5. Visit Lord Voldemort’s grave
If you know what Hogwarts house you’d be in because you’ve taken the online sorting hat test, you’re almost definitely going to have a good time in Edinburgh.
Scotland’s capital city was the birthplace of Harry Potter. It was in The Elephant House café on George IV Bridge that a young J.K. Rowling penned the tale of the Boy Who Lived, taking inspiration for her wizarding world from the winding alleys and turreted buildings of the city.
There are plenty of stop-offs on the Potter Trail, and perhaps the most enthralling is the grave of Thomas Riddle, hidden in a corner of Greyfriars Kirkyard in the city centre. Little is known about the real Thomas Riddle, beyond the fact he died at the age of 72 in 1806, but Rowling herself has suggested the tombstone could have been an inspiration for her choice of name. She regularly took walks through the graveyard while writing the series, and a tombstone of one William McGonagall can be found nearby.
The grounds of Greyfriars Kirk, a church in Edinburgh Old Town © clivewa/Shutterstock
6. Explore higgledy piggledy pubs
During the Fringe, the temptation is to buy a plastic-cup pint for a fiver before rushing into your next show. But there are countless brilliant drinking holes bursting with character around the city.
One of our favourites, the Sheep Heid Inn is right on the other side of Arthur’s Seat, offering a rickety village-pub atmosphere and a decent range of ales, plus a traditional menu (the pan-fried sea bass is our pick). This is one of the Queen’s favourites, so they must be doing something right.
For something more central, the Royal Mile Tavern is what you’d call a proper Edinburgh boozer. Come here for its selection of more than one hundred whiskies, a bite to eat on its classic pub grub menu, or live music (think everything from motown to rock) from 10pm every night.
For something a bit more craft-led, the Hanging Bat on Lothian Road stocks an impressive array of brews from around the world in a cool space with exposed walls.
7. Knock to enter at prohibition-style cocktail bars
For a a slightly different drinking experience, head to Panda & Sons “barbershop”. After entering the bar through a bookcase, you’ll find one of Edinburgh’s coolest prohibition-style cocktail bars, with a chapter-by-chapter menu delivered by a team of expert (and dapper) mixologists.
Nearby Bryant and Mack off Rose Street offers a similarly clandestine experience, but following a “private detective” theme from start (the entrance is a nondescript door beside a window reading Bryant & Mack Private Detectives) to finish (the menu comes in an envelope with “confidential” stamped on the front).
If you’re up for getting a bit more hands-on, Heads & Tales offers gin masterclass sessions where you can taste a number of gins, and learn how you should be serving them up at home.
© Kevin George/Shutterstock
8. Book a stay with style
Accommodation is something of an afterthought for most Fringe-goers: grit your teeth, accept you’ll pay double the usual rate, and it’ll probably be an Uber journey home after your last show.
But visit out of season to experience some of the most exciting design-led accommodation offerings in Britain, without burning too big a hole in your pocket.
Recently opened Eden Locke – the sister of Leman Locke in Aldgate, London – is impressive as soon as you enter, with the ground-floor Hyde & Son serving up supreme third-wave coffee during the day and cocktails during the evenings (try the espresso martini). The rooms, with their L-shaped sofas and pastel tones – plus nice touches like the copper crockery and vintage telephone – offer a relaxed hub to wind down in after a day in the city.
Set in a series of tall Georgian townhouses in the West End, Chester Residence merges the benefits of serviced apartments with the luxurious trappings of a top boutique hotel. Expect fluffy robes and freestanding baths, and – in some of the rooms – views of the castle. This one still isn’t cheap, but one benefit is that you won’t want (or need) to leave.
Greg travelled to Edinburgh with London North Eastern Railway, who offer direct trains from London to Edinburgh. Advance returns start from around £70. Explore more of Scotland with The Rough Guide to Scotland. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. Header image: 123rf/Keattikorn Samarnggoon.