Where to stay in Edinburgh for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Edinburgh as a first-time visitor can be a daunting task. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Edinburgh for first-timers and tourists.

I’ll provide you with my recommendation for the best and safe areas to stay in Edinburgh, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Edinburgh and suggest some of the best hotels in Edinburgh for all budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Edinburgh:

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is located in the southeastern part of the country, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. The city is renowned for its historic and architectural beauty. 

The city’s Old and New Towns are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Old Town features medieval and renaissance-style buildings, while the New Town is known for its neoclassical and Georgian architecture.

Dominating the city’s skyline, Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that has played a central role in Scotland’s history. It’s a popular tourist attraction, offering panoramic views of the city.

Edinburgh is famous for its festivals, particularly the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the world’s largest arts festival. The city comes alive with theater, comedy, music, and dance performances during this time.

The city has a strong literary tradition and was home to famous writers such as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s also the birthplace of J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.

Edinburgh is the political center of Scotland and a hub for Scottish culture, including traditional music, dance, and cuisine. It hosts numerous events and festivals celebrating Scottish heritage.

Is Edinburgh safe to visit?

Yes, Edinburgh is generally a safe and welcoming destination for tourists. The city has a low violent crime rate, and the majority of crimes reported are non-violent in nature, such as petty theft or vandalism.

The city has a lively pub and bar scene, and alcohol-related incidents can sometimes occur. Consume alcohol responsibly and be aware of your surroundings when leaving bars or clubs. 

Like any city, it’s essential to exercise common-sense precautions, such as safeguarding belongings and being cautious in crowded areas. 

Also stick to well-lit and populated streets, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. The city’s historic areas, such as the Royal Mile and Old Town, are generally safe to explore day and night.

Where to stay in Edinburgh for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Edinburgh for first-timers and tourists are Old Town, New Town, Stockbridge, West End, and Leith. Remember that safety can vary from street to street, so it’s always recommended to take standard safety precautions no matter where you stay.

Old Town is the most popular area to stay in Edinburgh for first-time visitors who want to be in the historic heart of the city. It is home to many popular attractions like the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and Holyrood Palace. It’s a bustling area during the day and well-patrolled at night.

The New Town area is known for its elegant Georgian architecture and is home to many shops, restaurants, and hotels. It’s generally considered safe and a great place for shopping and dining.

Stockbridge offers a more relaxed and residential atmosphere but is still within walking distance of the city center. It’s known for its charming streets and local shops.

West End, near the Haymarket train station, offers more local atmosphere, budget-friendly accommodations, while still having easy access to the city center. The hotel often has free parking, which is a bonus for those travel with a car. It’s safe and well-connected for transportation.

Leith, the historic port area, has seen significant redevelopment in recent years and is home to a vibrant restaurant and bar scene. While generally safe, some parts of Leith may have a more eclectic vibe.

Edinburgh is generally a safe city for tourists, and there aren’t any areas that should be entirely avoided. It’s essential to use common-sense safety measures wherever you go. It’s also a good idea to ask locals or your hotels for advice on safety and areas to avoid if you’re uncertain.

During my trip to Edinburg, I stayed in the city center at the mid-range The Scotsman Hotel. It has a super central location, easy access to major sights on foot, and close to the Waverley Station. It also has laundry services, and 24h front desk. I had a great breakfast too.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Edinburgh for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Edinburgh first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Edinburgh first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Edinburgh, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Edinburgh have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Edinburgh for first-timers and tourists:

1. Edinburgh Old Town

The Old Town is a popular area in Edinburgh for first-time visitors who want to be in the heart of the city’s history and enjoy its vibrant atmosphere. The Old Town is known for its charming, medieval streets, stunning architecture, and a wealth of historical and cultural attractions. 

The Old Town is home to some of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks, including the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, St. Giles’ Cathedral, and the Real Mary King’s Close. Staying in this area means you can easily explore these attractions on foot.

The Old Town has a unique and atmospheric ambiance with its cobblestone streets and narrow closes. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants, pubs, and shops in the Old Town, ranging from traditional Scottish cuisine to international options. The Grassmarket area, in particular, is known for its vibrant dining scene.

The Old Town is a hub for many of Edinburgh’s festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you plan your visit during a festival, you’ll be in the center of the action.

Waverley Railway Station is located in the heart of the Old Town, making it easy to access other parts of the city and surrounding areas.

Consideration: The Old Town can get quite crowded, especially during the peak tourist season, so be prepared for busy streets and attractions. Parking can be a challenge in the Old Town, and many streets are pedestrianized. If you have a car, you’ll need to use public parking facilities.

Best places to stay in Edinburgh  Old Town for first-time tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): Cheval Old Town Chambers, 5-star hotel located in the historic center of Edinburgh, only a few mins walk from Waverley railway station and Edinburgh Castle, and the Royal Mile. You can easily find a selection of shops, restaurants, and bars nearby.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Scotsman Hotel, great 4-star hotel located on North Bridge, Old Town, offering views of the Princes Street Gardens, Carlton Hill, and Waverley Station. It has comfortable family rooms and discounted parking at Edinburgh Waverley Station car park.
  • Budget ($): Motel One Edinburgh-Royal, 3-star accommodation in the heart of the Old Town, on  Market Street. It is only a 5 mins walk from the train station, also close to St. Margaret’s Chapel,  Scottish Storytelling Centre, Half Moon Battery and David’s Tower.
  • Hostel ($): CoDE Pod – The CoURT – Edinburgh, very popular hostel in central Edinburgh, offering safe and clean dorm rooms, short distance from The Real Mary King’s Close, National Museum of Scotland, Royal Mile, and Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. It offers very good breakfast, 24-hour front desk, and non-smoking rooms.

2. Edinburgh New Town

New Town is an excellent choice for first-time visitors, offering a different but equally appealing experience compared to the Old Town. It is best suited for those who appreciate elegant architecture, upscale shopping and dining, and a more orderly urban environment.

The New Town is known for its elegant Georgian architecture, wide streets, and neoclassical buildings. It provides a stark contrast to the medieval charm of the Old Town. The area’s orderly layout and architectural beauty make it a pleasant place to explore.

George Street, in particular, is famous for its upscale shops, boutiques, and fine dining restaurants. There’s a wide range of culinary options, from traditional Scottish fare to international cuisine.

The New Town is home to cultural institutions like the National Gallery of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. These are perfect places to immerse yourself in art and history.

The New Town is close to green spaces like Princes Street Gardens, where you can enjoy leisurely walks and get fantastic views of the Old Town and the Castle.

While the New Town is still bustling, it’s generally less crowded than the Old Town, making it a more peaceful base for exploration.

Like the Old Town, the New Town offers excellent access to public transportation and is within walking distance of the main train station, Waverley.

Best places to stay in Edinburgh New Town for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Kimpton – Charlotte Square, an IHG Hotel, 5-star hotel located at the heart of Edinburgh’s financial district just a short walk away from the popular Princes Street and George Street. It is also close to Waverley Railway Station, offering fabulous breakfast, and an Indoor swimming pool.
  • Mid-range ($$): Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, popular 4-star hotel located on Waterloo Place, around the corner from Calton Hill,  offering a swimming pool, Spa and wellness center, and parking for those who drive. Within walking distance from Royal Mile, Waverley Station, and Edinburgh Castle.
  • Budget ($): Motel One Edinburgh-Princes, great 3-star hotel located on the famous Princes Street, 5 mins walk from Edinburgh Waverley Station. It is within walking distance from the National Gallery of Scotland, Sir Walter Scott Monument, and Royal Scottish Academy. The hotel has a 24-hour front desk and Good breakfast according to nearly 5000 guests’ reviews.

3. Stockbridge

Best places to stay in Edinburgh in Stockbridge for first-timers:

  • Mid-range ($$): The Raeburn, 4-star hotel, located in Stockbridge, 20 mins from the famous Princes Street and the New Town. Easy access to Waverley and Haymarket railway stations for connections to Glasgow and other parts of the UK. It has Superb breakfast, 24-hour front desk, and spacious family rooms.
  • Budget ($): Ardenlee Guest House, 3-star Victorian town house offering spacious rooms with a private bathroom, as well as a TV, and free tea and coffee. You can find bus 23 around the corner on Dundas street to get to the city center.
  • Budget ($): New Town Guest House (Adults Only), 3-star hotel located in Stockbridge, close to the New Town, easy access to the bus to the city center if you don’t fancy a lot of walking.

4. West End/ Haymarket 

West End and Haymarket are great locations to book your accommodation if you want budget-friendly accommodation and local life while still having easy access to the city center.

This area is located just west of the Old Town. You’ll be within walking distance or a short tram or bus ride away from many of the city’s top attractions, including Dean Village, Princes Street, the Castle, and the Royal Mile.

The area is home to cultural attractions like the Usher Hall, the Lyceum Theatre, and the Traverse Theatre, making it an excellent choice for those interested in the arts.

Haymarket Station is a major transportation hub with train and tram connections, making it convenient for exploring Edinburgh and its surrounding areas.

Best places to stay in Edinburgh in West End for travelers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Roseate Edinburgh, 5-star hotel, located on West Coates, in West End, within walking distance to the Haymarket Railway Station and central Edinburgh. You can find a bus stop nearby to get to the airport and the old town.
  • Mid-range ($$): Haymarket Apartments, great 4-star accommodation, located on Torphichen Street, a few mins walk from EICC, 10-15 mins walk to the Edinburgh Castle and Royal Mile.  easily accessible by train, tram, bus for city center and the airport.
  • Budget ($): Ashgrove House, popular 3-star family-run guest house, located on the A8 into Old Town, within walking distance from Edinburgh Haymarket Rail Station. It has Fabulous breakfast and free parking, which is a bonus for those who have a car.

5. Leith

Leith is a neighborhood in the city of Edinburgh that has undergone significant transformation in recent years and is now a popular area for both residents and visitors.

Leith has a rich maritime history, and you can still feel its nautical character with its historic port, the Royal Yacht Britannia (a popular tourist attraction), and waterfront views. The area has a distinct and picturesque atmosphere.

Leith has become known for its diverse and vibrant culinary scene. It’s home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, and food markets, making it a food lover’s paradise. You can savor everything from traditional Scottish dishes to international cuisine.

The area is dotted with independent boutiques, galleries, and craft shops. You can discover unique and artisanal goods while exploring the neighborhood.

You can take leisurely walks along the Water of Leith Walkway, enjoy the scenic views of the river, and relax in nearby parks like Leith Links.

Staying in Leith allows you to experience a more local, residential side of Edinburgh, away from the tourist crowds. It’s a place where locals live, work, and socialize.

While Leith is slightly removed from the city center, it’s well-connected by public transportation, with buses running frequently to and from the heart of Edinburgh.

Best places to stay in Edinburgh in Leith for tourists:


In conclusion, Old Town, New Town, Stockbridge, West End, and Leith are the best places to stay in Edinburgh for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas offering plenty of accommodations for all budgets and easy access to major attractions in Edinburg.

If you visiting Edinburgh during Christmas season, you can check this article:

I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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