Best Places to Live in Edinburgh: The City’s Top 10 Neighborhoods
On the hunt for all the best neighborhoods in Edinburgh? In this handy article, we’ve covered the ten best places to live in Edinburgh, and exactly who’ll love living in each one.
Scotland’s beautiful capital, the alluring city of Edinburgh is home to around 550,000 people—and lots of them are non-natives who’ve decided to call the place home.
Famous for endless packs of tourists, some of Scotland’s best attractions, and the biggest arts festival on the planet, Edinburgh is iconic. So if you want to relocate to Scotland, it’s one of the nation’s most logical choices.
But the city’s neighborhoods aren’t all made equal. And if you’re moving to a new place, you of course want to live in a district that matches up with you and your needs. So to help you out with your exciting move, we’ve brought you lots of helpful details on the best neighborhoods in Edinburgh and the best places to live in Edinburgh.
Whether you’re searching for beaches, raves, city-center hikes, a quiet life in the suburbs, or being right in the heart of the action, we’ve brought you something perfect. As always, your reliable buddies at Homelike have covered it all!
We’ve served up juicy information on the following ten neighborhoods:
- Edinburgh Old Town
- Edinburgh New Town
- West End
Squeeze into your kilt, bust out your bagpipes, and slip on your tam o’shanter. Coming up, we’ve covered all the best places to live in Edinburgh… and you’re invited along for the ride!
10 Edinburgh neighborhoods at a glance
Edinburgh Old Town
Edinburgh New Town
1. Edinburgh Old Town
Best for: Wandering along cobbled lanes, living in the heart of the city, and behaving like a long-term tourist
Edinburgh’s Old Town is the part of the city you’ve probably already heard of. The historical epicenter of the place, it’s home to the Royal Mile (an iconic street stuffed with restaurants, shops and museums), Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House, and lots more action and adventure.
When you think of Edinburgh, you probably think of cobbled streets, labyrinthine lanes, and lots of ancient architecture. When you’re thinking of that stuff, you’re thinking of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and it’s where most of the city’s tourists spend most of their time. And if you’re around for the Fringe Festival, it’s where most of the major action happens (though the excitement is dotted around the entirety of the city).
In the Old Town, there are also lots of great places to eat, drink and party. Some of the top pubs in the neighborhood include World’s End, The Pipers Rest, and Biddy Mulligans, while Whistlebinkies is excellent for live music and a boogie.
If you like the atmosphere of mega-touristy neighborhoods, you’ll love living here—and for short-term stays, this is of course one of the best places to live in Edinburgh. But if you want a slightly quieter life, you definitely want to head elsewhere.
Because this part of the city is very busy, it can be difficult to find an apartment in the traditional way. For that reason, it’s often easiest to find a serviced flat or serviced apartment.
2. Edinburgh New Town
Best for: Excellent green spaces, living in the less-touristy part of the city center, and lots of great cultural hotspots
North of the Old Town, you have the New Town. Together, the two form the central part of the city, but they’re pretty different from one another.
The New Town doesn’t have the atmospheric medieval vibes of the Old Town, but it’s crammed with Georgian townhouses, sprawling squares, and lots more beautiful spaces and buildings. The artistic heart of the city, the neighborhood is home to lots of galleries and museums, including the Scottish Gallery, the Ingleby Gallery, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
You also get some lovely green spaces in the New Town, including Dean Gardens, Queen Street Gardens and popular Calton Hill (which offers excellent views of the city center). And in addition to all that stuff, the neighborhood is also where you’ll find Princes Street, one of the most famous streets in Edinburgh.
Though it’s a little less busy than the Old Town, the New Town is still pretty bustling, and popular with day-trippers and visitors. So if you want a quiet life, you won’t think it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Edinburgh.
Best for: Living in a quieter part of the Old Town, close proximity to great beaches, and clambering up the iconic Arthur’s Seat
The eastern part of the Old Town, Holyrood lies at the furthest end of the Royal Mile.
In the district, you get Holyrood House, the Scottish Parliament, Dynamic Earth (the biggest interactive museum in Scotland, and one of the best kid-friendly attractions on the planet), and the ruinous remains of Holyrood Abbey.
But the neighborhood is most well-known for Holyrood Park, a sprawling green space which is home to Arthur’s Seat (one of the prettiest city-center walks in Scotland). Holyrood also has good proximity to other parks, and it’s in a great location for fleeing east to the beach, with both Portobello and Musselburgh within easy distance.
In summary, Holyrood is one of the best places to live in Edinburgh for anyone who wants a good compromise between city-center living and relatively rural retreats. If you’re moving with kids, it’s a pretty good option.
Best for: History and heritage, living in a famous street, and a surprising amount of fun in a seemingly-small place
One of the most iconic streets in Edinburgh, Canongate is part of the larger neighborhood of Holyrood.
While Canongate isn’t technically a district of its own, it’s a super famous street, and lots of people like to live in and around it. The eastern part of the Royal Mile, it’s popular with tourists and travelers, but it’s a little quieter than many other central parts of the city.
It’s home to both the People’s Story Museum, and the Museum of Edinburgh, two brilliant cultural venues. While the latter explores the history and heritage of the city, the former celebrates the ordinary people who’ve helped to make it so great.
Although Canongate is a pretty small area, it’s a very diverse place, home to venues as varied as the Pakora Bar (an informal eatery specializing in Indian snacks), Clarinda’s Tearoom (a popular spot for teas, scones, and cakes), and the famous Tolbooth Tavern (one of the most popular pubs in the city).
And because it’s in Holyrood, Canongate also gives you excellent proximity to great beaches and green spaces.
5. West End
Best for: Getting all cultural, living in a quieter part of the center, and close proximity to the underrated Dean Village
As you probably managed to sleuth out for yourself, the West End of Edinburgh is to the west of the city center. Most famous as a cultural hangout, it’s home to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Usher Hall, and the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (which takes place every Saturday).
The neighborhood also hosts the West End Fair, a crafty funfest featuring makers, artists, and various designers. It takes place each August.
Also occurring each August is Edinburgh International Book Festival, which has been taking place every year since 1983. Though the festival offers book-based events throughout the city, its hefty HQ is Charlotte Square Gardens, which is right in the heart of the West End.
In the West End, you also have Dean Village, an old-school settlement sitting inside of the city. Home to beautiful buildings and a little stream, it really feels like a little place of its own.
One of the best neighborhoods in Edinburgh if you’re looking for central but relatively quiet, the West End is popular with families and couples, and it’s a great place to call home.
Best for: Student living, lots of diverse restaurants, and regularly moving in and out of the city
Right beside the West End, you have Haymarket… which may or may not actually be part of the West End, depending on who you ask.
Living here is an excellent option for regular travelers. Haymarket is home to a massive, well-connected train station, so you can easily make your way to various other parts of the UK.
It’s also a very diverse neighborhood, with a huge number of eateries, restaurants and bars. You get food from around the planet, and a good mixture of both chain and independent hangouts. And because there aren’t many tourist attractions in this part of Edinburgh, it’s a good choice if you largely want to avoid the visitors who perpetually descend upon the city.
And last of all, because Haymarket is relatively affordable, with a young population, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Edinburgh for students and young people.
Best for: Students, young people, living on a budget, and lots of varied outdoor spots
East of Haymarket and the West End, and just south of the Old Town, you have Tollcross. Slightly more affordable than most other places we’ve featured on this list, it’s a great option if you’re on a budget.
Because of that, and because of the neighborhood’s close proximity to the excellent University of Edinburgh, it’s a popular area with students. So if you’re young, and want to make friends with other young people, it’s absolutely one of the best places to live in Edinburgh.
It’s also a fantastic neighborhood for exercising, wandering, and exploring various outdoor spaces.
To the east of the district, you have The Meadows, one of the loveliest parks in the city. And just to the west of Tollcross sits the eastern edge of the Union Canal, which runs to Falkirk… and then connects to the Forth and Clyde Canal, which reaches all the way to Glasgow (and beyond!).
Although Tollcross is a small neighborhood, it’s packed with great hangouts—you’ll find lots of pubs, eateries and cafes stuffed down hidden narrow lanes. And last of all, it’s also home to The Cameo, a super-popular independent cinema space.
Best for: Getting all hip, living by the port, and residing in gentrification-ville
A ode to regeneration and gentrification, Leith was once the most notorious part of Edinburgh’s city center.
And while some parts of Leith are still to catch up, the area is now a hipster zone of its own, and lots of people think it’s the best part of the city.
In lots of ways, Leith feels very different to many other parts of Edinburgh—a bustling port district, it’s pretty, edgy and interesting, and it’s crammed with some massively popular outdoor hangouts. Some of the most-visited waterside pubs here include Teuchters Landing, Malt & Hops, and the Innis & Gunn taproom.
If you like alternative vibes, alternative people, and hanging around in trendy venues, you’ll absolutely love living in Leith. It’s not as cheap as it once was, but it’s a good option if you’re trying to get by on a relative budget.
Although Leith can be relatively affordable, competition for housing is high—so getting a serviced apartment or a serviced flat can be a great idea.
Best for: Relatively affordable housing, living in a residential neighborhood, and finding a village-style suburb
In the north east of central Edinburgh, you have cozy little Stockbridge, which sort of feels like a village of its own.
It’s one of the best neighborhoods in Edinburgh if you’re looking for an affordable place to call home—because the area is largely residential, with lots of terraced houses, it’s possible to find a fairly low-cost place to live.
Because there are lots of attractive homes in Stockbridge, and because it feels largely removed from most busy parts of the city, the neighborhood is popular with families and older people. It’s a particularly great option if you’re moving to Edinburgh with kids—there are lots of excellent schools in the district.
Best for: Beachside living, a great community spirit, and a family-friendly escape from the busy bustle of Edinburgh’s center
Last up, a slightly leftfield choice, as we move away from the center of Edinburgh and over to a coastal suburb.
Around 3 miles (5km) east of the city center, Portobello is most famous as a beachy retreat, and lots of Edinburgh’s residents wander here on their weekends
But the area isn’t just for beach bums, with plenty of great stuff to offer: it was voted “best neighborhood in the UK and Ireland” at the 2020 Urbanism Awards, and for a number of reasons. It has great community spirit, friendly faces, beautiful scenery, and a lovely small-town feel, but with all the comfort and conveniences you could ever want or need (including lots of great schools).
So if you want to live somewhere quiet, peaceful and beautiful, but within easy reach of Edinburgh’s center, Portobello is a brilliant choice. It’s endlessly charming, and most people fall in love with the place.
If you want a similar vibe even further removed from Edinburgh’s center, consider living in Musselburgh. A little seaside town with a population of around 20,000 people, it’s endlessly endearing, and it’s a hugely underrated relocation spot.