When people think of Edinburgh they often think of summertime. The all consuming, sprawling festival tents. The royal mile bursting with culture vultures and street entertainers. The late nights spent drinking novelty spirits in pop-up bars – always with a free pair of sunglasses, slightly askew.
Fast forward a few months to the first crisp, winter’s day. Brilliant, steely blue skies. A light frost gently melting on New Town railings. Steam rising from basement cafes and twinkling lights outside The Dome. This is the Edinburgh we, the locals, have been waiting for.
Our city is best explored on foot, so grab your bobble hat and walk the Water of Leith from Stockbridge. You’ll arrive at The Shore, where Mimi’s Bakehouse is conveniently located for a slice of home baking and a deliciously rich hot chocolate, often topped with more cake, because, well, it’s winter and we like to indulge. Newcomers, wine cafe Toast, are also making waves along the shoreline – I’ve not been yet but they are on my list! South of the city, the nature reserve at Hermitage of Braid is worth a scrunch around before a warming tipple in the Canny Man’s on Morningside Road.
Edinburgh’s independent shops boast a dazzling array of winter worthy garments, making the prospect of festive shopping so much easier. Visit one of my favourite accessories shops, Covet, on Thistle Street to find the gift no one else will be giving (last year they launched their won range of leather bags, and they are beyond beautiful!), then head to Homer on Howe Street, or Jeffery Interiors further down the road, for some serious winter interiors inspo.
Of course, we Edinburghers also like to feast. Last year we welcomed Dishoom with open arms. The buzzy, Bombay Cafe-style dining had Edinburghers queuing out the door, even in December. The Wee Restaurant brought its hearty yet elegant seasonal menu to the city for us all to enjoy, and has established a firm spot on our list of Edinburgh favourites, and The Ivy on the Square fills more than a corner of St Andrew Square.
Meanwhile, slightly off the beaten track, Good Brothers Wine Bar does stunningly simple, Italian sharing plates coupled with an excellent wine list, and little furry friends are most welcome. Further towards the West End you can channel some apres-ski vibes (like these) at Le Di-Vin with their raclette evenings.
Finally, every winter’s day needs a roaring fire, and you’ll find just that in The Last Word on St Stephen’s Street. Bag an armchair next to the fire and hunker down. The bar staff are full of great cocktail recommendations, so let yourself be guided by them and try something new.