Travel inspiration and insider tips

7 years, 6 months ago

HouseTrip’s Guide to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

Edinburgh is famous for many things – its dramatic castle, the lively Fringe Festival in August and the biggest party of the year, Hogmanay. But one of the city’s most famous areas, the Royal Mile, is often wandered along without being truly explored.  This guide to the best old and new sights that line the Royal Mile should help you do that.

Image © Laszlo Ilyes

The Royal Mile refers to the succession of pedestrianised streets that navigate across Edinburgh’s Old Town connecting Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace at the other. Though the single thoroughfare of the Royal Mile is made up of four main different streets (Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate) many use the term Royal Mile to also include many more small lanes and closes that sneak away from the main street.

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – Image © Nick Lucey

Image © Nick Lucey

Image © Vivido

The architecture is mostly Victorian in a very distinct style that can be seen clearly in the Church at Castlehill, which unsurprisingly is the section of the street that leads away from the Castle.

Edinburgh Old Town  – Image © Stephen Baines

Image © Tawcan

Start your tour of the Royal Mile as you mean to go on by popping into the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Old Distillery Close or experience a more bewitching tour of the area with a Witchery Tour, which starts from the foot of the Castle.

Image © Jack Zalium

On Lawnmarket, you can see an example of a fortified close if you pop your head down Riddell’s Close. Lawnmarket takes its name from its history as a 17th century linen market and there are many other historic sights and houses here including the Writers’ Museum, which celebrates the life and works of three of Scotland’s most famous authors and poets Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott.

Edinburgh Writers’ Museum – Image © Das Sabrinchen

Wash down all the literature and history you absorb with a pint in the Ensign Ewart, one of the oldest pubs on the Royal Mile and in Edinburgh.

Image © Sean Murray

Image © David Jones

Admire and take some photos of Parliament Square or enjoy some of the street performers that regularly gather here before then strolling on to the High Street section of the Royal Mile.

Image © Robert Smith

Image © Edinburgh Blog

It must be nearly lunchtime at this point and luckily you’re in the right place. High Street caters for many options including pizza at the unglamorous but reliably delicious Gordon’s Trattoria, traditional Scottish food at the brilliantly named Angels & Bagpipes and to keep the whisky theme going check out Whiski – a highly rated gastro pub. High Street is also where you can find the Police Museum, one of the Royal Mile’s more unusual and interesting museums, which is still a working police station.

Canongate is the final section of the Royal Mile and although shops line the Royal Mile, here is where you’ll find some of the best independent boutiques and stores. Ragamuffin takes Edinburgh wool which the city is famous for and makes it cool and crafty with modern knits and patterns to buy, The Soap Co. sells all natural skincare products and Hilary’s Bazaar is where you can find everything you need to start learning belly dancing (you could even take a lesson!).

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh – Image © Beth

After you’ve walked all the way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and had a wander around the regally restored chambers and grand gardens, head back on to Canongate for a well deserved final refreshment; either a coffee at the Has Bean Coffee House, a cup of tea at Clarinda’s Tearoom or something stronger at one of the many old pubs that line the street, the White Horse perhaps being the coziest of them all.

 Clarinda’s Tearoom – Image © Ian Wright

Inside Clarinda’s Tearoom – Image © Ian Wright

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  • Gilberto says:

    I am Brazilian but I love scotland.
    It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world

  • Antonia Craig says:

    My husband and I were exploring the Royal Mile area and strolled down a “close”…St James maybe??? I forget the name of the close but heavens above I’ll never ever forget an experience and the “vibe” that emanated out of that street, it was extreme, black,evil,crushing …….I was out of there in a trice! Then at the entrance was a female spirit dressed all in white saying, “You’ll be alright”. I stood there on the main street for a few moments, crowds of people swirling past me, feeling very bewildered and disorientated. My husband gently took my hand and said, “Come on let’s carry on” and the experience was over, thankfully. Very odd, very scary!

  • Christy Carton says:

    We just love Edinburgh and all of Scotland. Have spent time with local Scots when we volunteered with the National Trust for Scotland as Thistle Camp volunteers. A fantastic experience where you get to visit and work behind the scenes at some of the most outstanding castles, museums and properties in Scotland. Volunteers are all ages and we have learned so much about gardening and history. Check it out!

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