A Couples Guide to Edinburgh
Welcome to Rose & Julien’s
Guide to Edinburgh, for Couples!
We are a husband and wife photographer duo - we specialise in couple and elopement photography for couples visiting Scotland.
We are both outlanders who fell in love with Scotland and Scotland's capital city. We have both lived in Edinburgh at various times in our Scottish journey, before moving to the countryside where we live today. We want to share a humble guide for couples visiting Edinburgh - an authentic and firsthand guide of things we actually enjoy and love, and might not be featured in the usual tourist guide books.
Our 'Guide to Edinburgh for Couples' is organised by regions of Edinburgh, with a few extra sections thrown in. We've also included a handy google map at the end, with everything pinned, to best help you visualise and plan your trip!
EDINBURGH OLD TOWN
By far the most visited area of the capital. It is historical, humbling and simply breathtaking. This is the part of the city you’ll easily find a lot of information about. So we’re not going to talk about visiting the castle, or ghost tours, but our more personal recommendations for this fascinating area.
Let’s start with breakfast! La Barantine is an authentic French bakery in the heart of the town. Julien used to work there as a barista many moons ago! Delicious pastries and coffee for the morning but you will also find a great lunch and beautiful, enticing cakes that you can view in their window on the iconic Victoria Street.
89 West Bow
Ideal to walk off that French breakfast! The Vennel is a long staircase leading to the very best view of Edinburgh Castle. This is one you've likely seen on instagram already! But it's not the easiest to find..
The bottom of the staircase starts at the west end of Grassmarket - locate Mary’s Milk bar (great ice cream, so we’re told!). As you face the shop, you should spot steps on the right of the shopfront. Simply hike all the way up to the top, turn around and enjoy the view!
What's more, you can also find a section of the old city wall - Flooded Wall - that dates back to 1560!
Tweed. It's one of the great staples of Scotland's heritage. This beautiful wool based fabric is a must-have in any Scottish wardrobe. We personally love the designs you'll find in Walker Slater. They carry a mix of modern and classic takes on traditional Menswear and Ladies fashions. You'll find some garments perfect for a photoshoot in the Scottish countryside 😉.
They have two shops in Edinburgh, one for Ladies and another for Gentlemen, really easy to find they are located on the same iconic street, Victoria Street.
16-20 & 44-46 Victoria street
UNDER THE STAIRS
A wee hidden gem in the heart of Old Town - we only discovered it thanks to some close friends last year! Delicate but humble menu, great selection of drinks and a cosy atmosphere.
3A Merchant St
This one is hard to miss with its bright red shop front! But inside is an endless rabbit hole of vintage pieces. Second hand Barbour coats, vintage Levi’s and even some kilts! Have a browse you will most likely leave with something unique!
MACKENZIE LEATHER EDINBURGH
Another hidden shopping gem! These skilled craftsmen make intricate and timeless leather bags in Edinburgh Old Town. Their traditional workshop is located at the back of the shop, so you can actually watch their skilled hands at work whilst you browse the show room. Perhaps you'll find your next handbag, belt or even Sporran - if you did find a kilt in Armstrongs!
17 St Mary’s street
A quieter, more residential part of the city that's getting some attraction thanks to our first two recommendations. To find Stockbridge you will have to cross the New Town (not that new!)
If you haven’t heard of dean village then maybe you’ve seen photos of it - it's fast becoming one of the Insta hotspots in Edinburgh. But this old village has a rich and long history. Once upon a time Dean Village was the bakers village! This dwelling along the Water of Leith was once home to 11 flour mills, working and supporting Edinburgh until the 19th Century.
Although the mills are no longer active you can still see nods to its history throughout - miller’s stones, carved stone plaques and the architecture of the flats that were once mills. It used to be a village outside of Edinburgh, but was swallowed up over time by the ever expanding capital and is now just 7 minutes on foot from Princes Street!
A great way to enjoy Dean village is to start from the village, walk around the old buildings and lose yourself in the history of the place. Then begin to make your way through Dean Gardens following the Water of Leith. You will find yourself in a woodland by the river with stunning monuments like Dene Bridge and St Bernard’s Well.
This short walk will take you directly into Stockbridge, where you can find plenty of great coffee shops and restaurants, as well as our next recommendation..
Another Instagram famous location that has a great history! It is what we call a 'mews', or back street to the grander townhouse buildings. This wee street was once where the servants lived and parked the cars, and arguably is now more popular than it's fancier counterpart!
The street is residential, so we kindly ask to be respectful when visiting.
After all that walking you certainly deserve a coffee and tasty pastry! Söderberg is Swedish cafe that offers a great selection of baked goods and coffee. They even serve ice cream during the Summer season (although we cannot guarantee the weather for it!).
They have 7 branches across the city, and we also recommend the restaurant in Quartermile for their Sourdough pizza! But more on that later on..
3 Deanhaugh Street
SMITH & GERTRUDE
Their motto says it all: Wine, Cheese, Company. A little bit of dolce vita with some cheese and charcuterie board, great wine and maybe some romantic company in this very pretty and atmospheric place.
We love it!
26 Hamilton Place
Charity shops in the UK are second hand shops run by a variety of charities. Stockbridge has an abundance of them dotted in-between the cafes, bars and bakeries. So if you find a piece you like, for a fraction of the price, you do a little good deed at the same time! Let’s be honest though, not all charity shops are equal. But Stockbridge is particularly great when it comes to quality, and we've been known to find some absolute gems!
Leith is a great area, very local (we've both lived in the area at different times, before we even met!) with not many tourists. Leith Walk is a two mile street that leads from the east end of New Town to the picturesque and historical harbour of the Shore. Here’s our recommendations for the area..
Best panini in Edinburgh! This Italian deli is on Leith Walk and offer a taste of real Italy. Very low-key yet authentic, offering great Italian products, imported cheese and meat and, of course, a great panini!
32 Crighton Place
You'll find the Shore at the end of Leith Walk. It's a beautiful area that almost feels like a wee village away from Edinburgh. There are great seafood restaurants and coastal themed bars and pubs around the area, some we've recommended below..
Great pub with great food! The rustic ambiance feels very Edinburgh, highly recommended!
23-24 Sandport Place
A little Italian restaurant with fantastic ambiance and brilliant food! A hidden gem that only locals know. One of our personal favourites in the city, and a great choice for an intimate, fuss-free date.
30 Sandport St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6EP
A charming pub with a naval theme that fits with the location! Rustic and spacious, good food too!
44A Constitution Street
One of the most romantic places in Edinburgh (according to us anyway!). A beautiful Victorian harbour with an impressive lighthouse. There is a good seafood restaurant, as well as a "chippy” to get your fish & chips. No matter the time of year it is always windy, so be sure to wear layers!
Another very local area that isn't considered by most visitors. It does offer a handful of surprising gems, and the charity shops are also very good.
An alternative to the very popular Arthur's Seat. A beautiful hillscape with a woodland, duck pond and lots of paths to explore! Bonus point, you get a great view OF Arthur's Seat from the top, which gives Edinburgh a whole new perspective!
The hill is also host to the Royal Observatory, an impressive Victorian astronomy hub, where universities and research institutions continue observing the sky above Edinburgh today.
Skip this one if you're vegan - this is Edinburgh's staple for meat eaters! Great food, rich and dark ambiance. They pride themselves in quality and service, which they've certainly always delivered to us.
We definitely recommend it!
88 Bruntsfield Place
If you find yourselves with a free evening, or perhaps the weather in town is a little dreich (miserable!), you might consider looking to catch a movie. Well, you may as well head straight to the best, most romantic cinema in Edinburgh!
The Dominion is an art deco cinema, with couches! Ideal for a couple to cosy up and enjoy a film, with a drink ordered through their first class service - they'll bring you the drinks directly to you. Our favourite cinema by far!
Newbattle Terrace, EH10 4RT
Anyone who knows us will understand our penchant for pizza! And during our much-loved time in Edinburgh we've tried many of the various pizzarias. Here's our favourites..
Pizzeria 1926 is a little out of the way if you're staying in Old Town, but this Italian pizzeria is 1000% worth the distance! It's incredibly low-key, authentic Italian - think football jerseys on the wall and Birra Moretti on tap. The pizza is *chefs kiss* excellent - dare we say the best in the city? We strongly recommend booking in advance if you'd like a table, any day of the week. They're THAT good.
85 Dalry Road
Just down the road from Pizzeria 1926, but they also have other restaurant on The Shore. Very different pizza and very different ambiance, but still excellent. As the name suggests, they have a 'geek' theme, with pizzas named after comic books/video games culture. It's less traditional, but the pizzas are incredible!
19 Dalry Road
As promised, more about that sourdough pizza from Söderberg! You will find the same great pastries as their Stockbridge cafe in their Pavilion venue, but there are two key differences: 1. They make great sourdough pizza in the middle of the restaurant. 2. The location is great! The restaurant is located in Quartermile, an area that has managed to perfectly harmonise the historic, old building of the past with new, modern architecture.
A great area that's worth a visit!
1 Lister Square
Very handy if you’re doing some shopping around Princes Street! This tiny pizzeria is nestled down Rose Street, and offers classic pizza with superb dough, as well as more creative and Scottish themed recipes.
172 Rose Street
SOME GEMS WORTH VISITING, JUST OUTSIDE OF EDINBURGH
Yes we know, this is supposed to be a guide TO Edinburgh, not outside of Edinburgh! But it's such a brilliant city, with other very brilliant locations very close by. So here's a rundown of some more recommendations reachable by train, taxi or car...
DR NEIL'S GARDEN
A dictionary definition of a hidden gem! A beautiful, real life secret garden in Duddingston. Nestled by a loch on the south-east slopes of Arthur's Seat, it is a perfect place to go for a quiet, romantic wander. Double check the opening times before heading out, this secret garden gets locked at night!
Duddingston itself is a wee village that is also worth exploring. You will find the great “Sheep Heid Inn” - a pub established in 1360 that continues to offer great food and drink to weary travellers.
5 Old Church Lane
If you're looking for a good half-day trip then a quick 30 minute train journey to North Berwick is ideal. The harbour of this beautiful seaside town is particularly picturesque, and there's a handful of great shops to peruse. For coffee, we recommend Steampunk coffee and Bostock Bakery (incredible pastries!), and you'll find a European style display of ice-cream at Alandas Gelato.
If you have a car we also recommend visiting the sweeping dunes of Yellowcraig Beach, 10 minutes down the coastline.
THE SCOTTISH BORDERS
Last, but definitely not least! We had to finish strong with our Home! The Borders railway will take you to Galashiels where you can visit the The Great Tapestry of Scotland or Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott. If you have a car you can visit the towns of Melrose and Jedburgh, known for their spectacular Abbeys.
St. Mary's Loch is an area of outstanding beauty, that offers an abundance of watersports, mountain biking, hiking, or even just some peace and quiet! We have a whole other blog post dedicated to the Scottish Borders, which you can have a read of here.
But, of course, the best thing to do in the Borders is our Couples Photography experience in the Scottish countryside! We offer relaxed and romantic photoshoot sessions to visitors and we run the majority of our sessions in the Scottish Borders. You can simply hop on a train, we pick you up and drive to a beautiful, classic Scottish location to create memories of your time together in Scotland's breathtaking countryside!
YOUR EASY MAP
Finally, as a thank you for getting ALL the way through this blog post, here’s our Google map with all of our recommendations, pinned and ready to go!