Sat. Jul 20th, 2024


Home to one of the world’s top universities, cobbled streets, and The Royal Mile, Edinburgh is known for many things – but what about the hidden gems Edinburgh has to offer? The city is full of hidden gems but some a better kept secret than others!

Panda & Sons

Drink poured into a glass with ice in
Panda & Sons serves a range of cocktails both classic and unique

Panda & Sons has a deceiving exterior; when passing, it seems like any other barbershop, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Walking through a bookcase that doubles as a secret door, visitors are transported to a basement speakeasy style bar. The venue opened in 2013 and has since become a world renowned bar serving a range of unique cocktails, craft beers and an extensive wine list.

Panda & Sons uses innovative ingredients to create unheard of cocktails: from ‘Panda Picnic’ to ‘Bakehouse Cobbler’ – this quirky bar was also ranked 32/50 in the World’s Best Bars in 2020. Owned by Iain McPherson who discovered interesting cocktails at bars around the world during his travels; he used these ideas to create Panda & Sons and now has three bars throughout Edinburgh. This bar is a perfect example of a hidden gem in Edinburgh and is a must-visit when travelling to the city.


National Museum Of Scotland – Rooftop Terrace

The inside of the National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland has a multitude of floors to discover

The National Museum of Scotland is full of exhibitions, events and activities with seven floors of art on display – including Art of Ceramics and Viking artefacts. It has a range of both permanent and temporary exhibitions, and it’s also free to enter.

However, the real hidden gem of the National Museum is the rooftop terrace on level seven, showing off the museum’s stunning 360 degree view of the castle and city. The doorway to the terrace isn’t in plain sight so it’s often missed by visitors – a top tip is to go when the sun is setting to truly appreciate the landscape.

The Bon Vivant

A chef plating up a meal
The Bon Vivant offers delightful small plates 

Just a stroll away from Edinburgh Station is the European-inspired restaurant, The Bon Vivant – opened in 2008 by Stuart McCluskey. The restaurant is casual but elegant and often changes its menu, its motto being that guests “eat small but with thought”. Serving delicious small bites and mains including ‘Goat’s cheese filled tuille’ and ‘Thyme brined pork loin’, as well as a Sunday roast, the restaurant has something for every palette. The Bon Vivant have an impressive cocktail and wine selection and is a hidden gem in Edinburgh due to its understated presence.

Cramond Island

The view of beautiful Cramond Island from the Scottish coastline 
A hidden gem in Edinburgh, Cramond Island

Cramond is an old fishing village a short drive north west of the centre of Edinburgh, known for its sandy beaches, quaint cafés and beautiful views of the Firth of Forth – it is a quintessential Scottish village ideal for a coastline walk.


But the real hidden gem is just a 20 minute walk along the tidal causeway to the uninhabited Cramond Island, which is only one third of a mile long. It can be accessed twice a day when the tides are in; it boasts beautiful views of Scotland and still has some World War II bunkers standing sentinel on the island.

Lauriston Castle – Kyoto Friendship Garden

Lilypads in one of the Hidden gems in Edinburgh
The Kyoto Friendship Garden is found in Lauriston Castle, a charming Edwardian Home

A 16th century structure with 19th century extensions, Lauriston Castle is a beautiful manor house with a tranquil atmosphere. Step back in time in this Edwardian Home, not far from Cramond, and enjoy free entry to the grounds; explore the castle interior or book a guided tour.

A further reason to visit is the beautiful Japanese garden called the ‘Kyoto friendship Garden’. Created in 2002 by Takashi Sawano, it was built to honour the friendship between Kyoto and Edinburgh. The garden’s official name is the ‘Castle Garden to Water and Beyond’ and it’s one of the top three Japanese gardens in Britain. With bamboo shelters in which to enjoy a picnic and a traditional Japanese rock garden, the Kyoto friendship Garden is one of the top hidden gems in Edinburgh.


A photograph in a frame on the wall
Summerhall has a range of exhibitions throughout the year


Summerhall was acquired in 2011 after being a School of Veterinary Studies from the early 1900s; it is now an events venue and a hub of all things creative. The venue has an open-plan café-bar called the Gallery bar and Courtyard bar as well as exhibitions, films and shows on throughout the year.

One exhibition currently on is ‘Floi’, an audio installation that ‘explores the relationship between Scotland’s climate change policies and the real ecosystems they affect’. The venue has plenty of space to host meetings, conferences and presentations – it may not be the best kept secret in Edinburgh, but it is a gem!


a Cheese and Meat Platter with two glasses of wine
Pickles is known for it’s delicious cheese and meat platters

Hidden in a basement on Broughton Street in the heart of Edinburgh, Pickles is an intimate and tranquil restaurant. It serves a wide variety of meat and Scottish cheese platters as well as a great selection of wines. Pickles is known for its simple but high quality food, friendly service and very generous portions. With a relaxing atmosphere, Pickles has been reviewed as a must-visit and is ideal for an after work meal after as busy working day.

Saint Antony’s Chapel Ruins

Saint Antony’s Chapel Ruins, a hidden gem in Edinburgh
Saint Antony’s Chapel Ruins are in Holyrood Park and boast beautiful views of the city

When traveling to Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat is a landmark people make sure to see and fewer people know about a hidden gem in Edinburgh, located in the same area, Holyrood Park (indeed, many flock to the area to learn about its involvement in many film productions – read more in our recent blog). Saint Antony’s Chapel Ruins was once a 40-foot-high medieval chapel and is now a ruin but also a mysterious landmark due to there being very little history about it. This picturesque chapel can be found on the way up to Arthur’s Seat and has stunning views of the city from the chapel.



By Lala