Plant-Based Edinburgh Restaurants + Top Edinburgh Sights

Learn about the plant-based options in Edinburgh restaurants, as well as the top tourist sites in this beautiful Scottish town. 

Ask a Scot for recommendations on where to start your food or sightseeing tour, and you’ll likely be pointed to Edinburgh. Scots take their food seriously, and so do I! Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Scotland for a partially sponsored nutrition conference, and I took full advantage of my time there checking out some of the best plant-based eats and sights in this gorgeous Scottish town. Want to learn more about where to stay in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh weather (how bad is it?), and taking in the top must-see experiences? I’ve got your covered in this travel guide focusing on plant-based eats and great sights. 

Views of Edinburgh castle from my hotel room at the . I suggest doing the during your stay. 

Planning A Trip to Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is now the most visited city in Scotland, and the second-most visited in the U.K. Once you set foot in Edinburgh, it’s not hard to see why; few cities can boast such beautiful architecture, abundant greenery, and a rich and storied history. “Auld Reekie”, as the locals call it, is Scots for “Old Smoky”. Though the case is similar for many settlements that lived through both the Medieval and Industrial eras, you’d never think that this lovely city was once crowded, polluted, and dangerous! Modern Edinburgh is a far cry from these less-than-savory eras; today, it’s Scotland’s capital, a scenic and cosmopolitan gathering place, and an excellent stop for plant-based food lovers. Here’s a few Edinburgh travel basics:

  • Where to stay in Edinburgh? There are plenty of lovely locations. I stayed at the beautiful and centrally located
  • What about the weather in Edinburgh? As you can see in my photos, I was bundled up during my January visit. Yet, the skies were miraculously clear, and it wasn’t overly cold with sufficient clothing layers to keep me from walking everywhere. Check the weather before your trip to be prepared for winds and rain during the colder months. In general, weather is mild in Edinburgh, where it doesn’t get extremely cold, nor extremely hot. 
Walking on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Storied History

People have been living in the territory that would become Edinburgh since time immemorial. The remains of an Iron Age Hillfort can be found atop Arthur’s Seat, which is now Holyrood Park—a must-visit spot for any nature lover! Edinburgh’s Medieval history began in the 11th century, centered around Castle Rock, where Edinburgh Castle is perched now. As its population rose and commerce took off in the centuries following, it was clear that Edinburgh was in desperate need of renewal. The New Town revitalization in the late 1700s, spearheaded by architect James Craig, laid the foundation for the modern Edinburgh we know today. 

Stained glass window in St. Gile’s Cathedral

Edinburgh—A Walker’s Paradise!

Yes, it’s true—In Edinburgh, you can walk to pretty much every major site you’d like to see! Make sure to devote plenty of time to your Edinburgh walkabout. Whether it’s nature you seek, or an urban architectural tour, walking is the way to go in Edinburgh. It’s so refreshing to not have to worry about cars as you explore the city’s many streets and winding alleyways. Keep the elevation changes in mind! Though the inclines can prove a bit difficult, they provide a great opportunity to appreciate Edinburgh’s most famous sites.

View from the Edinburgh Castle

Many of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks date back to two eras. Whether one is appreciating the medieval architecture of the Old Town, or the Georgian and Neoclassical landmarks of the New Town, architecture is often considered the main draw of Edinburgh. 

Pretty shops abound on the Royal Mile, famous for their textiles and plaids. 

Personally, I’d recommend beginning your tour of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile—a bustling thoroughfare between Castle Rock and the Palace of Holyrood House. Check out popular pubs and trendy storefronts on your way to Edinburgh’s most important historical sites.

Take time to listen to some bagpipes too!

Edinburgh Castle, the city’s most iconic landmark, cuts a picturesque silhouette overlooking the city. It sits on top of Castle Rock, the remains of an extinct volcano. This iconic complex draws comparisons to a Greek acropolis—earning Edinburgh the nickname of “Athens North”. Weather permitting, you can get a wonderful view of the city and its surrounding environs from atop Castle Rock.

You can also use the bus as a way to get the lay out of the land and learn more about the history of Edinburgh. 

Once you’ve finished exploring the Old Town, head to Dean Village. Cobblestone paths will take you past charming traditional houses and provide a nice change of pace. Once you’ve finished admiring Edinburgh’s architectural landmarks, it’s time to see the greener part of the city. Natural spaces are plentiful in Edinburgh, even within the city bounds: the city has 112 parks!

Gorgeous architecture in Edinburgh! 

On the other side of the Royal Mile is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the summer residence of the British monarch. Make sure to check out the nearby Holyrood Park to see why Edinburgh is considered such a haven for greenery lovers, especially on days with good weather. Enjoy the highland topography on one of Holyrood Park’s numerous hiking trails. Holyrood Park’s many natural attractions include the dramatic cliff-faces of the Salisbury crags, the man-made lake of St. Margaret’s Loch, and Samson’s Ribs in Arthur’s seat—a fascinating series of jagged basalt columns.

Make time to check out the while visiting. 
Vegan Haggis at in Edinburgh 

Common Plant-Based Foods in Scotland

Ask anyone if they know any Scottish food, and there’s one dish that comes to mind. Haggis—a a traditional dish made of sheep or calf offal mixed with suet, oats, and seasoning that is boiled in an animal stomach—is a point of pride for Scots. But did you know there’s no shortage of vegan and vegetarian haggis options in Edinburgh? I had numerous samplings of delicious haggis filled with pulses, grains, veggies and seasonings. 

If you’re lucky enough to visit Scotland in January, be sure to celebrate Burns Night on the 25th. The day is dedicated in honor of the beloved Scottish poet Robert Burns. The traditional Burns Supper consists of haggis, neeps (rutabagas, or “swedes”), and tatties (mashed potatoes). But it doesn’t have to be Burns Night to enjoy a traditional Burns Supper! Why not try a plant-based version?

You’ll find a variety of root vegetables, including neeps and tatties, in Scottish dishes. This delicious roasted vegetable dish was featured at
I dressed up in tartan for my special event on the

Here are some common plant-based eats in Scotland: 

  • Haggis. You can find restaurant and store-bought vegan haggis in many restaurants.
  • Neeps. Rutabagas or “swedes”, these root vegetables are often prepared in a variety of vegan preparations. 
  • Tatties. Often paired with neeps—mashed potatoes, Scottish style! Look for vegan dishes. 
  • Cullen Skink. Originally a haddock-based chowder, look for plant-based versions. 
Vegan Scottish pie served on the  
  • Scotch Pie. You’ll find plant-based versions of this classic savory pie. 
  • Scottish Porridge. A healthy way to start your day, this oatmeal-based morning porridge is a classic start to your day. 
  • Scottish Shortbread. Traditionally made with butter, look for those with vegan substitutes—eating with tea is the way to go.
  • Tea. Try Scottish Blend Black Tea. (That’s a brand, by the way.)

  • Whisky. No trip is complete without sampling legendary local whisky. 
At the beautiful , which is located in a gorgeous manner house right out of a period movie.

Plant-Based Edinburgh Restaurants

Even among the exceptional standard set by Western Europe, Edinburgh is ahead of the curve when it comes to plant-based food. In an effort to help curb carbon emissions, the City of Edinburgh Council officially endorsed the Plant-Based Treaty Action Plan, to expand and promote access to plant-based eating. This makes Edinburgh the first Scottish city and European capital to do so, setting a great example. Did you know that within the United Kingdom, Edinburgh is second only to London in its ratio of restaurants to people? The competition is fierce, but that just means the options are plentiful, especially in its vegan and vegetarian scene!

While I was in Edinburgh, I had the chance to sample some amazing plant-based eats. Almost every restaurant had plant-based options, and often presented me with an entire vegan menu! Do a little homework and check with the restaurants before you plan your trip. 

is a beautiful restaurant off the Royal Mile that features several plant-based options, such as this beautiful dish of squash pies with pesto. 

While is known for Scottish seafood, I enjoyed a menu of delicious plant-based options, including gnocchi with sage and poached pear with sorbet. 

Make sure to enjoy English breakfast—beans, veggie sausage, potatoes, and veggies with English muffin—at most hotels. Here’s my breakfast at

I enjoyed a beautiful completely vegan menu, which included this gorgeous vegetable starter dish, on the

I celebrated an entire plant-based menu at , which focuses on nature. On the menu was roasted cauliflower steak, chickpea fritters, fregola pasta with fennel, curry and coconut, and stir fry with five spice tofu. 

At the beautiful , I enjoyed an entire vegan menu, which included confit onion, squash and bulgur wheat, BBQ cabbage and mushrooms, and apple crumble with blackberry sorbet. 

At the , I enjoyed a whole menu of delicious plant-based dishes, including roasted root vegetables, and gnocchi with sage.

Vegan Edinburgh Restaurants

Here is a full list of vegan Edinburgh restaurants. I didn’t get a change to try all of them, but dig in and let me know what you think! 

 

Vegan haggis is the highlight on this menu.

If you’re looking for vegan pub grub, and are fond of metal and punk music, the recently reopened Auld Hoose is an excellent option. Highlighting a plethora of vegan and vegetarian options; vegan breakfast, and their famous Hoose nachos. There’s a 10% discount for student—and they’re dog-friendly! Famously large portions (not exactly health food)

A popular, 100% vegan restaurant. Try the Full Vegan Scottish breakfast—offered all day!

A local vegan deli committed to sustainability, with compostable packaging over plastic. Try their haggis and cheese sandwich, or other vegan fillings.

A vegan pizzeria, run by a Roman family. Not just pizza—they serve a plethora of authentically Roman dishes, made vegan.

A vegan Italian restaurant, also Roman, and great reviews. 

Award-winning, delicious Punjabi street food, with vegetarian and vegan options clearly marked.

Malaysian vegan restaurant, cozy and down-to-earth.

An inclusive and trendy live music venue with a cocktail bar and an award-winning vegetarian and vegan Americana-inspired kitchen.

Entirely plant-based, and they take pride on being healthy (low oil and sugar), with locally-grown ingredients.

 

Vegan donuts, chocolate, and ice cream—plant-based, but definitely more on the indulgent side.

Popular for store-bought vegan Haggis.

 

Food Recs:

Scottish recipes to take inspiration from:

Check out other plant-based travel guides here: 

Resources: 

Written by Sharon Palmer and John Caldas 

 

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