Cockburn Street Edinburgh: History & Hidden Gems (+ Places to Stay)

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There is so much to see and do in the historical Scottish city of Edinburgh that it can be challenging to know where to begin!

While there is no shortage of epic places to visit – Edinburgh Castle, Greyfriars Kirkyard, and the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions (to name but a few), we strongly recommend not missing out on the fabulous Cockburn Street Edinburgh.

Cockburn Street Edinburgh

So, what’s all the fuss about then?!

Cockburn Street Edinburgh Harry Potter

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, it is more than likely that you’re aware of the strong connection between Edinburgh and all things Harry Potter.

When trundling down the spindly, gothic Cockburn Street, only those with a serious lack of imagination would struggle to see why this particular road is said to be one of the key inspirations behind the famous Diagon Alley in the Potter books and movies. 

With its winding road, Victorian-style boutiques (complete with awnings!), and gothic pointy buildings, a wand-wielding wizard wouldn’t be out of place here at all! 

While the author has never confirmed the true inspiration behind the franchise’s most famous alley, it is easy to see why Cockburn Street is a contender. The nearby Victoria Street also features a museum with plenty of Harry Potter goodies to buy.

Cockburn Street Edinburgh Pronunciation

Only the most mature among us could succeed in stifling a laugh at the name of this infamous Edinburgh street, but in case you’re wondering if it’s pronounced the way it sounds – it isn’t.

Instead, locals will know the road as “Co-Bun Street”.

Cockburn Street Edinburgh History

Edinburgh is a historical city, so many of the roads, closes, and cubbyholes have vast and interesting histories, and Cockburn Street is no exception.

As a part of Old Town, naturally, this street is one of the older areas in the city and gets its name from the Scottish lawyer, judge, and literary figure, Henry Lord Cockburn, who was known to be one of the most respected individuals in Edinburgh.

Dating back to 1856, Cockburn Street was initially created as a serpentine link between the Royal Mile (otherwise known as the High Street) and the nearby Waverley Street. Fast-forward a century or two and the famous street now has prominent ties with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Shops on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh

As we mentioned earlier, Cockburn Street is alive with colourful Victorian-style stores and boutiques that are great shopping options for those wanting to pick up a souvenir while supporting local trade.

Some of our favourites include:

Cockburn Street Edinburgh Restaurants

If you’re anything like us, one of your main travel priorities is to scout the best local eateries for some delicious grub! 

Edinburgh is a foodie haven, and some of our favourite veggie and vegan spots include:

Places to Stay Near Cockburn Street Edinburgh

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation in/near Cockburn Street.

Iconic Cockburn Street 4 Bedroom Apartment

Those travelling with family or friends can benefit from renting an apartment, as opposed to going down the traditional hotel route. 

This stylish and modern 4-bedroom apartment can be found slap-bang in the middle of Cockburn Street, making it an ideal spot to be within walking distance of the nearby restaurants and attractions.

Popular amenities include:

  • Fully-equipped kitchen (including fridge)
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free toiletries

Book this accommodation here.

Grassmarket Apartment (With Views of Edinburgh Castle)

Those needing more than one bedroom can wake up to some of the most iconic views in the city while feeling super at home in this cosy and plush 2-bed apartment.

One bedroom features a double bed, with the other offering 2 singles, making it ideal for couples with children. The private bathroom has a shower, and guests can enjoy a meal in the dining area.

Popular amenities include:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Washing machine
  • Family-friendly

Book this accommodation here.

St. Christopher’s Edinburgh Original

Sometimes the best way to travel is from hostel to hostel because nothing beats that backpacker spirit! 

Located in Market Steet in Old Town, a mere stone’s throw away from Cockburn Street, the St. Christopher hostel has the advantage of being situated right next to Waverley Station, for those relying on the train links to get around.

As for the hostel itself, you have everything you need (including free hot showers) for a comfortable and practical stay.

Popular amenities include:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Lockers
  • Electronic card entry system
  • Daily continental breakfast
  • Restaurant & bar
  • 24-hr front desk
  • Central heating

Market Street Hotel

For those wanting the luxury and practicality of hotel service – as well as being located in the best spot for visiting Edinburgh’s many tourist attractions – the Market Street Hotel more than delivers.

Each room is designed as a boutique-style suite and features local art, locally sourced coffee, and bespoke design furniture. Not only that but the hotel has a fancy rooftop lounge to enjoy a cocktail or two while admiring the city’s skyline.

Popular amenities include:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Restaurant & bar
  • Facilities for disabled guests
  • 24-hr front desk
  • Terrace
  • Lift
  • Superb breakfast
  • Laundry services 

The Scotsman Hotel

Situated in the heart of North Bridge in Old Town, this stunning listed building has its claim to fame via formerly being the Scotsman Newspaper’s HQ (hence the name!).

This 4-star hotel was built in 1905, and each room boasts unique features, marble-tiled en-suite bathrooms, and beautiful bay windows that offer some stunning city views. To top it off, the hotel also has its very own 48-seat cinema!

Popular amenities include:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free Scotsman newspaper
  • Restaurant & bar
  • 24-hr front desk
  • Room service
  • Life
  • Laundry Services
  • Very good breakfast

Motel One Edinburgh-Royal

Those looking to board in sheer contemporary class will relish everything the fabulous Motel One has to offer.

Not only does the classy modern decor bowl you over, but the hotel has the added perk of being pet-friendly (for those who consider travelling with their 4-legged friend as non-negotiable!).

Popular amenities include:

  • Good breakfast
  • Private bathrooms
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Great views
  • Facilities for disabled guests
  • Flatscreen TV in each room

Cheval Old Town Chambers

There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh’s beautiful and historical Old Town and it makes perfect sense to lodge there too to be in on the action.

Those favouring apartment boarding over other options can enjoy the space and privacy of these incredible chambers, as well as the perks of being in a hotel. 

Many of these luxury apartments feature balconies with some killer views – for that added bit of romance!

Popular amenities include:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Family rooms
  • Fitness centre
  • 24-hr front desk
  • Lift
  • Very good breakfast

The Secret Library Hideaway

The word ‘hideaway’ may give the illusion that this apartment is compact and pokey – not the case! You get a whole 578 ft² of space, which includes a private bathroom, a fully-equipped kitchen, and lovely tall windows that boast some epic city views.

Popular amenities include:

  • Entire apartment
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Washing machine
  • Views
  • Great location

Hiking Near Edinburgh

Scotland is a popular hiking country, and the good news is – you don’t have to venture far from Edinburgh to find some great trails. Some of VH’s favourites include:

  • Arthur’s Seat
  • The Dry Dam Path to St. Anthony’s Chapel
  • Pentland Ridge
  • Torduff Reservoir
  • Caerketton & Allemuir Hills

Renting a Car in Edinburgh

One of the best ways to explore Edinburgh and its surrounding areas is by renting a car, and fortunately, there are several great car rental companies to choose from, including:

Cockburn Street Edinburgh FAQS

Why is Cockburn Street famous?

As one of Old Town’s sweeping and atmospheric roads, Cockburn Street is famous for its Victorian, picturesque aesthetic, complete with kooky little boutiques and shops.
It is also said to be one of the possible inspirations behind Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter book/movie franchise. 

How to pronounce Cockburn Street?

Traditional Celtic and Gaelic can cough up a strange word or two, and oftentimes, the word isn’t pronounced how it looks. This is the case with ‘Cockburn’. When visiting the area, you can expect locals to pronounce the word as “Co-Bun”. 

What is the main street in Edinburgh called? 

The main street in Edinburgh is the Royal Mile in Old Town, which is one of the city’s most famous and historical areas. 
Located beneath Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, the street gets its name from its former inhabitants of royalty in those two locations. The ‘mile’ refers to the length of the street, which is approximately one Scottish mile long.

More Scotland Posts

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