Edinburgh New Town: The Best Things to Do

Edinburgh Princes Street

Edinburgh New Town

Edinburgh’s New Town, located in the northern half of Scotland’s capital, is a stunning mix of architecture and history.

Designed in the 18th century, the New Town sits in striking contrast to the medieval charm of the Old Town and features many of the city’s top attractions.

The New Town’s history is deeply intertwined with the Scottish Enlightenment. The town planning was a result of a competition won by a young architect, James Craig, in 1766. Craig’s vision was to create a harmonious balance between urban living and nature, resulting in the New Town’s spacious layout and plentiful green spaces.

The New Town stretches from Princes Street in the south to Stockbridge in the north, encompassing St. Andrew Square and Calton Hill in the east and Charlotte Square and Moray Place in the west.

The architecture of the New Town is characterized by elegant Georgian townhouses, with grand frontages that face a symmetrical network of cobbled streets in a wide, grid-like design that was so popular at the time that it influenced many of the cities in the United States.

Geographically, the New Town sits on relatively flat terrain in contrast to the hilly topography of the Old Town, and it’s flanked by two of the most scenic parts of Edinburgh; the Water of Leith to the west and Princes Street Gardens to the south.

Princes Street Gardens

When it comes to attractions, the New Town is absolutely brimming with them.

Princes Street, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, is home to a number of historic buildings including the Balmoral Hotel, the ultra-modern billion-pound St. James Quarter, and the must-visit Johnnie Walker Experience, while to the rear, St. Andrew Square and Charlotte Square are surrounded by dozens of restaurants, cafes, and luxury independent shops.

The New Town is also home to Rose Street and George Street which are known for their vibrant pubs and boutiques while Queen Street is home to the excellent, but often missed, Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

In conclusion, the New Town area of Edinburgh is a captivating blend of history, architecture, and culture. Its grand Georgian buildings, lush gardens, and many dining options make it a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Scotland’s enchanting capital city.

Edinburgh Lothian Bus

Find places to visit and things to do in Edinburgh’s New Town with these visitor guides.

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