10 of the best spots for people watching in Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral

There’s nothing quite like grabbing a cup of coffee, finding a nice hidden spot and sitting back to have a good people watch.

In Edinburgh, we’re spoiled for people-watching opportunities, from perfectly placed cafes to buzzing tourist attractions. We’ve chosen some of our favourite spots for indulging in the cheapest form of live entertainment.

Stockbridge Market

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Every Sunday, a friendly mob of independent traders convene on Saunders Street in Stockbridge to dish up delicious food and sell handmade arts and crafts. The high quality attracts a big crowd of locals and tourists alike, making it a great spot to people watch. Grab some paella, a crepe or some dumplings, pick your vantage point and have a good watch.

1 Saunders Street, EH3 6TQ – stockbridgemarket.com


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One of Leith’s livelier haunts (which is saying something) is The Tourmalet, and it’s a great place to watch some of the area’s finest characters in action. Grab a pint – and maybe some popcorn – sit back and watch the entertainment unfold.

25 Buchanan Street, EH6 8SQ – facebook.com/tourmalet

Princes Street Gardens

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Princes Street Gardens is the perfect set up for watching the world go by – provided the rain holds off. This public park is a plethora of benches and grassy vantage points with a multitude of people passing through. Head to the gardens, pick up a coffee, pop on your sunglasses and pretend to read a book. We won’t tell.

Blackford Hill

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Not only does Blackford Hill offer some of the best views of Edinburgh, it’s also one of the best people and dog watching locations in town. Spot a spaniel, or glimpse a giant schnauzer – along with their owners – on the way up to the viewpoint.

St Giles Cathedral

The Royal Mile’s magnificent cathedral is always buzzing with curious tourists marvelling at the grand structure. Plonk yourself on a pew and take in the gaggles of tourists as they circulate.

Maxies Bistro

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This eatery’s garden terrace has a terrific view of the picturesque Victoria Street, which is constantly abuzz with tourists and locals alik. If the weather gets a wee bit nippy, staff will be on hand to offer you a blanket, so you can carry on with your idle observation in comfort.

5b Johnston Terrace, EH1 2PW – maxiesbistro.com

National Museum of Scotland

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The National Museum of Scotland is home to fascinating historic treasures from across the centuries, but if that isn’t enough for you it’s also always packed with heaps of interesting visitors. A trip here will bring out your inner-historian as well as your inner-psychologist.

Chambers Street, EH1 1JF – nms.ac.uk

Cairngorm Coffee

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Exquisite coffee? Check. Sumptuous cakes? Check. Outdoor seating area on Frederick Street, practically designed for people watching? Checkmate.

41a Frederick Street, EH2 1EP – cairngormcoffee.com

Camera Obscura

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This famous collection of optical illusions and mind tricks is also home to a number of rooftop telescopes that allow you to spy on the streets and Edinburghers below. You’re almost guaranteed to spot something interesting and maybe even scandalous.

549 Castlehill, EH1 2ND – camera-obscura.co.uk

Taste of Italy

Perched at the top of Leith Walk, this restaurant serves up some of Edinburgh’s finest Italian cuisine. Taste of Italy’s expansive windows offer panoramic views of the busy streets outside, making it an ideal spot for people watching.

9 Baxter’s Place, EH1 3AF – vittoriagroup.co.uk

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Main image: Gary Ullah / Flickr / CC