The Grassmarket is an ancient market place in the Old Town of Edinburgh. It’s cobbled streets lie in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle. Together with neighbouring Victoria Street, it is home to a quirky collection of independent shops, historic pubs, restaurants and other attractions.
First mentioned in documents from the 1300s, the Grassmarket became one of the main market places in the city. It was, for most of its history, a very poor area. Famously, a place of execution until the late 18th century. Today it has become an upmarket area with rising property prices and it remains a busy part of Edinburgh life. Still with a weekly market, which now sells artisan foods and crafts.
Shopping in the Grassmarket
A mix of buildings, dating from the early 1700s onwards, surround the Grassmarket. These are occupied by a number of businesses, including shops, pubs and restaurants. Popular and unusual shops include Armstrong’s Vintage (one of the oldest vintage clothes stores in the country), Mary’s Milk Bar (a retro ice cream parlour), and Mr Wood’s Fossils (fossils, minerals and meteorites galore). On Saturdays, there is a local market, which sells fine Scottish food and drink, along with handmade gifts and souvenirs.
Shopping on Victoria Street
Victoria Street is a steep street of cobbles, which winds up from the Grassmarket to George IV Bridge, near the Royal Mile. With its unusual shape and collection of quirky shops, its often said to be the idea behind Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series. JK Rowling wrote most of the books while living here in Edinburgh and took inspiration from all around her. Indeed, there are now two wizarding shops on Victoria Street, Museum Context and The Boy Wizard, which sell Harry Potter merchandise. Other shops include I J Mellis (traditional cheesemonger) John Kay’s (antique shop) and The Whisky Shop (whiskies and other spirits).