You’ll find artisan bakers and chocolatiers as well as great cafes, bars and restaurants. The South Side is also home to the majority of Edinburgh’s students as well as being a mecca for culture lovers and architecture buffs and dominated by the vast green space of The Meadows and Holyrood Park.
The Southside was Edinburgh's first real suburb and the building of George Square in 1766 was the first major development outside the Old Town. The University of Edinburgh founded in 1583, is the sixth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's ancient universities with many buildings located in the area.
The Meadows was formerly the South or Burgh Loch, drained in the mid-17th century and turned into a public park by early 18th century.
The impressive McEwan Hall is the graduating hall of Edinburgh University and was a gift to the city in 1897 by William McEwan, a brewer and politician. This rather grand Italian Renaissance style structure features mural decoration by William Palin. Also on the Southside is the impressive Surgeons Hall, home to the Royal College of Surgeons. An outstanding building, it is popularly used as a venue for weddings and conferences.
What to see and do – museums, galleries, parks
Explore the diversity of the natural world, world cultures, art and design, science and technology and Scottish history, all under one roof at the National Museum of Scotland on Chamber Street or enjoy the green space of The Meadows, one of Edinburgh’s most iconic parks and perfect for a romantic stroll, picnic or even a cricket match!
The Royal Commonwealth Pool has recently been refurbished and right next to this is an entrance to the vast expanse of Holyrood Park.
For shopping there's a great variety of ethnic shops on Nicolson Street and South Clerk Street. Lothian Road hosts great restaurants, bars and shops and heads south into Tollcross with Real Foods, an excellent health food store. Around the corner there's Pekoetea for a proper brew, or into Brunstfield, Drinkmonger for a lovely bottle or two. Miss Dixiebelle is a 50s inspired vintage shop.
Word Power Books is a shop with a heart and conscience and runs the Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair.
Bruntsfield and Morningside have a relaxed village feel and a unique mix of original boutiques, interior design and furniture stores. You’ll find artisan bakers and chocolatiers as well as great cafes, bars and restaurants. Try Rosie Brown for beautiful jewellery, Coco of Bruntsfield for amazing chocolates and Ooh Ruby Shoes for, you guessed it, the latest in shoes.
Street food is on the up in Britain and there's a growing number of quality food carts in this area. The Elephant Juice Food Company has a permanent pitch in George Square, serving ethical, healthy food with all ingredients sourced locally. At the top of Middle Meadow Walk, Tupiniquim, is an upbeat Brazilian kiosk serving phenomenal gluten-free crepes with an extended hot food menu.
The city’s first Lebanese restaurant, Beirut is a charismatic and reasonably priced venue offering delicious Middle Eastern dishes whilst Kalpna, a vegetarian Indian restaurant serves up one imaginative dish after another. Field offers an excellent menu of fine Scottish cuisine at a reasonable price and The Southern Bar has been given a smart makeover, with an extensive craft beer selection to go with the equally varied burger menu.
It might be small, but The Wee Boulangerie is fast gaining a reputation as one of the finest artisan baker’s and pastry shops in the entire city, while those with a sweet tooth will not be able to resist being drawn towards The Chocolate Tree, well-known for its organic, bean-to bar speciality chocolate.
The Southside offers a wide range of cultural venues for music and theatre. Summerhall pretty much covers the gamut of artistic endeavours and positively thrives all year-round. Edinburgh's landmark concert venue, the Usher Hall, embraces the widest range of music and events, including rock, pop, jazz, world, blues and comedy or for more intimate music events try The Queen’s Hall, also home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
A leading light for great writing, the Traverse Theatre has long played a key role in Scotland’s drama scene, celebrating everyone from established names to emerging writers. The Royal Lyceum Theatre has established itself as a go-to venue for quality plays whilst the recently refurbished King’s Theatre is the home of panto and the Gang Show and the Festival Theatre is an Edinburgh institution.
JK Rowling scribbled the first Harry Potter book and the boys from Nirvana made their mark here before they became world-famous.
Whether you’re enjoying life as a student or Morningside lady - for vibe, atmosphere with an eclectic mix of entertainment, shopping and dining then head south.
This is Edinburgh – Visit Edinburgh’s Southside for a fantastic mix of places to see and things to do.