Best places to get some work done
Let's face it: quite a lot of the people running from show to show in Edinburgh are actually working. Whether you're a frazzled journalist or scouting for the next big thing, The Hideout Café may be your best bet to get some work done. Just a little way from the city centre buzz, this cosy café has great coffee, cake and, crucially, free Wi-Fi. Looking for something right in the centre? There's always Fringe Central. It's not the most atmospheric of places and it's mainly used by performers and journalists, but the coffee and free Wi-Fi makes it an easy no-frills option. And let's not forget the Pleasance Dome – it's busy and does get a bit loud, and you'll be bothered by people flyering their show, but there's Wi-Fi and no one will expect you to buy a drink to sit there.
If you're looking for something with a little more atmosphere, you can't go wrong with Spoon. A lovely, simply decorated bistro and cafe where you can get a bowl of soup and a glass of wine and while away a spare evening.
Coolest pop up bars
Some of the most unlikely places transform into cafes and bars during August. Tron Kirk is a former parish church in Hunter Square, which opens as a bar during the festival season, and has been known to host live acts throughout the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. If you're looking for something upmarket, try the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar, Parliament Square. Popping up around the beautiful Signet Library, this is perfect for people hoping to bring a little more elegance to the festival experience.
Or, of course, there's always the Underbelly. One of the festival's biggest pop-ups, there are bars, places to eat and stages spread across venues around the city. You literally can't miss the giant, purple, upside-down cow. Past acts at the venue have included Stewart Lee, Reginald D Hunter, Rhys Darby, Ruby Wax and Jim Jefferies, and it's the perfect place – if usually totally heaving – to hang around after any of the shows and grab a drink in what feels like a real festival atmosphere.
Best of Scottish
If Scottish is what you want, then Whiski Rooms is what you need. Just five minutes from Edinburgh Castle, you'll be treated with live Scottish folk music every night, hearty meals, and more whisky than you could imagine (whisky cocktails, whisky sauces, whisky desserts). The music starts at 10.30 every night, and is the perfect way to round off a night.
No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without sampling the national dish of haggis, neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes) - for a relatively reasonable £13.50 you can enjoy it in the luxurious surroundings of Hadrian's Brasserie at the Balmoral, head chef Jeff Bland has held a Michelin star for 12 years.
Places to escape the hoardes
The Dovecot Cafe is very central, being as it is just around the corner from the Pleasance. But it's never too busy and serves up some delicious grub in a charming venue that doubles as a gallery. Further out, there's The Blue Bear, Brandon Terrace which is a modern riff on the traditional greasy spoon. This eatery has something for everyone – traditional Scottish breakfast, all-day brunch and a selection of beers to keep you going all day and well into the night.
Fancy combining a break from the crowds with some exercise? Blow off the cobwebs (or the hangover) with a trek up to Arthur's Seat. Visible from most of the city, the extinct volcano offers breathtaking views over Edinburgh's skyline.
Where to eat on a budget
The Mosque Kitchen is one of the stalwarts of the Edinburgh Festival. The food is cheap (a plate of curry starts at £6) and delicious and the menu offers a whole host of curries, kebabs and falafal. Let's not forget also Elephants and Bagels which is close to Mosque Kitchen – you won't find elephants but you will find lots of yummy bagels and a welcoming atmosphere. Union of Genius is also well worth checking out; a cafe that offers up a plethora of hearty soups along with lovely chunky bread.
Best cocktail bars
Bon Vivant is one of the leading after-hours cocktail stops. A dimly lit bar off Edinburgh's main thoroughfares, the Thistle Street branch boasts attentive staff, a cosy vibe and of course, 'proper' cocktails (ahem, no sex on the beaches here).
For something a bit more low key, try Under the Stairs under George IV Bridge, near the more rowdy Grassmarket/Cowgate area. It's table service only but there is good food and plenty of twists on the classics.
Best place for a quiet lie-down
Edinburgh during the fringe can be utterly exhausting. So you'll need a little check-list of places where you might be able to catch 40 winks. Weather-permitting, Portobello Beach offers a mile of sand with cafes and pubs lining the promenade. Porty, as it's also known, is also home to an organic market in Brighton Park on the first Saturday of the month. The perfect place to get some sea air and unwind from the madness of the fringe.
If you're in need of a quick lunchtime siesta there are plenty of lovely parks across Edinburgh, one of which is The Royal Botanic Garden. Sometimes dubbed as Scotland's answer to Kew Gardens, enjoy beautiful surroundings as you snooze on the grass in the sunshine (note - sunshine not guaranteed).
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