The Best Areas to Stay in Edinburgh, Scotland
The Best Areas to Stay in Edinburgh, Scotland

Best Areas to Stay in Edinburgh, Scotland

Where to Stay in Edinburgh – A Guide to “Auld Reekie”

Edinburgh is the capital and second-most populous city in Scotland. Located in Lothian, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the highest courts in Scotland. As the most visited tourist destination in the country (and the second-most visited in Great Britain) Edinburgh is especially famous for its impressive and well-preserved Old Town, castle, Georgian-era New Town, gardens, cemeteries and cultural attractions. The city is also renowned for hosting the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the largest annual international arts festival in the world. In this post, we’ll walk you through the best areas to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Why you should visit Edinburgh

Considered Britain’s most beautiful city, Edinburgh is packed with history and beautiful architecture. Its importance as a hub for education, culture and the arts earned it the nickname “Athens of the North” in the 19th century. Today, Edinburgh is a vibrant European capital with a rich heritage and lovely people. Its city centre is teeming with historical sights, but it’s small enough that you can walk almost anywhere. Find accommodation in Central Edinburgh.

Recognised as the capital of Scotland since the 15th century, the area around present-day Edinburgh has been inhabited for thousands of years. However, it wasn’t until the early Middle Ages when the first hillfort was established on Castle Rock. The settlement that grew around the stronghold was officially established in the early 12th century by King David I.

Edinburgh’s ancient heart, where the city’s oldest historic buildings can be found, is located at the foot of Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has preserved many of its medieval streets and buildings. Perhaps the best-known street in Edinburgh’s historic quarter is the “Royal Mile,” this main street spans from the Castle to Holyrood Palace and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. Narrow alleyways, known locally as “closes” lead downhill of the main east-to-west thoroughfare. Find accommodation in the Royal Mile.

Apart from the Castle and the Royal Mile, the Old Town is the site of many of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attractions. The main sights in Edinburgh’s Old Town include St. Giles’ Cathedral, the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, the National Museum of Scotland, the Old College of the University of Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament Building, the Real Mary King’s Close, The Scotch Whisky Experience and Greyfriars Kirkyard. Find accommodation in the Old Town.

North of the Old Town, and also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh’s New Town was built in stages between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries after overcrowding within the walls of the Old Town reached a breaking point. This regal district, designed to accommodate the local upper classes, retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian architecture and is home to lovely sights including Princes Street, the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Scottish Academy Building, the Balmoral Hotel and the Scott Monument. Find accommodation in the New Town.

An independent village until 1920, and located on the southern coast of the Firth of Forth, Leith is Edinburgh’s historic port. Traditionally a working-class district, Leith is known as Edinburgh’s hipster area and is the place to go for antique and second-hand stores, trendy cafés and bars, and great ethnic restaurants. Leith is also home to a few tourist attractions including the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Pitt Market and Trinity House Maritime Museum. Find accommodation in Leith.

What’s the best time to visit Edinburgh

Due to its geographic position, Edinburgh has a cool and temperate maritime climate. Due to its proximity to the sea, the city has much milder conditions than other places at similar latitudes. Edinburgh experiences cold and overcast winters and warm summers. The average temperatures in January are usually between 1 and 7 ºC. On the other hand, July can see temperatures hover between 12 and 19 ºC. Precipitations are fairly common throughout the year. The best time to visit Edinburgh is during the late spring and summer (May through September) when the pleasant temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Edinburgh: Getting there and around

To get to Edinburgh via air, the city is served by Edinburgh International Airport (EDI). Located around 10 kilometres west of the city centre, this major airport, the busiest in Scotland, offers frequent non-stop services to most cities in the UK, as well as dozens of European routes and several long-haul connections to North America’s East Coast and the Middle East.

Edinburgh is also well-connected to the rest of Scotland and England by train. Edinburgh Waverley is the second-busiest railway station in Scotland. Located in the city centre, in a steep, narrow valley between the Old Town and the New Town, this terminal offers frequent train services to/from London Euston, Newcastle, Glasgow Queen Street, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth. Check train schedules, routes and fares.

The main way to move around Edinburgh is by bus, with most routes running via Princes Street. Edinburgh Trams, the city’s tramway system, began operation in 2014 and connects Edinburgh Airport, west of the city, and York Place, in the city centre’s East End. Edinburgh also has a very extensive urban rail network offering rail services to most of the East of Scotland. To explore the city’s outlying suburbs and the natural wonders around Edinburgh, you may want to choose to rent a car for your stay.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

The best area to stay in Edinburgh is the Old Town. Edinburgh’s medieval quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to many of the city’s top-rated tourist attractions including Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile and is packed with unique architecture, lovely restaurants, cafés and shops. Being the heart of the city, the Old Town is within walking distance of most sights and Edinburgh Waverley railway station. Find accommodation in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Another excellent area to consider when wondering where to stay in Edinburgh is the New Town. This majestic neighbourhood offers many important museums and galleries, lovely Georgian architecture and easy access to both Waverley Station and Edinburgh Airport. Find accommodation in the New Town.

Other convenient districts to stay in Edinburgh for tourists include Haymarket & the West End, Leith, Newington, Broughton, Stockbridge and Edinburgh Airport.

Continue reading to learn more about the best areas to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Hilton Edinburgh Carlton
Promoted Property
Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

Overlooking The Royal Mile, the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton has a stylish cocktail bar and modern brasserie. Lively Princes Street is just 300 m away and Waverley Rail Station is directly adjacent to the hotel. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.


The Best Areas to Stay in Edinburgh, Scotland

Situated around Castle Rock, Edinburgh’s lovely Auld Toun (Old Town) is the medieval heart of the city.

Together with the New Town, it has been part of the “Old and New Towns of Edinburgh” protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.

Dominated by Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town features a street layout consisting of a broad east-to-west High Street with dozens of alleyways, narrow streets and courts leading off of it to the north and south. This layout, called a “fishbone” urban pattern, is one of the best-preserved in Britain.

Edinburgh Castle, the most visited paid tourist sight in Scotland, sits at the top of Castle Rock. This royal fortress dates back to the 11th century and has been involved in many historical conflicts including the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Jacobite rising. The grounds of the castle are the site of many attractions including 12th-century St. Margaret’s Chapel, the National War Museum of Scotland and Scottish National War Memorial, the Royal Palace, Crown Square and Portcullis Gate. A series of performances known as the Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place on the Esplanade during August.

Edinburgh’s main street, the Royal Mile stretches from Edinburgh Castle in the west to Holyrood Palace in the east.

Edinburgh’s main street is home to several tourist sights including the Parliament House, St Giles’ Cathedral, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, as well as many shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs.

Officially, no part of the “Royal Mile” is called that. The street is actually made up of five stretches called Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand.

Many Edinburgh walking tours depart from or near the Royal Mile.

The best way to move around Edinburgh’s Old Town is on foot. This historic quarter is compact enough that you can simply walk to most of the city attractions. Additionally, Waverley Station, the city’s main transport hub, is a 3-minute walk from the Royal Mile.

Being the heart of the city, the Old Town is also the site of many of the top-rated hotels in Edinburgh.

The Old Town is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for sightseeing
The Old Town is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for sightseeing
Where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland - Edinburgh Old Town & the Royal Mile
Where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland – Edinburgh Old Town & the Royal Mile
Best location in Edinburgh for tourists - Old Town
Best location in Edinburgh for tourists – Old Town
Accommodation in Old Town Edinburgh - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Old Town Edinburgh – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland:

  • Medieval architecture
  • Near most attractions
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Royal Mile
  • Walking distance to Waverley Station
  • Great hotels

2. New Town & Princes Street

Located north of Edinburgh’s Old Town, across the geological depression of the former Nor Loch, the New Town is Edinburgh’s commercial, transport and cultural hub.

This elegant neighbourhood retains much of its original Georgian architecture and was planned and built between the 18th and mid-19th centuries.

The New Town is the site of Princes Street, one of the major thoroughfares in central Edinburgh. This wide avenue is home to several British and European high street department stores and retailers, as well as many of the best-rated hotels in Edinburgh.

After the construction of the New Town, the highly polluted waters of the Nor Loch were drained and its bed was converted into the Princes Street Gardens. The gardens are home to several of Edinburgh attractions including the Royal Scottish Academy, the Scottish National Gallery, Ross Fountain and the Parish Church of St Cuthbert.

The Victorian Gothic Scott Monument, dedicated to Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, is the second-largest monument to a writer in the world.

Not far lies Edinburgh Waverley Station. This transit hub offers connections to Glasgow, London and dozens of other destinations across Scotland and England.

When it comes to public transport, the New Town is the best-connected area in Edinburgh. The city’s tram system runs through Princes Street and St Andrew Square connecting this area with the airport in under 30 minutes. Furthermore, Edinburgh’s main bus terminal is situated on Elder Street and most of the local bus lines have stops on Princes and George streets.

On its eastern edge, the New Town is dominated by Calton Hill. Home to the Collective contemporary art gallery and the unfinished National Monument, this major tourist attraction offers breathtaking views over the city centre.

Edinburgh’s New Town is also the best area to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife; George Street is the site of many cocktail bars and upscale clubs, while the area around Calton Hill concentrates many of the LGBTQ venues in the Scottish capital.

Being Edinburgh’s most upscale central neighbourhood, the New Town, particularly Princes St, is also where some of the fanciest 4 and 5-star hotels are situated. That said, this lively district is also home to more modest accommodations ranging from family-run B&Bs and hostels to mid-priced hotels by well-known brands.

Best area to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland - New Town
Best area to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland – New Town
Where to stay in Edinburgh - New Town
Where to stay in Edinburgh – New Town
What's the best area to stay in Edinburgh? - New Town & Princess Street
What’s the best area to stay in Edinburgh? – New Town & Princes Street
Accommodation in Edinburgh New Town - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Edinburgh New Town – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland:

  • Neoclassical and Georgian architecture
  • Walking distance to Old Town
  • Waverley Station
  • Museums & galleries
  • Calton Hill
  • Best area to stay for nightlife
  • Very well-connected by public transport

3. Haymarket & The West End

Located directly west of Edinburgh Castle, Haymarket and the West End are some of the liveliest areas in Edinburgh.

Packed with pubs, restaurants, cocktail bars, theatres and concert venues, these centrally-located districts are among the best areas to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife, particularly for young travellers.

The area is centred around the busy Haymarket station, a recently redeveloped transit hub offering convenient railway connections to Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, as well as local tram services west to Edinburgh Airport and east to the New Town.

Edinburgh is the second-largest financial centre in Britain, and the West End, particularly around Lothian Rd, has been traditionally regarded as the city’s main financial district.

This area is home to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, one of the main convention and conference centres in Scotland, as well as many office towers, business centres, administrative buildings and foreign consulates.

The northern half of the West End is within Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains long rows and crescents of gorgeous Georgian terraced houses.

Other attractions in this area include St Mary’s Cathedral, Dean Village, the Water of Leith Walkway and the nearby Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Being a centrally-located nightlife and financial hub, Edinburgh’s West End offers a wide variety of accommodation options ranging from party hostels and modest lodging to the most luxurious business hotels by internationally renowned chains, as well as a wealth of tourist apartments.

Where to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife - Haymarket & West End
Where to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife – Haymarket & West End
Best districts in Edinburgh for tourists - West End
Best districts in Edinburgh for tourists – West End
Accommodation in Haymarket and the West End, Edinburgh - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Haymarket and the West End, Edinburgh – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland:

  • Great nightlife scene
  • Connected by tram and buses
  • Haymarket station
  • Easy access to the Old & New Towns
  • Best area to stay for business travellers
  • Georgian architecture

4. Leith

Leith is located some 5 kilometres northeast of Princes Street, on the southern coast of the Firth of Forth.

This charming port area was an independent burgh until the early 20th century and still retains a distinctive vibe and energy that has earned it the title of “the coolest place to live in Edinburgh.”

As Edinburgh’s main port, Leith was one of Scotland’s main industrial hubs for many centuries. Today, Leith has managed to shed most of its rough industrial skin while keeping its unique identity to become one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Europe.

Leith is home to Edinburgh’s most exciting dining scene, lovely bars, traditional pubs and quirky cafés, as well as unique boutiques, local designer shops record stores and independent retailers. Needless to say, Leith is Edinburgh’s main hipster area.

When it comes to tourist attractions, Leith is home to the scenic Leith waterfront, the Royal Yacht Britannia; the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Leith Links and the Trinity House Maritime Museum.

To move around, Leith is connected to Princes Street and Edinburgh’s city centre by bus routes 13, 16, 22, 25, 35 and 36. The journey takes around half an hour.

Hipster area in Edinburgh - Leith
Hipster area in Edinburgh – Leith
Accommodation in Leith, Edinburgh - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Leith, Edinburgh – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland:

  • Edinburgh’s hipster area
  • Great nightlife
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Connected by bus to the city centre
  • Alternative area to stay in Edinburgh

5. Newington

Newington is a neighbourhood located south of the Old Town, around Newington Road and at the foot of Arthur’s Seat.

This largely residential area is characterised by its lovely Georgian and Victorian terraced houses and villas.

South Clerk Street and Newington Road are the main shopping streets in the area. Meanwhile, Minto Street is home to several guesthouses and B&Bs.

Newington is very close to the University of Edinburgh, so the area also offers several student accommodations that double as budget hotels during the summer and holiday periods.

Quiet and residential, Newington is one of the best areas to stay in Edinburgh for nature lovers as it’s very close to Holyrood Park, an extensive parkland with walking and cycling paths and a loch set around the slopes and crags of Arthur’s Seat.

Best neighbourhoods for tourists in Edinburgh - Newington
Best neighbourhoods for tourists in Edinburgh – Newington
Accommodation in Newington, Edinburgh - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Newington, Edinburgh – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

6. Broughton

Broughton is an ancient feudal barony located northeast of Edinburgh’s New Town, west of Leith Walk and South of Pilrig.

Centred around Broughton Street, this quarter is located at the heart of Edinburgh’s “pink triangle“, an area with a large number of gay bars and clubs.

Some landmarks in the area include the 1920s theatre Edinburgh Playhouse, the 18th-century Gayfield House and the former Mansfield Place Church.

Broughton is a central area to stay in Edinburgh. It is within walking distance from the New Town and Calton Hill, as well as the York Place tram stop. Bus lines connecting the different streets in the area include routes 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 25, 26, 44 and 49.

Central area to stay in Edinburgh - Broughton St
Central area to stay in Edinburgh – Broughton St
Accommodation in Broughton, Edinburgh - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Broughton, Edinburgh – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

7. Stockbridge

Located directly north of the city centre, Stockbridge is a quaint area filled with Georgian and Victorian terraced houses.

Its charming small village atmosphere has long attracted artists and young professionals, giving the area a bohemian vibe.

The main tourist attraction in this quarter is Stockbridge Market, a Sunday food market offering artisanal goods from local producers and international street food.

On its northern edge, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh features manicured gardens with greenhouses, exotic plants and cafes.

Raeburn Place is the area’s main shopping, dining and nightlife street. It is also where most bus stops are located.

Top areas for tourists in Edinburgh, UK - Stockbridge
Top areas for tourists in Edinburgh, UK – Stockbridge
Accommodation in Stockbridge, Edinburgh - Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Stockbridge, Edinburgh – Click on the map to see all the available accommodation in this area

8. Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport is an international airport located in the Ingliston area of Edinburgh, 10 km west of the city centre.

The busiest airport in Scotland and sixth-busiest in the United Kingdom, Edinburgh is a major base for Ryanair, EasyJet, Loganair, Jet2 and TUI Airways.

Edinburgh Airport offers hundreds of daily connections to Scotland, the rest of the United Kingdom, Ireland and continental Europe, as well as a handful of long-haul flights to the United States, Canada and the Middle East.

The airport is served by several bus routes and Edinburgh Trams. The tram system runs from the airport and across Edinburgh’s western suburbs to its terminus in the city centre.


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