Best Kept Secrets in Edinburgh, Scotland

The team at Edinburgh Language Centre have put together their top 10 recommendations of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets to help you get off the beaten tourist track:

Roof Terrace, National Museum of Scotland. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic.

1. National Museum of Scotland Roof Terrace

See beautiful views of Edinburgh from the hidden roof terrace at the top of the National Museum of Scotland, giving you a unique perspective of the city’s chimneys and rooftops. To maintain its secrecy, the roof terrace is hard to find once you enter the museum, creating the perfect opportunity to practise your English by asking one of the guides! 


2. Tupiniquim

Order a delicious crêpe and fresh juice from Fernando’s gluten-free kiosk ‘Tupiniquim’ at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. The Brazilian kiosk has a relaxed and friendly vibe, and sometimes they even play live music!


Dunbar’s Close Garden, © Copyright Jim Barton, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic.

3. Queen Street’s Speakeasies

Enjoy a cocktail in two of Edinburgh’s best speakeasies: Bramble and Panda & Sons. Located on each end of Queen Street, two streets down from Edinburgh Language Centre, one cocktail bar is hidden away in a New Town basement and the other has the façade of a barbershop.  Well known amongst Edinburgh locals, they fill up quickly and it is worth going early to make sure you get in!


4. Dunbar’s Close Garden

Located just off Edinburgh’s bustling Royal Mile is the 17th century secret garden of Dunbar’s Close. The garden is on the Canongate on the Palace end of the Royal Mile, and it is often missed by tourists as it looks the same as every other Royal Mile passageway. It is open to the public and full of beautifully attended flowers, trees and plants, with benches for a sunny day!   


The Dome, © Pixabay CC Public Domain

5. The Dome

Visit the Georgian Tea Room on the first floor of The Dome, a luxury venue located on George Street, just two minutes from Edinburgh Language Centre. Here you can try a traditional Afternoon Tea complete with finger sandwiches, scones, sweet pastries, loose-leaf tea and a glass of champagne.

6. Edinburgh Ceilidh Club

Try out a real Scottish Ceilidh at the Edinburgh Ceilidh Club in Newington. Ceilidh dancing is a fun traditional Scottish dance popular with people of all ages and abilities, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the moves as there is normally a Caller who will tell you what to do! Ceilidhs run at Summerhall every Tuesday and tickets can be bought at the door.



Roseleaf © Copyright Kim Traynor and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic

7. Can You Escape

Attempt to save the International Space Station at Can You Escape, as you and your team are tasked with the important mission of fixing the Station’s escape pod before it is too late!  

8. Roseleaf

Enjoy a good Sunday Roast, freshly baked goodies, brunches or just a cup of tea at the Roseleaf bar and café, situated in the historic Port of Leith. Roseleaf is run by a friendly family who have decorated it with their own random treasures and curiosities – there is even a selection of hats that you can try on!


Cramond Falls © Copyright Jim Barton and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic

9. Greyfriar’s Kirkyard

Better than trying to find a spot in the busy and touristy Elephant House where J.K. Rowling is said to have written parts of Harry Potter, why not head around the corner to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, where you will find the grave of a certain Thomas Riddell! And if you search carefully, you may also find a grave for a McGonagall, right next to the gates of the school that inspired Hogwarts.  The entrance to the Kirkyard is located just opposite the National Museum of Scotland mentioned in recommendation #1!


10. Cramond Falls Café

Jump on the 41 bus from Princes Street to the seaside area of Cramond, an old fishing village in the north-west of Edinburgh. If you follow the path into the village you will eventually come across Cramond Falls, Edinburgh’s mini Niagara!  Next to the falls there is a lovely café which used to be a 17th Century Grain Mill, with outdoor seating for sunny days and an indoor log fire for the autumn and winter months.


Read more blogs: Top 10 free activities in Edinburgh

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