Edinburgh’s Best Kept Secrets: A List of Must-See Places for Off-the-Beaten-Path Travellers

Edinburgh tops many travellers’ lists as a must-visit destination. Yet most stick to the predictable tourist trail – posing with Greyfriars Bobby, ogling over Edinburgh Castle, and shopping on the Royal Mile. What visitors don’t realise is that a whole secret city lies just off Edinburgh’s cobblestone thoroughfares and closes, largely untouched by tourists.

Here we will uncover some of these hidden places to explore in Edinburgh – buried vaults and chambers under the city streets, endless mazes of alleys lost back in time, 3D street art galleries, a magical forest hideaway through a secret gateway, and more. This is Edinburgh as only locals have seen.

Uncover Edinburgh’s Buried Past in Hidden Underground Vaults and Lost Closes

Underneath Edinburgh’s landscape lies a network of underground vaults and buried “closes” (the Scottish word for alleys) waiting to be uncovered. Among Edinburgh’s buried spots is the infamous hidden street Mary King’s Close, buried beneath the city chambers. Stepping through its narrow doorway today is stepping back in time over 400 years when it was a bustling street.

Mary King’s Close was once a narrow eight-story street and one of Edinburgh’s most vibrant and seedy locales until the plague hit in 1645. Today it lies preserved yet buried underneath new town hall buildings above ground. Many ghostly tales exist thanks to its tragic end after the plague turned it into a quarantine zone. |

Journey Through Obscure Old Town Hidden Alleyways and Closes Lost in Time

Step off the Royal Mile down some tight, obscure side streets to reveal a maze of winding hidden alleyways and close that branch into Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Warriston’s Close in particular is one of the many winding alleys so narrow and enclosed by mediaeval buildings you can get entirely disoriented strolling through this lost-in-time maze.

Uncover Mind-Bending 3D Street Art Galleries Tucked Away Well Off the Beaten Path

At the Victorian themed Pubic Art House, step through the tiny unassuming doorway into a mind bending world of optical illusion artworks covering every inch of space. Don’t miss this trippy gallery featuring mind-melting 3D drawings of mythical creatures that seem to jump from the walls and completely surround visitors.

Explore Edinburgh

There’s a network of secret places in Edinburgh that exist just off the cobblestone alleys of Auld Reekie for those willing to stray from the defaults. Explore buried vaults and closes underground, endless mazes of obscure mediaeval alleys, and trippy 3D street art galleries. These are just some of the many places to explore in Edinburgh that many visitors miss out on – but for those who uncover them, they unlock an entirely separate side to Scotland’s capital.

So next time you visit Edinburgh, be sure to stray off the Royal Mile and hunt for the secret city to find the real magic. And whilst you’re there, why not stay in the heart of Edinburgh with history outside and sleek design inside – Native Edinburgh offers a true home from home aparthotel that doesn’t disappoint – you’ll feel like a local living in the best spot in the city!

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