The Great City Swap
About the Great City Swap
Big days. Bigger nights. Just 55 minutes away.
Swap your salt and sauce for salt and vinegar. Or the Royal Mile for the Style Mile. Our Great City Swap is back, with low fares to tempt you east to Edinburgh’s wonders – or west to Glasgow’s delights.
Just buy your tickets and hop on the train – city centre to city centre. The other side of Scotland is calling, and it’s less than an hour away. Who’s coming?
See the hottest art and culture spots – and tucked-away wonders. Get the inside track on new bars and test-of-time restaurants. Explore. Shop. Party. Your carriage awaits.
An elaborate collection of tombs and monuments spread across 37 acres, with far-reaching views over Glasgow and beyond.
The architecture alone is enough to keep you busy, as you trace the history of Glasgow’s most influential families – merchants, entrepreneurs, philanthropists. Book a walking tour with a guide to get a real insight into the history of the place – or head up on a clear day for an absorbing afternoon walk.
You’ll find it on the hill behind Glasgow Cathedral, in Glasgow’s east end. Walk east from Queen Street Station along George Street, and follow signs to the cathedral. It takes around 15 minutes to walk there – half that if you get off at High Street station.
Castle St, Glasgow G4 0UZ
On Sunday 15 October, Songwriters’ Circle will bring together three outstanding performers from the Scottish folk scene: James Yorkston, Kris Drever, and Withered Hand.
Each artist has drawn glowing praise from everyone who matters, from BBC Music to NME. They’ll be on stage together, sharing songs and stories – a chance to discover a little of the magic behind the music.
And if you fancy a bit to eat beforehand, book a table at fish restaurant A’Challtainn, which has just won the List’s Best Newcomer Award.
Find both at Barras Art and Design (BAAD), on Moncur Street, south of Gallowgate – about 25 minutes on foot from Glasgow Queen Street. You’ll need to book tickets for the music – doors open at 6pm.
54 Calton Entry, Glasgow G40 2SB
The Italian Caffe
Inspired by the enotecas of Italy, The Italian Caffe is Glasgow’s first wine library.
There are 34 Italian wines to choose from, and 25 are available by the glass – so you can try a supple, smoky Valpolicella without shelling out for a whole bottle. It’s not all wine either – small plates include medallions of fillet steak, mini pizzas, and mama’s classic parmigiana.
Find it on Albion Street in the Merchant City – roughly 15 minutes from Glasgow Queen Street, or just around the corner from High Street station.
92 Albion Street, Glasgow, G1 1NY
Provands Lordship Museum
Explore a little pocket of ancient life in the city, and admire a collection of 17th century furniture.
One of only four surviving medieval buildings in Glasgow, Provand’s Lordship was built in 1471. The St Nicholas garden is special too: you’ll find an arrangement of knot box hedges and medicinal herbs, just what you’d expect from a 15th century garden. Look out for the Tontine Heads too – carved faces in the cloisters.
It’s a 15-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street – head east along George Street, turn up High St and it’s on your left, just before the cathedral. Prefer a shorter walk? Catch a train to High St from the lower lever platforms at Queen Street, and head up the road from there. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday.
3 Castle St, Glasgow G4 0RH
Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn
Get yourself to Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn for exotic cocktails and Thai food, Glasgow style.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to relax in a peacock chair with a Zombie, you’ll be right at home in the Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn.
It’s well worth the 12-minute walk from Queen Street station, and a lot closer than Singapore, where their Slings come from. Cocktails are served in authentic ceramic Tiki mugs.
If you get peckish, pop upstairs to the Kitsch Inn where a range of Thai favourites are on offer.
The bar’s open from 11am until midnight every day; food is served 5pm-9pm.
214 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HW
The shop of interest
The shop of interest is one of those welcoming places that’s packed full of small and not-so-small gifts and treats.
It's in the heart of the fashionable Finnieston area, around 25 minutes’ walk from Glasgow Queen Street.
Their collection of original artwork and limited-edition prints has lots to offer. You’ll also find a selection of jewellery, housewares and accessories; much of it is produced by local artists and designers.
The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am-5pm, and sometimes on Sundays too.
1058 Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8LY
Mother India's Cafe
If ‘name a great Indian restaurant in Glasgow’ was a question in Family Fortunes, we’re pretty certain that Mother India would be one of the top answers.
Don’t be fooled by the name though, this café isn’t about a quick coffee and a slice of cheesecake. It serves up the same delicious Indian dishes as its sister restaurant but with a twist — it’s all about tapas-sized portions.
Right across the road from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, you can walk there in around 30 minutes from Queen Street. It’s open every day from noon until 10pm, and till a little later on weekends.
28 Westminster Terrace, Glasgow G3 7RU
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Glasgow Botanic Gardens is in the heart of the west end.
The centrepiece of the park is the Kibble Palace, a magnificent circular glasshouse choc-full of plants – including some absolute giants.
But it’s not just for horticulturists. There are walks to be taken along the side of the River Kelvin, and a tearoom when it’s time for a break.
There’s also a children’s play area within the gardens and a heritage trail with almost 30 points of interest along the way.
From Glasgow Queen Street, take the subway to Hillhead – the park entrance is at the top of Byres Road. From Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery it’s around 15 minutes’ walk.
730 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 0UE
Kelvingrove Park has been a destination for Glasgow folk since 1852, and still promises a great day out for all the family.
On sunny days you’ll be competing with the locals for sought after picnic real estate.
What can you do there? You could start with an energetic game of tennis or a more leisurely game of bowls. Your kids can burn up some energy in one of the two play areas, or do their stuff in the skatepark.
Don’t forget to stop at the refurbished bandstand and amphitheatre. International stars who have played recently at this 1920s outdoor venue include Brian Wilson, Pixies, Chic and Van Morrison.
If you’re walking there from Glasgow Queen Street it will take you around 30 minutes. Take the train to Charing Cross Glasgow or the Subway from Buchanan Street to Kelvinhall if you want to cut down on your walking time.
Glasgow G3 6BY
TriBeCa brings a slice of the Big Apple to the streets of Glasgow’s west end.
You and your family will get a warm welcome at this bustling restaurant, which is renowned for its generous portions.
They’ve got different menus for lunch and dinner - both have a distinct New York theme, with dishes such as the Harlem chicken and waffle, Manhattan Grand Slam and the Original Brooklyn. There’s a kids menu too offering child-size portions.
You can book a table if you’re eating in the evening.
This eatery is on Dumbarton Road, around 15 minutes from the Riverside Museum on foot. If you’re coming from Glasgow Queen Street you can take the train to Partick or the subway to Kelvinhall.
102 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6NX
Riverside Transport Museum
This Zaha Hadid-designed wonder is packed full of transport artefacts – from early bicycles to steam locomotives.
It instantly became one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions when it opened in 2011.
There’s lots for your kids to see and explore. Start off with the recreated street scene, where they can step into ‘shops’ from early in the 20th century, and onto an original Glasgow underground train. Climb onto the platforms of the steam locomotives, interact with over 20 hands-on exhibits. Round it all off by boarding the Tall Ship.
The museum is a ten-minute walk from Partick train station and entry is free, except for entry to the Tall Ship.
100 Pointhouse Place, Glasgow G3 8RS
Cafe St Honore
Art deco flourishes, a mosaic floor and proper linen tablecloths. Restaurants don’t get more stylish that this French-style brasserie.
And the food is even better. Head Chef Neil Forbes comes from a long line of culinary prowess. It shows. He’s fanatical about sourcing local, seasonal produce.
The menu features classic dishes that show off huge amounts of cooking know-how. And he’s so passionate about making food enjoyable, he puts on a new gluten-free and dairy-free menu every day.
Eating here is a no brainer. Finding it isn’t – it’s hidden down a cobbled lane off Thistle Street. But that’s all part of the fun.
34 North West Thistle Street Lane, Edinburgh EH2 1EA
The Caffeine Drip
Fairy lights. Latte art. Food with a South African twist. This independent café and bakery is full of character – and not just in the coffee beans.
They serve a massive selection of sandwiches, salads, flatbreads and soups. A good chunk of the menu is vegetarian, and there are vegan options too. For the true South African experience, go for the boerewors (South African sausage) roll topped with chakalaka.
To get here, get off the train at Haymarket – then it’s a leisurely 15-minute stroll through the Georgian Streets of the West End.
10 Melville Place, Edinburgh EH3 7PR
A fairy-tale village. A magical oasis. However you describe it, Dean Village is a must see – it’s not like any other part of Edinburgh.
This leafy ‘village’ is tucked in a valley just 30 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley. But once you’re here, you can easily forget the city exists at all.
It wasn’t always this way; the riverbanks once boomed with the sound of water mills. Many of those buildings survive – keep your eyes peeled for plaques. From here, follow the Water of Leith east to the cafes and bars of Stockbridge. Head west, and you’ll come to the National Gallery of Modern Art.
Dean Path, Edinburgh EH8 8BH
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Surrealism. Pop art. Abstract. Cubism. The National Modern has it all.
The collection is split over two buildings: Modern One and Modern Two. Visit before 29 October to see Modern Two’s visiting exhibition on British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 30s.
The galleries are joined linked by a beautiful green space that doubles as a backdrop for work from the likes of British sculptor, Henry Moore. It’s a picturesque 30-40 minute walk here from Edinburgh Waverley, or you can take the shuttle bus (£1) from the National Gallery on Princes Street.
It’s free to get in, with a charge for some of the special exhibitions.
75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR
El Toro Loco
Every dish at this Mexican street food bar is put together in front of you – perfect for a family outing because everyone can do their own thing.
Pop in for breakfast and sample the delicious Nutella bread, or grab a tray of nachos and enjoy it with a view of the Grassmarket over lunch.
With little ones or someone who likes things less spicy? No problem: ask the staff about going mild. For older children and grown-ups, the burritos here are a must. Disclaimer: they’re not suitable for anyone who sticks to the rule about never eating anything bigger than your head.
60 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH12JR
Ghosts, Gore & Grime Underground tour for kids.
Every street in Edinburgh has a story to tell. On Mercat Tours’ Ghosts, Gore and Grime tour, you’ll hear them all. Expect creepy characters, terrible torture and all-things-gruesome. But because it’s aimed especially at younger audiences, there’s no risk of nightmares later.
You’ll visit some of the city’s most horrible haunts, including Blair Street’s infamous Underground Vaults – according to local legend there are ghouls galore down there. Mwahahahaha!
The kids’ tour happens in the daytime, making it frightfully good for anyone over five, but it’s just as entertaining for teenagers. Everyone on the tour gets a small gift to take home.
The Mercat Cross, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1RF
Hemma is where you’ll find Edinburgh’s best Swedish fare. Grab a comfy seat and enjoy a Smorgasbord of flavours. Literally.
Make a beeline for this homely café (hemma means ‘home’ in Swedish) from Edinburgh Waverley station – it’s just a 10-minute walk.
Dishes vary from the über healthy avocado, pea and mint smash, to the irresistibly naughty French toast with bacon and maple syrup. And that’s just for brunch. There’s a kids’ menu too, but you won’t necessarily use it – lots of the dishes on the main menu will appeal to younger palates. As will the toys and games you’ll find dotted around the place.
73 Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh EH8 8AU
Lots of Mexican restaurants claim to be authentic. El Cartel is the real deal, right down to the tortillas: freshly hand-pressed on the premises every day.
Admittedly, this Thistle Street restaurant is small – and they don’t take reservations. Worry not. Check in at the door, head across to their sister bar and they’ll call you when your table is ready.
Some dishes you’ll recognise, others are more unexpected – like plantain tacos, or guacamole with sheep’s cheese. The portions aren’t huge, but that’s a blessing – you’ll want to try as many things as possible.
Our tip: bring a few friends and order a generous selection to share.
64 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Put faces to names and look into the eyes of some of the most important figures in Scotland’s history.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has images of everyone from Mary Queen of Scots to James McAvoy.
Even if you’re not normally a fan of art galleries, give this one a go – it’s basically Scotland’s family album. The gallery building is a work of art too – a neo-gothic red sandstone palace. You’ll find it on Queen Street, less than ten minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley.
Visit before 5 November to see ‘Coming Clean’, Scottish photographer Graham MacIndoe’s collection of haunting self-portraits, all taken in the grips of a heroin addiction.
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD
A popular party spot since the 1800s, Merchant Square has no less than nine bars and restaurants to choose from.
The covered courtyard is a great spot to enjoy a drink, but choosing your tipple might be tough. The Beer Café has over 90 beers to choose from, while the Metropolitan mixes up a damn fine cocktail – with resident DJs keeping it lively till late every Friday and Saturday.
It’s a 10-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street Station: strike south west across George Square, and follow Ingram Street to the City Halls and Old Fruitmarket.
Bell Street, Glasgow G1 1NU
Find food and drink for the soul in this converted church – one of Glasgow’s most striking venues, complete with stained glass windows and a 19th century pipe organ.
You’ll find everything for the gastro-hipster on the menu: elaborate burgers, inventive pizzas, and, intriguingly, a ‘Barras Burrito’. The cocktails are excellent too. Check the music listings while you’re there: it serves up a brilliant gig to go with the grub.
You’ll find Saint Luke’s near the Barrowland Ballroom, in the heart of Glasgow’s East End. It’s a 20-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street – head east along Trongate and Gallowgate, and take a right after the Barrowlands.
Calton, 17 Bain Street, Glasgow G40 2JZ
Get behind the scenes at the Tennent’s brewery, home of Scotland’s favourite pint.
You’ll discover a 450-year history of brewing on the site, plus a few secrets behind that classic Tennent’s taste. And is there a free pint at the end? You bet – plus a tasting of some of their award-winning brews.
The brewery is a 16-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street, or five minutes from High Street – head east, and follow the smell of hops. Top tips: book ahead and wear flat shoes (it’s a 90-minute tour, and it involves a fair few steps). Standard price is £10, and there are discounts for students, of course.
Tennent's Factory, 161 Duke Street, Glasgow G31 1JD
Got picky eaters in the family? Head to this pizza joint and everyone can decide exactly which toppings they want, at no extra cost – simple.
It’s a good pizza too: a chewy, tasty sourdough base and toppings like nduja sausage and gorgonzola cheese.
The quirky menu will also amuse more adventurous eaters. The candied bacon starter and blue cheese pizza dip have got our interest.
And did someone say Irn Bru ice cream float?
Find it on St Vincent Street, five minutes from Queen Street station.
90 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5UB
OK, there are lots of shops to explore here, but the main attraction is obviously the LEGO and Build a Bear stores.
Head to these ones first, or use them as an incentive for the kids to sit quietly while you try a few things on in John Lewis.
Buchanan Galleries is slap bang in the middle of Glasgow – and next door to Queen Street Station. There are over 80 shops, restaurants and cafés to keep you busy, and you’ll find everything from retail giants to smaller independents. Ride the escalators to the top floor to find a swathe of milkshake bars, doughnut bakeries and fast food outlets, if you need a treat.
220 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 2FF
Coffee and exceptional pastries, upstairs at Paperchase on Buchanan Street, a few minutes from Queen Street station.
Hands-down, you’ll find the finest egg custard tarts in Glasgow, and a great place to take stock of the day. Or break open the new pens and paper (no one can get through Paperchase without them, can they?), and get arty with the kids.
Find it on Buchanan Street, just moments from Queen Street station – perfect for planning the day, or quick cup of tea before the train home.
229 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 2NG
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Music, the Universe and Everything...
Spend Sunday afternoon exploring the weird worlds of science and music – from the composers who drew inspiration from the universe, to the hidden codes in some of the most famous pieces of music. It’s packed with excitement for anyone over eight years old.
There’ll be big bangs, sonic booms, live experiments and an 80-strong orchestra on stage. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is just moments from Queen Street station – so it’s zero effort to drag the kids along and get them interested in the world of music. Adult tickets are £12, or £6 for under 16s, and the action kicks off at 2:30pm on Sunday 8 October. Bang on!
2 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3NY
The Western Club Restaurant
Contemporary style, classic setting: you’ll find The Western Club Restaurant on Royal Exchange Square, in one of the loveliest public spaces in Glasgow.
The square is beautiful in the day, and even more so at night when it’s lit beneath a blanket of fairy lights. Upstairs at the restaurant, you can dine in the atmosphere of an elegant private club, with a menu that serves up traditional food with an inventive twist.
The location couldn’t really be better, with the Glasgow Style Mile on one side and the Merchant City on the other, it makes an excellent place to stop in between shopping and heading out for drinks. And, of course, it’s a very short walk from Glasgow Queen Street station – just three minutes away.
32 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, G1 3AB
The Restaurant Bar and Grill
Tucked away on the second floor of Princes Square, the Restaurant Bar and Grill’s menu is full of aged beef, fresh seafood, and plenty of seasonal produce.
The chargrill and wood stone oven forms the basis of many of the dishes – and the chefs make everything from the bread to the ice cream. On the bar, you’ll find inventive cocktails, plus a range of beers and wines.
Prince’s Square is less than five minutes on foot from Glasgow Queen Street – and the Restaurant Bar and Grill is open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Princes Square, 48 Buchanan St, Glasgow, G1 3JN
This small but perfectly formed café serves some of the best coffee in the city.
Their cappuccinos are even more special, thanks to a double sprinkling of chocolate (shhh, that’s a secret).
If you can grab a seat at the window, do – Cockburn Street is one of the Old Town’s best spots for people watching.
Just one minute from Waverley station, this is the perfect stop to grab a coffee on your way to, or from, the train.
Top tip: Look for the spectacular hand painted ‘ghost’ sign above the door, it belonged to the confectioners that occupied the building in the early 1900s.
7 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BP
Cockburn Street, just paces from Waverley station, is packed with quirky shops selling things that are a little outside the norm.
Cookie is no exception.
Although everything in this ladies’ clothing store is new, there’s a distinct vintage feel to it all. Those flattering, feminine styles of days gone by are here in abundance – including lines from the likes of Eucalyptus, Yamama, Ruby Walk and Sugarhill. Unusual fabrics and quirky accessories all add to the retro feel.
If you somehow manage not to shop till you drop in Cookie, make sure you explore the rest of Cockburn Street too.
29 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BP
This pub is a great example of why it’s worth venturing down the many lanes that branch off the Royal Mile.
Tucked away in Advocate's Close, this cosy former Victorian pumphouse is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the High Street.
They have an impressive range of cocktails and a food menu packed with modern classics. But the main attraction is a selection of around 200 Scotch whiskies. Spoilt for choice? Ask one of their award-winning bartenders for a recommendation.
When you’ve had your fill of the water of life, heading back to Waverley couldn’t be easier – it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk.
9 Advocate's Close, Edinburgh EH1 1ND
Edinburgh in 101 objects
Treasure hunt meets history tour – Edinburgh’s 101 Objects trail tells Edinburgh’s story in a whole new way.
That’s because the historical objects in question aren’t in one exhibition, but are spread out across the city – from Craiglockhart to Leith, Corstorphine to Craigmillar.
Start with the objects in Haymarket or Waverley, then work your way around the city as you tick off each one – from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s bed, to a book made from William Burke’s skin.
Until recently, there’s only been 100 items in the trail – but the final one has just been decided by public vote. You’ll have to do the trail to find out what it is.
1-3 St Colme Street, Edinburgh EH3 6AA
The Edinburgh Larder
This cheerful café, a well-known name in Edinburgh’s local food movement, is just a ten minute stroll from Waverley.
It's also a mere hop, skip and jump from the Royal Mile.
Bright yellow chairs, and large windows make this an inviting place to stop for a bite to eat. Much of what’s on offer is homemade – from the golden, crunchy granola to the deliciously gooey chutney. The rest is sourced locally and served with flair. The kids’ sandwiches and half portions of soup make this a winner for any family breakfast or lunch.
Top tip: Can’t stop? Grab something from the café’s sister takeaway, Larder Go, next door.
15 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh EH1 1NB
They say you haven’t been the Edinburgh until you’ve been here, so make this top of your to-do list.
From Waverley, it’s just a ten-minute walk.
There’s so much to see, you’ll need several hours to take it all in. The heavily-armed Great Hall, the sumptuous Royal Palace, the glittering Crown Jewels and the legendary Stone of Destiny. Older children will also enjoy the underground vaults, reconstructed to reflect the experiences of European soldiers and seamen, brought here after being captured in ferocious battles.
Visit at lunchtime to hear the unmistakeable ‘boom’ of Mons Meg – better known as the One O'clock Gun.
Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
The Food & Flea Market
The Food and Flea Market is Edinburgh’s newest alternative food and shopping experience.
To find it, leave Waverley thorough the Market Street exit and head east. It takes just over five minutes on foot.
On weekdays, this is a street food market with no permanent pitches, so the menu changes every month. One thing you can always count on is choice – perfect for even the fussiest eaters.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the weekend comes and the area transforms into a full-on flea market. Stalls here sell everything from vintage clothing and antiques to music and craft goods – great for browsing, even better for buying.
Sibbald Walk, New Street, Edinburgh EH8 8FT
Take the Deep Time Machine back to the era of the Big Bang, come face-to-face with a giant dinosaur.
Then see first-hand how our planet has changed over the millennia – from melting glaciers to shrinking rainforests. This interactive adventure through the history of the natural world will keep your kids entertained for hours.
Don’t leave without watching a film at the ShowDome – a 360-degree digital cinema that brings our world to life in a mind-blowing new way. Visit during the October holidays, you’ll find loads of extra activities too, all included in the price of your ticket.
112-116 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS
Monteiths is tucked away down a tiny lane off the Royal Mile, just five minutes’ walk from Waverley.
This award-winning restaurant serves some of the best Scottish food in the city. To find it, follow the sign down a set of stairs off the High Street. If you’re heading there after dark, it’s even easier: just follow the fairy lights.
Inside, the boutique décor and impressive cocktail bar give this venue a private members club vibe. The food? Seasonal, local produce crafted into delicious classics with a twist – like the Arbroath Smokie risotto.
61 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR
If you’ve ever walked down East Market Street, you probably didn’t pay that much attention. There’s never been much going on here – until now.
The newly renovated railway arches (there are 19 in total) are home to some of Edinburgh’s most exciting independent businesses: cafes, bars, coffee shops, fashion and design stores – even a make-up academy. That adds up to more than 100m of boutique shopping, dining and beauty – right outside Waverley Station.
Our top pick is Baba Budan – the insurgent king of the doughnut world. Their doughy delights are freshly made in store, with different flavours featured every day.
27 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH7 9AB
You can see for miles from the top of Calton Hill– yet it’s a relatively easy walk up.
The view tells you why Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of the city’s most recognisable structures are here – the Nelson Monument, the National Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument. You might not recognise the names, but trust us, you’ll know them when you see them.
If your legs are up to it, you can also tackle the 187 steps to the top of the Nelson Monument for arguably the best views over the city.
To start your climb, head for the steps on Waterloo Place, a few minutes’ walk from Waverley.
Connoisseur-worthy coffee needs to be made with precision and care – like they do at Fortitude on York Place, five minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley.
The blends on offer change by season, with a different guest roaster making an appearance every month. Every cupful is ground to order, and every drop of flavour extracted using an authentic gleaming Italian coffee machine.
Quality, not quantity is the mantra here, so the store is kept deliberately small. If you can’t find a seat, take your coffee and pastry to-go, and head for the seats in nearby St Andrew Square Gardens.
3C York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EB
This cosy pub – tucked down on Leith’s waterfront – is a fully-fledged piece of Leith history: it used to be the waiting room for the Leith to Aberdeen steamboat ferry.
The large outdoor area makes this a favourite in sunny weather — apparently free sun tan lotion is available at the bar. And in winter it’s the perfect place to hide from the waterfront winds – for extra warmth. The food here is as heart-warming as the 100 different whiskies on offer behind the bar. You can get everything from a dozen Argyll oysters to a plain cheese toastie.
1c Dock Place, Edinburgh EH6 6LU
Seafood fans, don’t waste another second – get yourself along to Fishers Leith.
The building that houses this culinary institution is impressive – a 17th century watch tower, no less. You can eat in the famous round room bar, or in the formal restaurant. But the food is what makes this place extra special. Local produce, expertly cooked. Every dish skilfully combines the delicate flavours of the sea with culinary inspiration from around the world. Add in the spectacular views over the harbour and it’s easy to see why this is one of the area’s longest serving restaurants.
1 The Shore, Edinburgh EH6 6QW
While you’re down at the shore, pop in to Kinloch Anderson – Kiltmakers to the Queen.
They’ve been providing kilts to royalty since 1903. If you’re in the market for a kilt, the staff here will sort you out with a high-quality ensemble that’s the perfect fit. Everyone else, head to the Heritage Room Museum (inside the shop). Here you’ll learn more about military tailoring, kilt making and tartan design – you can even see a real Kinloch Anderson kilt being made. The shop is also great for gifts. We challenge you to leave without buying at least one sporran keyring.
4 Dock Street, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6EY
Royal Yacht Britannia
Have a nosey round the Britannia – where Charles and Diana spent their honeymoon.
Britannia served the Royal Family for over 44 years, travelling more than a million miles and, in its heyday, becoming one of the most famous ships in the world. Discover what life was like on board for the Royals and crew – we recommend the audio guide, which gives you even more details about the stories hidden inside the ship’s walls. Britannia is a 45-minute walk from Waverley - or save your feet by taking the number 10 or 22 bus from Princes Street (the stop outside the station).
Ocean Drive, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
The Mussel Inn
The Mussel Inn is on picturesque Rose Street, less than 10 minutes from Waverley station by foot.
It’s a real family friendly fish restaurant, with a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and bistro-style interior.
What’s great about Mussel Inn? For a start, their menu is packed with delicious, nutritious Scottish seafood dishes. And while they might not have a kids’ menu, everything on their menu, including daily specials, is available in half portions. A wee bowl of mussels? Yum.
The restaurant also offers healthy, sugar free drinks, high chairs, a changing table and drawing materials.
Not a fish fan? Don’t worry. There are burgers, steaks and pasta on the menu too.
61-65 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2NH
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is a haven of tranquillity, nestled between the towering rocks and walls of Edinburgh Castle, and the commotion of busy Princes Street.
You might want to start with a visit to the children’s playground next to the Ross Fountain. But don’t let your little ones burn up all their energy — they’ll need some in reserve for a trip to the top of the Scott Monument. This unmissable gothic tower sits on the edge of the gardens. You’ll get great views – your reward for the 287-step climb. It’s just across the road from Waverley station, a few minutes’ walk from when you get off the train.
Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HG
The Edinburgh Dungeon is scary family fun at its best. So scary, in fact, that it’s recommended only for wee ones over 8, and under-5s aren’t allowed in.
The dungeon takes you on an 80-minute journey through Scotland’s darkest history. There are exciting rides, thrilling special effects and gripping stories that will make you scream and laugh in equal measure. Think Burke and Hare, grizzly graveyards and terrifying torture chambers. There’s no need to book in advance, but if you do you’ll get the best deals, guaranteed entry and your choice of arrival time. You’ll find the Dungeon right next door to Waverley station, on Market Street.
31 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DF
Bon Papillon is a small but perfectly formed café and gallery that sits on a quiet, cobbled street just behind Queen Street Gardens.
It’ll take you around 15 minutes to get there on foot from Waverley station.
Resident artist Ingrid splits her time between painting and sketching, and serving customers. Meanwhile, picture framer Stuart is also reported to make the best scones in the New Town.
Bon Papillon serves home baking, light lunches and teas and coffees from 9am until 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday. All their food is freshly made on the premises, and you can ask for anything on the menu in a children’s portion.
15 Howe Street, Edinburgh EH3 6TE
OX184 sits in the shadow of Edinburgh’s South Bridge on Cowgate, a brisk 10-minute walk from Waverley Station.
The range of beers and spirits comfortably eclipses most other bars in the city. There’s enough choice of craft beer, world whisky and flavoured gins and vodkas to satisfy any palate. If you know your Long White Cloud from your Beavertown Gamma Ray you’ll feel right at home. And if you don’t, you soon will – OX184 is fashionable, not cliquey. So far so good. Now, what if we told you that you can order draft beers by the gallon? Too much for one person of course, but great when you’re with friends. Did we mention they have food too?
184-186 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JJ
Mary's Milk Bar
Milk bars were really popular in Britain between the 1920s and 1960s. These days they’re harder to find. Harder, but not impossible.
Pop over to Mary’s in the Grassmarket, a 10-minute walk from Waverley Station, and you can experience a little bit of nostalgia.
Mary’s Milk Bar feels like a place from simpler times. Think Formica table tops, a retro-style coffee machine, milk bottles that double as a vase – and a chat with Mary as she prepares her latest concoction.
Speaking of concoctions, Mary makes her own ice creams every morning. So there are different flavours to sample every day. But be warned, when they run out of ice cream the shop closes.
19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS
W. Armstrong & Son Vintage
‘Who wore it better’ just doesn’t happen when you shop vintage. The chances of someone wearing the same outfit as you: virtually zero.
At Armstrong’s, vintage clothing fills every available space — from floor to ceiling — and covers every decade, from the classic styles of the 1930s to 1990’s chic. It’s organised by era, making your favourite styles easier to find. You can channel Audrey Hepburn in the afternoon, and Madonna in the evening. The store is in the popular Grassmarket area, just a 10-minute walk from Waverley Station. Even if you’re not a vintage fashion fan, this place is still worth a look — they also sell kilts, costumes and accessories.
81-83 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HJ
The Anchor Line
The Anchor Line is a new(ish) favourite eating place in Glasgow, and it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from Queen Street station.
The New York bistro-style restaurant harks back to the grand ocean voyages of the 1920s and 30s. But this is no burger joint. The menu smacks of quality Scottish fayre with prime Scotch beef, Shetland mussels and seared Scottish scallops to whet your appetite. Their lentil curry is pretty tasty too.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, settle down at the bar where the cocktails are made to order, and the snacks are made to delight.
12 St Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2DH
If diamonds are indeed forever, then the Argyll Arcade is really just at the start of its life, despite having been around for almost two centuries.
The Parisian-style arcade is occupied exclusively by jewellers and diamond merchants. Unsurprisingly, it offers the largest and finest selection of diamond rings, watches and jewellery in Scotland.
It’ll take you around six minutes to walk from Queen Street station to the Buchanan Street entrance. Cut through the tenement buildings to provide a link between Buchanan Street and Argyle Street, it’s one of Europe’s oldest covered shopping arcades, and Scotland’s first ever indoor shopping mall.
Argyll Street, Glasgow G2 8LP
Willow Tea Rooms
Remember when having a break for a cup of tea meant white tablecloths, cups with saucers, and tiered serving dishes with the delicate sandwiches on the bottom and delightful cream cakes above?
It still does at the Willow Tearooms.
The Buchanan Street branch, five minutes’ walk from Queen Street and right in the middle of Glasgow’s Style Mile, is the perfect place to recharge after some retail therapy.
Inside, you’ll quickly spot the Charles Rennie Mackintosh influence; the elegant high-backed chairs and leaded glass in the White Dining Room are signature design pieces.
The tea rooms can be busy at weekends, so we recommend you book in advance.
97 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 3HF
Gin71 on Renfield Street was Glasgow's first dedicated Gin Bar. Just a six-minute walk from Queen Street station, it’s a stylish venue where table service is the norm — so sit back and enjoy yourself.
They offer a large selection of gins, home-made tonics and cocktails. How many? Well, we counted 71 on their menu, which gives you a little clue about where the name comes from (though the address is also 71 Renfield Street).
Exploring the eclectic menu is what it’s all about. Favourites, like Sir Robin of Locksley, rub shoulders with the finest gins from across Scotland, and artisan botanical-infused delights from across the globe. If you like gin, you’ll love this place.
71 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 1LP
Tucked away in a narrow lane off bustling Buchanan Street, and just five minutes’ walk from Queen Street, this Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed building was once the offices of the Glasgow Herald newspaper.
Today it’s Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture — a visitor centre, exhibition space, events venue and café bar. Take the lift to the top floor and you’ll also get some great views across the city.
Visit before 8 October and you’ll catch the exhibition by interiors brand KCD. Their eco-friendly home products are inspired by Glasgow’s renowned architecture and vibrant nature.
The Lighthouse is open all week till 5pm.
11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU
Glasgow Style Mile
Glasgow’s Style Mile stretches across the heart of the city — with Buchanan Street joining Sauchiehall Street and Argyle Street to form what’s often called the Golden Z.
Queen Street station is just a minute from Buchanan Street, so you’ll be at the centre of the action as soon as you step off the train.
Most of the Style Mile is pedestrianised and it’s always bustling with street musicians and other performers. There are shop windows galore and a number of flagship stores and shopping centres, including House of Fraser, Buchanan Galleries, Princes Square and the 19th century Argyll Arcade.
Glasgow, Buchanan Street
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions.
No wonder — there’s lots to explore for inquisitive minds of every age. Plus, entry is free.
You can’t fail to notice the imposing Victorian gothic building. Think the outside looks intriguing? Wait till you get inside.
There are over 8,000 objects on show, including Dali’s masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’. Visit before 19 February 2018 to see the Alphonse Mucha Exhibition ‘In Quest of Beauty’.
For kids, there’s a family programme about nature and wildlife on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Toddler Time, when little ones sing songs and listen to stories, is on Fridays at 11.30am.
It’s a 35-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street, but you can take the Subway from Buchanan Street to Kelvinbridge. From here, it’s a gentle ten-minute stroll through Kelvingrove Park to the museum. Prefer to explore Dumbarton Road on your way to the gallery? Get off at Kelvinhall instead. Or it's stop 13 or 16 on the City Sightseeing bus.
Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AG
A trip to the bothy? Sounds like a journey to a dark cottage in a remote land. But the Bothy in Ruthven Lane is a welcoming, modern, Scottish restaurant with a menu that suits diners of every age.
The Bothy has the welcoming feel you’d expect from a traditional Scottish restaurant, and serves modern classics with a twist. But the ‘Little Rascals’ menu is right down to earth with favourites like fish and chips, sausage and mash and penne with tomato sauce. Two scoops of ice cream for dessert is sure to put a smile on their faces.
11 Ruthven Lane, Glasgow G12 9BG
Glasgow Science Centre
Take stop number 11 (SECC) on the Glasgow City Sightseeing bus tour and you’re just a short walk from Glasgow Science Centre.
Cross the river on the ‘Squinty Bridge’ or one of the nearby foot bridges and you’re almost there.
Your kids could easily spend hours interacting with the more than 200 exhibits at the Science Centre. The science mall stretches over three floors, and there are interactive workshops where they can take part in some hands-on, fun-filled learning.
There’s also a planetarium, live science shows and the Glasgow Tower and IMAX cinema next door. Phew. Adventure for kids of every age.
50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow G51 1EA
Glasgow City Sightseeing Bus Tour
A trip on the Glasgow City Sightseeing bus takes you to all the city’s main attractions.
The complete route takes around an hour and 20 minutes — use your ticket to hop on and hop off all day, until 4.30pm.
Start your journey in George Square – right opposite the exit from Queen Street station. The route takes you around the city centre — stopping at highlights that include Glasgow Cathedral, St Enoch Shopping Centre and the Merchant City.
You’ll head to the west of the city, home of the University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Riverside (transport) Museum. Then back east, with stops at the famous Barras market, Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace.
George Square, Glasgow
Scotch Whisky Experience
No need to visit a distillery to find out how whisky is made – just take the tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile.
We recommend you go in the morning if you can, as it can get busy. The tours take you on a ‘whisky barrel’ ride through the whisky making process. Tours last from 50 to 90 minutes – the Taste of Scotland tour is longer as it includes a three-course Scottish food experience in the restaurant.
There are interactive elements – designed to help you find your perfect tipple – and it's just a ten-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station.
354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE
If you enjoy Indian food, you’ll love Dishoom. And yet, it’s not quite like anywhere you’ll have eaten before (unless you’ve eaten in one of their London restaurants, of course).
As soon as you walk in, you know you’re about to enjoy something special. You’re five minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley, but you’ll feel like you’re in Asia.
Based on the Irani cafés of Bombay, everything here is served in small portions – cover your table with a selection and share the cacophony of flavours with your dining companions.
Get here at breakfast time and you can even enjoy one of their fabulous bacon nans.
3a St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2BD
There’s a timeless elegance about tweed clothing. It’s one of these rare things that can be classic and modern at the same time.
Walker Slater, nestled in the city’s colourful Victoria Street, are tweed tailoring specialists and offer a range of clothing, accessories and gifts for ladies and gents.
They use only Harris Tweed for their clothing – made from pure virgin wool that’s dyed and spun on the Outer Hebrides, then handwoven and finished by Harris islanders in their homes. The store is just a ten-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station.
20 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2HG
You’ve heard the story of this remarkable little dog. Now visit the grave the Skye Terrier kept vigil at – just ten minutes’ walk from Waverley.
There’s a statue of Bobby just outside the Kirkyard too. Many visitors pat its nose believing it’s good luck. Don’t be one of them – the ‘tradition’ (started by a 21st century tour guide) is causing irreparable damage to the much-loved bronze dog.
Stick about for a look round the Kirkyard – you’re likely to spot some familiar names. Riddle. McGonagall. Moodie. All add weight to the rumour that JK Rowling used to wander around here during her Harry Potter writing days.
Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ
Mamma's Pizza & Panzerotti
Everybody loves pizza, especially the stone baked ones that Mamma makes.
This is not your standard Italian pizza outlet though. At Mamma’s, they serve American style pizzas – the base is a little thicker and the toppings more generous.
15 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley station in the bustling Grassmarket, it’s a winner for kids and for adults as well. You can pick your pizza size to match your appetite – from small to extra-large (though the latter’s better for sharing). In a nutshell, Mamma’s means quality, affordable food and friendly service.
Got your heart set on an Italian pizza? Mamma’s sister restaurant, O’Oliviero, is just 100 metres away.
28 - 30 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
Bains Retro Sweets
Remember when going to the sweet shop was a BIG treat? Transport yourself – and your kids – back to those days with a trip to Bains.
It’s just 15 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley station in the popular Grassmarket area.
Colourful jars on display. Seeing them measured into a little paper bag. The delicious sugar at the bottom of the bag when the sweets are finished. This is the real thing.
The staff know their humbugs from their lemon bon bons and will help you choose your favourites. They might even share their famous tablet recipe with you if you ask nicely.
37 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS
National Museum of Scotland
There’s something magical about this museum.
Maybe it’s the architecture of the Grand Gallery. Or the intriguing Millennium Clock. Or that no matter how many times you visit, there’s always something new to explore.
If you manage to lure the kids away from the Animal World Gallery, you’ll find endless interactive exhibitions covering nature, art, design, science and technology, all under one roof (great for a rainy day) and mostly free to enter. Stop in for an hour or stay all day – either way, you’ll have a great time.
Top tip: Look out for the unbelievably detailed three-metre model of the museum – it’s made up of 90,000 LEGO bricks!
Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
The Stand Comedy Club
The original (and world famous) purpose-built comedy club. The good news: they’ve got live entertainment seven nights a week.
The great news: though their name suggests otherwise, they have chairs and tables, as well as standing room.
Getting here is easy, it’s just a ten-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station. Getting a seat could be a little trickier as there’s no reserved seating. So get here early when a popular act is playing. All is not lost though; the standing area is handy for the bar.
They serve food from 7pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. If you’re planning to visit on another evening, best to get something to eat beforehand – there’s plenty nearby to choose from.
5 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EB
With so much on offer at Anthropologie, it’s hard to describe without simply listing the contents of the store: ladies clothing, house and home, furniture, beauty and fragrance.
All with a distinctive bohemian style. The store, the only Anthropologie store in Scotland, is on George Street, around ten-minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley station.
Whether you’re buying for yourself, or looking for a gift for someone else, there’s loads of choice - you can even book a personal stylist to help you decide.
Anthropologie takes its inspiration from the worlds of fashion, art and entertainment. They collaborate with established and upcoming artists to offer unique pieces with influences ranging from vintage to global.
39 - 41 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2HN
Wilson Street Pantry
There’s no shortage of upmarket coffee shops in Glasgow, but Wilson Street Pantry, ten minutes’ walk from Queen Street, is one of the best.
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping streets, this is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely coffee or relaxed lunch.
Everything on the menu is freshly made – from classics like eggs benedict to newer creations like smoked mackerel, fennel, feta and orange salad. Their coffee is some of the tastiest out there, but if you fancy something stronger you’re in luck – boozy brunches are another one of their specialities.
6 Wilson Street, Glasgow G1 1SS
A special day out with the kids just isn’t complete without a trip to a toy shop – and Glasgow just happens to have one of the best.
This isn’t just another toy department; it’s an entire floor that’s full to the brim with colour, cuddly toys and the kind of quirky details kids love. And of course, there are toys absolutely everywhere, so visitors of all ages can play to their hearts’ content.
Top tip: Lego fans, save the date - the NANJAGO Movie Tour will be here from 22 - 25 September. Get ready to build!
55 St Enoch Square, Glasgow G1 4BW
The cakes and pastries at this continental cafe look every bit as good as they taste – so kids big and small can delight in picking out the yummiest-looking treat.
Cream. Chocolate. Fruit-filled fancies – there’s something for everyone. Even those who need to avoid gluten.
Everything’s available to eat in or take away, so if you’re short of time, grab something for the train (if you can resist eating it on the five-minute walk to the station, that is).
Celebrating something special? Go all out with an afternoon tea, complete with a glass of Prosecco for the grown-ups.
West Nile Street, Glasgow G1 2PS
GoMa - Gallery of Modern Art
Even kids who wrinkle their noses at normal galleries and museums will love it here. GoMa is an art gallery where kids can ‘do’ as well as ‘look’.
The weekly Art Club lets children try a different creative project each time. There’s no need to book, just turn up any Saturday between 10.30am and 12.30pm and get involved. Just be warned, it might get messy!
Older children will enjoy the guest exhibitions – not all are suitable for young eyes but the staff will help you stick to ones that are. Don’t miss the famous traffic cone outside the gallery. It’s the one on top of the Duke of Wellington’s head.
Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1 3AH
Hula Juice Bar
Just a ten-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station, health foodies can fulfill their dreams with a trip to Hula Juice Café.
If you’re a fan of the Tahiti Kick, Ginger Jack or Nutty Professor (they’re smoothies, in case you didn’t know) be sure to make a beeline for the Café. It’s famous for its award-winning smoothies (including vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options).
Not a smoothie fan? Don’t feel left out – Hula Juice also offers locally roasted artisan coffees and locally sourced teas, as well as a tasty sounding menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
103-105 West Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2JP
Wood fired, artisan-built ovens from old Napoli. Slow-proved sourdough bases. Simple, quality toppings. This traditional pizzeria is about as Italian as you can get without leaving the country.
Food this good usually comes with a hefty price tag but not at Paesano: full-size pizzas start from just £5.
Little ones will love the relaxed atmosphere. If you can, bag a table near the kitchen so they can watch their dinner being made. They don’t take reservations here, but the waiting time is rarely longer than ten minutes – queues disappear almost as quickly as the pizzas.
94 Miller St, Glasgow G1 1DT
Already a fan of Topolabamba in Edinburgh? Take a trip to where it all started: the much-talked-about Mexican eatery’s first restaurant is on St Vincent Street.
Stop off for dinner after a busy day, or pop in to kick off a big night out, just a few blocks away from Glasgow Queen Street station.
The buzz of this original venue is hard to beat, and adds something extra special to the street-style dining and feel-good cocktails. Students, don’t forget your student card – it’ll get you a deal on your dinner.
Top tip: Not in the mood for Mexican? Try Topolabamba’s Indian sister restaurant Chaakoo, three doors down.
89 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5TF
For unique finds and hard-to-beat bargains, walk 20-minutes east of Glasgow Queen Street station to the Barras weekend market.
This piece of living local history was originally a place where traders sold goods from handcarts (or ‘barras’ if you’re a local). Today, the market is still going strong, and offers an eclectic mix of old and new – from food and curios to furniture and crockery.
A leisurely rummage is a great way to while away a few hours – whether you buy something or not. Stalls are open every Saturday and Sunday, from 10am to 5pm.
Gallowgate, Glasgow G1 5AX
St Giles' Cathedral Rooftop Tour
Historic St Giles’ Cathedral sits on the Royal Mile between the Castle and Holyrood Palace.
A rooftop tour gives you great panoramic views of the city.
From Edinburgh Waverley station, a short walk south takes you to St Giles, the Mother Church of Presbyterianism with a history that stretches back almost 900 years. You can take the rooftop tour on a Saturday or Sunday, but book in advance as numbers are limited - each tour takes just four people.
The tour also gives you the opportunity to have a look inside the clock tower. And of course, the rest of the kirk is open for visitors too.
High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1RE
City Retro 41
This little slice of vintage heaven is an Aladdin’s cave of sartorial delights for men and women. They have a huge selection of all-things vintage, from flapper girl glamour to grunge, sourced from all over Europe.
On the hunt for something specific? The staff here know their jewel necks from their Juliet sleeves – let them know what you’re looking for and they’ll help you navigate your way through the rails.
Top tip: call at a cashpoint on the ten-minute walk here from Glasgow Queen Street station. In true vintage style, this little gem is cash-only.
41 King Street, Glasgow G1 5RA
Magnificent 13th century architecture and a thousand years of history. Watch out Edinburgh Castle: Glasgow’s got its own window into Scotland’s pre-reformation past.
The impossibly-knowledgeable staff here can tell you anything you want to know about age-old happenings within the Cathedral walls. Or explore for yourself with the help of the ScotlandVR app.
Glasgow Cathedral is just a 15-minute stroll from Glasgow Queen Street station. Right next door is Glasgow Necropolis – the final resting place of some of Scotland’s most fascinating characters. Join one of the walking tours to hear all the highlights – or, if you prefer, all the gory details.
Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0QZ
Elk & Wolf
If you’re the sort of person who finds it hard to walk past an inviting store that sells bohemian homeware and unique designs, Elk & Wolf will stop you in your tracks.
Elk & Wolf is just around the corner from Edinburgh Waverley station in the newly renovated arches on East Market Street. It’s one of these places that catches your eye and drags you in to see the eclectic range of homeware, jewellery, gifts and accessories.
It’s not just for shopping – there are events too. The shop regularly holds workshops covering a range of crafts. Check out their website for details.
Arch 10, 19 East Market Street, Edinburgh EH8 8FS
The Scottish Parliament building sits at the east end of the Royal Mile, around 15 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley station and on the edge of Holyrood Park.
It’s open for visitors from Monday to Saturday. You can explore the public areas of the building on your own or take a guided tour. You’re also allowed to watch the debating chamber in action from the gallery above. The Parliament Tour lasts around one hour, but you need to book in advance on the Scottish Parliament website.
Whichever way you visit, there’s no charge for entry or for the tours. Check out the Parliament website for special events.
Holyrood, Edinburgh EH99 1SP
Sheep Heid Inn
Visit the Sheep Heid Inn when you’re ready for a relaxing drink and a bite to eat. Can there be a better way to celebrate conquering Arthur’s Seat?
It’s a good 45-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station, though a little less from Arthur’s Seat, but you’ll be rewarded by a great venue to replenish your energy. It’s Scotland’s oldest public house – there’s been alcohol sold here for over 650 years – and it’s steeped in Edinburgh’s rich history.
These days it’s a stylish destination for lunch, dinner or drinks. There’s even space for al fresco dining on those sunny days, and a Victorian skittle alley.
43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh EH15 3QA
The Elephant House
We’re not suggesting you’ll be the next JK Rowling simply by visiting the Elephant House. But if your kids are Harry Potter fans, you’re sure to become their hero.
The cafe where Harry Potter was ‘invented’ is a mecca for fans from around the world. The dream table is the one stuffed with fan letters. And while we’re not in the habit of recommending a trip to the toilet, it’s worth it for the quotes and graffiti on the walls.
Grown-ups aren’t excluded – Ian Rankin, author of the Rebus novels, and Alexander McCall-Smith, of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency fame have both been known to enjoy the coffees there too.
21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN
Contini is right in the heart of George Street, just a short walk from Edinburgh Waverley station. Diners of every age are warmly welcomed.
Don’t worry if Italian food isn’t your little ones’ favourite. The children’s menu features a mixture of Italian dishes, plus good old fish or chicken and chips. Of course, the meal is topped off with a traditional Italian ice cream.
For grown-ups, Contini is all about great, authentic Italian food, and hot chocolate to die for. You can even pop in for breakfast – organic porridge with fresh figs, toasted pecans and Italian honey for anyone?
103 George St, Edinburgh EH2 3ES
Museum of Edinburgh
The Museum of Edinburgh traces the city’s history through its people, crafts and trades, and the beautiful objects they created.
A brisk ten-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station, you’ll find a maze of historic rooms crammed full of iconic objects from the capital’s past. It’s fun for kids too. There’s an interactive learning space, crafts to explore, detective trails, and a storytelling corner. There are also colourful galleries where kids can learn how Edinburgh people have lived over the years.
It’s open Thursdays to Mondays until 5pm, and admission is free for everyone.
142-146 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD
Camera Obscura is one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions. With six floors of interactive, hands-on fun, it’s popular with kids of every age.
A ten-minute stroll from Edinburgh Waverley station, it’s a unique experience that’s been entertaining visitors for over 150 years. Your kids will love the vortex tunnel, mirror maze, and giant kaleidoscope, and swapping heads with friends. Meanwhile, you can soak up the fantastic views across the city from the mysterious Victorian rooftop chamber.
The really good news? There’s no need to rush. You can spend all day there if you like, and there’s no entry charge for under-fives.
549 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND
In the mood for locally sourced fresh food, craft beers, cocktails and live music? Head (south) to South Pour, a 20-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station.
It’s just beyond the Meadows, and a great place for brunch, lunch, dinner, or just having a coffee with friends and enjoying life (while you tap in to the free Wi-Fi).
Set on a corner site, the large windows give you a panoramic view of the busy street outside. Choose from a selection of craft beers, boutique spirits, Fairtrade coffees and seasonal, fresh food.
Ready for some smashed avocado with sourdough and roast vine tomatoes? We are.
1-5 Newington Rd, Edinburgh EH9 1QR
Surgeons Hall Museum
This one might not be for the faint hearted, but the Surgeons’ Hall Museums, just a ten-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley station, is eye-poppingly interesting.
It’s one of the oldest museums in Scotland. Some exhibits, or what the museum calls ‘natural and artificial curiosities’ date back to 1699. It’s home to one of the largest collections of pathological anatomy in the world. It also houses a surgery museum which boasts an anatomy theatre and interactive dissection table. Unmissable!
You can visit any day of the week between 10am and 5pm.
Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW
Pickering's Gin Tour
Distillery tours aren’t just for whisky lovers. Gin makers, and gin lovers, are fighting back. Want to find out how this spirit gets its unique flavour?
A Pickering’s Gin Tour is the solution.
Pickering’s is a brisk 20-minute walk from Edinburgh’s Waverley station – head down North Bridge and South Bridge, the distillery is right beside the Meadows.
The tour lasts for around one hour and starts with a refreshing G&T in the Royal Dick Bar next door, where they have gin on tap. Got a taste for adventure? The distillery-themed escape events let you practice your detective skills.
1 Summerhall, Summerhall Distillery, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
It’ll probably take you the best part of an hour to walk from Edinburgh Waverley Station to the top of Arthur's Seat. But it’s worth it.
Arthur’s Seat is the highest point in Holyrood Park and the views over Edinburgh are spectacular. There’s lots to see in the park too – like the free exhibition, iron age forts and ruined medieval chapel.
You’ll need a pair of sturdy and comfortable shoes – it’s an enjoyable hill climb but the paths can be steep in places. And the routes can get busy on nice days so think about going early to avoid the crowds.
The Corinthian - Charlie Parker's Bar
Sumptuous grandeur is just five minutes from Glasgow Queen Street.
Charlie Parker’s is the place to be, and to be seen.
Named after the American jazz saxophonist who shot to fame in the 1940s, the bar features live piano performances seven days a week.
The Corinthian itself houses a range of classy bars and eating places. Formerly one of the finest private residences in Glasgow, it took on the guise of Philadelphia’s town hall for the movie World War Z.
191 Ingram Street, Merchant City, Glasgow, G1 1DA
Glasgow’s Merchant City continues to surprise visitors with its eclectic mix of eating places, fashionable bars and historic architecture.
The Metropolitan is a large, stylish and contemporary cocktail bar and restaurant in Merchant Square – around ten minutes’ walk from Glasgow Queen Street station.
There’s live music in the upstairs piano bar – or try the cocktail bar next to the courtyard and enjoy the bustle of the busy square.
It’s been a firm favourite with the locals for over a decade, and if you’re planning to visit over the weekend, it’s a good idea to book a table in advance.
Merchant Square, Candleriggs, Glasgow G1 1LE
Riverhill Courtyard coffee bar
There are plenty of coffee shops in Glasgow. So why has the Riverhill Coffee Bar become a regular haunt?
We think it’s the excellent coffees and tasty home baking.
It’s a mere five-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station to this small artisan tea and coffee shop on Gordon Street, popular with city centre workers, tourists, locals and coffee aficionados. Since it opened in 2013 it has been a champion of Glasgow’s own roasted coffee brand, Dear Green.
And while their drinks might be the main attraction, there are also delectable sandwiches and seasonal soups and salads on offer, not to mention the hand-crafted cakes and pastries.
24 Gordon Street, Glasgow, G1 3PU
WEST on the Green
WEST is becoming something of an institution. The brewery’s German style beers have a distinctly Glaswegian heart – visit them on the edge of Glasgow Green.
Just a 20-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street, discover how they’re putting their spin on centuries of brewing tradition.
Then sample the excellent brews made on site – best enjoyed with some traditional German cuisine. That’s where the brewery’s beerhall-style bar and restaurant come in. Continuing WEST’s Scots-Germanic theme, the classics here are all made using the very best Scottish produce. Delicious.
If you’re lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, make sure you check out the beer garden – it’s one of Glasgow’s finest.
Templeton Building, Glasgow Green, Glasgow G40 1AW
The People's Palace
The People’s Palace tells the history of Glasgow and its people, from 1750 to the present. It’s a social history, explored through objects, paintings, prints, photographs, film and interactive displays.
From a reconstructed 1930s house to Billy Connolly’s big banana boots, the museum’s unique collection reveals how Glaswegians have lived, worked and played. Like all Glasgow museums, entry is free.
The Palace is on Glasgow Green, a 25-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station, but there’s plenty here to make the walk worthwhile. At the rear, you’ll find the Winter Gardens, a dramatic greenhouse filled with exotic palms and plants, and a lovely little café. Out front, the Doulton Fountain – a highly decorated five-tier fountain that’s thought to be the largest of its type in the world.
Glasgow Green, Templeton St, Glasgow G40 1AT
Barras Art and Design (BaAD)
Everyone knows Glasgow’s famous Barrowland market and ballroom. Not so many have heard of BaAD, a brand-new space bang in the heart of the Barras.
Think markets for clothing, homeware, collectibles and furniture with quality dining, pop-up food markets, and even a summer beer garden.
It’s 25-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station. Plan your journey and you can pass through the city’s Italian centre and original Fruitmarket, remembering to stop for selfies next to the Tolbooth Steeple and outside the iconic Barrowland Ballroom neon sign.
Foodies will love the A’Challtainn (pronounced A Cawl Tain). This fish restaurant won The List Eating and Drinking Guide Newcomer Award for 2017/18.
54 Calton Entry, Glasgow, G40 2SB
Singl-end Cafe & Bakehouse
If you’re passionate about good, honest food, you’ll find it at the Singl-end, just 15 minutes’ walk from Queen Street station.
There’s a sit-down dining area (with outdoor table for sunny days) and a take-away section too. It’s one of these places where you want to get your camera out and take some snaps of the food, and delicious cakes.
The menu has a focus on superfoods and raw ingredients, like Camargue rice, quinoa, nuts, citrus fruits and spices.
It’s open till five o’clock every day, but book ahead – it can be busy.
265 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6TT
Experience the number one food in Japan, that’s proving a hit with Glasgow diners too. Ramen Dayo (‘this is ramen’, in case you need a translation) is the brainchild of a Glaswegian chef.
He spent 11 years in Japan – working, learning the language, and becoming obsessed with the nation’s favourite dish.
What is ramen? It’s a Japanese noodle and soup dish revered for its detailed flavours. Think chicken, pork or fish based broth, flavoured with soy sauce or miso and topped with sliced pork, soft-boiled egg, dried seaweed or spring onions. Yum.
Just a three-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station and handy for Princes Square shopping.
25 Queen St, Glasgow G1 3EF
Tucked away behind the bustle of Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, Sloans is the city’s oldest bar and restaurant, and a long-time favourite among the locals.
Set over three floors, it’s a stunning and impressive venue that’s well worth a visit at any time. Come at the weekend and you’ll find trader’s stalls lining the lane that joins Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. Visit on a Friday evening and join in the traditional Scottish dancing at a Sloans Ceilidh.
On a sunny day, you can even sit outside and enjoy the barbecue. All this is just a six-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station. What are you waiting for?
108 Argyle St, Glasgow G2 8BG
High end shopping, restaurants and fashionable bars. You’ll find it all under one roof at Glasgow’s Princes Square in the heart of the city.
There’s a great choice of designer stores, including Vivienne Westwood, Kurt Geiger and Radley. When it’s time for something to eat, you can take your pick from Italian, Spanish, Pan-Asian, modern Scottish fayre and lots more.
The building is spectacular too. Built around an old merchant square, the glass domed roof lets in plenty of natural light – perfect for relaxing in a bar after a hard day’s shopping.
And it’s just a five-minute walk from Glasgow Queen Street station.
48 Buchanan St, Glasgow, G1 3JN
Fan of craft beer (on draft)? Make a beeline for Drygate, a microbrewery within easy walking distance of Glasgow city centre that’s been mashing since 2014.
Inside the converted box factory, you’ll find the staff more than happy to share their knowledge of the brews – the Seven Peaks IPA is a nod to the roof of the building. Take the brewery tour, which includes a beer tasting, and sample the food too – hake with Merguez sausage gets our vote.
From Glasgow Queen Street station you can take the low-level train to High Street, or walk east along George Street for around 13 minutes. Drygate’s on your left, around 100 yards up John Knox Street.
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