As the capital city of Scotland and one of the most incredible destinations in the United Kingdom, it should come as no surprise that Edinburgh is a major tourism destination for travelers around the world. The majority of visitors will spend much of their time in this Scottish city exploring the handful of popular attractions that make it into every guidebook. While the Edinburgh Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral and the Museum of Scotland are all incredible landmarks that you certainly don’t want to miss, there is more to this city than just the major attractions. If you would rather get an inside look at the people and the culture, as well as experience the quirky and offbeat side of Edinburgh, then use this guide for some great off the beaten track things to do in the city.
The Stones of Scotland: One of the most interesting landmarks in the city is found in the Regent Road Park. Called the Stones of Scotland, it is a collection of rocks from all around the nation of Scotland, and each one represents a different county. It is a modern art piece, but what makes it especially interesting is its location. The Stones of Scotland offer visitors an incredible view over Arthur’s Seat and the Scottish Parliament, yet there are rarely any crowds. If the weather is nice, have a picnic here to enjoy some of the best opportunities for taking scenic pictures in Edinburgh.
Quirky Shopping at Grassmarket: The area known as Grassmarket is actually located just minutes from the base of the Edinburgh Castle, but it is anything but touristy. Believe it or not, this was once the area where hangings took place under Scottish law, so the Grassmarket still has a slightly odd and offbeat feel. If you are interested in picking up some unusual souvenirs from the city, then Grassmarket is the perfect place. Just a few of the notable shops in the area include the vintage clothing store Armstrongs, a bookstore called Avalanche and an incredible store called The Red Door Gallery, which sells great gifts and very unusual items.
Old Calton Burial Ground: If you are into the slightly spooky and paranormal, or even if you just like history, you’ll want to see the Old Calton Burial Ground. This cemetery is located in the heart of Edinburgh, but few travelers ever learn about it. There are plenty of unusual stories that revolve around those buried in this cemetery, which is the final resting place of many political figures and philosophers like David Hume.
Discover a Private Island: Cramond Island is a small island that is located roughly one mile out to sea away from Edinburgh. Incredibly, there is a way to access the island on foot, but only for a few hours at a time. When the time is low, it is possible to make the journey in about 15 or 20 minutes. When the tide comes in, however, any trace of the pathway is gone and there can be up to five feet of water in its place. If you are able to check the tides, make the journey over two hours before the point of the lowest tide. This gives you three hours to walk over, tour the incredible remains of World War II battles and then make the return journey safely.
All of these suggestions are great ways to get off the beaten track and see a different side of Edinburgh. If you want to give your tastes buds a wake up call while you are there, head to any chippy, or fish and chips shop, and order deep-fried haggis. This odd entree is something your won’t forget!