it out!
Take one of the unusual alternative tours of Edinburgh
Why not take an alternative tour of Edinburgh? This amazing tour will take you to the main highlights and also the hidden gems of the city while this hill and nature tour will bring you to amazing scenic places outside the city.
You can also participate in this chocolate-making tour or go on a popular cheese crawl!
Some other amazing alternative tours of Edinburgh include:
- Literary pub tour of Edinburgh
- Small-group historic coffee tour of the city
- Underground city of the dead tour
- Edinburgh Outlander experience
Non-touristy Edinburgh: 7 off-beaten path spots in the capital of Scotland
The Water of Leith
My absolute favourite is the Water of Leith, a small hidden river, which flows through the entire city. The Water of Leith Walkway is a picturesque 12.25-mile path that runs alongside the Water of Leith river through the heart of Edinburgh. The walkway is a peaceful oasis in the city, providing a beautiful natural environment where visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Along the way, walkers can enjoy stunning views of the river, waterfalls, and wildlife, including herons, otters, and kingfishers. The walkway passes through several parks, including the Dean Village, Saughton Park, and the Royal Botanic Garden, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll or a more challenging hike, the Water of Leith Walkway is a must-visit attraction in Edinburgh.
The best part is undoubtedly Stockbridge to the Dean Village, full of beautiful statues and pavilions.
Another place in the city, where the tourists don’t usually go is Stockbridge. Stockbridge is a charming and vibrant non-touristy area located in the heart of Edinburgh. Known for its trendy and eclectic vibe, it boasts a wide array of independent shops, stylish cafes, and trendy bars. The area is particularly popular with young professionals and families who appreciate the laid-back yet cosmopolitan atmosphere. Visitors to Stockbridge can take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets, browse the quirky boutiques, and sample delicious artisanal foods at the weekly Stockbridge Market. The area is also home to several lovely green spaces, including Inverleith Park and the Royal Botanic Garden.
3. Dean Village
When I had visitors in Edinburgh, I would always bring them to the Dean Village. It’s not really a Village, just a small district not so far from the city centre located along the Water of Leith walkway (the one mentioned on the first place in this article), but it looks totally different compared to the rest of Edinburgh. It reminds me of a small German provincial village and looks really magical.
4. Ocean Terminal and The Shore
The next one on the list of the best non-touristy places to visit in Edinburgh is The Ocean Terminal and The Shore. Ocean Terminal is located in the North of Edinburgh, but as the city is quite small, it won’t take you more than 30 minutes to get there from Princes Street. I like the Shore because of its architecture and because of its access to the sea. If you’re doubting whether it’s worth to get there just to see the architecture, well there is also a huge shopping mall, plenty of great restaurants (in the Commercial Quay) and the HM Royal Yacht Britannia is also there.
5. Marchmont and Brunsfield
These are two really gorgeous residential districts, where it’s just nice to walk around, stop for a drink (or brunch) and take some photos, especially in spring, when everything is blooming. Two huge parks – the Meadows and Bruntsfield links are also nearby, and it’s definitely worth to visit them too!
6. Dr Niel’s Garden
If you’re planning to hike Arthur’s Seat, you might as well walk for 2 more kilometres (or take a bus) and visit Dr Niel’s Garden. It’s an absolutely magical little garden located in a medieval village called Duddiston Village. The village itself is also really cute and It also has one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh.
7. Portobello beach
The last but not least of the 7 off-beaten path locations in Edinburgh is Portobello beach. Not many visitors know that Edinburgh actually has a proper sandy beach. While in summer many people (mostly Scottish people, it’s quite cold for everybody else) swim, in winter or spring it’s just nice for a stroll. And the views from there are really beautiful.
There are, of course, many more hidden gems of Edinburgh, like Union Canal or Pentlands, however, there spots would be the main ones I would recommend!
Some other articles you might enjoy reading:
Are you also interested in touristy things and best attractions? Here’s the post about the absolutely best attractions in the city (we visited them all) and 15 free things to do in Edinburgh.
Here’s the ultimate first-timer’s guide to Edinburgh
What to see in Scotland in 7 days by car – the ultimate itinerary
2-week itinerary for the UK by car: 14 days in England and Scotland
The best things to do in Edinburgh when it rains
The best affordable hotels in Edinburgh
15+ places to visit in Scotland in your lifetime. The Ultimate Scotland bucket list
7 amazing afternoon teas to try in Edinburgh