Edinburgh is inherently a historic city, with cobbled laneways and streets steeped in centuries-old stories. In the Old Town, right in the heart of all the action, the historic charm plays out in full force, bringing visitors an eclectic selection of independent shops, quirky gift stores, and designer clothes boutiques. Here are some of the best.
1. CONTEXT Interiors
Step back in time and surround yourself with crisp old maps of Edinburgh alleyways, old globes that would fit perfectly in a dusty, well-thumbed library, and vintage bits and bobs that make great souvenirs from this heavily historic city. The award-winning independent shop is set in the heart of Edinburgh’s medieval old town and sells a range of unique gifts inspired by traditional craftsmanship, retro design, and a passion for period property. Be sure to check upstairs as well, where the rustic walls hang with vintage signs and posters.
40 Victoria St, Edinburgh EH1 2JW
2. Fudge Kitchen
Get your hands on some tasty morsels at Fudge Kitchen, where handcrafted fudge has been the name of the game for more than 30 years. Using a traditional methods imbued with a lot of love – their words – you can lap up some unique flavours straight from the heart of Edinburgh. Pick up the perfect present to take home with you in little decorated boxes, or simply sample a freshly baked batch before you decide what to buy. Complement your purchase with a jar of luxury Fudge sauce or a serving of delicious Drinking Fudge.
30 High St, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1TB
3. The Court Curio Shop
Opened in 1942 as an Oriental Importer, the Court Curio Shop underwent some changes during the war, transitioning from imported goods from the Orient to affordable costume jewellery and old pawned goods. The jewellery is made on-site from recycled items, and is handcrafted by the family who run the business – four generations of creators and makers. Quality is at the heart of the Court Curio Shop, where the goods are hand made where possible and created using Scottish materials.
519 Lawnmarket Old Town, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2PE
4. Underground Solu’Shn
Music lovers will have a ball at Underground Solu’Shn, the only remaining independent dance, electronic, and specialist record shop in the whole of Edinburgh. Here, you can paw the piles of records and CDs, and listen to some of your vintage favourites as you go. Dating back to 1995, this much-loved music shop has stood the test of time, adding vinyl cases, bags, art supplies, t-shirts, books and magazines to its repertoire in light of the digital download age.
9 Cockburn St, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1BP
5. Joe Cool
In 1978, Joe Cool was born as a place to sell quirky jewellery to the masses. Selling everything from unique rings and distinctive necklaces, Joe Cool has garnered international fame for its out-there selection of goods. Set in the winding old lanes of Edinburgh’s Old Town, it’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or two that is as eclectic as the city itself. Drop in to simply browse the gallery-style displays, or purchase your own piece of fun.
3 Greyfriars, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ
6. Herman Brown
Herman Brown had a humble beginning as a market stall during a collaboration with founder Anna Nicholson and another vintage lover. But, with tonnes of ideas, they soon decided they needed a space to showcase their wares. From there, they expanded to include boutique clothing from Munich, Amsterdam, and Seattle, and everywhere in between. Even today, the store is constantly bringing in new and exciting additions to its collection, particularly quality accessories and jewellery, making every visit a unique one.
151 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP
7. Edinburgh Books
Book worms have the perfect place to hide away in Edinburgh Books, a landmark for reading fans that has graced the streets of the city for more than 20 years. Originally named West Port Books, it was pulled from the brink of extinction in 2006 and revived with an eclectic selection of vintage books and antiques. Don’t miss the basement, where there are four more rooms filled to the brim with dusty spines and literary greats. It’s ideal for whiling away a rainy afternoon before hitting the streets of Edinburgh and getting back to the real world once again.
145-147 West Port, Edinburgh, EH3 9DP
If you’ve got a long list of souvenirs to buy, make a beeline for Present, a unique gift shop selling all kinds of weird and wonderful creations, like personalised helium balloons, handmade jewellery, and an eclectic array of homeware and stationery. First established in 2006, the store is on a mission to bring quirky to the old streets of Edinburgh, where the shelves are piled high with wacky ornaments, unique posters, and one-of-a-kind pieces of bric-a-brac.
18 St Mary’s St, Edinburgh EH1 1SU
Fashion boutiques are aplenty in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and Godiva is one of the finest on show. Providing a unique alternative to the “soul sucking monotony of fast food fashion”, it celebrates quirky designs and styles for anyone looking for a break from high-street collections. In the back room, you can browse rails of hand-selected clothes, while the showroom is a cornucopia of pieces by talented Scottish designers and independent brands. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, Godiva has the limited edition power to populate your wardrobe.
9 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA
Traditional hats have long taken a backseat in contemporary fashion, but Fabhatrix pulls them right into the present day with its grand selection of quality head pieces. Specialising in quality materials and quirky designs that won’t be seen anywhere else on the high street, Fabhatrix produces handmade hats in their on-site workshop, so you know you’re purchasing a fine show of Scottish craftsmanship. Knowledgeable in local materials, sizing, and hat styles, Fabhatrix is a one-stop shop for all hat lovers.
13 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh EH1 1JY