I don’t know about you, but I like getting off the beaten path when I travel. If you are in Edinburgh and want to explore some hidden gems outside of the Royal Mile (for the most part), here are some of my favorites:
- Afternoon tea on the Royal Yacht Brittania
- Dog cemetery at Edinburgh Castle
- Toast at Indaba deli
- Omni Center boot sale
- Cramond Island
Afternoon Tea, Royal Style
If you fancy a cuppa while you are in Edinburgh there are a lot of options for afternoon tea, from posh to casual, but if you want something different consider having tea in the Royal Deck Tea Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Take tea on a ship that was him to the British royal family for 40 years. You do have to pay to visit the ship which is now a museum berthed in Edinburgh, but the self guided tour allows you to see the ship from top to bottom, bridge to engine room, and it’s a great tour. Take a break for tea with HRH Queen Elizabeth II for company.
Dog Cemetery at Edinburgh Castle
Technically this is on the Royal Mile, but I am going to give it a pass since it’s cool. This tranquil little cemetery can only be viewed from above, you cannot enter it. It is the final resting place for officer’s dogs and has been in use since 1840.
Toast at Indaba Spanish & South African Deli
It’s dangerous that Indaba is so near my flat. They have the most delicious toast. It has a perfectly garlicky tomato puree on toasted bread topped with either manchego cheese (my preference) or jambon (ham). It comes with a coffee of your choice and is served all day. It’s owned by a married couple, she’s from Spain, he’s from South Africa, and in addition to its fresh food offerings, carries food products from the two countries. I have not tried Indaba restaurant, also located in Edinburgh, but I could eat their toast all day!
Omni Center Boot Sale
I wrote in detail about this sale before and it’s definitely an off the beaten path event. It is held four floors underground in the dark parking garage of the Omni Center. If you are not familiar with a boot sale, it’s basically a flea market held out of people’s car trunks or boots as they are called in the UK. Like any good flea market you never know what you will find. There’s a lot of general used household goods, toys and clothes, but also some good bric a brac, English ceramics, some vintage and even some curiosities. There’s not a lot of big things like furniture so even if you can only purchase things that need to fit in a suitcase you may find something, it’s just a very fun browse.
Cramond Island is a tidal island in the Firth of Forth, say that fast a few times! It is uninhabited and is only accessible by foot at low tide. There is evidence of Roman activity on the island, it has also been used to graze sheep and was used by the War Department during WWI and WWII. It has great hiking, views and overgrown buildings to photograph. The town of Cramond is a quiet seaside escape and the beach offers great beach combing and tidal flats, but there is only one cafe and no shopping, definitely a low key place off the beaten path. You can only walk over and back from the island during low tide. While there is a sign at the crossing point indicating safe crossing times, you should also consult a tide schedule online before you go so you know when low tide will occur. People have gotten stuck out on the island when the tide has come in. I wrote about my visit to Cramond Island in more detail in a previous post.