The Dickins Insider Guide to Southside, Edinburgh
If you head south of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, you’ll come across Southside. The area is home to the University of Edinburgh and is a bustling, vibrant area of the city. During term time, the area is flooded with students and as a result, Southside has a fantastic selection of cafes and coffee shops! A main feature of the area is the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat which is often visible for the main high street and is a popular hiking spot amongst locals and tourists. To help you experience (and enjoy) Southside as a local, we’ve put together an Insider Guide to Southside. Let’s begin!
9am: Tea and Coffee
You’ll be spoilt for choice with regards to your morning cuppa, as Southside has a great selection of cafés and coffee shops. Situated at 104 Buccleuch Street is the quirky and cosy Cult Espresso, who serve up fresh homemade treats and wonderful tea and coffee. Along the same road, you’ll find Press Coffee, who as well as serving great hot drinks also offer delicious brunch options. Furthermore, if you’re near Nicolson Street, Machina Espresso (80 Nicolson Street) and Brew Lab (6-8 South Colloege Street) are a must-visit for any coffee connoisseurs. If you happen to be in Brew Lab on a warm day they offer a great cold brew too! Black Medicine Coffee (2 Nicolson Street) is a great cafe if you’re visiting with a larger group as they have a cosy basement with extra seats! Lastly, if you find yourself on Clerk Street, Filament Coffee (38 Clerk Street) is a wonderful coffee shop who sell various hot drinks, smoothies, as well as light bites!
10am: Morning Walk up Arthur’s Seat or the Crags
After your morning cuppa, you’ll be ready to head out and start exploring Southside and its surrounding area. Where better to start than a hike up Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano in the centre of Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat sits in the heart of Holyrood Park and boasts excellent views of the city as its highest point sits 251m above sea level! If you’re not in the mood for a hike, you can still enjoy a walk around Arthur’s Seat to enjoy different angles of the city and Duddingston.
If you have time…
If you have time, we would highly recommend taking a walk around Arthur’s Seat to the picturesque village of Duddingston and pay a visit to the tranquil oasis, Dr. Neil’s Garden. The beautiful garden overlooks Duddingston Loch and even has a Physic Garden.
- Dr. Neil’s Garden is open every day including weekends from 10 am till Dusk and entry is free of charge (however, donations are welcome!). There’s also a tiny cafe that serves hot drinks and snacks.
12pm: A Hearty Lunch
After all the walking, you’ll no doubt be ready for a hearty lunch and we’ve selected a couple wonderful options. The great thing about Southside is that no matter your taste there’s a range of cuisines to choose from. For instance, head along to Dough Pizza (47 South Clerk Street) for a delicious sourdough pizza, pop into 10 to 10 in Delhi (67 Nicolson Street) for classic Indian dishes with a twist, Mosque Kitchen to enjoy a curry (they have two restaurants, the first on 31-33 Nicolson Square & the original one tucked away behind the mosque), and Ting Thai Caravan (Teviot Place) for delicious Thai street food. Moreover, Spoon (6A Nicolson Street) is popular spot amongst locals, and bridges the gap between the casualness of a cafe and the formality of a restaurant! If you’re after something a little lighter – such as soup or panini – we’d highly recommend stopping by Kilimanjaro Coffee (104 Nicolson Street), Nile Valley Cafe (6 Chapel Street), or enjoy an amazing gluten-free crepe from Tupiniquim (The top of Middle Meadow Walk).
1pm: A Spot of Independent Shopping and Charity Shopping
Southside might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of independent shopping but there’s a fantastic selection of independent businesses dotted around the area. If you fancy spending a little time browsing through a bookshop, we’d recommend Till’s Bookshop (1 Hope Park Crescent), Lighthouse (43-45 W Nicolson Street), and Deadhead Comics (47 W Nicolson Street). Digger (35 West Nicolson Sreet) and The Paper Gallery (49 Clerk Street) are both great places to pick up a gift or a card. Jordan Valley (8 Nicolson Street) is a must-visit if you’re a foodie as they have an extensive range of tea, coffee, and food from around the world. Lastly, Rosevear Tea will be opening their third store at 17 Clerk Street soon so keep an eye out for that.
If you’re keen to do a little more shopping, Southside is also known for its wealth of charity shops, check out our Charity Shopping Guide to Edinburgh!
4pm: Take in a Show
Unfortunately, there are no cinemas in the Southside area but there are various cinemas in the city centre which are within walking distance or just a short distance by bus. If you fancy a live show, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre is in the heart of Southside and we’re sure you’ll be just as impressed with its sumptuous interior as the show you choose to see!
6pm: Dinner & Drinks
If you’re staying at one of Dickins’ self catering properties, you have the wonderful option of heading home to cook up a lovely meal and enjoy a relaxing night in. However, if you’ve had a long day you may prefer to dine out and if that’s the case there are several fantastic options.
Located at 71-75 St. Leonard’s Street, Blonde Restaurant is a relaxed yet stylish restaurant that serves up modern Scottish and European food. If you fancy being a little adventurous, why not visit Kampong Ah Lee (28 Clerk Street) for authentic Malaysian food or Ginger Restaurant (11 South College Street) for delicious Nepalese food. If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or just fancy treating yourself, Rhubarb is located in the 17th-century manor house, Prestonfield House, where you can expect romantic fine dining using locally-sourced Scottish ingredients – scroll down to see their decadent interior! There’s also a range of great pubs and bars in the area to choose from, including The Salisbury Arms (58 Dalkeith Road), The Southern Bar (22-26 S Clerk Street), The Pear Tree (38 West Nicolson Street), Southpour (1-5 Newington Road), Brass Monkey (14 Drummond Street).
Where to stay in Southside? 10 Gordon Terrace
Gordon Terrace is a beautifully converted annex of an elegant Edwardian Maison Villa. This apartment definitely has the wow factor. Located in the Blackford area of Edinburgh, right next to King’s Buildings and close to Cameron Toll, you benefit from quiet suburban surroundings but you are on the main bus route so you can be in the city centre within 20 mins.