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While Edinburgh is probably seen as the ideal place to collect a kilt or barter for bagpipes, there is so much more to the city’s shopping scene than traditional Scottish garb. Edinburgh now has a subtle – and growing – undercurrent of luxury brands, with style-conscious Multrees Walk leading the way.  Tourist tat is also a thing of the past if you avoid the Royal Mile gift shops; head instead to Princes Street for high-street finds or Stockbridge for independent gems.

Paul McGlinchey

My Destination local expert on


Princes Street


Shoppers flock to Princes Street, a regal boulevard almost in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and lined with masterpieces of Victorian architecture. The attraction here is the mix of high street, independent and designer shops – a combination that never fails to excite even the most jaded shopper. The famous department store Jenners is a must-visit, while behind this iconic thoroughfare you’ll find George Street; a haven of stylish fashion, home ware and beauty stores paired with trendy bars and bistros. A scattering of cutesy boutiques also await discovery, tucked away down a maze of side streets.


St Andrew Square


Recent years have seen classic British brands take an interest in the shopping-scape of Edinburgh. In 2002, the luxury department store Harvey Nichols opened its first Scottish branch on St Andrew Square, cementing this area as an endlessly stylish shopping destination. If high-end fashion is what you’re after, head down Multrees Walk, the pedestrianised street slotted behind Harvey Nichols. This hidden avenue is Edinburgh’s newest street and also its most stylish, housing the city’s most extensive collection of luxury and designer outlets. A day of shopping bliss on Multrees Walk can be complemented by a session at the spa or a little tipple in the bar of Scotland’s oldest Italian wine merchant.


The Royal Mile and Grassmarket


Stuffed with history and Scottish culture, the Royal Mile is an Edinburgh icon, and one of the first places tourists make a beeline for. Stretching down from the castle, the famous street blends kilt fitters and souvenir shops with Scottish fashion and a dash of whisky. Nearby, the creative hub of Grassmarket delivers a unique shopping experience with quaint cobbled streets, brightly painted fronts and shops selling everything from locally-designed clothes to vintage books. This whole area of the Old Town is also ideal for a spot of lunch in-between shopping, with authentic pubs and lively pavement cafes.


Stockbridge and the West End


Although less than a mile from the very center of Edinburgh, the western area of Stockbridge retains a distinct village feel. A picturesque area bordering the Water of Leith, Stockbridge offers a very different shopping experience to bustling Princes Street and the Royal Mile. Interspersed with friendly eateries, you’ll find independent boutiques, small galleries and charity shops for quirky bargain buys. A short walk south and you’ll reach the West End – home to the double whammy of Stafford Street and William Street. This pair house some truly remarkable shops, offering handmade trinkets, soaps and edgy fashion.


Shopping tips


Unless stereotypical and tacky gifts are what you’re after, avoid the souvenir and ‘tartan-tat’ shops on the Royal Mile and surroundings streets. Wrap up warm if you’re visiting Edinburgh in the chilly Scottish winter, as unless you head to one of the few shopping centers, you’ll spend much of your day stomping between stores.