Clued In Edinburgh – The Concise and Opinionated Guide to the City
Pastry obsession solved – Edinburgh – January 2023
There’s nothing that can fill a cold, empty feeling in the tummy like pastry… really good pastry. It’s true that our local obsession with it switches around depending on the season, but right now it lies firmly with Patisserie Valerie at 152 Rose Street. This quaint pedestrian walkway seems the perfect place for a pastry shop but if you want to patronize a larger spot with more seating, rest easy; Valerie has another location right on the Royal Mile near the North Bridge. (If this all sound confusing then let us reassure you that it all makes sense when you’re there.) Their scones are tender and tasty and their cakes and French pastries are to die for! Open daily from 9am.
The truth about Christmas Day in Edinburgh – December 2022
If you had the good taste to choose Scotland for your Christmas holiday then you might be wondering how to spend your time on Sunday, December 25 when all of the city’s sights and restaurants will be closed in observance of Christmas Day. These folks are really into Christmas and will spend it at home with their loved ones. The few dining rooms that will be open (at various Edinburgh hotels) are probably booked up by now. That means you’ll need to plan ahead…
1) If you’re staying in a hotel, buy some lovely sandwiches or pulled pork at Oink the night before, along with some sweet treats and beverages because there’s a good chance that it will be your meal. 2) If you’re staying in an apartment rental, go to the grocery store, cheese shop, and butcher in the days before the holiday and get ready to prepare an at-home feast. 3) In the old town, St. Giles Cathedral will have a morning service at 11am but go early to get a seat. 4) If you have a rental car, go for a drive out to the famed Rosslyn Chapel or the seaside at the Firth of Forth and revel in having the roads all to yourself. 5) If no vehicle is at your disposal then bundle up and go for a stroll though the charming Dean’s Village and see the supposedly magical Water of Leith for yourself. 6) Stay out and about after the early sunset too; slowly but surely other folks will begin to fill the streets. Merry Christmas!
Where to enjoy an amazing holiday meal- November 2022
We love a festive meal and in Edinburgh that means the Rhubarb Restaurant at the Prestonfield House Inn. Their special three-course menu will be offered from December 1 through January 3 but must be booked as soon as possible while tables are still available. Note that this amazing mansion-hotel is only a ten minute taxi ride from the old town. Here are just a few of the many choices being offered for the Christmas season and Hogmanay this year:
White onion velouté, braised ox cheek, and cheddar toast rarebit with beer-pickled shallot – Pheasant with streaky bacon and sage, cranberries, herb-crusted parsnip and brown butter mash – Warm Christmas pudding, caramelized orange sauce and homemade spiced rum ice cream
Enjoy a fall visit to the Edinburgh Zoo – October 2022
Most visitors to Scotland’s capital seem surprised to learn that there’s a world class zoological sanctuary here. From giant pandas to giraffes, flamingos, koalas, big cats, and monkeys, this amazing 82-acre park boasts more than 2,000 species. And during the month of October, they feature a scary, monster-filled path that’ll send plenty of shivers up your spine. Check it out!
Important update – September 2022
The most Scottish of all the restaurants in Edinburgh, Pibroch, has sadly closed its doors. Our recommendation for it in the “Feasting” chapter of Clued In Edinburgh has been removed as of the September edition. Those readers with a previous copy of our Edinburgh guide, please take note of this unfortunate change.
Attend a fun workshop while you’re on vacation – September 2022
You might not have considered booking a workshop while you’re away from your daily grind but it’s the best way to learn about the culture you’ll be surrounded by. They are always taught in English and will undoubtedly become a cherished memory. In Edinburgh, that means learning to appreciate whisky at a fun tasting class. Our friends at Jeffrey Street Whisky will teach you everything you need to know. Details are in our new Bored in Edinburgh book, but here’s a handy link to their workshop classes. They are held right off the Royal Mile in the historic center of the old town. You can book many different whisky tasting choices right through their website calendar. Slangevar!
Hang out at the city’s only jazz joint – August 2022
Jazz aficionados in Edinburgh know that The Jazz Bar is the only live jazz joint in town. They go there to hear the best in live music –from jams by guest artists, to blues and soul– and kick back with a glass of spirits. To view what’s onstage for a specific date, check their website schedule. The music style can change several times in a night. Proudly an award-winning venue, The Jazz Bar has a cash-only entrance policy so come prepared. They don’t reserve tables so just drop by anytime, and note that the nightly sessions are open to those eighteen years of age or older. To discover other fun experiences here, grab a copy of our new Bored in Edinburgh guide.
Where to grab a delicious lunch on the cheap – July 2022
Edinburgh has many cafes and bistro-type eateries to choose from, but if you just want something quick and filling without sacrificing flavor, find a nearby Oink shop. We say “find” because there are three, and all enjoy seemingly perfect locations. The one in the old town is right on famed Victoria Street, the one in the New Town is right off of Princes Street, and the one in Canongate is on the Royal Mile itself. But what kind of food does it offer? Oink offers tender, slow-cooked, shredded pork that is heaped onto a fresh roll with your choice of sauce. OMG it’s incredible…and cheap!
The UK and USA have removed all Covid restrictions for travelers – June 12, 2022
It’s time to plan that trip to Scotland! The UK now has no Health Pass (aka Vaccination Certificate) requirement for entering restaurants and museums. In addition, all incoming travelers can enter Scotland without having to follow additional entry rules. As of today, the same is true with the USA.
Visit something special that’s probably off your radar – June 2022
This month, all of our City-Extras will highlight an awesome local sight that you’ve probably never heard of. (If you have, kudos to you!) In Edinburgh that has to be the often overlooked Museum on the Mound. This unusual museum in the city center explores the history of money and is actually quite interesting. Even so, it’s your kids that will be the most enthused. They can mint their own coin and even try their hand at cracking a safe. If successful, they might just receive a chocolate treat. Entry is free to all. (Closed Sundays and Mondays.)
Take a chocolate-making workshop in the Old Town
Eat. Pray. Love? How about Learn. Make. Taste? The folks at the Old Town’s newest raved-about shop, The Chocolatarium are ready to take you through the paces of their exclusive chocolate tour. Described as “ninety minutes of chocolate heaven,” this experience is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. After learning all the chocolate and cocoa basics, you’ll embark on a tasting and then make your very own chocolate bar to take with you. You can even choose to make a chocolate Loch Ness Monster! Let’s just say you may never be the same again.
These workshops are offered nearly every day, just off the Royal Mile. Check the website above for all the pertinent details and current availability, or give them a call at (011) 44–131–556–7005.
Sharing our new spring advertising campaign.
Yes, you really do deserve one. Grab a copy of our Clued In Edinburgh interactive ebook today. It’s easy when you download the free Amazon Kindle app first so that your ebook “knows” where to go. This app enables you to actually read the book, turn the pages, connect to the live links, and even adjust font sizes to your preferences. It’s so fun! Note: If you already have this app on your smart phone (or have a Kindle device) then you’re all set.
Grab our newest [fun] guide to Edinburgh! March 2022
Our new “companion book” to Clued In Edinburgh is finally here. Get your copy of Bored in Edinburgh – Awesome Experiences for the Repeat Visitor before you wrap up your plans and itinerary for that trip to Scotland. It’ll change the way you think about how you’re going to use your time while you’re here. We think it’s a must-have, even for first-time visitors. We offer it in both paperback or eBook and you can grab it here.
New Train Route between Edinburgh and London – March 2022
Yearning for an easy London side trip? A super affordable, direct train route between Edinburgh and London is now operational and tickets start at around £20. (Competition from Easy Jet and other budget airlines is the reason; it used to cost five times as much to travel between the two capitals by train compared to the cheapy-cheap airlines.)
Now you can just hop on-board one of Lumo’s new, electric-powered trains right from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. Trains feature a catering service, free WiFi, entertainment systems, and paperless ticketing. The route ends at London’s Kings Cross Station which just happens to be very central to the entire city. Let’s go get a wee bit o’ English love. Cheers!
Great news out of the UK – February 2022
“Vaccinated travelers can now enter Britain without taking any Covid tests. Visitors who have had at least two doses of an approved Covid vaccine need only fill out a passenger locator form before traveling to to Britain and Scotland. This means the U.K. now has one of the most free-flowing borders in the world — hopefully sending a clear message that we are open for business.” (Note: Unvaccinated people still must take tests before and after arriving, but no longer need to self-isolate until they get a negative result.)
In addition, London’s Gatwick airport has announced that it plans to reopen the second of its two terminals in March 2022. Face masks are no longer mandatory in most indoor spaces in England, and those vaccine passports for gaining entry into nightclubs and large events have been scrapped. Prime Minister Johnson announced this week that he hopes to also lift the mandatory self-isolation for people who test positive by the end of this month as part of a plan to “live long-term with Covid.”
Looking for something a bit better than a pub? – February 2022
If you’re feeling a bit fancy and want to make an evening of it, head over to the award-winning Voodoo Rooms located just north of the historic Balmoral Hotel. Their plush interiors and fabulous mixology paired with live music make for a classy alternative to the usual Edinburgh evening. The Voodoo Rooms venue is open seven days a week so check their website for the everchanging musical offerings.
Plan ahead for the trip of a lifetime – January 2022
You might not think so right now, but travel will be returning in a big way and those who plan now will reap the benefits. As the pandemic fades, try to be one of the first to make a trip to Edinburgh and enjoy it in a blissfully uncrowded way. Try making a detailed yet fluid itinerary without precise dates. Pencil in the days of the week only, noting which of your preferred sights are closed on Sundays or Mondays, etc. This will give you a basic framework on which to build your dream journey.
The more you can plan beforehand, the better it will be. At Clued In Travel Books we are big believers in having reservations at the restaurants we most desire rather than settling for our second or third choices. Dinner reservations are especially likely to fill up if not made in advance. As for the best sights, well, these must be booked ahead (due to the requirements of contactless service.) And with absolutely everyone now booking ahead, these too are more likely to sell out.
Travelers visiting our particular website probably understand this so we won’t beat a dead horse. If you are the type of traveler who likes to go somewhere with no plans or reservations in order to just see where fate takes you, we say, “Good luck and bless your heart.”
So, grab one of our travel books and peruse through it to the end. You’ll be shocked at how a city you knew nothing about is suddenly as familiar as can be. It’s almost magical.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
The folks here at Clued In Travel Books wish you and yours a wonderful and safe holiday season filled with lots of love and lots of food. If you avoid conversations about religion, politics, and mask mandates you’ll be just fine! Let’s hope we get back to some normalcy in 2022, especially in regard to travel. It’s what we live for.
All the best to all of you, Dean & Andie
Our brand new edition for 2022 is on Amazon now! – December 2021
Some things have changed in Scotland, but much has stayed the same. We think it’s actually better than ever and are very happy to announce our brand new version of Clued In Edinburgh for 2022. Use the link above to see its dedicated product page because it’s super-fun and has some new surprises. Let’s just call it the best one we’ve ever written!
Edinburgh’s Castle of Light is returning! – November 2021
November 19th marks the day when the city’s beloved event, the “Castle of Light,” will return to thrill locals and visitors alike. Specially lit inside and out during the nighttime hours, Edinburgh Castle becomes a sight to behold. But it doesn’t stop there; special events, performances, tours, and treasures await you inside so don’t forget to book a timed entry beforehand. This magical event takes place through the fist week of January. It’s so nice to see Edinburgh really bouncing back from a difficult year.
UK MANDATORY QUARANTINE FINALLY LIFTED FOR AMERICAN VISITORS WHO ARE VACCINATED – September 2021
For those planning to enter the United Kingdom during the rest of 2021, there is currently no required quarantine period for vaccinated visitors. There are some covid-19 rules in place, however: Before you travel to England you must
- take a COVID-19 test – you must take the test in the 3 days before you travel to Scotland
- book and pay for COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England & Scotland
- complete a passenger locator form
You must do these three things whether or not you are fully vaccinated!
The UK will accept the CDC paper card as viable proof of your full vaccination. Even so, the U.S. still warns against travel to and from the UK. We have been awaiting a change to this status but none so far. Please visit Our Blog to see very important info for vaccinated US citizens who will be going to England, even if they are going by way of another European country first.
IMPORTANT: For those “re-entering” the USA in the coming weeks – July/August 2021
If you’re a Covid vaccinated or antibodied American citizen and you go overseas, please know that you must still prove you are “virus free” in order to be allowed back into the United States. This can be done by showing proof of a negative Covid test that was taken within 48 hours of your departure flight home. If your test turns out to be positive for any reason (including test malfunction etc.) be prepared to quarantine in the country you were trying to leave until you test negative. (For some folks this might mean bringing a larger quantity of prescription medication, just in case!)
We are mentioning this because it is in effect now (July 2021) and few travelers seem to know about it. More information can be found on the government’s CDC website here. Look for the paragraph, “Before You Arrive in the United States”
Luckily, the Covid test is now quite easy to find at most pharmacies in the UK (not sure about elsewhere) but is not given for free to foreign travelers. You will have to pay for the test which currently ranges from around 29 pounds to 50 pounds. We hope this changes soon because it is clearly an overreach. American citizens should always be allowed to return home.
Summer Happenings / July 2021
There’s always something going on in Edinburgh, especially during the long daylight hours of the summer months. With the pandemic under control, the performing arts are definitely making a comeback even before the Edinburgh International Festival begins. This month, at the city’s historic Lyceum Theatre, the focus is on their youth festival. All kinds of great shows are offered for the little ones and their website gives age recommendations for each. If you are traveling with little ones, check it out.
The Edinburgh International Festival is coming back!
For those who may not be familiar with the Edinburgh Festival, let’s just say that it’s a big deal. Not last year, of course… it was cancelled for the first time in its history. But it will be back this year in August as usual, and will run concurrently with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as usual. So what are these? They are performance festivals the size of which are unheard of anywhere else. That’s why the world comes to Edinburgh in August. It’s like a big party with high brow performances by stars in the city’s best venues, talented unknowns in the medium venues, enthusiastic performers in the little venues, and everyone else performing in the pubs and in the street. It’s wild! Even various musical and military groups participate in something called the Military Tattoo. And it all culminates with a fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle.
This year it will be a bit reimagined, however. There will be specially built outdoor pavilions in iconic spaces throughout the city. Social distancing in the venues will be in place. Out of necessity, the Military Tattoo is postponed until 2022. Even so, you can rediscover the magic of live performance right here from August 7th to the 29th and can grab the tickets online. Full details can be found at this link. What a way to celebrate mankind returning to life!
We’re back! May 2021
Clued In cities all over the place are beginning to come back to life. Because of all the recent positive changes, we have just updated our travel books to be current for summer 2021. We will continue to update them as things change further. In anticipation of future travel, we welcome you back to Edinburgh and to the world!
Taxi Clues for Edinburgh – March 2020
Since some travelers are looking to avoid crowds and mass transit this spring, we’re providing at-a-glace info regarding official taxi cabs in the Scottish capital. While not as inexpensive, a taxi will make you feel more confident and get you where you’re going in style. And if your party is more than a single rider, it can be a great value. We always budget it in!
- Only hire the city’s official, metered taxis displaying a lit roof light. They come in all colors and shapes, so it’s these roof lights that will distinguish them. You can hail a taxi from any Edinburgh curbside, as long as it’s not too near an official taxi rank. They must be “available” of course, with their roof light lit up.
- Taxi queues are called taxi ranks by the locals
- Most taxi fares within central Edinburgh range between £5 to £8 and tipping is unnecessary. It’s appropriate to round up to the nearest pound, especially if the driver was helpful.
- The taxis usually accept credit cards, but always have cash on you in case their credit machine isn’t functioning or can’t find a signal. There’s an additional 5% added to any taxi fare paid with plastic.
- Do not expect cab drivers to change a £50 or £100 note; they are not required to.
- If a taxi is called to your hotel or restaurant, it will already have its meter running from when it started to come get you. Don’t be alarmed by this as it’s completely legit and is the norm.
- Official taxi ranks can be found near main squares or sights, so note where they are in your area is case you need one quickly at some point.
- Supplements are imposed on top of the timed fare, such as late night fees, weekend fees, etc. Watch out for meters that seem suspicious in the pricing. If there’s any confusion regarding your fare, remember that the current rates and surcharges should be clearly displayed. Always get a receipt from the driver.
- Tip: If you know you’ll be taking taxis (as opposed to Uber) than we recommended getting the local Edinburgh app called www.cheaper.taxi . It’s a fleet of by-hire-only taxis that are usually less than Uber and about 40% less than regular taxis.
- At the time of our publishing, the city’s basic, non-Christmastime taxi fares are as follows:
Weekdays: Mondays from 6am to Fridays at 6pm the fare is £2.10, plus each additional 188 meters £0.25
Weekends: Saturdays from 6am to Mondays at 6am the fare is £3.10, plus additional 188 meters £0.25
Extra fees: More than two passengers: £.20 per passenger, Call out charge: £.80, Airport pickup: £.80 Payment by credit or debit card: increase of 5%, £1 for luggage.
Our Edinburgh NTK – February 2020
Every so often, we like to add a Need-to-Know for our favorite cities. With a new year and new decade upon us, it’s time to mention the newly-approved “hotel tax” that will soon be charged to visitors in Edinburgh. (If you’re staying in a serviced apartment instead, this still applies to you!) We want you to know what you’re up against, especially if you’re the type of person who hates to read the fine print.
Also called a “tourist tax,” it is separate from the regular city tax that will be applied to your bill and is paid directly to the proprietor. It will most likely be accepted in cash pounds only so be prepared. How much will it be? Beginning sometime in 2020, visitors will be expected to pay aounnd £3 per person, per night. One more thing… if you book through Expedia or some other hotel website, your grand total will not include this special extra tax. You’ve been warned!
Night owls rejoice – January 2020
If you’re one of those people who just comes alive at night, Edinburgh in January is for you! Being a northern city, the winter daylight hours run from about 8:30am to 4pm giving you plenty of darkness to run around in. Don’t worry, the temperatures only get down into the high 30’s so it’s not that bad, and their multitude of quaint pubs will be going strong. Nothing like a hot toddy to warm your cockles. We recommend the gorgeous Deacon Brodie’s Tavern located just a stone’s throw from the famed Edinburgh Castle. Say hello for us!
Join a special Christmas walking tour – November 2019
Edinburgh lights up for the holidays and its charming Christmas Markets should not be missed. Now you can join a walking tour of its best holiday sights, including a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm your cockles. If you’re sentimental about the holidays, don’t miss it. Offered November 20, 2019 through January 6, 2020 but you’ll need to book ahead! A 24-hour cancellation refund is offered in case your plans change.
Explore the creepy underground vaults of Edinburgh – October 2019
Our recommendations for Edinburgh in autumn would normally include music events or new restaurants, but our new series of “Bored In” travel books have inspired us to go in a spookier direction this year. Below is one of the scary things you can visit that will be included in the upcoming Bored in Edinburgh–Awesome Experiences for the Repeat Visitor:
Below Edinburgh’s South Bridge area (one of the oldest sections of town) lies a series of disused underground vaults from the 1700’s. You can tour them at night when they’re at their spookiest and rub shoulders with the spirits that dwell there. With an informative guide from Mercat Tours, you’ll brave the dark passageways and hear historic tales in a way that only a true Scot can tell them. You’ll see excavated spaces, previous human habitation, and even a tavern with wine vaults. This 75-minute walking tour of subterranean Edinburgh even offers a special Halloween tour of the vaults but you’ll need to book as soon as possible though their website here.
It’s the start of the social season in Edinburgh – September 2019
There’s a lot going on in the Scottish capital so if you’re planning to visit during the fall season, snag a ticket to something soon. We recommend the new play by David Greig, Solaris, which will be performed at the gorgeous Lyceum Theatre. As of this posting there are still tickets available.
In addition, Edinburgh’s Doors Open Days takes place on the weekend of September 28th and 29th. You can see places you can’t normally get into, like the famous Assembly Rooms or the historic Drumsheugh Baths Club which dates from the late 1800’s. Booking for all visits and events started on September 2nd and the extensive list can be found at this website.
How to stay afloat in Edinburgh – August 2019
If you’re heading out to our favorite city in Scotland and haven’t made your hotel reservations yet, consider a stay aboard a ship permanently docked in the Firth of Forth! The Fingal, a stunning decommissioned ship (stationed very near to Her Majesty’s Royal Yacht Britannia) in the suburb of Leith might be just the kind of unusual experience you’ve been looking for. Consider staying there for a night or two, just to take it all in and make some very special memories. Then switch to another hotel in Edinburgh’s city center. We won’t tell. “An exquisite five star, twenty-three cabin boutique hotel complete with ballroom and sweeping grand staircase.” Just look at those pictures!
In Focus: the Tolbooth Tavern – July 2019
The famously haunted Tolbooth Tavern is both a historic sight and a great place to grab an ale. Built in 1591, it used to be part of the official tollbooth of the Canongate neighborhood’s administration and was at that time outside the gates of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Located on what is now called “the Royal Mile” (the main boulevard of the Old Town) it is closer to Her Majesty’s Holyrood palace than it is to the city’s famous castle. Even so, it’s worth a stop and offers all the traditional pub food you could want. You might just make a new friend there, from this century or a previous.
In Focus: Edinburgh’s Peacocks – June 2019
Peacocks in Edinburgh? You betcha. They stroll around the lovely grounds at the Prestonfield Manor House, home of the exquisite restaurant Rhubarb. This place has the best Afternoon Tea service in town to begin with, and as you bite into a just-baked scone, a peacock walks by outside the window. Amazing! (Rhubarb’s afternoon tea is offered everyday from noon to 7pm.)