Edinburgh is a city steeped in history by nature, with cobbled alleyways and streets steeped in centuries of storytelling. In the Old Town, right at the centre of all the action, history is at its best, offering visitors an eclectic mix of independent shops, quirky gift shops and designer clothing boutiques. Here are some of the best.
1. CONTEXT Interiors
Step back in time and surround yourself with crisp old maps of Edinburgh lanes, vintage globes that would fit perfectly in a dusty, pored-over library, and vintage knick-knacks that make great souvenirs of this historic city. Located in the heart of Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town, this award-winning independent shop sells a unique range of gifts inspired by traditional craftsmanship, vintage design and a passion for period property. Also be sure to check out the upstairs, where the plain walls are filled with vintage signs and posters.
40 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW.
2. Jellybean Kitchen
Savour a delicious snack at Fudge Kitchen, where handmade fudge has been made for over 30 years. Using traditional methods with lots of love, they say you can taste some unique flavours straight from the heart of Edinburgh. Before you decide what to buy, you can pick up the perfect gift to take home in a decorative little box, or simply sample the freshly baked product. You can also purchase a jar of deluxe fudge sauce or a delicious drink fudge to complement your purchase.
30 High St, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1TB.
3. Antique shop at the Court
Opened in 1942 as an oriental importer, Palace Antiques underwent some changes during the war, transitioning from oriental imports to affordable costume jewelry and old pawn items. The jewelry is made on-site from recycled items and handcrafted by the family that runs the business – four generations of creators and makers. Quality is at the heart of Court Curio Shop, where items are handmade wherever possible, using Scottish materials.
519 Lawnmarket Old Town, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2PE.
4 Underground work.
Music lovers will have a ball at the underground Solu’Shn, the only remaining indie dance, electronic and specialist record store in all of Edinburgh. Here, you can browse through stacks of records and CDs and listen to some of your favourite vintage music as you go. Dating back to 1995, this much-loved music store has stood the test of time, adding vinyl record cases, bags, art supplies, T-shirts, books and magazines in the age of digital downloads.
9 Cockburn St, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1BP.
5. Joe Cool
In 1978, Joe Cool was born as a place to sell exotic jewelry to the masses. From unique rings to distinctive necklaces, Joe Cool has gained an international reputation for its extraordinary selection of merchandise. Located in the winding old lanes of Edinburgh’s Old Town, it’s the perfect place to pick up a piece or two of memorabilia that’s as eclectic as the city itself. Come here to simply browse the gallery-style displays, or buy your own fun items.
3 Greyfriars, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ.
6 Herman Brown.
Herman Brown started out in a market stall with founder Anna Nicholson and another vintage enthusiast. However, with so many ideas, they soon decided they needed a space to showcase their wares. Since then, they have expanded the store to include boutique clothing from Munich, Amsterdam, Seattle and more. Even today, the store continues to introduce new and exciting products, especially quality accessories and jewelry, making every visit unique.
151 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP.
7. Edinburgh Bookshop
Bookworms have the perfect hideaway in Edinburgh Bookshop, a landmark for reading enthusiasts that has adorned the city’s streets for more than 20 years. Originally known as West Port Books, it was pulled back from the brink of extinction in 2006 and revived with an eclectic selection of vintage books and antiques. Don’t miss the basement, where there are four more rooms filled with dusty spines and literary masterpieces. It’s the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon on the streets of Edinburgh, then return to the real world again.
145-147 West Port, Edinburgh, EH3 9DP.
If you’ve got a long list of souvenirs to buy, check out Present, a unique gift shop that sells all sorts of quirky creations, such as personalised helium balloons, handmade jewellery, and eclectic homeware and stationery. Established in 2006, the shop’s mission is to bring the quirky to Edinburgh’s old streets, with shelves filled with quirky decorations, unique posters and one-of-a-kind knick-knacks.
18 St Mary’s St, Edinburgh EH1 1SU.
Fashion boutiques abound in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and Godiva is one of the best. Offering a unique alternative to “fast food drab fashion”, it offers quirky design and style for anyone who wants a break from the high street collections. In the back room, you can browse rows of hand-picked clothes, while the showroom is filled with the work of talented Scottish designers and independent labels. If you want to stand out from the crowd, Godiva has the power of limited editions to fill your wardrobe.
9 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA.
Traditional hats have long taken a backseat to modern fashion, but Fabhatrix have pulled them up to the present day with their quality selection of headwear.Focusing on quality materials and quirky designs that you won’t find on the high street, Fabhatrix produce handmade hats in their on-site workshop, so you know you’re buying a fine piece of Scottish craftsmanship. Familiar with local materials, sizes and hat styles, Fabhatrix is a one-stop shop for all hat lovers.
13 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh EH1 1JY.