Edinburgh/Old Town

High Street, part of Royal Mile

The Old Town of Edinburgh represents the historic core of the Scottish capital, built eastwards of the Castle Crag, along the Royal Mile to Holyrood. This article also covers the areas to the immediate south and west of the Old Town - Southside and Tollcross.

Along with the New Town, the Old Town was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.

Get in

The Old Town is well connected to the rest of Edinburgh by bus. Numerous taxi ranks can also be found, although beware, Edinburgh taxis are expensive and the ride is soon costly.

From the New Town, it's a short walk along North Bridge from the east end of Princes Street; up the Mound (quite steep!) alongside the National Galleries; or up Lothian Road from the west end of Princes Street.

Get around

Most travellers are happy to explore the Old Town on foot, as there are lots of things to see on the way. Several streets in the Old Town are bridges, and so you may find the streets are not connected as you might expect from a glance at the map, and there are some steep slope and staircases between streets.

North Bridge and South Bridge are very well served by buses, and you are unlikely to have to wait more than 5 minutes during a weekday daytime. The Mound and and George IV Bridge has a reasonable service.

East-West bus services are less frequent, except along Lauriston Place. The Lothian Buses 6 runs twice per hour from Hanover Street to Holyrood. The 2 runs four times per hour (weekday daytime) via the Grassmarket and Chambers Street. The 35 runs 5 times per hour from the airport via Chambers Street and Canongate.


The cathedral from the east
View from the North Bridge up to Calton Hill
Debating Chamber, Scottish Parliament

Museum and galleries


Shows and tours

Music and theatre



You don't need to go to the faceless chain stores and multinationals that line the main shopping streets in the New Town. Support local Edinburgh businesses and take home a fantastic and unique memento of your trip.

Victoria Street and the east end of the Grassmarket is where the Old Town's best shopping experience can be found. A clutch of independent business can be found here, and it is highly recommended that you avoid overpriced tourist traps on the Royal Mile and make a beeline for here.

Cockburn Street (pronounced "co-burn") has many small alternative shops.

The Royal Mile especially the higher end near the castle, has many tourist-oriented shops selling Scottish souvenirs from postcards to whisky and kilts. These shops help reinforce stereotypes that a modern Scotland is trying to shake off. However there are also good exceptions:

Other great shopping opportunities are the following ones:

The Pubic Triangle is usually best avoided, due to its proliferation of lap-dancing establishments, but during the day you can find a number of great shops here. It can be found at the intersection of Lady Lawson Street and West Port, near the western end of the Grassmarket. A gaggle of second-hand bookstores adorn this area.


You can find plenty of nice and affordable food options along and around South Bridge, Nicolson Street and (South) Clerk Street (which really is all one long street).






There are many famous "traditional" pubs on the Grassmarket. Beware, however, many of these pubs are tourist traps and tend to be very popular with visiting stag and hen parties. Real Edinburghers tend to keep clear most of the time. The Royal Mile is another tourist trap, with many pubs here just not worth the bother. However, make time to visit The Jolly Judge on James Court, just off the Lawnmarket, and Albanach, which is on the corner of Cockburn Street and the High Street.


General debauchery can be found on the Cowgate which runs under the South and George IV bridges. Numerous clubs and bars line this street, which gets very, very crowded at weekends.

Other venues







Go next

Map of central Edinburgh districts

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.