/ The Edinburgh Guide
Edinburgh — By Andy Hayes on April 11, 2010 at 11:38 am
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Literary Edinburgh – The Best Things To See for Bookworms

I’ve mentioned that the libraries of Edinburgh are an under-acknowledged tourist attraction, but the fact is that Edinburgh is a city with strong literary links.  It was UNESCO’s first City of Literature and many famous authors call it home, including J. K. Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books.  Here are a few more things to do and do for the bookworms who find themselves in Scotland’s capital.

Literary Tours & Museums

The savvy folks in tourism realise that Edinburgh is a bookworm’s paradise, so there are plenty of tours and a museum setup just for those types.

  • Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour: the city’s drinking establishments were once the meeting place of the local literati. This is the tour for you if you’re bringing along a particularly cranky spouse or travel partner; after all, who doesn’t like a pub?  There’s also a bus option if you  happen to be visiting in bad weather.
  • Edinburgh Book Lovers Tour & Literary Pub Crawl: it seems the drinking theme continues!  Another great option that has lots of great history, tips, and laughs.
  • The Writer’s Museum (map): it’s small, it’s free, and it’s fascinating.  Features history and trivia about Edinburgh’s many famous writers and scholars.  (Plus the building is absolutely a charm – not surprising since it is down one of the Royal Mile closes).

And of course if you find yourself here in August, don’t miss the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Writing Cafes

Edinburgh is a great place to pack your laptop (or pen and paper, if you’re feeling a tad old-fashioned), and head out to a cafe to work.  Tourists already know all about the old it cafes where some of Edinburgh’s writers once worked, such as the Elephant House Cafe.  Can I suggest two places that may or may not be a spot for author-spotting, but once you’ve got a good book they’re great places to sit and get cosy?

  • eTeaket (map): the best place for tea in town – and who doesn’t like drinking from proper bone china cups and eating from those lovely trays of cakes and biscuits?  I find the fun colours inspiring as well, and they make for a fabulous backdrop for reading and relaxing.
  • Artisan Roast (map): the best place for coffee in town – and once you have a seat in the back room here, you’ll know why I love this place.  Lamps made out of coffee pots, courtyard garden views, and fun staff.  There is never a bad excuse for ended up at Artisan Roast.

Best Bookshops

Of course, Edinburgh has it’s fair share of chain bookstores such as W.H. Smit.  Not that there is anything wrong with these establishments, but if you’re in Edinburgh wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere with a bit of character? The best bookshops are the ones that participate in the West Port Book Festival – and easy to find as they’re clustered in the area of West Port, which is just west of the Grassmarket square. A couple of my favourites throughout the city:

  • The Edinburgh Bookshop (map): a tiny bookshop up in Bruntsfield full of quirky, electric, and offbeat selections.  The place to go and be inspired if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Friendly staff.
  • Word Power (map): A quaint place just off the University of Edinburgh campus. The place to go for any Scottish book needs, and they have a particularly well equipped website.

And if you simply must stop into a chain bookstore, I’d recommend the Blackwell on South Bridge (across the street from the Festival Theatre) which has a nice Cafe Nero inside, or the Waterstones on the west end of Princes Street which has a very good inventory and selection.

Photos by rankeelaw, chatirygirl, iphokia

Related places:
  1. A
    The Writers Museum
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  2. B
    The Elephant House
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  3. C
  4. D
    Artisan Roast
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  5. E
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  6. F
    The Edinburgh Bookshop
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  7. G
    Word Power Books
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