Shopping is frequently a popular pastime for visitors to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, with the usual wave of high street stores – Next, Mark & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams etc – drawing in visitors. But Edinburgh’s greater charm is probably in its smaller, more intimate, unique retailers. Perhaps you’re looking for specialist eco toys, musical instruments, vintage clothing, kites, jokes and novelties, quality knitwear, souvenirs of all kinds, rare malt whisky or whatever. Edinburgh’s many small shops tucked away in the winding streets and quirky buildings of the city are likely to deliver just what you were looking for.
Princes Street is where enthusiastic shoppers flock to when visiting Edinburgh. And indeed, it does have a wide variety of shops to tempt but visitors are also enticed by the stunning setting – after all, the whole street is in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle!
And it’s safer and less crowded than in years gone by – the traffic is now restricted in parts of Princes Street. Main departments stores can be found here, major chains and plenty of places to eat and drink. But also take a look at Princes Street Gardens, the large number of statues and monuments, floral clock, The National Gallery of Scotland, memorials and bandstand, for when you need a break from the incessant shopping!
The Princes Mall shopping centre and the St James Centre (where John Lewis is located) are both very close by. Both offer large selections of retailers and other facilities.
For up to date lists see these websites below.
Edinburgh proudly sports a great selection of specialist whisky retailers – from The Whisky Shop on Princes Street, Princes Mall and on Victoria Street, to Cadenhead Whisky on the Royal Mile, or the Special Scotch Whisky of Edinburgh located not far from the Haymarket station. You will be spoilt for choice in Edinburgh city centre.
Edinburgh proudly offers the visitor a fine selection of traditionally produced Scottish tartan, cashmere and tweed. Elgin Cashmere (on the Royal Mile), House of Edinburgh and Designs on Cashmere definitely provide quality items, as do other retailers such as the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. For classy tweed, try Walker Slater, or for contemporary kilts, 21st Century Kilts offer some amazing and quirky designs. Other souvenir shops offer more affordable versions, perfect for gifts.
Shortbread and other treats
Of course, it seems almost compulsory to return from a trip to Edinburgh with some quality shortbread – try the Shortbread House of Edinburgh on Tennant Street for great choice. Or perhaps fudge is more your thing – if so, the Fudge House on the Royal Mile is definitely worth a trip. The wonderful melt-in-the-mouth Edinburgh rock is a great (if short-lived) souvenir too. Try some from the Lickety Splits gallery (just off the Royal Mile) who also sell artwork, jewellery and gift boxes.
For an upmarket shopping experience, try the House of Fraser at the West end of Princes Street, Harvey Nichols at St Andrews Square or Jenners (also a House of Fraser store) at Princes Street gardens.
Out of Town Shopping
If you’re happy to make a small trip to one of the out of town shopping centres, your efforts will be rewarded. The Gyle is an under-cover shopping experience (with masses of parking, great stores, gym, child-friendly activities and regular events) positioned to the West of Edinburgh beside the bypass, only a few minutes from the M8 and M9. The Ocean Terminal also offers under-cover shopping, plus cinema, fine dining and shopping, gym, spa and soft play area. It is positioned close to the Britannia Yacht at the Ocean Terminal in Leith – just follow the brown tourist signs!
Or try Fort Kinnaird – a large shopping park off the A1, which is home to many classic stores from Accessorize and Argos to Waterstones and WH Smith.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.