Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh 2019 - Top 10 Romantic Things to do
Written by Gareth Thomas Tuesday, 22 January 2019 10:52
Edinburgh is a romantic city – albeit a windy, chilly one at this time of year, once Valentine’s Day comes around. With its cobbled streets, mysterious, twisting closes (a Scots term for alleyways) and ancient buildings steeped in stories, it is a city full to bursting with plenty of things to do when it comes to romance and mystery. The city of Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and, for a few years at least, Robert Burns, it’s a place where the imagination can run wild and where the streets teem with life and activity.
Simultaneously a modern, cosmopolitan capital and a breath-taking glimpse into the ancient past, there really is nowhere else like it.
Thus, Edinburgh is the perfect city in which to spend Valentine’s Day. It might not be able to offer the warm, balmy weather of many European destinations, but the bracing northern breeze and dramatic, overcast skies have an allure of their own which is nigh on impossible to resist. Besides, the cosy cubby-holes and warm hearths of the Old Town and the trendy restaurants, shops and bustling bars of the New Town offer plenty of retreats from wintry gusts.
Nearly upon us, this Valentine's Day there is no shortage of romantic things to do and activities to occupy couples in Edinburgh. So for those lucky souls that not only find themselves head-over-heels in love, but also in the wonderful city of Edinburgh, here's our top 10 tips of the most romantic things to do this Valentine’s Day!
- A romantic meal for two
- Don’t forget the Valentine’s Day drinks
- Get some culture
- Enjoy the fresh air
- Get scared on Valentine’s Day
- Get down to Leith
- Explore Edinburgh's Castle
- Catch a movie
- Get lost in a great story
- Head to the seaside
It is of course a cliche, but nothing beats a candlelit dinner in a fancy restaurant. And Edinburgh has a great selection to choose from. Indeed, those looking for restaurants in which to wine and dine their loved ones are spoiled for choice, with hundreds of different options spanning the full gamut of taste and style.
Castle Terrace, run by local boy Dominic Jack is one of Edinburgh's growing number of Michelin star restaurants and also one of our favourites.
Not far, and just around the corner from the Royal Mile is The Ondine Restaurant. Boasting handsome views of the Old Town area through its floor to ceiling windows the Ondine offers luxury seafood, while the Oyster Bar provides seafood aficionados with the latest catches from around the UK, all freshly prepared in front of them. For those on a budget, Under The Stairs on Merchant Street offers a ramshackle dining experience sure to please those with an arty disposition.
But what about those all-important after dinner drinks on Valentine’s Day? Luckily, Edinburgh has this covered too, with plenty of bars in which to enjoy a romantic drink or four. The area around George Street provides an excellent selection of attractive pubs and restaurants, with plenty of stylish cocktail joints and up-market bars that will keep even the most discerning alcoholic satisfied. Meanwhile, the Cowgate area of Edinburgh’s Old Town has traditionally catered to those looking for a louder, more unvarnished experience, and there are plenty of bars in the area offering a lively flavour of Edinburgh nightlife. If you’re feeling adventurous it's worth checking out Brew Dog’s Edinburgh base on Cowgate – as well as offering some heady concoctions it’s also a great place to relax after a hearty meal.
Edinburgh is home to some fantastic cultural experiences, and something to suit all tastes and types. For the artistic among you, why not pop along to The Scottish National Gallery, situated in the heart of Edinburgh and home to one of the best collections of fine art in the world.
Of course, Valentine’s Day isn’t all about food and drink. If you’re not adverse to windy weather, there are plenty opportunities to get out and explore Edinburgh with your loved one.
A walk in Holyrood Park provides dramatic views of the city and the opportunity to explore and experience some surprisingly rugged highland terrain – and all only a short walk from the city centre.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is beautiful at any time of year however it’s one of the particularly cold February days then you can step into one of the gardens indoor spaces which include a glasshouse, restaurant, cafe and coffee bar.
With three lochs, a ruined church and the peak of Arthur’s Seat (Time it right and get a view at sunset for a romance overload!) to scale for a breath of fresh air and a fantastic view of the city there’s no shortage of activities to occupy the more adventurous couple. A walk along Salisbury Crags, meanwhile, provides the intrepid hillwalker with unrivalled panoramic views of Edinburgh.
Perhaps not the most romantic things to do however these these types of activities continue to remain some of the most popular. A city steeped in history can't get by without the odd ghost or ghoul, and Edinburgh is definitely no exception. So if romance and enforced sentimentality really isn’t your thing then why not check out some of Edinburgh’s infamous ghost tours as an antidote to all the saccharine shenanigans. The city’s colourful history and gothic appearance means there are no shortage of such expeditions, and all of them offer something different.
For those desperate to escape the sickly embrace of St Valentine and open to more adult thrills and scares, Auld Reekie Tours offers a nightly ‘Terror Tour’ of the South Bridge Vaults, where paranormal activity has been recorded in abundance and witches still gather to this day. Mercat Tours also offer some fantastically terrifying late-night tours, sure to have you jumping into each other’s arms, or screaming embarrassingly at one another.
Needless to say, some of these tours and guides will not be suitable for children.
There are opportunities abound in Leith, and it's the perfect place for a romantic afternoon out. Options include the great bars and restaurants (with lovely views of the water), and the option to take a walk along the waterfront. One not to miss is Mimi's Bakehouse, with a great selection of award-winning cakes and treats.
The imposing castle is a must-see for any Valentines trip to Edinburgh, and if you're still there from the 15th to 17th of February you can meet the musician of King James V who will be there telling tales about the music and the instruments which the king expects.
Elsewhere, cinephiles looking to embrace the romantic vibes should head to one of Edinburgh's fantastic boutique cinemas, the Cameo cinema on Home Street, where all the current big screen hits will be showing. A classic date night staple, with its old-fashioned glamour, saturated in cinematic atmosphere as well as a well-stocked bar, you really couldn’t find a better venue in which to settle down for a dose of old-timesy romance. And with the option to take your chosen tipple with you into the auditorium, there really is no excuse not to check out that wine list!
If the sun decides to shine, take the opportunity to head out of Edinburgh and visit North Berwick. Definitely one of the more romantic things to do, it's less than an hour away by car and you could find yourself strolling on one of the beautiful beaches, or maybe even heading out on horseback.
For those not in a relationship and dreading the sugary overkill of Hallmark’s favourite holiday, fear not - there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and kick-start your love life. If you’re single and ready to mingle, Ditch or Date Edinburgh are hosting a speed dating event on Valentines Night where you’ll be given the chance to meet up to 20 potential partners. Tickets are £20 with the events being held in Lulus and Browns Bar & Brasserie.
Whatever your tastes and preferences, Edinburgh is the ideal city in which to enjoy Valentine’s Day, and the range of things to do and activities on offer throughout the city is sure to convert even the most hard-hearted of cynics. If you’re still not convinced, ditch the flowers and romance and just use the whole thing as an excuse to treat yourself.
After all, you probably deserve it.