Edinburgh is an old and fascinating city. Over the centuries a variety of towns and villages have merged to form the city it is today, popular with visitors from around the world. To help visitors better understand the different neighbourhoods (suburbs/districts) in and around Edinburgh city centre, we at Hotels.tv have out together this guide.
Old Town – this is where you will find Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, The Scottish Parliament, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and all the other famous Edinburgh attractions. The Old Town is built on an extinct volcano and there have been buildings here for more than 1,000 years. In the 16th century the Old Town was home to some of the world’s first “high rise” residential buildings. Over the following centuries the Old Town became over populated, filthy and diseased, leading the fathers of the city to plan a new area for the wealthy to live – the New Town. Today, the Old Town is full of smart cafes, international restaurants, grand hotels, tourist attractions and tourist shops.
New Town – the great men and women of Edinburgh started building the New Town at the end of the 18th century after the Old Town became too cramped and filthy (it’s a lot better these days). This was age of enlightenment, and it was agreed that men should live in spacious, clean and well planned streets – wealthy men anyway. The Nor Loch was first drained of filthy water (and bodies) and filled in to make Princes Street Gardens and Princes Street. The New Town is laid out in a grid design and streets named after leading men and symbols of the time. Originally the New Town was designed as a residential area full of grand homes, today the neighbourhood is the place to head for designer shops, cool restaurants, and fashionable bars.
Leith – many residents of Leith don’t count the neighbourhood as part of Edinburgh (tell them that Leith was originally 2 towns that merged) because for many centuries it was an independent port town. Leith is where Edinburgh meets the sea and it’s been an important dock for centuries – there’s been a wharf here since the 12th century, at least. Leith was recently made famous as the deprived setting for the film Trainspotting. Although Leith remains a poor part of Scotland, it’s old port is home to some of the finest restaurants and bars in the UK. You’ll find a few Michelin-starred restaurants in this north east corner of Edinburgh. This is my favourite part of Edinburgh as I lived here for a long time and have very many happy memories of the restaurants, bars and people of Leith. Well worth jumping on a bus to visit Leith.
Southside – the Southside area of Edinburgh consists of smaller neighbourhoods such as Newington, The Grange, and Marchmont – all these areas are south of the South Bridge in the Old Town. This Southside is a popular residential area for students (The University of Edinburgh is based here) and families (lots of schools). Many festival venues are located in this part of Edinburgh – The Pleasance being the most well known. With so many students living around George Square and Nicolson you’ll find many cheap cafes and shops around catering for tighter budgets. The further south you head the grander the homes – mainly detached and semi-detached villas. The Meadows on the Southside is a large area of park land that’s a popular place to go walking and jogging.
Stockbridge – this is where the yummy mummies hang out of an afternoon drinking skinny lattes. Stockbridge is a very pretty corner of Edinburgh – 15 mins walk from George Street. Stockbridge is full of cute cafes, independent retailers and charity shops stocked with second-hand designer gear. There are lots of cobbled back streets and places to explore – the Water of Leith passes under where the ‘Stock Bridge’ (meaning timber bridge) used to stand.There are not many hotels or guest houses in Stockbridge but it’s definitely a place you should to for a pleasant walk to to escape the pandemonium of the city centre.