By Moa Katarina Nilsson
Photography by Karo Regenweibchen
A Winter Guide to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is well suited as a winter get away spot. The chilly air and the majestic buildings adds an atmosphere that will make you fall in love with the city.
There’s two different time periods of winter in Edinburgh. It’s Before Christmas & Hogmanay and After Christmas & Hogmanay. If Christmas decorations, markets and shopping is your thing then visiting Edinburgh anytime from mid November until start of January is definitely for you. Edinburgh gets more and more crowded the closer you get to Christmas and Hogmanay so if you want to avoid all the other tourists then either go as early as you can or mid week to be able to stroll along the market and do some Christmas shopping without having to elbow your way there. If you prefer to visit Edinburgh when it’s dramatically more quiet then January and February is perfect for you. Unfortunately the Christmas market is not around anymore but it’s almost like you get Edinburgh to yourself.
- Christmas Market. This German themed Christmas market offers up most of what you could what. It has food stalls, hot beverages, rides, Christmas decorations and so many options of stalls to find Christmas gifts at. My favourite things to do is grab a cup of mulled wine and stroll along the stalls having a look at everything, trying some of the cheese samples, smelling the different flavoured coffees and trying to decide which Christmas star I’d like to buy.
- Warm Beverages (Mulled wine, Hot toddy). One of the best things about Edinburgh being so cold and windy is that you have the perfect excuse to consume hot beverages to warm yourself up. May it be coffee, tea, mulled wine, hot toddies or something else. Or why not one of each?
- The Castle. You can't miss it. Literally. In most places in central Edinburgh chances are you'll see the castle. Even if you don't want to pay to enter the castle, I would still say it's worth to go up to the castle esplenade to admire the beautiful view and of course also the castle itself.
- Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe. This is an adorable little shop located on the less crowded part of the Royal Mile that offers Christmas decorations. I personally don’t think it is as commercialised as the Christmas shops closer to the castle and even if you’re not looking for Christmas baubles it is a cute little shop to hava a look around in.
- Fudge Kitchen. If you want to see how traditional fudge is made then head to Fudge Kitchen and watch them make the sweet yumminess. It’s also a perfect gift since you can choose a box size and pick the flavours you like to givaway. Sometimes they’re even so nice that they offer some fudge to taste as well.
- George Street. For shopping George Street is a good shout. It is usually not as crowded as Princes Street and offers a lot of options for gifts. Anthropologie is perfect for quirkier but stylish glasses or plates, Molton Brown has everything for bath & body, Lululemon is for the work out enthusiast and there’s lots of restaurants and cafés around, I would recommend the Italian restaurant Gusto.
- The Dome. If you like spectacular you’ll love The Dome. Even from the outside it is a magnificent building and indoors you have beautiful architecture that allows you to have a cocktail, lunch or afternoon tea in a real fancy environment.
- Arthurs Seat. If you have a few hours left over, why not hike up Arthurs Seat? The view from this old volcano is stunning and it’s a beautiful hike that is not too hard to complete. If you don’t want to go all the way to the top, you also have the option of walking along the road that goes around the hill and see the two lochs hiding along it. Why not stop by Dr Neils Garden or the pub The Sheep Heid Inn on the way for a hidden gem and some lunch.
- Swedish Fika. As an immigrated swede myself, I’ll passionately talk about why fika is something everyone should indulge in all year round, but perhaps specifically during the colder winter months. Fika is a term for meeting up with someone to have a beverage and something to eat, most commonly something sweet like a slice of cake or a cookie. Fika is well suited when it’s cold outside because basically all you want to do is hide indoors in a warm café and drink something warm. It is a also a perfect little break in the midst of exploring and shopping around Edinburgh.
- Photo Opportunities. Oh, all the beautiful photo opportunities you’ll find around Edinburgh. They even have specific signs in the pavements in spots that are known for being the perfect photographic opportunities. Of course Old Town is like a postcard so many nice scenery to catch here, but I would also recommend going for a walk through Dean Village, by Portobello Beach or along the Water of Leith.
- The Black Cat. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays you can head to The Black Cat on Rose Street for a genuin pub vibe with some live folk music. Perfect atmosphere to enjoy a pint or a whisky.
- Usquabae. If you’re a whisky lover, an aspiring whisky enthusiast or just in he company of one, you shouldn’t miss Usquabae. A wide selection of whiskies, along with wine, cocktails and beers ina hidden away underground bar with lovely staff.
- Calton Hill. This is a must do for everyone visiting Edinburgh. Even if you don’t have the time or the will do climb Arthurs Seat, then Calton Hill is perfect. You still get the lovely view over all of Edinburgh and it’s only a few minutes away from Princes Street.
Of course the absolute best tip I can give is to just walk around Edinburgh and see where your feet takes you. There's so much too see and my favourite thing is to visit the places I have stumbled upon randomly. And I'm still discovering new places and things all the time!
Did I miss something? Or do you have any questions? Feel free to get in touch!