Scotland’s capital is famous for a few things, namely medieval castles, Gothic churches, and excellent pub scene.
But let’s not forget that this city seamlessly combines historic and modern features. Here you can explore historical sights and gaudy architecture by day, dine at a trendy restaurant, and explore the city by night, indulging at old pubs and new micro-gin distilleries.
Divided into five districts, Edinburgh is home to a number of distinct neighborhoods, so you’ll want to know where to stay in Edinburgh before you show up.
Not sure where to stay in Edinburgh? No worries, we’ve covered our favorite 5 neighborhoods below, and what type of traveler each one suits. No matter your travel style, you can be sure there’s a place for you.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Edinburgh
- Where to Stay in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Edinburgh
- 1. Old Town Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for your First Visit
- 2. West End Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Edinburgh on a Budget
- 3. Grassmarket Neighborhood – Where to stay in Edinburgh for Nightlife
- 4. Stockbridge Neighborhood – Coolest Place to Stay in Edinburgh
- 5. New Town Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Edinburgh
- Where to stay in Edinburgh first time – Old Town
- Where to stay in Edinburgh on a budget – West End
- Best area to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife – Grassmarket
- Coolest place to stay in Edinburgh – Stockbridge
- Best neighbourhood in Edinburgh for families – New Town
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Walk the famous Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace
- See art from the Royal Collection at the Queen’s Gallery
- Pop into Gladstone’s Land to view the impressive painted ceiling
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland. Be sure to check out our guide on Edinburgh’s best hostels, too!
Best Hostel in Edinburgh: The Hostel
This fun and funky hostel is the best in Edinburgh. Located in the West End neighborhood, this hostel is close to public transit and is a short walk to the city center.
Comprised of private and dorm-style rooms, this hostel offers a range of accommodation options for travelers of all budget and styles. Enjoy clean rooms, comfortable surroundings and a range of modern amenities at this West End Hostel.
Best Hotel in Edinburgh: Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street
This hotel is a comfortable and convenient home base for families travelling to Edinburgh.
Located in the New Town neighbourhood, this hotel is a short walk to the city’s main attractions, including restaurants, parks, and family-friendly activities. Featuring spacious rooms and comfortable beds, this hotel is equipped with all the essentials for a great stay in Edinburgh.
Best Airbnb in Edinburgh: Royal Mile Tower Apartment
This stunning one-bedroom apartment is located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Housed in an 18th-century tower, this modern flat is just steps from the Castle, Grassmarket and many of the city’s main attractions.
Enjoy spacious rooms, comfortable beds and unbeatable views at this fantastic Airbnb. With a queen bed and a pull-out sofa, this flat is perfect for couples or small families.
Check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!
Edinburgh Neighborhood Guide
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Edinburgh
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Edinburgh is the capital and second largest city in Scotland. It is located in the Central Belt region of the country, more than 530 kilometres north of London.
Home to more than 450,000 people, Edinburgh is a city that seamlessly combines historic and modern features. It is where futuristic museums, medieval castles, modern shopping malls and Gothic churches all co-exist and complement each other.
From eating infamous haggis to wandering the royal mile to relaxing in a pub after a long day of sightseeing, there’s so much to see, do and experience in Edinburgh.
Divided into five districts, Edinburgh is home to a number of distinct neighbourhoods. To help you plan your trip to Edinburgh, this guide will break down the must-see, can’t-miss attractions by interest.
The side-by-side districts of Old Town and New Town make up the historical and cultural heart of the city. Dating back hundreds of years, this is where you’ll find stunning gothic architecture, imposing medieval castles, and most of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Set within Old Town, but offering a completely different vibe, is Grassmarket. This small neighbourhood is where you’ll find Edinburgh’s liveliest spots.
We think this is where to stay in Edinburgh for the city’s best nightlife. From charming pubs to bustling clubs, stay here if you’re looking for a wild and vibrant night out.
North of New Town and the city centre is the residential and bohemian neighbourhood of Stockbridge. One of the coolest neighbourhoods in the city, this is where you’ll find hip independent boutiques, innovative restaurants, and eye-catching architecture.
Still not sure where to stay in Edinburgh? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered below.
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a small and compact city that is best explored on foot. No matter where you stay, you’ll be able to visit the city’s various neighbourhoods with relative ease.
Depending on the nature of your visit, some neighbourhoods will be better suited to you and your interests.
Do you want to drink the night away in a charming Scottish pub? Maybe you want to indulge in the city’s innovative culinary scene. Or, perhaps, you want to explore the cultural and historic side of the city.
Below are the best neighbourhoods in Edinburgh, broken down by interest.
When visiting Edinburgh for the first time, there’s no better place to stay than Old Town. The historic heart of the city, Old Town Edinburgh dates back to the early 12th century.
Along with New Town, Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its well-preserved architecture and charm.
In this section of the city, you’ll find the majority of Edinburgh’s historical attractions. From the medieval Edinburgh Castle to royal Holyrood, there is plenty to see and do here.
For anyone interested in exploring the heritage and cultural side of the Scottish capital, this is the place to stay in Edinburgh.
Things to See and Do in Old Town Edinburgh
– See a great mix of modern and historical artefacts and exhibitions at the National Museum of Scotland.
– Visit Camera Obscura and World of Illusions for a fun day of quirky optical illusions and 360-degree views of the city.
– Walk the famous Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
– Visit Edinburgh Castle, a majestic royal fortress perched atop one of the city’s highest point.
– Explore the Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, a royal residence and one-time home of Mary Queen of Scots.
– See art from the Royal Collection at the Queen’s Gallery.
– Explore Edinburgh’s dark history at the Edinburgh Dungeon, which features 11 shows and two rides.
– Visit St. Giles’ Cathedral, the historic City Church of Edinburgh and an architecturally impressive structure.
– Enjoy spectacular views of the city from North Bridge.
– Pop into Gladstone’s Land to view the impressive painted ceiling.
Best Hostel in Old Town: Castle Rock Hostel
Set in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle, you won’t find a better hostel in Old Town. Clean, spacious and carefully decorated, this hostel offers private rooms, as well as mixed- and same-sex dorms.
Featuring a large kitchen, several lounges and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, this hostel is the perfect place to meet fellow travellers and an ideal base for exploring Edinburgh.
This is definitely one of our top picks for where to stay in Edinburgh city center!
Best Hotel in Old Town: Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge – Royal Mile
Located in the heart of Old Town, this is one of the best hotels in Old Town Edinburgh because it is within walking distance of all of Edinburgh’s top attractions, great restaurants and more.
Its modern rooms are outfitted with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and tea and coffee making facilities. This three-star hotel is near public transit, making excursions throughout Edinburgh and Scotland simple and convenient.
Located west of the city centre is the aptly named West End neighbourhood. It is one of the most desirable districts in the city and home to some of its wealthiest residents.
But there’s another side to the West End. Home to the Edinburgh Zoo and a number of sporting facilities, the West End is also where you’ll find some of the best budget accommodation options. Whether you’re looking for a boutique hotel or a backpacker hostel, the West End is where you’ll find it.
Things to See and Do in West End Edinburgh
– Learn about the history of Gin and how it’s distilled at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery, a feast for both the mind and the palette.
– Pick-up fresh produce, including local fruits, vegetables, meat and fish at the weekly Edinburgh Farmer’s Market.
– Explore Georgian House, a fully restored historical home.
– See impressive and beautiful architecture and stunning stained glass windows at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
– Enjoy an entertaining and high-quality performance at the Lyceum Theatre. If there are no shows on the docket, pop in to see the impressive architecture and elegant décor.
– Catch a rugby match at Murrayfield Stadium, home of Scottish rugby.
– See the world famous penguin parade at the Edinburgh Zoo.
– Relax in the shade at Suntrap Garden, a three-acre green space comprised of gardens, woodlands, peat and rocks.
– Walk or cycle the Water of Leith Walkway, a riverside route that travels through the city and out to the sea.
– Enjoy delicious food at First Coast, a delightful neighbourhood bistro.
Best Hostel in the West End: The Hostel
This fun and funky hostel is the best in Edinburgh. Located in the West End neighbourhood, this hostel is close to public transit and is a short walk to the city centre.
Comprised of private and dorm-style rooms, this hostel offers a range of accommodation options for travellers of all budget and styles. Enjoy clean rooms, comfortable surroundings and a range of modern amenities at this West End Hostel.
Best Hotel in West End: Cityroomz Edinburgh
Cityroomz Edinburgh is a cosy, contemporary hotel in the West End. Located near the Gin Distillery, this hotel is a short walk from Edinburgh Castle and many of the city’s top tourist attractions.
It is close to public transit and even provides guests with an airport shuttle. This three-star hotel features a coffee bar and on-site laundry, and each room is outfitted with modern amenities including tea and coffee supplies.
The Grassmarket is a small and unique neighbourhood located in the heart of Edinburgh. Although technically part of Old Town, the Grassmarket area has a distinct flair and atmosphere that makes it feel like its a world of its own.
A historic marketplace and event space, Grassmarket was also the site of many public executions. For hundreds of years, it was a gathering place for the citizens of Edinburgh.
Today, this small neighbourhood is where you’ll find the city’s liveliest nightlife. From vibrant clubs to intimate pubs, Grassmarket is where to stay if you’re looking for a fun night out in Edinburgh.
Need more boozy inspiration? Here are Edinburgh’s best pubs.
Things to See and Do in Grassmarket
– Visit the pubs most frequented by your favourite authors, writers and poets on the entertaining and informative Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour.
– Enjoy a pint and a traditional Scottish pub night at the Last Drop.
– Learn how whisky is made, and even make some yourself, at the Scotch Whisky Experience.
– Step back in time and enjoy urbane cocktails and elegant 20s décor at the Dragonfly Cocktail Bar.
– Enjoy a great atmosphere and live music at Whistle Binkies.
– Visit the White Hart Inn, one of the oldest and most historical pubs in the city, a favourite of poet Robert Burns back in the day.
– Dance the night away at the Hive, home to six of Edinburgh’s famous underground caverns where dance to a variety of musical styles.
– Enjoy live music in Sneaky Pete’s a cosy, rustic bar.
– Grab a pint at Maggie Dickson’s Pub, named for the infamous criminal who, as legend has it, came back to life after her hanging in the Grassmarket square.
– Spend a night at Espionage, a grand nightclub where you have five floors of music, drinks and dancing to choose from.
Best Hostel in Grassmarket: Kick Ass Hostel
This hostel is the best in the Grassmarket neighbourhood. It is located in the centre and is surrounded by bars, pubs and restaurants.
It is also just a short walk to Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and many of Edinburgh’s most famous locations. This hostel is comprised of modern rooms with individual bed lights and USB charging and power points. It is clean, comfortable and the staff is very friendly.
Best Hotel in Grassmarket: Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel
Apex City is a colourful and hip hotel located in the centre of the city. Conveniently situated in the Grassmarket neighbourhood, this hotel is close to historical attractions, cultural sights, as well as Edinburgh’s hottest bars and nightclubs. Enjoy modern amenities and luxury features at this four-star hotel in the city.
Stockbridge is a small neighbourhood north of Edinburgh’s city centre. Once a separate community, Stockport merged with the city in the 19th century and quickly became one of Edinburgh’s most popular districts.
Since merging, Stockbridge has retained much of its bohemian vibe, making it one of the coolest places to stay in Edinburgh. This is where you’ll find eye-catching architecture, a range of local and independent shops, and a number of terrific pubs and innovative restaurants.
If you’re looking for an awesome and unique Edinburgh experience, Stockbridge is the place to stay in Edinburgh.
Things to See and Do in Stockbridge Edinburgh
– Wander through the Royal Botanic Garden and see an impressive collection of flowers, plants and trees.
– Enjoy traditional Scottish fare at Hector’s a warm and welcoming pub.
– Explore the artisan crafts and homegrown produce at the Stockbridge Market, which takes place every Sunday afternoon. The Market is also home to a number of quirky and tasty food trucks.
– Wander through the streets and alleys of Dean Village, a charming Scottish village.
– Enjoy a picnic lunch and stunning views in Inverleith Park, one of Scotland’s largest urban parks.
– Visit the National Gallery of Modern Art and see works of art by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Warhol and more. While the art inside is impressive, the grand neoclassical building is worth a viewing alone.
– Dine on tapas-style plates while enjoying a glass of wine at the intimate and innovative Rollo Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Best Hostel in Stockbridge: Belford Hostel
This is one of the most unique hostels in Edinburgh. Housed in a converted church, the hostel’s dorm rooms occupy the old church hall and are illuminated with the stained glass windows. Cool right!?
Offering private and shared accommodations, each bed is equipped with a double power plug and a private storage locker. Centrally located, this hostel is close to public transit as well as the city’s major tourist attractions. You can’t go wrong staying here!
Best Hotel in Stockbridge: Edinburgh Thistle Hotel
This charming and historic hotel is a great place to stay if you’re interested in exploring Stockbridge. Centrally located, it is a 10-minute walk from public transit as well as many of the area’s top sights.
It features an on-site restaurant and cosy lounge bar, with many restaurant, bar and pub options nearby. Enjoy modern facilities and a myriad of amenities at this three-star Edinburgh hotel.
New Town makes up the other half of Edinburgh’s city centre. Settled in the late-18th century, this part of the city is where you’ll find stunning buildings in the Georgian architectural style. It’s also home to Edinburgh’s commercial and main shopping districts.
New Town is also one of the best places to stay in Edinburgh for families because it’s close to all of the city’s major tourist attractions and home to a number of activities for kids of all ages.
Things to See and Do in New Town Edinburgh
– Visit the National Gallery of Scotland and see Scottish works of art and exhibitions.
– Climb Carlton Hill to browse the monuments and take in great views of the city.
– Wander through Princes Street Gardens, a small urban greenspace that borders both Old and New Town.
– Go shopping along Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare.
– Enjoy fish ’n’ chips and a whole lot more at Rapido, an Edinburgh staple.
– Using games and puzzle solving, try to beat the clock and escape before time runs out at Escape Edinburgh New Town.
– View the collection of painting, photos, sculpture, and film that highlight key figures in Scotland’s history at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
– Feel like a kid again by browsing the toy department at Jenner’s department store.
– Grab a cone and enjoy some of the best ice cream in Edinburgh at Mary’s Milk Bar.
Best Hostel in New Town: CODE Pod Hostel
Enjoy maximum comfort at this New Town Edinburgh hostel. Each dorm bed is housed in its own private nook giving guests semi-private accommodations.
The hostel also features a full kitchen and contemporary lounge. Located in the heart of the city, it is close to Edinburgh’s main train station as well as the city’s most famous attractions.
Best Hotel in New Town: Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street
This hotel is a comfortable and convenient home base for families travelling to Edinburgh. Located in the New Town neighbourhood, it is a short walk to the city’s main attractions, including restaurants, parks, activities and attractions.
Featuring spacious rooms and comfortable beds, this hotel is equipped with all the essentials for a great stay in Edinburgh.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Possibly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Edinburgh is full of gothic and medieval architecture, churches, and castles. There is another side of Edinburgh though, full of trendy shops and places to dine. Here are 20 great things to do in Edinburgh for ultimate inspiration.
Still not sure where to stay in Edinburgh? We think the fun and funky The Hostel is one of the best hostels in Edinburgh because of its location, close to the city center. It also offers plenty of options for travelers of all budgets.
Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street is a great hotel if you want a comfortable hotel in the New Town area, close to attractions, restaurants, parks, and more.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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Need More Inspiration?
- Backpacking Europe Travel Guide: Itineraries, Travel Tips, & More
- The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Scotland On Any Budget
- Backpacking Edinburgh on a Budget
- 20 Best Hostels in Edinburgh | The Broke Backpacker
- Backpacking Europe Travel Guide
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