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Keith Davidson

Keith Davidson

Articles (12)

The 8 best day trips from Edinburgh

The 8 best day trips from Edinburgh

As beautiful and vibrant as Edinburgh is, sometimes we all crave a break away from city life. Thankfully, whether it's serene landscapes or historic gems you're after, the capital is surrounded by so many options for day trips that you'll struggle to decide where to explore first. You could head to a coastal town for some fresh sea air and mountainous landscapes or visit a cultural monument to hear interesting stories about the nation's past. If you're feeling active, there are plenty of walking and hiking routes just a short drive away, as well as wildlife and natural wonders waiting to be admired. If you've worked up an appetite after a big day out, treat yourself to a meal at one of the city’s best restaurants or pubs later in the evening. Then you can start planning your next adventure with our guide to the best day trips from Edinburgh. RECOMMENDED: The best hotels in Edinburgh RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Edinburgh 

Edinburgh's best lunch spots

Edinburgh's best lunch spots

Edinburgh is blessed with some excellent cafés, takeaways and cheap eat spots catering to city centre workers, shoppers, the year-round tourist trade and those just looking for a decent lunch. Yes, you can find the usual chain coffee-and-sandwich spots by the bucket-load but there's also a healthy community of independents providing a range of lunch alternatives - all the way from stellar soups and high-class sandwiches to the kind of dishes of which Edinburgh's best restaurants would be proud to serve.

The best Indian restaurants in Edinburgh

The best Indian restaurants in Edinburgh

There are three ubiquitous cuisines in most British cities and they reflect patterns of immigration, economic opportunities, food fashion and fondness: Chinese, Indian and Italian. Leaving szechuan chicken and pizza margherita out of the picture for the time being, at the last count there were around 100 Indian eateries of one sort or another in Edinburgh and a great many are perfectly competent at knocking out a few pakora, a lamb madras, pilau rice and some dahl on the side. They're not all cheap eats, either - some of them can justifiably claim to be some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh.A big populist favourite like the Shezaan on Union Place – opposite the Playhouse Theatre – has been dishing up familiar curries since the 1970s while the city has any number of small neighbourhood venues that are great if you live five minutes away but they don't justify a special trip. When it comes to the best and most interesting Indian restaurants in the city however here are seven standouts…

Date restaurants in Edinburgh

Date restaurants in Edinburgh

If you want a venue that provides a decent backdrop to a date, you don’t have to spend preposterous amounts. An accomplished gastropub, an incredible Indian or an iconic restaurant late at night all offer date-night alternatives that should be less taxing on your bank balance. But if you do go to one of Edinburgh's best restaurants for three courses with wine, it might not be cheap but, hey, it might be worth it. And if it's not? Go and drown your sorrows in one of Edinburgh's best pubs - you'll have forgotten about your lack of luck in no time. 

The best seafood restaurants in Glasgow

The best seafood restaurants in Glasgow

You may have noticed that Glasgow sits astride a fairly big river – one of Scotland's longest. It also has a maritime history, facing out to the wide Atlantic Ocean. Go back as far as the Dark Ages and Glasgow's patron saint and founder, Mungo, even performed a miracle involving a salmon fished from the Clyde thereby saving the life of Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde; it's a complicated tale of jealousy and intrigue but you can find various versions online.The upshot of Mungo's intervention is that Glasgow's official crest features that miraculous fish to this very day. So although Glasgow might not be a fishing port, a centre for fish processing or even on the coast, its founding mythos bred seafood into its genetic code and it currently boasts a complement of fish restaurants that are collectively quite fantastic, each individually interesting in its own way. So head to the Glasgow restaurants below and raise a glass) to some seriously good seafood. And if you're not partial to fishy things? How about Indian? Or somewhere cheap?

Meatspace: Glasgow's new steakhouses

Meatspace: Glasgow's new steakhouses

In Glasgow, the seasons change and the colours change but there is always something new. In the city where Michelin star cooking never really took hold and gastronomia molecular bounced off the upper atmosphere (propelled in no small part by the city's love of its excellent cheap eats), the latest restaurant fashion is among the oldest of dishes. It comes courtesy of investment in kitchen equipment, it comes with a sense of fun, it comes in polite surroundings and it comes on a wooden board in premises with bare stone walls – but it comes.In 2013 and 2014, half a dozen new venues opened across Glasgow, all making a big deal of their beef. They joined more established restaurants where you can depend on a top class steak ­– the Butchershop Bar & Grill, the Grill Room at the Square and the Restaurant at Blythswood Square for example – to give local diners more choice than ever before in terms of where and how they eat their meat. It's not all fillet and sirloin of course – other dishes are available.

Six of the best Indian restaurants in Glasgow

Six of the best Indian restaurants in Glasgow

Glasgow loves curry. The oldest Indian eateries in the city include the Koh-I-Noor on North Street and the Shish Mahal on Park Road, both going since the 1960s, giving them Methuselah status in local restaurant terms. Meanwhile in the Curry Capital of Britain awards, running since 2001, Glasgow has won four times and finished as runner-up on three occasions against some stiff competition; other winners include Birmingham, Bradford, Leicester and West London. But the best thing? Glasgow's best Indian restaurants - like many of its best restaurants in general - are often cheap eats, too.Given the sheer amount of time that has passed since Glasgow clasped curry to its methi-scented bosom however there have been major changes in the city's Indian restaurant trade. New venues have come along while older ones have passed down through families where younger Scottish-Asians take a different approach to business, interior design and menus than their Punjabi grandfathers might have done more than half a century ago. As a result there is no shortage of good Indian restaurants, but picking Glasgow's top half dozen remains a mug's game – someone's favourite is always going to be left out and arguments will rage. If you think we've missed a good one, let us know in the comments box below.

The best whisky bars in Edinburgh

The best whisky bars in Edinburgh

People from elsewhere in these islands who are used to wandering into a standard bar in a standard town and finding just two popular brands of single malt whisky on the gantry, faded and unloved, will be delighted by Edinburgh. There are a great many cocktail bars and quality pubs that have a fantastic selection of whiskies: dozens and dozens. In order to stand out in the Scottish capital however, it's not enough to have a few Speysides, a couple of Islays and a bottle of the latest grappa-finished, limited edition outturn from a boutique distillery run by two blokes called Jeremy and Rupert. For destination drinking you need hundreds of whiskies, a serious level of expertise behind the bar and – optional extra – an environment conducive to the attentive appreciation of what the Gaels call uisge beatha.

Edinburgh's best steak restaurants

Edinburgh's best steak restaurants

Three or four decades ago, a man would stride into a steakhouse, order a well done sirloin and chips, wolf it down with relish then spark up a cigarette and consider a meal well had.These days, steakhouses have couples talking about kitchen equipment – 'They've got a Josper' – provenance, sauces, whether the chips are hand cut or not, other side dishes, cooking style and the surrounding décor. The restaurant itself will be eager to tell you which butcher supplied the meat, the cattle breed, the region it came from and the type of farm. It makes you wonder if anyone has actually namechecked an individual animal yet. ('This used to be Hector.') Sauces have gone all prestigious too – green peppercorn might be poshed up with some single malt whisky for example – while a side dish could involve spinach with a hint of nutmeg luxuriating in cream rather than a couple of token fried mushrooms.In the relatively short period of a few decades, steak has gone from being unattainable to a footballer's favourite meal, then to nouveau naff and finally swung back to claim its own elevated terroir – hurrah for food fashions. And it's not just about steak restaurants either - from French restaurants to Spanish and Italian, clever sourcing means steak reigns supreme on many a menu. Now, go eat the meat.

Edinburgh's best seafood restaurants

Edinburgh's best seafood restaurants

What is a seafood restaurant? Some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh offer a seafood tasting menu these days featuring accomplished dishes like langoustine with parsnip and white chocolate, verjus, smoked butter and shrimps. Meanwhile a less formal outfit like the Mussel & Steak Bar with its two branches (Grassmarket and Jeffrey Street) serves up oysters and pots of mussels but it clearly devotes a great deal of its energies to beef (looking for beef? Try Edinburgh's best steak restaurants). Like a number of other decent eateries Sweet Melinda's (Roseneath Street) might have Cajun-spiced salmon on the menu, sea bass with olive mash as a special, but it will also have roast chicken or an Aberdeen Angus burger as well. None of these are really seafood restaurants per se, even though they serve seafood. To qualify, the bulk of the menu choices must be fish or shellfish and it definitely helps if the décor has a maritime theme – or some concession to matters nautical. With that in mind, here are Edinburgh's finest spots for seafood…

The best fine dining restaurants without a Michelin star in Edinburgh

The best fine dining restaurants without a Michelin star in Edinburgh

Fine dining? Easy. You select the Edinburgh restaurants with a Michelin star then write them down in alphabetical order. Sorted. It's true that Edinburgh is disproportionately blessed with these elevated establishments: for a city of just under half a million souls it has five. If you start just behind Edinburgh Castle at Dominic Jack's Castle Terrace then walk via the Balmoral Hotel where Brian Grigor is head chef at flagship restaurant Number One, down towards Leith, passing Paul Kitching's 21212 en route, into the heart of Leith to find Restaurant Martin Wishart and finally locate Commercial Quay where Tom Kitchin has the eponymous Kitchin then you have passed five venues with five Michelin stars between them in a stroll of less than 5km. From Kitching's remarkable creativity to Jack and Kitchin's fresh approach, from the sheer consistency and class of Wishart to the Franco-Scottish quality of Number One they are all excellent in their own way. But what about the others - those fine dining restaurants without a Michelin star? Not every good restaurant in the city has the stellar imprimatur of quality from a French tyre manufacturer. There are some other seriously good fine dining venues that shouldn't be missed - we've put a few of them on the list below. But if you don't want anywhere fancy? Then give Edinburgh's best cheap eats a go.

The best late night restaurants and takeaways in Edinburgh

The best late night restaurants and takeaways in Edinburgh

Whether it's through necessity (it's easy to work up a bit of an appetite stomping away at Edinburgh clubs) or you just like eating late, there's plenty to get your nocturnal teeth into when it comes to late night restaurants in Edinburgh. From parking yourself at a table and working your way through a plate of spaghetti carbonara (glass of red on the side) to delving into a superior kebab because you missed dinner, Edinburgh has a great selection of late night restaurants – including some truly great fish and chip shops. And by late we mean properly at-least-until-midnight late (and usually later). And by best we mean the very best Edinburgh has to offer. So take a look and get eating, night owl. Or wait until breakfast and grab a bite then. Up to you.

Listings and reviews (35)

56 North

56 North

56 North is well known for specialising in the increasingly popular 'mothers' ruin'. This is a style-bar-with-kitchen that offers gin masterclasses, has a list of the spirit that runs to several pages and even opens its car park as a gin garden in August, in association with Tanqueray. You can even select from a dozen tonics or mixers and 14 separate garnishes. And gin aside, its food is a cut above pub average with quality steaks and gourmet burgers starring on the menu. The latter come as 8oz Scottish steak mince burgers, and also chicken or veggie – all with a choice of styles. There is a Scottish option dubbed the Stornoway (with apple compote, black pudding and haggis), a simple Classic (with cheddar, chutney and pickle) and a rather intense but tempting effort called the Derby (with blue cheese, jalapeño and smoked bacon). A succession of style bars have occupied this site over the years, next to the University of Edinburgh’s main campus; 56 North itself has been around since 2008. Currently it’s ideal for sipping on a quality G&T (Rock Rose gin from Caithness with Fever-Tree tonic perhaps), while waiting for your burger.

The Cambridge Bar

The Cambridge Bar

Hidden away on one of the New Town’s less frequented backstreets, the Cambridge is a very well established name in the city, around in its current form since the noughties. If you could imagine a farmhouse kitchen aesthetic transplanted into a Georgian townhouse with the occasional chic overtone then you’ll have a sense of what it looks like: robust wooden tables, chesterfields, bare stone fireplace, restrained colours and understated cornicing. It prides itself on three things: beer, burgers and televised sport, albeit in highly civilised style. Those burgers meanwhile come in such variety that they’ll keep absolutely everyone happy. The basic options are 7oz beef, 6oz buffalo, whole chicken breast or bean patty. From there you’re looking at a further 18 choices of topping plus various sides and sauces. Bean burger with side salad is eminently possible for the abstemious; hungry flavour junkies could have a teriyaki buffalo burger instead (with bacon, pineapple and teriyaki sauce), Cajun fries and onion rings on the side. The Cambridge is also handy to know about in August when the Edinburgh International Book Festival sets up camp in nearby Charlotte Square.

21212

21212

5 out of 5 stars

There’s always a risk in taking a date to one of Edinburgh’s top restaurants but, in making such a selection, discretion and intimacy count for a great deal, especially when coupled with a creative sense of fun. Paul Kitching’s 21212 (opened 2009, Michelin star by 2010) is tucked away on Royal Terrace, a distinguished, cobbled boulevard of 19th century townhouses on the side of Calton Hill. The lush and contemporary interior manages to pull off a sense of civilised cosiness even though it can hold around three dozen diners when operating at full tilt. The cooking is among Scotland’s best; dinner is structured around a choice of three starters, then soup, then a choice of three mains, then cheese, then a choice of three desserts. Initially Kitching offered a choice of two starters, then soup, then two mains and so on, hence the restaurant name, but times move on. Dishes come with simple titles but a great deal of artistic endeavour and culinary engineering. A main billed as Three Little Fishes might arrive with beetroot and barley pudding, yeast and coconut, all on the same plate – waiting staff will explain. If your date is on the same foodie wavelength as you, you’ll have a blast.

KanPai Sushi

KanPai Sushi

4 out of 5 stars

Aesthetics are important, don’t you think? That holds true for virtually everything on a date, from presentation of self, through use of language, ease of interaction to choice of venue for dinner and the appearance of whatever is magicked on to the plate. At Kanpai, you can concentrate on chat, eye contact and the avoidance of wardrobe malfunction because the food is reliably drop-dead gorgeous and serves as a launchpad for all kinds of conversations. The restaurant opened in 2011, the décor is all clean lines, wood and Japanese minimalism, while the menu covers everything from miso soup via all the usual maki sushi, nigiri and sashimi to octopus fishcakes, assorted tempura, teppan teriyaki salmon and teppan sirloin steak. All restaurants involve ritualised behaviour to some extent but it’s thrown into sharper relief when the food culture is so markedly different to granny’s mince and tatties. Sitting in Kanpai, gazing at the colour, form and decorative splendour of the sashimi platter for instance – sipping on saki, and trying to make sense of a whole different attitude to food – can serve as a real bonding experience, especially if it’s a new for the individuals on both sides of the table. Perfect for a date then.

Pickles

Pickles

5 out of 5 stars

Whether you are meeting someone for the first time after taking the plunge on Tinder, or you’re just looking for a little bit of space away from work and kids, then how about Pickles? It’s a small basement wine bar, chunky natural wood dominating the colour scheme, the menu largely consisting of cheese and meat platters, and pâtés. It’s completely informal, operates a no-bookings policy – so you just have to take your chances when you drop in – and it doesn’t even open until late afternoon. But if you do score a table and park yourself with her, or him, in front of a Scottish cheese board and a couple of glasses of appropriate wine then at least you have the building blocks of a great evening in place. Twinkly fairy lights wrapped round dried twigs – a decorative touch – add to the atmosphere and whether you’re picking at cheese, Mediterranean cold meats or wild boar pâté, the food always comes with bread, oatcakes and eponymous pickles. It does beg the question though, that if you really think you’re on for a snog tonight should you be shovelling down the chorizo and gherkins? Fortunately the focus of your desire is doing exactly the same, so no problem.

The Walnut

The Walnut

4 out of 5 stars

Part of the rolling gentrification of Leith Walk that has seen some much better bars and eateries appear up and down the thoroughfare in the last few years, the Walnut launched at the end of 2015 as a small, independent venue offering a high standard of bistro cooking in simple surroundings: one room, mix’n’match chairs, wooden floor, light colour scheme. In terms of accessibility, informality, sheer quality and its BYOB policy, it’s an absolutely lovely place to eat. A typical three courses here might involve pea and ham hock soup with poached egg and truffle oil to start; lamb hotpot with black pudding as a main; apple frangipane tart to finish. Vegetarians are very well catered for (roast carrot, goat cheese and walnut salad with sherry vinaigrette to start; chickpea and aubergine cassoulet as a main for example) while the BYOB idea means you can splash out on some wine to do justice to the food (Oddbins, Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express are all very close by while there’s a Majestic about 10 minutes’ walk down Leith Walk). There's nothing intimidating or distracting here: just you, great cooking, decent wine, your date – and a bill that will seem pretty economical given the talent in the kitchen.

The Dogs

The Dogs

4 out of 5 stars

An affordable restaurant in a handy New Town location, where the menu focuses on traditional cooking from around the British Isles, filtered through a contemporary sensibility. You could gather as much from the décor: essentially simple, featuring white walls and wooden furniture, but with additional neo-baroque touches. The main room with the bar – overlooking Hanover Street – is dominated by an enormous portrait of a dog, for example, and is the room to aim for when dining. There are two menus: day for lunch and weekend afternoons, dinner for evenings, both priced accordingly. The former offers modest, lunchtime-sized dishes around the £4-£6 range: choices like mussels in spicy tomato sauce; pulled pork bun with pickled red onion and baby gem; or fish and chips with mushy peas. Sides from the day menu weigh in around £2 each – chips, coleslaw, salad and more – while desserts are £3-£4 and might include fruit crumble, coconut rice pudding with apricot jam and other crowd pleasers. Run by one of the city’s most experienced and commendable restaurateurs, this venue succeeds by offering good service, economical dining and more than a hint of theatre.

Milk

Milk

4 out of 5 stars

Handy for Haymarket Station, and all of five minutes’ walk from the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Milk appeared in 2010. It’s a very small café with simple, raised-bench seating and tables, and white-tiled walls. Since launch however, the business has picked up catering franchises at locations across the city, including the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, the Fruitmarket Gallery and Jupiter Artland during its annual May to September opening season. Clearly, Milk is doing something right and that something is the food. The breakfasts at these original Morrison Street premises are pretty good, but come lunchtime there's a selection of excellent sandwiches, salads, hot dishes and specials. A typical sandwich would be chorizo, avocado, Comté cheese and slow-roasted tomato on germagrain; or how about a chicken ceasar salad with kale, spinach, roasted chickpeas and Grana Padano? Then there are more substantial dishes such as roast chicken burrito, vegetarian Chiang Mai noodles – or a rosemary, roast vegetable and feta tart off the ever-changing specials board. Milk isn’t a venue to dawdle in – and a significant number of people use it as a takeaway – but if you’re in the neighbourhood and looking for lunch, then its quality has established it as a destination of choice.

David Bann

David Bann

4 out of 5 stars

David Bann is Scotland’s leading vegetarian restaurant and has been a successful part of the Edinburgh scene since 2002. Handily placed in the Old Town just a few seconds off the Royal Mile – and avoiding the hippy wholefood look with a modern, straight-lined interior – the cooking is reliably creative but doesn’t carry the soporific after-effects that you might suffer following an encounter with a heavy curry, pasta or meat dish in the middle of the day. For example, the parsnip, apple and blue cheese pudding is a light bake of the root veg, Bramley apple and Strathdon Blue cheese, served with roast spuds, swede and Puy lentil stew – ample, comforting but not debilitating. As a single main dish with a glass of wine it makes for a fine lunch. Alternatively, for two lighter courses, you could have a starter-sized plate of olive polenta, roast Mediterranean vegetables in pesto, and goat cheese curd – then a dessert like whisky pannacotta, meringue, and pear and caramel sauce. It's an obvious benefit for vegetarians to be able to choose blind off the menu and know that anything served will be meat-free; but the quality of food should keep even the most ardent carnivore content, too.

El Cartel

El Cartel

5 out of 5 stars

It’s small, it feels cramped when busy, there’s a no-bookings policy and a limited menu. That said, the freshness and flavour of the tacos and other dishes here make El Cartel far and away the best Mexican in the city. The venue opened in 2014 in premises once occupied by another Mexican restaurant, so it took a while for the public to wake up and smell the mole. The menu is simple: seven or eight varieties of taco (you get two per order) and a similar number of antojitos (‘little cravings’ or street snacks). These are all great for sharing, although, if you’re flying solo, one item from each side of the menu makes for a decent lunch. Taco fillings are unfailingly inventive: roasted pork belly with pineapple, white onion and coriander for example; or roast pumpkin, kale, courgette, goat milk cheese and red mole. On the antojitos side, you might try simple creamed corn with spiced cheese, pork ribs, chicken wings or guacamole except that latter favourite appears here with sheep milk cheese, pomegranate and spring onion. And the no-bookings problem? Staff have been known to direct diners to the Bon Vivant bar across the street, then retrieve them when a table’s ready.

Tonic

Tonic

4 out of 5 stars

Tonic has been around for more than 15 years so it’s a survivor. Despite the handy and central location, just off George Street, you don’t last that long unless you have something good to offer. At the moment, it’s friendly staff creating a real sense of welcome in the contemporary, non-flashy interior – and a commendable cocktail list. This runs to nine pages although each page only carries three or four choices and everything is ordered according to base spirit. There’s a logic and creativity here – the mixology tends to be thoughtful but fun. They don’t shy away from using liqueurs and syrups based on passionfruit, peach, pineapple and other fruits, leading to mixes like the André 3000: Martin Miller’s gin, Briottet Liqueur de Litchi, pineapple juice, raspberry gomme and lemon juice. If Tonic has one unmissable cocktail though it’s the magisterial Lost: single malt and blended Scotch (Talisker and Johnny Walker Black Label), Velvet Falernum and Peychaud’s Bitters: layered with flavour, it’s really quite remarkable. It doesn’t take many people to fill this place, but if you catch it on some quiet late afternoon just after opening, or midweek evening, it’s a chilled space for a quality drink; busier on peak nights after 9pm when DJs make an appearance.

The Balmoral Bar

The Balmoral Bar

You’re either going to be intimidated by the Balmoral Hotel or you’re not. If the sheer heft of the place, its central location, doorman and pricing make you anxious, go somewhere else. If you want a cheeky cocktail at the city’s most iconic address however, then step through that door. There are a number of restaurants and bars here but the Balmoral Bar itself – not to be confused with Scotch, the hotel’s dedicated whisky bar – is your destination for mixology. But why stop at one? In the spirit of tasting menus (there’s a Michelin star restaurant on the premises) you could splash out £45 per person and try a cocktail tasting menu – amuse bouche then five ‘courses’ – carefully managed so you don’t keel over after number two or three. If that’s too rich an option, the individual cocktails here match up to the impeccable service standards and slick, international-hotel décor. Sitting comfortably with something sharp and refreshing like a Twisted Cucumber (Hendrick’s gin, limoncello, elderflower cordial and cucumber) or a thoroughly jet-setty Champagne Cocktail (“R” de Ruinart champagne, Hennessy Fine de Cognac, sugar and Angostura bitters), bowl of mixed olives on the side, gives you the brief illusion of being part of the 1%.

News (3)

Edinburgh’s best new restaurants

Edinburgh’s best new restaurants

Edinburgh’s food scene is fairly febrile in Scottish terms - and over the last year there's been a steady stream of new openings to tempt diners. If you’re looking for fist food, then toastie specialist Meltmongers is wowing them at 80 Bruntsfield Place, while there’s a new café-bar in the shape of Southpour at 1-5 Newington Road – they’re very enthusiastic about their venison bridies. The Byron burger chain recently landed in the city with two branches at Lothian Road and North Bridge, while Stockbridge welcomed Smith & Gertrude at 26 Hamilton Place, an award-winning wine bar that also has a fantastic selection of cheeses and charcuterie. As for our pick of new eateries in the Scottish capital, here are a select six that are yet to celebrate their first birthday… Chop House Bar & Butchery  © Chop House     Edinburgh had hardly recovered from the 2015 festival when this new steak house landed in Leith last September. With its booths and banquettes, feature glass panelling, exposed brickwork, angular fixtures and essential food proposition, it’s quite a masculine environment. That said, there's a serviceable cocktail menu so you can sip on a Rhubarb Fizz (Botanist Gin, Aperol, lemon, rhubarb bitters) as you read the meat’s CV: dry-aged in house for a minimum of 35 days using Himalayan salt then cooked on a charcoal grill. You could have a vegetarian main involving mushroom, goat cheese and hazelnut crumb, but this is really where you want a starter like crispy squid or oyste

Six things to look forward to at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Six things to look forward to at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Each August, Edinburgh International Book Festival sets up its tented village at Charlotte Square Gardens in the New Town. There are talks, spoken word performances, music, a full children’s programme, a Speigeltent, cafés, a signing tent, a bookshop and even an ice cream tricycle! The 2016 jamboree involves something like 800 authors from more than 55 countries taking part in over 700 events. Whether you want to hear Chinese novelist Can Xue talk about her work or just sit under a tree having a picnic with the kids; the Book Fest has it all. Below are half a dozen highlights from this year's programme.   Unbound   Unbound is the Book Fest’s free, drop-in evening event where you can grab a drink from the bar and then anything might happen. Scheduled performances this year include Scotland’s former national poet Liz Lochhead with Dundee indie poppers the Hazey Janes doing “a celebration of the lyric impulse” (16 August), an appearance from alternative Scottish hip-hop ensemble Stanley Odd (24 August) and a great deal besides. Loose, informal and fun, it’s always worth sticking your head round the door to see what’s going on. Daily 14-29 August, 9pm, Speigeltent, free   Shappi Khorsandi   The accomplished Anglo-Iranian stand-up Shappi Khorsandi has delved deep into her comic talent to produce a shocking but witty debut novel, published this summer: 'Nina Is Not OK'. It deals with a young woman’s struggles with alcohol until she wakes up one Sunday morning with little memory o

Six great places to hang out during the Fringe

Six great places to hang out during the Fringe

From Edinburgh’s biggest theatre to a bar-restaurant near the bottom of Leith Walk, in 2016 you can find Fringe shows everywhere. However, there's a select group of sites that act as nerve centres for the planet’s leading arts festival. Each has its charms and all are worth visiting, whether you want to see a few minutes of free street theatre, take in a show, grab some great food al fresco or chill out with a superior cocktail. Read on for our guide to the best places to hang out during Fringe.     The High Street © Alastair Barnsley   What is it?In August, part of the medieval High Street in the Old Town between Cockburn Street and George IV Bridge becomes a pedestrianised, open-air performance space. People hand out flyers, there are enthusiastic excerpts from shows and buskers busk while an ample audience ambles by. Usually packed, often surprising, this is what makes you think, ‘I’ve arrived at the Fringe.’ Where is it?High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QS. Fringe Venue 10 (no box office). Why go?This section of the High Street gets so giddy with artistic ambition and creative anarchy, it’s sometimes hard to walk from one end to another without literally tripping over an actor. There are mini-stages to help things along, an arts and crafts market for added interest, bars and eateries too, while the busy Fringe box office and the impressive High Kirk of St Giles are also on this stretch of pavement.   Assembly & Udderbelly at George Square   © Underbelly Limited   What is it

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