A wee bit of Scottish flare.
With a little less than 48 hours in Edinburgh, here are our top recommendations:
1. Coffee at Artisan Roast and Milkman
Artisan Roast is located on Broughton Street, one of the main, quaint strips of the New Town neighborhood of Edinburgh. I'm no coffee snob (that's Pat), but their coffee was tart and fruity, while Milkman was a bit more mild. Both are great for takeaway brews or as cozy spots to chill with your coffee or tea.
A unique quirk to Artisan is their lack of an actual counter dividing the baristas from the customers. We loved this about it, as it played off a more inviting vibe than the usual separation in a cafe.
2. Brunch at the Educated Flea
What I believe was named after the Cole Porter song, Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love) ("...even educated fleas do it..."), this adorable cafe located on Broughten Street serves up eclectic, "punchy global flavours" - and delicious - brunch/lunch and dinner. As the website notes, "Book a table and look forward to a warm welcome smile, maybe a cheeky giggle and a generally super time in a great neighbourhood".
Pat and I ordered off the specials menu, seen above. He got the duck hash with hollandaise and poached eggs, while I got the curried butter bean whip with dukkah (an Egyptian topping of herbs, nuts, and spices), soft boiled eggs and crispy flatbread. IT WAS SUBLIME.
3. Hike Arthur's Seat
About a 15 minute walk from the center of town, and visible from all throughout the city, is Arthur's Seat. This peak is not only an ancient volcano, but one of the area's oldest forts, dating back more than 2000 years ago. Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built, it was formed by an extinct volcano system which became eroded by a glacier moving from west to east over the last 2 million years. Side note: It's really steep, but the views are well worth the hike!
4. Visit the Castle
The historical fortress on Castle Rock attracts many a tourist, though I don't actually recommend paying the 17 pounds to get in. On both of my quick stints in Edinburgh, I've navigated my way up to the top but never actually entered the castle, and I've been just fine without it. If you're a true history buff you may want to buy the ticket, but I'm more of a fan of views and ambiance than tourist attractions and queues.
5. The Harry Potter Trail
Embark on a journey through Edinburgh to witness sites that inspired characters and scenes in the series. From the cemetery where JK Rowling began creating character names, to the cafes she would sit in and write parts of the book, this is a free tour for any Potter fan.
6. Dinner and Drinks at The Devil's Advocate
Pat and I have a thing for genuine bars with authentic feels/food/people. The Devil's Advocate, located in an old Victorian pump station, is just that. The structure is exposed brick and wood beams with touches of brass and steel. The decor accentuates the old with the new, and the food is vibrant without overdoing it. The drinks are in a separate ballgame altogether.
Pat got the Capercaille (rum, Campari, pineapple Cocchi Americano, Cafe Borghetti, and apple acid) while I ordered the Red Sky in the Morning (Japanese whiskey, Cacao Campari, Fernet Branca, mochaccino stout and chili tincture). UNREAL.
7. Stay at Susie's in New Town
Sometimes you find a really quaint Airbnb and you're over the moon. Other times you find a charming Airbnb WITH a gorgeous host who sees after you like a great old friend. Susie is that host! While her flat is not only centrally located, but still in a quiet, residential area, it also has all the comforts of home with added hospitable touches. Everything you forgot to pack or didn't plan to need, she has: hairdryers, converters, umbrellas, little chocolate treats and water on your bedside table, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. The bed was comfy and the big windows made me feel like a Scottish princess! And although it is a 6th floor walk-up, the trek is worth it after the Scottish beers you'll be consuming every night!
8. Live Jazz at the Jazz Bar
Another favorite pastime done while traveling is truly being spontaneous. After we finished our lovely meal at The Devil's Advocate (meaning after we transferred to a table outside on their deck for a bottle of wine - our version of dessert), we were wandering about the cobblestone streets when we stumbled upon The Jazz Bar. Easily persuaded, we couldn't see why we wouldn't want to go down the secretive steps into the underground venue. And it did not disappoint. The bar serves up local craft beers and THE best homemade ginger beer I've had the pleasure of tasting (with any sort of spirit to be added if you'd like!).
9. Scottish craft beers/whiskies
Scotland has a plethora of great locally made beer, from ciders to ales to intense dark stouts. I love them all. I wanted to try them all. But I only had 48 hours so I believe I tried about 6. Go forth and prosper, hoppily.
P.S. Dishoom is now located in Edinburgh in St. Andrew Square.
Known for their procured attention to detail, this Bombay-inspired Indian restaurant is delightfully delicious and easy to share. We split the Sali Boti, "a first-rate Parsi classic, tender lamb is braised in a rich and flavoursome gravy then finished with crunchy sali crisp-chips. Served with buttered roomali roti", and the Black House Daal, "A Dishoom signature dish - dark, rich, deeply flavoured. It is prepared over 24 hours for extra harmony". They were both intensely flavorful and definitely satisfying. I'd also recommend the vegetable samosas (served with their three sauces - chili, coriander and a sweet date and tamarind) as well as the Bhang Lassi (Traditional Holi drink, but with fresh shredded mint in place of happy-go-lucky hemp. Ginger, grenadine, candied fennel sprinkles and almond syrup and yoghurt. Can be served with or without rum, and was just as lovely sans-spirits).