With the end of term approaching and the holidays creeping closer and closer, many of us are beginning to take a day off from academic commitments and rigour to venture up to Edinburgh. With the Christmas market, skating rinks and extensive shopping opportunities it’s a perfect day out and escape from university life. As the festive season takes over the city, it will truly be one of the highlights of your term.
One of the best parts about visiting at this time of year is all of the food and restaurant experiences on offer. The city boasts an array of restaurants, cafes, and food trucks that might just make your Durham regulars seem like a distant memory. With so many tantalising options beckoning you during your visit, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. Fear not, for I’ve got your back! In this guide, I’ll walk you through my guide to eating your way through a day trip to Edinburgh that is sure to please.
Brunch and Lunch
If you take a morning train from Durham you’ll arrive in Edinburgh just in time to sit down and fuel up before venturing out to face the Christmas market – here are my three favourite suggestions.
- Scran: Quite possibly my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh, Scran does a brunch that is absolutely to die for, and this isn’t a compliment I give lightly. Only ten minutes from the train station, and on your way up to the Royal Mile, it’s a perfect stop right when you arrive in the city. It can get busy and they don’t always take reservations, but waiting in the line is worth it and it tends to move quickly.
- Edinburgh Larder: For a cosy atmosphere and focus on fresh local produce and delicious food, the Edinburgh Larder is a perfect choice. With two sister cafes side by side, the main cafe does take reservations and I would recommend making one if you have your heart set on visiting here, however the sister cafe, The Little Larder, has a walk-in only basis and is a great choice if you want to keep your plans flexible, also offering take-away.
- Scotts Kitchen: In the heart of Edinburgh Old Town, Scotts Kitchen is a great option to keep in mind throughout the day – only steps off the Royal Mile and away from the Castle.They are open from 9, and have breakfast and lunch menus that have a little something for everyone, so it’s a perfect stop at any point in the day – whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Coffee Shops and Cafes
Your day in Edinburgh is sure to be spent wandering around the city, but it’s all too easy to start feeling a little chilly or worse, hangry. It’s always a good idea to step inside for a coffee break or snack to keep you going through the day.
- The Milkman: With a number of locations around the city, you are almost certain to run into The Milkman at some point and I would suggest you venture inside. Known for specialty coffees, their locations are beautiful and their pastries well worth a try. I will say if you’re looking for a sweet iced coffee this might not be the place for you, as they tend to do things like a classic iced latte best.
- Babyfaced Baker: *Sweet Treats*. If you are like me and live from one sweet treat to the next, you absolutely have to stop here. Creative flavours and so many options, it’s my favourite bakery in town. Everything is delicious and usually reasonably priced, and I find it’s a great afternoon stop for when you’re starting to get even slightly hangry and need motivation to keep going. They also offer many vegan options.
A trip to the Christmas market is never complete without a compulsory hot chocolate. While the market is filled with food stalls and you’ll pass a hot chocolate option every two steps, what you’ll find in the market is usually overpriced and you’ll be certain to find better by venturing slightly further out. Honeycomb & Co is by far the best you’re going to find and they often offer limited-edition takeaway options, however it lies further from the city centre than your typical day’s activities may plan on taking you. If this is the case, I’d send you to Söderberg, a Swedish cafe and bakery with 7 locals around the city, who make aromatic hot chocolates with a nice scandi twist to a classic.
Depending on what time your train home is (and how much you’ve already ate through the day) dinner can be as big or as small as you want it to be. It’s easy to grab something small and quick as you rush back to the train station but if you want to sit down and round out your day with one final meal, here’s where I would recommend.
- Mowgli: If you haven’t heard of Mowgli by now, it’s time that you did. With locations up and down the country, Mowgli offers traditional Indian street food in gorgeous restaurants. It’s a perfect stop for a nice dinner out to end your day with a warm and carefully crafted atmosphere. I will say it is a more expensive dinner option and I’d really only suggest it if you’re looking for a full sit-down dinner and want to take advantage of the options outside of Durham – if you’re looking for a quick grab and go this isn’t your best option.
- Wing Stop: Realistically, sometimes the best food after a long day slogging around the city is some guilt-free fried chicken to eat-in or take with you and enjoy on the train back to Durham. I love visiting Wing Stop in Edinburgh because it’s an option we don’t have in Durham and it becomes a choose-your-own-adventure with countless flavours, dips and meal options.
- Vittoria on the Bridge: Can you ever go wrong with italian? Comfortable, easy and definite to please, Vittoria on the Bridge as a perfect default dinner option to end your day. They have an extensive menu and do the classics well. The restaurant is typically full and bustling with a nice busy atmosphere. It’s also only minutes from the train station which makes it perfect if you want to sit down before rushing off to catch your train back to Durham.
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