With its elegant rainbow of brightly-painted arches, this quintessential Edinburgh street has adorned many a postcard. From the hot pink of hog roast takeaway Oink!, to the muted tones of Howie’s restaurant, and the striking blue of Old Town Bookshop, colour bursts from every shop-front. As the street slopes from Lawnmarket to Grassmarket, the terrace overlooking it remains at the same level as the streets above. The contrast, between the classic Edinburgh architecture and the visually arresting fronts below, creates the secluded feel of wandering down into a secret, underground world.
Should you wish to venture beyond their boldly-hued exteriors, the eclectic mix of shops and eateries include whisky, antiques, fancy dress, and Scottish tweed. The prices vary from place to place, but with the high costs of this tourist spot usually comes high quality. A pulled pork roll from Oink! will set you back about £5. A dinner at Howie’s will be closer to three times this. This level of variety helps Victoria Street avoid feeling like a tourist trap. Instead, it maintains a whimsical enough appeal to stand out as one of Edinburgh’s most charming streets.
Insider tip: If you’re a Harry Potter fan looking to explore the street that inspired JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley, it’s worth checking out Diagon House at No. 40. An unofficial, if expensive, tribute to Rowling’s world, the shop sells more than just Potter-themed gifts. Without a multi-million-dollar company cashing in on film merchandise, it feels almost closer than the film studios and theme parks to something authentic from the Diagon Alley of the books.