Marvel at the beautiful Georgian architecture of the New Town, walking the streets where great thinkers once lived. Immerse yourself in culture, with stunning monuments and art galleries to explore!
The Scottish Enlightenment
During the Scottish Enlightenment, in the 18th century, Edinburgh was full of wealthy scholars and academics, wanting to escape the overcrowding of the Old Town. The New Town was built as a result!
It’s an area of stunning architecture, in the Georgian style of the time, and with lots of Neoclassical features, inspired by the city’s nickname, ‘Athens of the North’. The whole area was laid out to create a symmetrical, geometric design. It’s a stark contrast to the chaotic Old Town, which led to the two areas becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Art & Attractions
The New Town is a fantastic area for art lovers. Here, you’ll find the National Gallery of Scotland, and the Royal Scottish Academy, which host many permanent and temporary exhibitions year round. Nearby, on Queen Street, you can also visit the National Portrait Gallery.
Explore more of the New Town’s history, by climbing up the Scott Monument, the huge Gothic spire dominating Princes Street, or heading over to Charlotte Square to see inside the beautiful Georgian House.
The New Town is also very close to many attractions in north Edinburgh! It’s a short walk to the picturesque Dean Village, on the shores of the Water of Leith. Walking along the river, you can stop by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Continue further along to explore the exciting neighbourhoods of Stockbridge and Leith.
Edinburgh prides itself on its many green spaces, with several found in the New Town. Princes Street Gardens is the largest, situated in the valley that separates the Old and New Towns. Once a loch, it was drained in the 18th century and replaced by the gardens.
You can also find Calton Hill, at the east end of Princes Street, which takes just 10 minutes to climb. From the top, you can take in fantastic views over the city, covering both the Old and New Towns, and there’s several monuments to see here too, including the iconic National Monument.
Shopping, Eating & Entertainment
The New Town is one of the best areas in Edinburgh for shopping, with Princes Street boasting almost every major high street brand and department store. On George Street, you’ll find more high end brands, and Multrees Walk has plenty of designer outlets.
There’s lots of options for eating in the New Town as well, particularly on Rose Street, where you’ll find many pubs and restaurants, as well as St Andrew’s Square, George Street, and Hanover Street. There’s options for brunch, lunch, and dinner, with various cuisines on offer.
Continue on into the night, either in the pubs on Rose Street, or heading over to George Street, where you’ll find lots of bars and nightclubs to choose from. Or, to check out Edinburgh’s fantastic comedy scene, visit The Stand on York Place, an iconic venue where many famous stand-up comedians once got their start!
The New Town is often overlooked in favour of the Old Town, but it has its own stories to tell. Whether you want to soak up the architecture, or experience the dining and nightlife, it’s an area worth exploring!
Princes Street is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Edinburgh, so if you can, head there on a weekday, to avoid the busy crowds at the weekends!
The New Town is the city centre, to the north of the Royal Mile. It covers the length of Princes Street, between the West End and Calton Hill. It then stretches from Princes Street Gardens on the south side, to Queen Street on the north. It’s the city’s transport hub, with the tram line and nearly all bus routes making stops on Princes Street.