Planning a city trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, and looking for info and reviews of places to stay and things do to? Here are our tips for travelers planning to visit Edinburgh: advice on eco-friendly hotels, tours and activities in the Scottish capital.
Edinburgh and sustainability
Most people associate Edinburgh with history, old architecture, ghost tours, and of course the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in summer. Less known are the city’s efforts in sustainable city development and in “greening” its tourism experiences, as described in its strategic plan, Sustainable Edinburgh 2020. For modern, environmentally conscious travellers, this is good news, since it means healthier and more enjoyable city trips.
Eco-friendly hotels in Edinburgh
The Dunstane Hotel
Very central, five minutes walk from Haymarket Station, West End. A lovely boutique hotel, modern, yet cozy. The Dunstane does a particularly good job at keeping electricity consumption low, using low-energy fittings and bulbs, together with sensors and key card-controlled lighting in rooms. We also like the hotels commitment to recycling.
The Straven Guest House
The perfect accommodation and location if visiting Edinburgh during the very busy summer months. The Straven Guest House’s seaside location in Portobello, a mere 15 minutes by bus from the city centre, allows you to venture into town to enjoy the Fringe Festival, for instance, but spend the evenings and nights quietly close to the sea. The guest house has an extensive eco policy, and does everything possible to keep water and electricity consumption low while offering its guests an enjoyable stay.
Eco-friendly Edinburgh tours & urban adventures
Edinburgh is a city easy to get around in. You can walk almost everywhere, which makes walking tours a perfect choice to explore and soak in the atmosphere marked by the city’s long history but with a very modern edge.
Our Dynamic Earth
Directly in the city centre at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat lies Our Dynamic Earth. We have to throw in here that Arthur’s Seat is not called after he legendary King Arthur, but the name evolved from the Gaelic expression “Height of Arrows”, as numerous prehistoric arrowheads have been found in that area.
The location has been wisely chosen as Arthur’s Seat is one the largest of the three parts of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano site of special scientific interest (SSSI) which is designated to protect its important geology.
Our Dynamic Earth is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. It is a visitor attraction and an events and learning centre and Green Tourism Gold certified. It takes you on a journey through time, teaching interactively how our planet earth evolved and developed. Good option for rainy days.
Gorgie City Farm
If you want a bit of countryside feeling on your trip visit Gorgie City Farm. It is a little farm within the Edinburgh city boundaries. You might not expect a bunch of chickens, pigs and sheep just off one of the busy Edinburgh roads, but that’s what Gorgie City Farm is – a quiet heaven just within a busy city.
Open 7 days per week, you can stroll around the grounds, watch the sheep graze or have a coffee at the lovely café with home-made and seasonal food. They also have a little stall to buy local produce from, so if you want an hour away from the craze of the city and support the local community this is the place to go to.
Sandeman’s New Europe Walking Tours
Daily walking tours at 10am, 11am and 2pm during the spring and summer months and at 11am and 2pm during autumn and winter. The tours take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on your guide and they are tip based, so you give how much you feel the tour was worth. There is no more eco-friendly option to explore a city. More
Excursion to North Berwick
Just half an hour train ride from Edinburgh lies North Berwick. That quiet little town invites to stroll along the seaside and have a cup of coffee. But it also offers an opportunity to see amazing wildlife at the North Berwick Seabird Centre. Take a boat trip to Bass Rock, home to a colony of around 83.000 gannets, and get a glimpse at those cute little puffins (from spring through to autumn).
Cycle the Pentlands Hills
Cycling in the Pentlands Hills Regional Park just south-west of Edinburgh is also a wonderful way to spend the day. You can look up the routes on here as well. Plus you can easily cycle to the Pentlands from Edinburgh.
Rent a bike at Biketrax or Leithcycleco. Pedals offers great bike care for those visiting Edinburgh on their own two wheels.
Healthy eateries in Edinburgh
on St Mary’s Street: a stylish vegetarian restaurant (with vegan options) in the heart of Edinburgh. Order an olive polenta with roasted vegetables and goats curd as a starter, stir fried vegetables with udon noodles and smoked tofu as a main and for dessert indulge yourself with maybe a whisky pannacotta with warm pear, for a Scottish touch. Website
An Edinburgh institution is Henderson’s. It opened in 1962 as an outlet for the produce of husband and wife Mac and Janet’s East Lothian Farm. Today it offers contemporary vegetarian cuisine while holding to its founding philosophy: delicious, wholesome food using fresh, local ingredients and all at affordable prices.
Whereas David Bann is a dining restaurant, Henderson’s offers its food in a canteen style setting to canteen prices, but in a relaxing and laid back environment. It is also a platform for artists and features musical performances in the evenings, plus the restaurant area is as well a gallery space devoted to showcasing the best in contemporary art.
Real Foods: For AirBnB Guests and Self-Caterers
If you are more of a self-supplier and maybe booked yourself into an AirBnB accommodation, where you have the opportunity to cook, then check out Real Foods. The online store for fair trade, organic, special diet and vegetarian produce, which is shipping worldwide, has two location-based stores in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh weather & other travel info
For the latest weather forecast for Edinburgh, check weather24.com.
For all sorts of useful information about Edinburgh as travel destination, check wikitravel.org.
Need travel insurance?
Still need travel insurance for your upcoming trip to Edinburgh? Here’s why World Nomads is our favorite travel insurance for city trips.
Our thanks to Edinburgh resident Franziska Neuper for contributing to this article.
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