If there was one area of Edinburgh which features a perfect balance of everything that makes the city great, we'd say it's the Grassmarket. In this small but busy area right in the heart of the Old Town, you'll find interesting history, lovely places to eat and drink, and a great place to sit and watch the world go by. In this guide, we'll be looking at everything which makes the Grassmarket worth visiting, all updated for 2023. Let's get into it:
Where is The Grassmarket?
The Grassmarket is located just beneath the Royal Mile, right in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. You can reach The Grassmarket easily from almost anywhere else in the centre of the city, with easy walks from Lothian Road, Nicholson St, and George IV Bridge. It is located within a hollow and sits beneath the ground level of the rest of the surrounding areas, so from the Royal Mile it is quite easy to get to as it's downhill!
What is there to see in the Grassmarket?
As we said in our introduction, there is quite a bit to see in the Grassmarket. Here are the highlights:
The Covenanters Memorial
The Bow Well
The Grassmarket market
On the day we visited, there were about 20 stalls, so not huge amounts but enough to provide a good mix of options. This is a typical amount of stalls to find there. The paella stall (pictured on the right) is usually there every weekend and is always top-notch, you'll often find the same company at the popular Stockbridge Market.
You'll also find lots of jewellery stalls, with local businesses selling handmade items which we really liked the look of. Businesses such as Angelina Jewellery and B Thomson Jewellery are frequently here and have great stalls to visit.
And we have to give a special mention to the Knight's Kitchen stall, which was selling East African food that we really enjoyed and which was very well priced! As we mentioned, the market runs every Saturday between 10am and 5pm, and is always on regardless of the weather!
The Grassmarket pubs
The Beehive Inn
The Black Bull
The White Hart Inn
Cold Town House
The Last Drop
The name of this pub has a double meaning - most assume it refers to the last drop of a pint, which it sort of is. But it's also in reference to the last hanging held in the Grassmarket in the late 19th century. Some people say this pub was where people would be taken for their last meal before being hanged. We like this pub a lot and not only are the beers good, but the food is also great. Learn more here - nicholsonspubs.co.uk
Aside from pubs, there are a few other places you might like to visit during your time in the Grassmarket:
Mary's Milk Bar
El Toro Loco
Anything else to mention?
Granny's Green Steps lead up towards the castle, but be warned - this is really steep! You'll find these steps just to the side of the Cold Town House building.