As a city full of creativity and history, there are certainly plenty of quirky things to do in Edinburgh. It’s a city I had wanted to go back to for a long time – my only visit being nearly a decade ago, I could barely remember the place and was excited to rediscover it. Luckily for me, one of my good friends had just moved to the city a few months before my trip. So, with a little help from her, here’s my guide to the top 7 unusual and quirky things to do in Edinburgh that are off the beaten track.


1. Pickering’s Gin Distillery Tours

It has to be said first, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh’s other main attractions, although sometimes a little overpriced, are all definitely worth a visit. But for an attraction that’s a. away from the crowds and b. a little bit different, the Pickering’s Gin Distillery Tour is a great little find for quirky things to do in Edinburgh.

Although widely known for its whisky, Edinburgh also has a flourishing gin scene too that’s sprung off the back of the spirit’s recent resurgence in popularity. And Edinburgh’s homegrown Pickering’s Gin, are running a tour of their city centre distillery, where they teach you all about the history of gin, how it is made, and their different types of gins. Of course, you get to try some too, with a short sampling session and a G&T in their bar afterwards all included in the ticket price.

Alternative quirky things to do in Edinburgh, Pickerings Gin Distillery tour


2. Collective art gallery

If you are wanting to experience Edinburgh’s creative scene like a local, make sure to visit one of the cities independent art galleries. Although there are many to choose from, Collective was my favourite. Set on top of Carlton Hill, the walk up to the gallery is wonderfully scenic in itself, and inside, there’s a regular programme of exhibitions and events that showcase the diversity of modern art and design.


3. Lovecrumbs

For coffee and amazing tasting cakes, look no further than Lovecrumbs. This little cosy cafe is the perfect spot for a lazy morning or afternoon pick-me-up, ideally located close to both Edinburgh Castle and Grassmarket. The cafe also has a lovely little window seat you can sit in which I loved, it was so snug and great for people watching! I just need to steal it for my flat now…

Alternative quirky things to do in Edinburgh, Love Crumbs


4. Holyrood 9A

Set in the Old Town, Holyrood 9A is a traditional pub with a focus on two things: Good beer and good burgers. I learnt afterwards, that the pub actually has a reputation as one of the best burger joints in the city. Something I would have to agree with. Their burgers tick all the boxes when it comes to taste and choice, with over 16 different ones to choose from. Whilst over at the bar, there’s endless (well 25 to be exact) beers, ciders ales on tap too, which are mostly from local brewers.


5. Montheiths

Montheiths is a small boutique cocktail bar, located on a street just off the Royal Mile. Although it’s right in thick of tourist central, the entrance to the bar is pretty well hidden. Look out for a narrow alley decked out with twigs and string lights. The bar itself is underground giving it a secret cosy vibe, and its cocktail menu is refreshingly experimental. My favourite was the Orchard Bramble, made with gin, blackberry liqueur, apple, lemon and elderflower.

Alternative quirky things to do in Edinburgh, Montheiths

6. Liquorice Tree Gifts

There are lots of fantastic independent and boutique shops on Cockburn Street close to Waverley train station.  And Liquorice Tree Gifts is definitely one of them, selling jewellery, unique gifts and homeware, with designs inspired by Scottish style and heritage. A perfect place to look for presents, or just simply to treat yourself!


7. The Blue painted shop

Now I don’t actually know the name of this shop. However it sits just a few doors down on Cockburn Street with a bright blue painted front. Hence my imaginative name for it. Filled with design-led homeware, books and decorative bits and pieces, it’s the kind of shop where I just wanted to buy everything. A must visit if you are shopping on this street. Especially if you have a slight obsession with buying home decor like I do!

Alternative quirky things to do in Edinburgh, shopping

This isn’t by all means an extensive list of all the quirky things to do in Edinburgh. But hopefully it’s enough for you to start discovering the real side of this wonderful historic city. Have fun!


Interested in quirky things to do in other European cities?

Read my other alternative European city guides 


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