Like all of Scotland, the capital city of Edinburgh has a character all its own. Travelers will quickly fall in love with its moody spires set against a bustling city center. Whether it’s your first time seeing the quaint charm of Dean Village or the magisterial beauty of St. Giles Cathedral, or you’ve seen it all before, Edinburgh is sure to capture your heart thanks to a captivating blend of ancient and modern features.

This expansive city is divided into 13 neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and attractions. Here are some of our favorites.

Old Town

The Old Town is Edinburgh’s most historic neighborhood and is home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. This neighborhood is packed with narrow cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and plenty of charming pubs, shops, and restaurants. Staying in the Old Town is ideal for immersing yourself in the city’s rich history.

New Town

The New Town is Edinburgh’s most fashionable neighborhood. It’s well known for its stunning Georgian architecture, chic boutiques, and trendy restaurants. Located just a short walk from the Old Town, the New Town offers a more refined experience than the historic center. If you’re looking for a luxurious stay in Edinburgh, New Town is the place to be.


Stockbridge is a trendy neighborhood located just north of the city center. This neighborhood is known for its vibrant nightlife, independent shops, and charming cafes. With a bohemian vibe and plenty of green spaces, Stockbridge is an excellent choice for those who want to experience a more laid-back side of Edinburgh.


Leith is Edinburgh’s bustling port neighborhood known for its colorful architecture, trendy bars, and excellent seafood restaurants. This neighborhood is home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, and it’s just a short bus ride from the city center. Staying in Leith is perfect if you’re looking for a lively, bustling neighborhood with plenty of things to see and do.


Morningside is a leafy residential neighborhood located just south of the city center. This neighborhood is known for its elegant Victorian architecture, independent shops, and lovely parks. With a relaxed, village-like atmosphere, Morningside is an excellent choice for those who want to experience a quieter side of Edinburgh.

No matter where you choose to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and friendly locals, this city is one of the best destinations in the UK.

Best Places to Stay in Edinburgh by Interest

The best area of this magnificent Scottish city will depend on whether you’re in Edinburgh for a quiet staycation or just popping by to photograph the Royal Botanic Gardens and St. Andrew Square. For this reason, it’s wise to map out what you want to do, measure that against your allotted time for the trip, and then decide where to stay. Other factors, such as budget and the number of travelers in your party, may also contribute to your decision.

Where to Stay for Great Food

The stone facade of Greyfriars Bobby's Bar.

Edinburgh is a dream location for avid foodies. Two of its globally acknowledged cuisine must-sees are The Witchery by the Castle and Angels with Bagpipes, both located in Old Town. George Street and Rose Street, which run through the heart of New Town, are exceptional for their wide variety of restaurants, bakeries, and sweet shops.

Where to Stay to Discover History

Three friends looking down on the city of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat.

Edinburgh is a city steeped in history, with centuries-old buildings, ancient monuments, and fascinating museums that tell the story of its rich cultural heritage.

If you’re a history buff looking to immerse yourself in the city’s past, you’ll want to make your way to Old Town. As the city’s medieval heart, it’s rife with incredible historical sites. Edinburgh’s many hidden gems are found in its spiraling alleys, known as “closes.” Visitors can take tours of specific closes brimming with history, spanning the gamut from plague and ghost to wizarding tours. And don’t forget to visit the ancient headstones at Greyfriars Kirk.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy hiking up to Arthur’s Seat and taking in an extraordinary panorama of the city from its lofty perch.

Where to Stay to See World-Class Art

The interior of the National Museum of Scotland.

Many people think of Glasgow as the epicenter of the Scottish art scene, but art enthusiasts have plenty to discover in Edinburgh! New Town contains the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallieries of Scotland. In addition, the Traverse Theatre offers avant-garde plays, while Jupiter Artland showcases sculptures by groundbreaking artists.

However, don’t overlook Old Town’s contributions to the art scene. Edinburgh Castle is more than just a lovely piece of architecture housing the Stone of Destiny and the Crown Jewels. It also hosts quite a few of Scotland’s endlessly entertaining annual festivals, the most notable of which is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Fringe Festival is one of the largest formal celebrations of art and music in the world, and usually takes place in August.

Where to Stay for Nightlife

Night falling on cobblestone streets in Edinburgh.

Whether you want to dance the night away at one of Edinburgh’s many underground DJ havens, like Cabaret Voltaire and The Bongo Club, or prefer to take in live folk music at Sandy Bell’s, Edinburgh comes alive when the sun goes down. Grassmarket — just below the Castle in Old Town — is home to some of Edinburgh’s oldest, rowdiest pubs.

You can also find great live music near Edinburgh’s port district of Leith. While this is a bit further out from the city center, there are ample and easily accessible bus routes if you plan on staying there.

Where to Stay for Amazing Shopping

A family peruses the Royal Mile during the daytime.

The Royal Mile is royal bliss when it comes to shopping. Stretching from Edinburgh Castle to the Holyroodhouse, this is not just one of the most centralized streets in Edinburgh — it’s also a place where you’ll find some of the most beautiful Victorian architecture and the best shopping in the city. Whether you’re looking for a handmade scarf in the tartan of your ancestors or a trinket to memorialize your trip to the Scott Monument, you’ll find it here.

However, if upmarket options are more to your tastes, try the affluent Bruntsfield area for shops like Totty Rocks for Scots-centered fashions. Meanwhile, the Edinburgh Remakery in Leith offers some of the city’s coolest upcycled goods. Finally, the Grassmarket area includes its fabled medieval market and many neat local craft shops.

Edinburgh FAQ

People walking down the Royal Mile.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in this incredible city. We’ve answered the most common questions below.

How is the city laid out?

The downtown portion of Edinburgh is divided into two distinct areas: the Old Town and the New Town.

The Old Town is the original part of Edinburgh, where you will find many of the city’s most historic and iconic landmarks. The Royal Mile runs through the heart of the Old Town, and it is lined with shops, restaurants, and pubs. The New Town, on the other hand, is the area of the city that was built in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was designed to be a more orderly and modern area, and its streets are wider and more straight than those of the Old Town.

How difficult is it to get around?

Overall, Edinburgh’s layout is easy to navigate, with most of the city’s attractions within walking distance of each other. Coming from Edinburgh Airport, easy tram connections to the Edinburgh Waverley train station make getting to Edinburgh City Centre simple and quick. Edinburgh has highly efficient public transport, including buses that run to all city corners.

How can you stay in Edinburgh for cheap?

Finding a less pricey stay in Edinburgh is all about timing and location. Accommodations by the Royal Mile and Charlotte Square may save you a bit of money just because they’re so centralized that most of the city’s major attractions are walkable. Near Princes Street, accommodations add perks like free parking and Wi-Fi. Moreover, areas like Morningside and Prestonfield are more residential and feature less pricey grocery stores that can benefit smaller budgets.

Enjoy Your Stay in the “Athens of the North”

No matter what part of the city you love best, VacationRenter helps you stay within a few minutes walk of all the best Edinburgh offers. Whether you’re here to learn about Scottish history at the National Museum of Scotland or find a seat at a trendy cocktail bar in the West End, this cultural hub has a treat for everybody.