The city of Edinburgh is renowned for its festivals, culture, heritage and history. This niche guide takes you to a selection of places that align with The Travelling Bookbinder’s ideals and interests – paper supplies, books, a museum, libraries, craft shops – followed by a list of cake stops and eateries. It is one particular slice out of many you could choose. Enjoy!
Welcome to a city straddling a medieval Royal Mile, the 18th century New Town and a contemporary capital. Discover cobbled streets, and magnificent architecture as you walk between locations. If limited by time or mobility, hail a black cab or invest in a day bus pass from LRT.
Be sure to call ahead or check websites for opening times.
Literary love: Edinburgh has the only railway station named after a novel. It is also the first UNESCO City of Literature.
Edinburgh Art Shop 129 Lauriston Place. General art supplies, including washi tape, Posca pens, glassine paper amongst lots more. Serves the nearby art college with enthusiasm.
Greyfriars Art Shop Greyfriars and Dundas Street. Fine art materials. Knowledgeable and friendly staff advise on paper selection, sold in pads and by the sheet. Stockist of Automatic Pens, as featured in the PaperLove and BookLove e-courses.
Henderson’s Art Shop 28A Raeburn Place. Art supplies and framing service. Established for over forty-five years, Stockbridge’s go-to place for paints, paper, brushes…. and calligraphy nibs on the counter.
Paperchase 77a George Street. Good gift wrap, stationery, and a selection of specialist papers and art supplies at the back.
Mystery Paper Sculptures – in 2011 an anonymous intricate paper sculpture was left at the Scottish Poetry Library, the first of ten. ‘Lost in a Good Book’ is currently on exhibition at Central Library, George IV Bridge. Find a copy of Gifted to read more about about the tale of ten mysterious book sculptures
Edinburgh Mercantile 18 North West Circus Place. Has favourite teflon-coated scissors and obscure Korean notebooks, amongst other carefully chosen delights.
On the same street, stop for a sweet hole at The Kilted Donut (basement of no.22) or a savoury one at Bross Bagel, or a coffee at Sprio, and indulge your senses at The Method. And look up to find this open book on the roof line.
Rare Birds 13 Raeburn Place, Stockbridge. Subscription club come real shop. Women’s fiction. Glorious ‘bundle’ boxes.
McNaughtons and Typewronger 3A & 4A Haddington Place EH7 4AE. A winning combination of Scotland’s oldest antiquarian and second hand bookshop next to a typewriter emporium (sales, servicing and repairs) also trading in new books and top chat.
Galleries, Museums and Libraries
Fruitmarket Market Street. Contemporary art with fabulous bookshop/magazine range and sometimes artist’s books. Hosts annual Bookmarket.
National Gallery of Modern Art Great collection of contemporary art in two handsome neo-classical buildings. Includes an extensive collection of Dada and Surrealist art.
Jupiter Artland Out-of-town sculptural wonderland. Make a day of it.
The Writers Museum Lady Stairs Close. Devoted to the lives of three giants of Scottish Literature – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. A fabulous free resource.
The Red Door Gallery 42 Victoria Street. Local art, prints, jewellery and crafts
The Ingleby Gallery 33 Barony Street. Private gallery showing established and emerging artists in a contemplative calm space.
The Open Eye Gallery 34 Abercromby Place. Contemporary painting, print making and applied art.
The Scottish Poetry Library 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate
Edinburgh EH8 8DT. Custom built premises for poetry. Whose collection has ‘a national core but an international outlook’.
Central Library 7-9 George IVth Bridge. As on all Carnegie’s lending libraries ‘Let There Be Light’ is inscribed over the entrance. A traditional lending library with a multitude of resources. Find this wall of tiles in one of the stairwells.
Little Free Library Seek out and borrow books from mini-libraries on Scotland Street, Teviotdale Place, the Botanical Gardens and Dalry Place.
Cake stops and eateries
Lovecrumbs on West Port. A delectable choice.
Mary’s Milk Bar 19 Grassmarket. Ice cream to swoon/queue for. Licking heaven.
Smith & Gertrude Hamilton Place. Cheese and wine = Win Win.
Educated Flea 32B Broughton Street. Dinky sister to Apiary and Three Birds, serving up excellent tastes and value.
Apiary 33 Newington Road. From brunch, lunch, to dinner, find all you need here.
Three Birds 3 – 5 Viewforth. Fantastic food in a great neighbourhood.
The Outsider 15 – 16 George IVth Bridge. Good for lunch before or after library visiting.
L’Esgargot Bleu 56 Broughton Street. A charming taste of France.
Elliott’s 27 Scienne’s Road. Take away yummies to eat straight away, and stock up on culinary supplies and brilliant cook books by owner Jess Elliott Dennison, queen of easy elegant cooking.
Timberyard 10 Lady Lawson Street. Unusual, stylish – an experience for the senses.
Gardener’s Cottage 1 Royal Terrace Gardens. Slow, seasonal, sustainable communal dining. Lovely.
Edward and Irwyn 416 Morningside Road. Passionate artisan chocolatiers with flavours such as juniper, Scots pine & smoked salt or beetroot, blood orange & vanilla. Only open Thursdays and Saturdays. Follow them on Instagram and make your mouth water.
The Edinburgh Book Lovers Tour a walking tour visiting the sites and haunts of Edinburgh’s literary legends.
The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour a literary trail performed by actors.
Trainspotting Tour with Leith Walks. Explore the edgier parts of Edinburgh depicted in Irvine Welsh’s book and film.
Harry Potter Tour for fans of J.K. Rowling’s famous wizard.
Secret Edinburgh Hannah Robinson. Discover the lesser-noticed, hidden details of the city.
The Local’s Guide to Edinburgh, by Owen O’Leary and Claudia Monteiro. Like having a friend to go round with. Get hold of a second-hand copy.
44 Scotland Street series, by Alexander McCall Smith. Set in a fictional house on a very real street in Edinburgh’s New Town, this series introduces a cast of characters who may be fictitious but are entertainingly familiar.
Rest your weary head (and feet) at Booklover’s Bed With a View, a super-central apartment looking over Princes Street and across to Fife.
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Please check details before venturing out. Happy wandering, discovering and documenting.
Rachel Hazell has studied, created, taught and written in Edinburgh since 1990. She read English Literature at Edinburgh University, made book sculptures during a Masters Degree at Edinburgh College of Art, and set up a little library on her garden fence. She goes on book adventures round the world with The Travelling Bookbinder and loves coming home.