So, you’ve already visited all the usual things to do in Edinburgh and you’re looking for something a little different? Well, if you’re on the lookout for hidden gems in Edinburgh, we’ve got a treasure trove of secrets to tell.
Hidden Gems in Edinburgh Right on our Doorstep
One of our favourite hidden gems in Edinburgh happens to be right on our doorstep here at Parliament House Hotel. While most people head up Calton Hill for the spectacular views (and who could blame them?). What they don’t know is that amidst the ancient monuments and historic architecture is a wonderful collection of new work by up and coming artists. So, while you’re admiring the view, pop into the Collective Gallery at the Old Observatory and City Dome and see what’s on display.
Tour the Oldest Building on the Royal Mile
No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without walking the cobbled streets of the Royal Mile. And while a turn down just about every winding close and hidden path is bound to unearth a treasure trove of hidden gems, you don’t want to miss out on a tour of John Knox House.
This little gem is the oldest building on the Royal Mile (which is saying something!). Take a step back to the 15th century as you hear the drama unfold in each room of the medieval house.
Find the Beautiful Thistle Chapel in St Giles Cathedral
Making your way up the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle, stop in St Giles Cathedral and marvel at Edinburgh’s most impressive architecture.
But don’t forget to look out for the tiny Thistle Chapel in the south east corner the cathedral.
With extraordinarily intricate carvings and painted fittings, it really one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems. And be sure to look up at the magnificent ceiling!
Cross the Threshold of Gladstone’s Land
Gladstone’s Land is just a little further along the Royal Mile. Dating back to the 1550s, the building was once the home of a wealthy merchant, Thomas Gledstane.
In the 1930s, the National Trust for Scotland rescued the ancient building from demolition and restored it to its former glory. The reconstructed rooms, priceless Renaissance painted interior, low ceilings and tiny windows offer an inside peak into the cramped conditions of high-rise tenements 400 years ago.
Visit the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh
This amazing collection of anatomy, pathology and zoology is within the Old Medical School building on Teviot Place. The Anatomical Museum is one of the lesser-known museums in Edinburgh, and is only open on selected days, usually the last Saturday of the month. It’s really worth a visit if you’re in Edinburgh on an open day. With around 12,000 items to see, including anatomical models, skeletal remains, dried preparations and preserved specimens.
Take the Most Mysterious Underground Tour In Edinburgh
One of Edinburgh’s greatest hidden gems is beneath the ground. You’ve probably already visited attractions like Mary King’s Close and the Edinburgh Vaults. But just south of the city is a series of underground caves known as Gilmerton Cove. Unlike those other underground sites, no one really knows why these amazing hand-carved caves exist at all.
Tours of Gilmerton Cove can be arranged, but you have to book your appointment ahead of your visit.
Take in the Starry Sights
When it comes to hidden gems in Edinburgh, the sky’s the limit. The Royal Observatory is the perfect spot for budding astronomers and starry-eyed star gazers. Like most buildings in Edinburgh, the beautiful building itself is a sight to behold. And with a number of exciting cosmic events throughout the year, you can take a tour of the incredible Victorian telescope dome, discover a constellation or two, and travel light-years ahead through time and space along the Milky Way.
Seek Out a Secret Garden
If you’re looking for a bit of peace and tranquillity, but you want an alternative to the usual Princes Street Gardens or Royal Botanic Gardens, check out these hidden gardens in Edinburgh.
Including a Japanese Friendship Garden, a Secret Herb Garden and a therapeutic Walled Garden.
Embark On A Gin-tastic Tour
If there’s one thing Scotland is famous for, it has to be our whisky. But despite the fame of the single malt, we’ve started to make a name for ourselves in gin too. With the annual Edinburgh Gin Festival, countless gin tasting events throughout the year and our very own Edinburgh Gin, the spirit is gaining popularity ground in leaps and bounds. With not one, but two hidden gems in Edinburgh itself, a tour to one of Edinburgh’s gin distilleries is a real treasure.
Take the Plunge at Portobello Beach
Once a popular beach resort, the soft sands of Portobello Beach still attract hardy swimmers who brave the cold waters of the Moray Firth for a dip in the great outdoors.
And on sunny days, the long stretch of coastline is a great place for a picnic.
Scrub Up at the Turkish Baths
Scotland’s capital city might be the last place you’d expect to find a Turkish Baths, but we have one nevertheless.
Just on the city outskirts, near Portobello Beach, you’ll find the first (and probably, only) Turkish baths in the capital. It’s a taste of Middle Eastern flair and tradition amid the sea-front takeaway shops and arcade galleries.
Find Hidden Gems in Edinburgh this Winter
If you’re visiting Edinburgh this winter, why not take advantage of our special offers at Parliament House Hotel? With our January Indulgence Package and February Winter Warmer, there’s no better time to travel.