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If you like to support the locals whenever you visit a city, you couldn’t be better placed in the Scottish capital. Edinburgh is packed with brilliant independent businesses, from cool and quirky cafés to amazing gift shops selling items crafted by friendly and talented local artisans.
If you’re planning a trip to the bonnie (but not so wee) city sometime soon, make sure you put some of the following independent Edinburgh businesses on your bucket list.
Location: 72-74 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE
Like nothing more than to curl up with a good book? Armchair Books is a brilliant family-run shop for literature lovers that’s tucked away on West Port. The cosy cavern is decked out with vibrant, threadbare rugs and floor-to-ceiling shelves which are piled high with second hand and rare books. Discover titles by your favourite authors or spend time browsing to find something completely new.
Location: 24-26 Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6QN
The Leith area of Edinburgh has long been known for its maritime links and fantastic seafood restaurants. One of those is The Ship on the Shore and it also happens to be one of the best restaurants in the city. Book a table right next to the water and get ready to tuck into all sorts of succulent seafood, from king scallops to smoked haddock, that’s all caught fresh off Scotland’s shores.
Location: 6A/8 Stafford St, Edinburgh, EH3 7AU or 53 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh, EH1 2DJIf you’re keen to pick up some mementos of your trip or purchase an Edinburgh-themed gift, you can’t beat stopping off at Paper Tiger. First opened in 1981, there are now two Paper Tiger stores to choose between in the city. Both sell a wonderful collection of gifts, homeware, toys, jewellery and edible treats, most of which are made by Scottish designers and creatives.
Location: 9 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA
Those after some new threads should definitely put Godiva on their shopping itinerary. The independent Edinburgh boutique is your one-stop-shop for unique and ethical women’s clothing that’s all been made by independent brands.
The shop is divided into two distinctive sections. While the front half has rails showcasing unique pieces from local designers, the back is a treasure trove of gorgeous vintage clothing and accessories.
Location: 18 Stafford St, Edinburgh EH3 7BD
There are also plenty of brilliant independent clothing stores in Edinburgh stocking menswear. Among the many options is Frontiers Man, a cool and casual shop near Edinburgh Distillery opened by a former chartered surveyor back in 2015.
It’s a great destination to uncover high quality pieces from a range of independent brands, from Alex Mill to Nudie Jeans and Stutterheim. The shop has recently branched out into womenswear too, so there’s plenty of choice for everyone.
Location: 20 Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1EN
Always on the lookout for a new handbag or some amazing accessories? Covet is the independent Edinburgh shop for you. The boutique has been supplying the city with gorgeous bags, jewellery and accessories from around the globe since 2007. Browse items from international and local designers in Covet’s warm and welcoming store just around the corner from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Location: 125-137 Pitt St, Edinburgh EH6 4DE
The trend for street food markets isn’t going away anytime soon. Edinburgh has some mouth-watering options, including the award-winning Pitt Street Market. The industrial-chic market in Leith hosts an array of independent food venues from Friday to Sunday. Tempt your tastebuds with a buttermilk chicken burger from The Buffalo Truck, order up a paneer paratha wrap from Free The Chilli or satisfy your sweet tooth with a decadent milkshake from MOO PIE gelato.
Location: 172 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DF
You can’t visit Edinburgh without enjoying a wee dram of Scotch whisky. As you’d expect, the Scottish capital has no shortage of bottle shops and distilleries. For something a little more unique, locally-owned Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop is a brilliant pick. Its flagship store is found near Holyrood and it’s the oldest independent bottler in the country.
As well as selling small batches of their own whisky, you’ll be able to enjoy a tasting session and buy bottles from distilleries around the world. More of a rum or gin drinker? Cadenhead’s has plenty of those to try too.
Location: 88 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
As well as its wide range of galleries and museums, Edinburgh is blessed with independent cinemas where you can catch the latest flicks or watch a weird and wonderful indie movie.
Filmhouse is an amazing local cinema inside a neoclassical Victorian villa in Edinburgh’s New Town. As well as a regular programme of mainstream and arthouse film screenings, Filmhouse is also the home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival which typically takes place every June.
Location: 7 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BP
Right in the heart of the city’s Old Town just off the Royal Mile, The Milkman is a fantastic independent Edinburgh café. Housed in a restored brick-walled former sweet shop, both the exterior and interior are all about beautiful brickwork.
It’s also well-known for its speciality coffee, which is provided by local roasteries that share the same sustainable ethos. And their pastries and sweet treats are delicious too! We’re talking peanut butter and chocolate cookies, cinnamon buns and plenty of vegan options.
Keen to visit Edinburgh soon? If you can, buy tickets in advance and get ready to explore the best of Scotland’s capital.