Victoria Street Edinburgh: A Guide to Auld Reekie’s Most Magical Road!

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Visitors to Scotland’s capital would be foolish to miss out on at least one visit to Victoria Street Edinburgh, which is arguably the most famous road in the city. 

Not only does it feature a mesmerising cascade of Gothic cobblestones, but the shops, boutiques, and architecture are a true sight to behold.

Like many of the city’s locations, Victoria Street is steeped in history, old-school charm, and tales of the macabre. Let’s find out more.

Victoria Street Edinburgh History

Edinburgh is undoubtedly one of the most historical and culture-rich cities in the UK, and Victoria Street plays a huge part in that.

Built between 1829 and 1834 by the renowned architect, Thomas Hamilton, Victoria Street was initially known as Bow Street for the first 3 years of its existence. The name was later changed in 1837 as a nod to Queen Victoria, who took the throne that same year.

One of the many remarkable aspects of Victoria Street’s makeup is the steep z-shape that it is known for – a most peculiar design – but was a more practical solution to the original setup, which made access from Grassmarket to Castlehill something of a mission.

The next eye-catching factor is the colourfully painted boutiques and independent shops that adorn the road; the architecture of which remains mostly untouched from its pre-Victorian conception, giving it something of a Dickensian charm.

Victoria Street prides itself on supporting local businesses, and these colourful shops are made up of independent art galleries, bookstores, jewellers, and even an artisan cheesemaker! 

Also, those with a keen eye can spot some of the historical closes (often referred to as ‘wynds’) dotted around Old Town, including Dunbar’s Close, Whitehorse Close, The Real Mary King’s Close, Riddle Close, and more.

Victoria Street Edinburgh Harry Potter 

So, unless you’ve been living on Mars for the last two decades, you’re likely familiar with the world’s most famous young wizard – Harry Potter!

Although none of the books/movies are set in Scotland, this corner of the UK plays a huge role in the series – including the Jacobite train tootling along Glenfinnan Viaduct (on its way to Hogwarts), and Tom Riddle’s grave, which was featured in Grayfriar’s Courtyard in Old Town.

But perhaps the biggest Scotland-Potter correlation is the strong fan theory that the infamous Diagon Alley was inspired by Edinburgh’s own Victoria Street, which has a certain witchy (or should we say, wizardy?!) charm to it.

Victoria Street Edinburgh Diagon Alley

Potter fans walking along Victoria Street will likely be reminded of the quote from Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone

“The brick he had touched quivered – it wriggled – in the middle, a small hole appeared – it grew wider and wider – a second later they were facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an archway onto a cobbled street which twisted and turned out of sight.”

We mean, if that’s not about Victoria Street, we’ll eat our (sorting) hat!

Victoria Street Edinburgh Restaurants

Let’s get to the good (and delicious) stuff: the eateries of Victoria Street! All that exploring can sure work up an appetite, so those wanting a bite to eat can dive into one of the Victoria Street Edinburgh restaurants, including:

Howie’s Restaurant, 10-14 Victoria Street

Featuring seasonal menus and a lively bistro atmosphere, Howie’s is situated in one of the historical buildings on Victoria Street, and prides itself on being the ideal establishment for informal dining.

Featuring freshly made meals created using locally sourced ingredients, some of the vegan dishes include the duo of Scottish beetroot with roasted and pickled spiced cardamom, pea, asparagus, and leek risotto, and the giant couscous super salad. 

And don’t forget to sample at least one of their delicious homemade cocktails! 

Maison Bleue, 36-38 Victoria St

This Victoria Street restaurant specialises in French and North African cuisine and diners can tuck into some tasty authentic vegan cuisine such as wild mushroom risotto, pesto tagliatelli, and more. The desserts are to die for too!

Mariachi, 7 Victoria Street

Authentic Mexican street food and cocktails?! Er, yes, please!

Those Scottish winds can put a chill into the bones, so some spicy south-of-the-border cuisine often hits the spot! Some delicious plant-based dishes include “vegetariano” tacos and homemade guacamole with tortilla chips.

Scott’s Kitchen, 4-6 Victoria Terrace

Open all day and serving delicious breakfast, brunch, lunch, cocktails, coffee, and canapés, which can be enjoyed inside the restaurant or outside on the terrace. 

Tuck into some tasty veggie and vegan options such as vegan haggis, neeps, and tatties, the selection of artisan pastries, or their homemade veggie burger.

Maxies Bistro, 5B Johnston Terrace 

Whether you favour traditional Scottish cuisine or something a little more international, Maxies has it all. Some of their mouthwatering plant-based dishes include their pasta Neapolitan, and a delicious selection of sides, appetisers, and cocktails.

Places to Stay Near Victoria Street

Edinburgh has no shortage of great places to rest your head, and some of our personal favourite options near Victoria Street include:

The David Hume Residence, Riddle Court, Old Town

Riddle Court is one of the most gothic and dreamy parts of Edinburgh and is absolutely worth a night or two. 

This old apartment is a stone’s throw away from popular spots such as Camera Obscura and Edinburgh Castle and provides plenty of space to kick back after a busy day touring the city.

Popular amenities include:

  • Entire apartment (646 ft² size)
  • Balcony
  • Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi

Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile, Old Town

Those fancying some lavish, luxury treatment can indulge in the glitz and glam of the Radisson Collection Hotel. Not only that, there is an indoor pool and spa for a spot of pampering. 

Popular amenities include:

  • Bar & restaurant
  • Pets welcome
  • Fabulous breakfast
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • View
  • Fitness centre

Malmaison Edinburgh City, St. Andrew Square, Old Town

This 4-star Georgian hotel is the perfect solution for resting those bones in style after a long day of taking in the sights of Edinburgh.

Nearby attractions include Edinburgh Playhouse, the Royal Mile, and Camera Obscura & the World of Illusions.

Popular amenities include:

  • Room service
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Restaurant & bar
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Facilities for disabled guests
  • Family rooms

Museum Apartments, Chambers Street, Old Town

Lavish, light, and roomy, these swanky apartments offer the ultimate glamorous retreat – just a mere 200 metres away from the city centre, and a 16-minute drive from Arthur’s Seat – a great spot for a hike and a scenic view or two!

Popular amenities include:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Fully-equipped kitchen

JustB Guesthouse, Lanark Road West

If you want a peaceful getaway while still enjoying the benefits of city life, JustB is exactly what you need!

This fabulous upmarket Edinburgh guesthouse features a bar, restaurant, a suburb breakfast – and some countryside charm!

Popular amenities include:

  • Pet-friendly
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi

Stable Mews, Central Edinburgh

The ultimate one-bedroom apartment for a romantic Edinburgh getaway awaits! This swanky pad is just ten minutes away from the infamous Princes Street and a three-minute walk from Grassmarket.

Popular amenities include:

  • Whole apartment
  • Great location
  • Laundry facilities

Apex Grassmarket Hotel, Old Town

Those wanting to be in the heart of the Old Town action – and super close to Victoria Street – can relish this upscale hotel that is within walking distance to literally everywhere!

Oh, and there’s a pool!

Popular amenities include:

  • Gym/fitness centre
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Parking available
  • Breakfast included

Renting a Car in Edinburgh

Those wanting to explore areas that are farther afield than Edinburgh are well-advised to rent a car. Some great rental companies include:

Victoria Street Edinburgh: FAQs

Where is Victoria Street in Edinburgh?

Victoria Street can be found in Edinburgh’s Old Town district, not far from the Royal Mile (otherwise known as the city’s high street). The street starts off at the Grassmarket at West Bow, with the road changing names halfway up the hill next to Bow Bar.

Where to eat in Victoria Street, Edinburgh?

Please see above for a breakdown of Victoria Street’s best eateries.

Where is Queen Street in Edinburgh?

Queen Street is the northernmost east-west road in the city’s New Town district, the beginning of which starts at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 

What is the main street in Edinburgh called?

Edinburgh’s main/high street is the infamous Royal Mile in Old Town, which is considered the beating heart of the city. Popular attractions on the street include the underground vault tours, Dunbar’s Close, the Secret Garden, and more.

Why is Victoria Street in Edinburgh famous?

Owing to its unusual spindly design and Victorian-style boutiques, Victoria Street is predominantly famed for being the supposed inspiration of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books/movies.
Although the author has never specified the exact inspiration behind the gothic alley, it is easy to see why Victoria Street is considered a prime suspect!

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