The Edinburgh Fringe is in full swing with over 3,000 arts events coming to the vibrant Scottish capital over the next few weeks. With the International Book Festival kicking off on the 13th, we’ve compiled our favourite bookish spots around the city for you to squeeze into your schedule.
You can explore more of Edinburgh’s local and literary history with the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Scott Monument, East Princes Street Gardens
This 1840 monument to poet, novelist and Edinburgh native Sir Walter Scott dominates the city’s skyline, towering over Princes Street Gardens to the south and the Georgian New Town in the north. Whether you have time to visit and climb the 287 steps or not, this dark and imposing Gothic landmark is quite literally unmissable.
“The Scott Monument, Edinburgh” by Gregg M. Erickson. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The Writer’s Museum, Lady Stair’s Close
Housed in a ramshackle castle-like building nestled in one of the many steep alleys off the Royal Mile, the Writer’s Museum is dedicated to the lives of Scott, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Exhibiting rare books and historical artefacts – including Burns’ own desk – this is an immersive experience. Be sure to explore the courtyard too, where inspiring literary quotes are engraved into the paving slabs.
“The Writers’ Museum sign, Lady Stair’s House” by Kim Traynor. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge
Scotland’s National Library is located in the city’s Old Town on a street which is also home to the main branch of the public library service. The National Library’s somewhat austere frontage is countered by a light and airy foyer, beyond which you’ll find free exhibitions relating to the literary history of Edinburgh, Scotland, and beyond.
“National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh” by Kim Traynor. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The surreal Calton Hill features a monument to Scottish philosopher and mathematician Dugald Stewart, and the unfinished National Monument of Scotland, inspired by the Parthenon in Athens. It’s a gentler climb than Arthur’s Seat, but Calton Hill still provides an expansive view across the city.
“ViewAlongNationalMonument” by Duimdog. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Clarinda’s Tearoom, 69 Canongate
While it’s not quite as famous or historically significant as some of the other places on this list, Clarinda’s is an adorably quaint café in which to refuel during any busy trip to Edinburgh. Olde-worldy décor and a stunning array of traditional cakes make it an experience somewhere between visiting your grandmother and falling into a Jane Austen novel.
“Golden Wedding celebrations at the Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen” by Geoff Charles. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Featured image credit: “Athens of the North” by anonymous. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.