Edinburgh is the perfect destination for a romantic break. The capital boasts some wonderful hotels and world class restaurants and a great variety of fascinating attractions to encourage romance to bloom. With its cobbled streets and narrow wynds the Royal Mile is a great place to explore on a date.
For a romantic walk with your beloved, you could head for the idyllic St Bernard’s Well in picturesque Stockbridge? The Well is a popular place for people to pop the question, and there are numerous great bars and restaurants nearby for a romantic meal afterwards. The remains of Craigmillar Castle are well worth exploring, and the grounds make a great place for a romantic picnic. For an even more indulgent regal treat you could have a champagne afternoon tea in the Palace of Holyroodhouse! For a lighthearted look at the history of Edinburgh, and perhaps a wee scare, you could take one of the many ghost tours, such as the popular Mercat Tours.
No matter what romantic activity you choose, you are sure to be beguiled by Edinburgh’s charms, and fan the flames of romance with a special person.
This fantastic independent cinema has been an Edinburgh fixture for nearly 30 years. It is committed to a program that includes the best of world cinema with various seasons and festivals celebrating specific genres, directors, or themes. You will also find a hand-picked selection of new releases. The cinema has three screens and it serves as one of the main venues for the annual Edinburgh International Film Festival. Special events where directors, cast and crew discuss their work are common and the Filmhouse has played host to many famous faces over the years, such as Sean Connery and Martin Scorcese. It also has an excellent cafe and bar.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: More stylish than the chain cinemas, the Filmhouse is a great place to enjoy a movie with your date
Simon’s expert tip: You can watch movies in the convenience of your own home with the Filmhouse Movie Viewer; check out their site for details
Portobello Beach is a beach resort located on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It was initially outside the city limits, but became a suburb of the capital as it expanded. There is a long promenade skirting the edge of the beach with an amusement arcade, a very good caf� selling delicious ice cream and a lovely children’s play park. The beach itself is very well maintained and extremely popular with sun worshippers and picnicking families on a sunny day. Portobello Kayaking and Sailing Club (PSKC) operate from the beach so you will often see groups of adults and children sailing dinghies and kayaks to the beach.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: What could be more romantic than walking hand in hand along the golden sands of Portobello Beach?
Simon’s expert tip: There are regular events held on the beach such as “the Big Busk” featuring street musicians and performers.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse was built in 1128 and served as the main residence for the Kings and Queens of Scotland from the 15th century onwards. It is in fact still the Queen’s official residence when she visits Edinburgh. When she is not residing here, you can tour the home. This palace contains much of the history of Mary Queen of Scots. There is a plaque put up in recognition of her secretary, David Rizzio, who was stabbed by her jealous husband. There is a collection of portraits of Scottish monarchs, although artist Jacob De Witt may have taken a few liberties! You’ll also find a wide collection of relics from the 16th and 17th centuries, each possessing a piece of Scotland’s history.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Champagne afternoon tea in the mews courtyard of the Palace of Holyrioodhouse is a wonderfully romantic indulgence
Simon’s expert tip: Make sure you get the audio guide to uncover the secrets of Holyrood Palace.
Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura (meaning “dark room”) is a fascinating and delightful way to take advantage of the wonderful views of the city from Castle Hill. Located immediately beside Edinburgh Castle, this intriguing attraction is housed in a Victorian rooftop chamber at the apex of the Outlook Tower. Inside this mysterious room you can see moving images of Edinburgh’s panorama projected onto the walls by the giant periscope. As the oldest purpose built attraction in Edinburgh the Camera Obscura has been entertaining and entrancing visitors since 1892. Now the attraction also includes the World of Illusions which takes a whimsical look at optical illusions and tricks of the light.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Camera Obscura is a magical and entrancing attraction which will delight you and your significant other.
Simon’s expert tip: Don’t miss the chance to head out onto the rooftop terrace to enjoy breathtaking views of the city.
How would you like to unwind and relax with a box of delicious handmade chocolates? Coco of Bruntsfield specializes in fine organic chocolate in a range of delicious forms. You’ll find some amazing, irresistible treats crafted by artisan chocolatiers here and in the sister store on Broughton Street. These are real chocolates with a high cocoa content blended with the finest ingredients including fruits, spices and peppers. You’ll find some seasonal options and lots of great gift ideas but don’t expect to leave without succumbing to temptation and buying a box to scoff yourself! There is even a chocolate school one Saturday each month and you can book in store.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Don’t just buy your loved one a box of chocolates, make your own luxury chocolates together at Coco’s of Bruntsfield.
Simon’s expert tip: Just accept that when you enter this store you will be leaving with some delicious chocolate to eat. The hampers make wonderful gifts for special occasions.
Nestling between Deanhaug Street and the Dean Bridge on the Water of Leith is the serene and beautiful St Bernard’s Well. During the eighteenth century it was rumored that the natural spring which joined the Water of Leith here had medicinal properties. In 1788 Lord Garenstone commissioned a beautiful classical style temple to house the pump room. The temple features ten doric columns and a delightful statue of Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health. The pump room itself has a beautiful domed roof inlaid with an ornate mosaic. The pump room is only accessible a few times a year, but the beautiful wooded dell and the gentle rhythmic sounds of the water drifting by make this a delightful hidden treasure well worth seeking out.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: St Bernard’s Well is a wonderfully romantic spot which has been the backdrop to many proposals of marriage!
Simon’s expert tip: The best time to visit the temple is after a heavy rainstorm when rainwater swells the waterway.
The macabre side of Edinburgh and its grisly past make for a terrific tour topic. If you enjoy scares and laughs in equal measure then the ghostly Witchery tour is definitely for you. You’ll stalk around the Old Town with a dead man for a guide and you can expect to encounter phantoms and spooky tales along the way. These walking tours run throughout the evening but they’re definitely more street theater, thrills and silliness than serious history. This is a really fun activity, suitable for older kids and great for big groups. Gruesome witch hunts, plagues, body-snatching and executions form the bulk of this journey into darkness but the humor keeps things fun.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: What better way to spark romance than to explore the fascinating Old Town and brave the ghosts with your beloved?
Simon’s expert tip: This is a great way to explore some of the back alleys and courtyards of the Old Town which are so much more atmospheric at night.
Rosslyn Chapel is a beautiful and fascinating fifteenth century church situated in the town of Roslin, just south of Edinburgh. The church was founded in 1456 by William Sinclair, who had been the protector of James I of Scotland and was both Lord High Admiral of Scotland and Lord Chancellor of Scotland. It has many iconic and mysterious design features, most notably The Apprentice Pillar, the so called “music boxes” (213 intricately carved cubes which protrude from the stonework which some consider encode a secret of some importance) and references to Celtic mythology (such as the “Green Men”). It is even claimed that numerous representations of a plant which resembles American maize prove that Sinclair crossed the seas to America before Columbus! The chapel has also featured prominently in speculative theories concerning Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, most recently in “The Da Vinci Code”.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Rosslyn Chapel is a wonderfully mysterious and romantic destination to explore with the one you desire.
Simon’s expert tip: There are numerous books claiming to explain the mysteries of the chapel, or you can attend one of the introductory talks held in the chapel itself.
This ruined medieval castle was built in the 14th century and gradually added to over the centuries until it fell into disrepair in the 1700s. Mary, Queen of Scots recuperated here after an illness following the birth of her son, James VI, who would later become James I of Great Britain after the Union of the Crowns. The structure is a fascinating example of a medieval castle and much of it still stands, including the tower house and the defensive walls. It’s an excellent place for exploring, set in lovely grounds and it affords visitors great views of the surrounding area to the south of Edinburgh. If you love castles and the sense of history they inspire then this one should be on your list.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Craigmillar Castle is the perfect spot for a romantic walk and a chance to explore an enchanting and beautiful ruin.
Simon’s expert tip: If you want a quieter castle to explore then head out of the city center to find these impressive ruins.
The Royal Observatory is a working observatory located at the top of Blackford Hill in the city of Edinburgh. It is comprised of the UK Astronomy Technology Center, the Royal Observatory Library, and the Royal Observatory Visitor Center. As well as being central to the teaching of astronomy in the University of Edinburgh, the Observatory runs regular Astronomy Evenings which are open to the public and runs workshops for small groups and schools. They also have a program of talks on a variety of matters relating to astronomy every Monday night. The Visitor Center Shop sells a variety of quirky and humorous gifts which are perfect for anyone fascinated by outer space.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: For a romantic evening of star gazing you could book a place on one of the Royal Observatory’s Astronomy Evenings.
Simon’s expert tip: You must book in advance to attend any of the talks, astronomy evenings and to visit the visitor center and shop – don’t just turn up unannounced!