The Most Fabulous 30th Birthday Ideas in Edinburgh

Preparing to say goodbye to your twenties? Don’t even worry about it, we’ve selected the best that the Scottish capital has to offer so you can celebrate in style.

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Cobblestone street in Edinburgh

As far as we’re concerned, you’re looking rather fabulous for your age. But if you’re planning on celebrating a 30th birthday in Edinburgh, don’t worry we won’t tell anyone that you’ve hit the big 3-0. And if you’re really wanting to celebrate, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re wanting to go out with a bang with a big group, or have something a little more low-key, there’s something for everyone in bonny Scotland, and for nowhere more is that true than its historic capital. We’d definitely recommend booking a fancy birthday meal and sampling the culinary delights that the city has to offer. In the past few years it has become something of a hub for foodies (it always was a hub for drinkies, fear not).

The need-to-knows

For some reason (we like to think it’s part of Edinburgh’s archaic charm), much of the city still operates on a cash-only basis. Just make sure you’ve always got a few notes on you so you’re not caught short. Oh, and try not to worry when the Scottish bank notes come out of the cashpoint. It is not Monopoly money, yes, it is real, and yes, you can use it south of the Border. But most importantly, whatever you plan on doing for celebrating a 30th birthday in Edinburgh, make sure you book ahead. This goes for restaurants and bars. Things still run in quite an old fashioned way, and the best places in town often have a waiting list of a few weeks, so it’s worth planning your trip so you’re not left ordering a takeaway. Heaven forbid.

Not many cities can boast a royal palace, a castle, a parliament and noteworthy historic monuments and galleries within one square mile. You’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere you don’t like in Edinburgh, but, of course, some neighbourhoods will be a little more up your street than others. Make sure to check out Plum Guide's collection of homes in the city which our expert home critics have already selected for you.

Stockbridge

This area is full of stylish boutiques, charity shops (often full of designer gear) artisanal cheesemongers and bookshops. Très chic indeed. The perfect area to have brunch at one of the many cafes or weekly food market and then spend a lazy day strolling.

Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Dean Village

This neighbourhood is like walking in a fairytale. Think squat Victorian cottages, cobbles and quaint architecture. Running through it is the Water of Leith, the main river that flows through Edinburgh. Walk along it and try and spot Antony Gormley’s acclaimed life-size iron sculptures standing in the water. Keep walking and eventually you’ll reach the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. If you love art, make sure you take a break from the 30th birthday celebrations in Edinburgh and don’t leave the city without paying a visit.

Dean Village, Edinburgh

Dean Village, Edinburgh

Leith

Made famous by Irvine Welsh’s novel, Trainspotting, Leith has the ‘badboy’ rep of Edinburgh. It became known as the ‘rough’ area of town after the Second World War, yet thanks to extensive regeneration and gentrification projects, it’s now a thriving creative area of the city. With exquisite seafood restaurants on its port. Both The Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart have Michelin stars, so check these two out as potential options for your special meal to celebrate your 30th birthday in Edinburgh.

Old Town

Labyrinthine curiosities await. Charming, beautiful, divine. Even if you're only spending one day in Edinburgh, make sure to check out Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the famous Royal Mile connecting the two, full of trinket shops and some rather excellent wool and cashmere shops too. Definitely make sure you grab lunch at Spoon on Nicholson Street. A restaurant/bistro serving wholesome, hearty food, where JK Rowling wrote large chunks of her famous Harry Potter books.

New Town

Built in the 18th century to combat the Old Town’s overcrowding problem, Edinburgh’s New Town is still pretty old and features a stunning fusion of Neo-Classical and Georgian architecture. But if it’s the main shops you’re really after, Princes Street has everything you need. Also around this neck of the woods is the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, a stunning Gothic building. If you like coffee, make sure you pop into Fortitude for a quick one before you go to the gallery. You may be doing a fair bit of your sightseeing around this neighbourhood, so it could be nicer to stay elsewhere. Or if you want to roll out of bed and straight into the hustle and bustle of the city, we won’t judge you for that. One thing you really must add to your list of 30th birthday ideas in Edinburgh is to have a cocktail at the renowned Panda & Sons. The speakeasy style bar may be tricky to find, but trust us, once you do you’ll be more than pleased. Head on to the nearby Fingers Piano bar for a dance after. This place does what it says on the tin. One guy, one piano. Much dancing. If you’re lucky, they’ll even take a request or two.

Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scott monument, new town, skyline

Princes Street, Edinburgh

With these 30th birthday ideas in Edinburgh, you're probably set on planning a celebratory trip to the city. Next up, then, is deciding in which area in Edinburgh you'd like to stay. If you partner's birthday is approaching, we've compiled lists of birthday ideas for her and birthday ideas for him that are sure to impress.

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