How to experience Edinburgh like a local. A guide to Stockbridge

A guide to Stockbridge edinburgh

I would encourage you to travel to places yet to be discovered. The area of Stockbridge Edinburgh, well-known to locals, has something of a village atmosphere mixed with some bohemian vibes. Its unique character along with the scenic route along Water of Leith invites many urban explorers who prefer to travel off the beaten road.

Stockbridge is not only a picturesque village but is also well-known throughout Edinburgh and beyond for its quirky second-hand shops among the usual used goods stores. Many have already spotted bargains and for just a few sterling pounds you can own some great quality stuff. As a person who is a resident of this amazing boho village, I’d like you to experience Stockbridge like a local, so I’m sharing my to-do list with you.

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Visit a Bookstore

A cosy cuppa and a chat about books or reading is a great activity on rainy days. Some may think that the internet killed off the independent bookshops but it seems that is not the case in Edinburgh. For me, it’s that kind of cultural activity like going to the cinema or theatre.

People will always buy books and will go to the bookshops and browse. In Stockbridge, you will find great spots to buy a book. My favourite is a Shelter shop located in Raeburn Place. The place is well-known among local people and is often overcrowded on Sundays.

But this is a must-visit place for everyone who loves books and does not want to spend a fortune buying them. Here, also rare books are available. Another independent bookshop, Golden Hare Books, was awarded at the British Book Awards for the best indie bookshop in the UK.

Located on famous St Stephen Street, the bookshop collaborates with local businesses and authors and brings world-class writers to Edinburgh throughout the August Book Festival.

Edinburgh Stockbridge
Edinburgh Stockbridge Bridge

Take a photo at Circus Lane

Instagram famous, this cobbled street is perhaps the prettiest hidden gem in Edinburgh. Circus Lane is nothing more than a narrow historical street along with the mews houses, but it has a tranquillity about it. I walk the street couple of times a week and I am impressed by how the street is well cared for by its residents.

Take a Walk along The Edinburgh Colonies

The group of stone terraced houses known as The Colonies of Stockbridge Edinburgh is a place rich in social history. The Colonies were the product of a pioneering 19th-century scheme to provide decent, well- built and affordable homes for the working-class and their families.

Now, between Glenogle Road and The Water of Leith and close to The Royal Botanic Gardens are some of the most sought-after properties in the city. Here also, you will notice Glenogle Baths, a building dated 1900. It’s the finest example of a swimming pool from the late Victorian era.

Edinburgh Stockbridge Gabriel's Stairs
Edinburgh Stockbridge Gabriel's Stairs

Have a Brunch at Pantry

This is an excellent place for breakfast or brunch, but be prepared to wait for a table. The restaurant does not take bookings and at the weekend there is always a queue.

The food is delicious and being a dog and kid-friendly cafe makes it a perfect spot for locals and tourists alike. The place has been featured among bloggers and Instagrammed extensively for its fresh, tasty, zingy and beautifully presented food.

Take a culture trip to Modern Gallery

This is a must-see venue for modern and contemporary art lovers. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has two galleries and a fantastic sculpture parkland. Take a stunning walk along the river as the Museum is not far from the Water of Leith or Dean Village. The grounds are also the perfect spot for a picnic too.

Have lunch at Stockbridge Market

With superb street food every Sunday, Stockbridge Market is already an institution among foodies. The famous Spanish paella, Japanese dumplings or bags of heavenly marshmallows by the Marshmallow Lady are well worth the trip. The market has become renowned for social gatherings and weekly organic food shopping.

Walk to Dean Village

The circular walk from Stockbridge Edinburgh to Dean Village and the Modern Gallery of Art is a scenic route. For centuries Dean Village was called the Water of Leith village. Along the way, you’ll pass an old millstone, an extravagant healing waters temple, and an ancient viaduct. 

The route runs mainly alongside the river, and although it runs through the heart of Edinburgh there is a surprisingly rural and peaceful feel to the walk. Dean Village itself is a former medieval suburb and was home to a large milling industry. 

The most often photographed building, made of red sandstone is Well Court. The accommodation was built for the tannery workers. The clock tower in the courtyard reminded them to be at home by 10 pm and the Church attendance was compulsory on Sundays. Today, Well Court is perfectly conserved by Edinburgh World Heritage.

Edinburgh Stockbridge Bridge
Edinburgh Stockbridge Water of Leith walkaway

Browse second-hand shops

The prosperous area of Stockbridge Edinburgh makes it a bargain hunter heaven for second-hand trippers. While helping make a difference for an imperative cause, you can also save a few pennies in your pocket.

St Stephen Street is known as a mecca for clothing with a difference. Mainly because of Miss Bizio Couture Shop. The shop is the source for some of the finest vintage clothing and vintage haute couture available anywhere.

Another quirky and unusually named shop, Skinny Pig, has something for everyone of any size. They sell recycled fashion, accessories with designer labels and vintage classics. If you prefer more recent fashion the High Street in Stockbridge is even more packed with second-hand shops and caters for everyone.

Meet locals at Scran & Scallie Pub

The award-winning pub The Scran & Scallie is on the list of Top 50 Gastropubs in the UK. Its approach to local and seasonal produce along with the famous Michelin-starred owners make the pub very popular among Stockbridge  Edinburgh residents. Sunday roast is not to be missed and is regularly described by TripAdvisor users as the best they’ve ever had.

Visit Botanic Garden

Definitely my favourite place in Edinburgh all year round. The gardens are free to enter, however, you have to pay if you’d like to visit the Glasshouse. Beautiful manicured and landscaped, the garden is divided into diverse sections of plants. And including the Chinese Garden, Alpen Garden or Rock Garden with its amazing waterfall cascade.

The Terrace Café has an amazing view of the Edinburgh skyline. The coffee or lunch here is something you must do during your visit to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Stockbridge Botanic Garden and its rocky subgarden

Not everybody knows

Danube Street nr 17 was the location of perhaps Edinburgh’s most notorious brothel. Madam Nora Noyce, shortly after Second War, purchased a townhouse which soon became a business venture or as she described it ‘a house of leisure and pleasure’.

In fact, before customers faded away with girls in the private rooms, they could enjoy coffee, sandwiches and biscuits. The activity apparently was illegal and during 30 years of business, Nora was charged 47 times for living off of immoral earnings.

Despite that, she kept a good working relationship with police authorities. Business bloomed during the best busy days like Festivals or in the time of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Nora died in 1977 and soon afterwards the business was closed down.

"When you see one you will, perhaps, remember another. The idea is to connect to time, weather and place and play a part in the making of a scene, a picture, a reality which is incomplete without you"

‘’6 Times’’ Sculptures

You will experience the Water of Leith walkway differently if you look down the river. This is because of the sculptural project made by Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley, commissioned by the National Galleries of Scotland. 

A set of six life-sized sculptures are a cast of the artist’s own naked body. The figures are permanently installed along a trail leading from the National Gallery of Modern Art down the Water of Leith and the sea.

To see the 6 Times Ground sculpture, you need to stop at the Stockbridge Bridge. You will notice standing in the water, upstream of the bridge, facing downstream, a life-sized cast iron figure.  

6 Times Horizon is outside the entrance to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

6 Times Sky sits in the Water of Leith, near the steps leading down from the back of the gallery

6 Times Right sits in the water, in Powderhall area close to a footbridge in St Mark park, where Warriston Road crosses the river.

6 Times Left sits in the water, just below Anderson Place on a quiet stretch of the Water of Leith downstream from Newhaven Road

6 Times Horizon behind Ocean Terminal, situated at the end of an abandoned pier in Leith Docks, staring out to sea

Edinburgh Stockbridge 6 Times Ground sculpture
Edinburgh Stockbridge 6 Times Ground sculpture

Things to do in Edinburgh

How to experience Edinburgh like a local. A guide to Stockbridge
About me
Scotland Itinerary planning

My name is Kate and I created Scotland Itinerary Planning to give you those life-changing experiences right in the beautiful country I call home.

I’m proud to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities. Living in Edinburgh has provided me a base to explore extensively around this magical little country.

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