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10 Bookshops in Edinburgh You Need to Visit

Are you a book lover in Edinburgh? Add these 10 amazing bookshops in Edinburgh to your list of places to visit!

There were two reasons for my recent trip to Edinburgh: bookshops and Harry Potter. Edinburgh is known as one of the top literary cities in the UK and is teeming with independent bookshops.

This city is an absolute haven for book lovers with many literary giants living and writing here. In fact, Edinburgh was the first city to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.

Before my trip, I had all the best Edinburgh bookshops mapped out on Google maps and couldn’t wait to actually see these shops I’d dreamed about in person.

The number one bookshop in Edinburgh on my list was Golden Hare Books. I’d seen this on @gisforgeorgina‘s Instagram page and knew it had won awards so I was desperate to see it myself!

Without further ado, here’s my guide to the best bookshops in Edinburgh:

Armchair Books, Edinburgh

If you’re looking for second hands books, Edinburgh’s Armchair Books is a must. It is hands down my favourite bookshop in Edinburgh. Indeed, it is one of my favourite secondhand bookshops of all time!

I actually visited Armchair Books more than once during my trip to Edinburgh, the first time by myself on an early morning wander. The second as I shoved a friend through the door, insisting she needed to see it.

It’s a winding little shop with floor to ceiling bookshelves that are jam-packed with secondhand reads.

As soon as you enter, you’re met with the smell of old books and brown pages. It’s a smell that instantly makes a bookworm feel at home.

There are multiple copies of some of the most popular releases from the past few decades so it’s a great place to pick up a second hand edition of something you’ve had your eye on for a while.

There are, of course, also lots of classics and every other genre you can think of.

If you’re not based in Edinburgh, you can support them via AbeBooks here.

For even more second hand books, you can pop into Peter Bell Books next door, which specialises in antiquarian Scottish interest books, as well as history and philosophy books.

Address: 72-74 West Port, EH1 2LE
Opening Hours: 10am – 6:30pm every day
Website: www.armchairbooks.co.uk

Topping & Company, Edinburgh

I was familiar with Topping & Company bookshops from a previous visit to Bath and was excited to discover that their newest branch opened in Edinburgh in 2019.

RELATED: A Guide to Bookshops in Bath

This new branch is enormous and holds around 70,000 titles over two floors. In fact, the Topping family have boasted that this is the largest independent bookshop to open in the country for decades!

It’s a beautiful, well-lit space with tall windows letting plenty of light into the store.

Of course, they’ve got their signature ladders resting against the bookshelves so you can reach those on the top shelves too. Aesthetic and practical, a book lover’s dream.

The absolute best thing about this bookshop, however, is the fact that they offer free tea for their customers to enjoy along with their new reads.

There are small round tables dotted around the store and you can enjoy a pot of freshly brewed tea here in an adorable navy and polka-dot teapot.

Address: 2 Blenheim Place, EH7 5JH
Opening Hours: 9am – 8:30pm every day
Website: www.toppingbooks.co.uk

Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh

I have a confession.

The first time I stepped into Golden Hare Books, I was met with a feeling of… disappointment.

It was the bookshop in Edinburgh I’d heard the most about and seen people rave about but upon stepping over the threshold it just seemed rather sparse inside. It wasn’t the bookshop I had imagined it would be in my head.

BUT!

(A big but)

I began looking around the shelves to see what type of books they had on offer. And I found myself moving more and more slowly around the shop.

I was completely absorbed by each book I picked up and I wanted to take them all home with me!

Then I understood why this bookshop is so magical and I was very sorry to have misjudged it.

Golden Hare Books is an incredibly well-curated bookshop, in fact, I’d even go so far as to say this is one of the most well-curated bookshops I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into which books they choose to stock on their shelves and they only have the very best recent releases.

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I ended up leaving with two books I’d never heard of prior to visiting but was sure I’d enjoy: Territory of Light by Yūko Tsushima and In The City of Love’s Sleep by Lavinia Greenway.

I was further stopped on my way out of the shop by the little row of books outside the store – I really didn’t want to leave!

Golden Hare Books is located in Stockbridge, so it’s a little out of the way compared to the other bookshops on this list but no visit to Edinburgh is complete without a spin round this lovely bookshop.

This bookshop in Edinburgh won Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2019, beating all other bookshops in the UK and Ireland, and it’s a very well deserved title.

Address: 68  St Stephen Street, EH3 5AQ
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm every day
Website: goldenharebooks.com

Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh

Blackwell’s has long been a favourite of mine, with its flagship bookshop in Oxford proudly boasting the largest bookselling room in the world.

The Edinburgh bookshop holds a title of its own as Edinburgh’s oldest independent bookshop.

RELATED: A Guide to Bookshops in Oxford

Blackwell’s is a great place to look for new releases as soon as they come out as well as book-related merchandise and stationery.

Of course, there’s a large Harry Potter section in this Edinburgh bookshop with many different editions and other magical merchandise for Harry Potter fans in Edinburgh.

As well as a huge selection of new books, they’ve got dedicated shelves for different collections of old classics.

From Penguin Clothbounds to Everyman’s Library to Macmillan Collector’s Library, they’ve got all the most beautiful editions.

And did you know that Blackwell’s offer free UK delivery? It’s a great place to order from if you’re shopping online!

Address: 53-62 South Bridge, EH1 1YS
Opening Hours: 9am – 8pm every day, 12pm – 6pm Sunday
Website: blackwells.co.uk/bookshop (FREE UK delivery!)

Transreal Fiction Edinburgh Bookshop

Transreal, Edinburgh

Transreal is a bookshop I stumbled upon completely by accident when seeking out Harry Potter in Edinburgh.

It’s located on the same road that you’ll find Greyfriars Kirkyard, aka the Harry Potter graveyard. And it’s an appropriate place for such a bookshop too as Transreal specialises in sci-fi and fantasy fiction.

RELATED: Harry Potter Graveyard in Edinburgh

I’m a huge fan of fantasy literature so I was incredibly excited to discover this hidden gem in Edinburgh.

As well as the classics you’d expect like the works by George R R Martin, J R R Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson, they also stock lots of sci-fi and fantasy fiction that you won’t find on the shelves of your local Waterstones.

There are many authors here published by book publishers that don’t operate in the UK and it was a pleasure to explore these unfamiliar titles.

In fact, it’s been said that Transreal has the biggest range of imported science fiction and fantasy titles in Scotland!

Address: 46 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QE
Opening Hours: 11am – 6pm (Tuesday – Saturday)
Website: transreal.wordpress.com

McNaughtan’s, Edinburgh

McNaughtan’s is an absolutely beautiful, quaint bookshop in Edinburgh that is filled with antiquarian and second-hand books.

In fact, it is the oldest second-hand and antiquarian bookshop in Scotland! Its interiors are thoroughly charming with neatly stacked books from floor to ceiling and even around the door frames.

They stock a wide variety of genres from literature to childrens, religion or philosophy. The most popular of these is literature and they have a huge range of old classics and poetry books on offer.

This is the perfect place to shop for old books as gifts or to form part of your home library collection.

As soon as you walk in, you smell the scent of old books so book lovers may want to stay awhile.

Fortunately, there’s a lovely window seat in which you can sit as you peruse some titles you may want to add to your collection.

McNaughtan’s Bookshop & Gallery is right around the corner from the new Toppings & Company and is attached to Typewronger Books (below) so a trip to all three shops should be combined.

The shop is currently closed but they are open to orders and offer free UK postage.

Address: 3a, 4a Haddington Place, EH7 4AE
Opening Hours: 11am – 5pm (Tuesday – Saturday)
Website: mcnaughtans.co.uk

Typewronger Books, Edinburgh

Attached to McNaughton’s Bookshop & Gallery is Typewronger Books, a bookshop with a very different vibe.

They sell both books and typewriters, which make for the perfect combination. Isn’t it every writer’s dream to have a vintage typewriter?

It’s a small shop but it has such character and I loved the atmosphere. Music played softly on vinyl and the owner, Tom, is laughing with customers as he puts their order through.

They chitchat about the Extinction Rebellion and angry London commuters and I, often an angry London commuter, silently laugh with them as I browse.

There’s often tea (and sometimes wine!) on offer to browsers and it’s open until 9pm so people have time to pop by after work.

The books are all carefully selected by the owner so there’s a small but well-curated assortment of books in all genres.

It’s not the kind of place you come to pick up a specific edition but rather to browse, to run your fingers along the shelves, to have a bookish chat and pick up something unexpected.

Typewronger is the only typewriter shop in Edinburgh so it’s a must-visit if you’re looking to invest in one.

There’s even a Tweetwronger typewriter machine that is connected to Twitter. All you have to do it tweet @tweetwronger and use the hashtag #typethis – how cool is that?

If you live in Edinburgh there’s free postage/delivery to residents and reduced delivery costs to the rest of the UK.

Address: 4a Haddington Place, EH7 4AE
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm every day
Website: www.typewronger.com

Edinburgh Books

If you love second-hand books then Edinburgh Books is a must-visit. It’s the largest secondhand bookshop in Edinburgh and has been in operation for decades.

The shelves here are positively stuffed to the brim with books stacked both vertically and horizontally to fill every space. There’s even a large basement with even more rooms full of books.

You could get lost amongst these shelves for hours at a time as they stock just about every genre under the sun.

The copies they stock are sometimes quite well-used (well-loved!) but I love finding old copies and wondering what their history is.

It’s located along the same road as Armchair Books as you walk out of the centre of the city so make sure to add both to your agenda.

Oh and don’t be alarmed by Clarence, the large water buffalo head who watches you as you shop. There are plenty of fun rumours about him so be sure to ask the owners more.

Address: 145-147, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm every day (closed Sundays)
Website: edinburghbooks.net

John Kays Bookshop Edinburgh

John Kay’s, Edinburgh

Formerly The Old Town Bookshop, John Kay’s sit on the edge of Edinburgh’s most colourful and most iconic street, Victoria Street. This street has often been cited as the inspiration for Diagon Alley and you can see why.

With cobbled paving beneath your feet, you could believe you were shopping for wizard’s wares as you you look through the windows of these tall, colourful and mostly independent stores.

In fact, some believe that the Old Town Bookshop was the original inspiration for Flourish and Blotts with its floor to ceiling bookshelves.

Today, John Kay’s stocks a curated assortment of items for book lovers & antique aficionados alike. There’s a small selection of rare books as well as some beautiful editions of well-loved classics.

With miniature planes hanging from the ceiling and globes hanging from the bookshelves, the shop looks a little like an old explorer’s private collection. It’s a great shop to pick up a quirky gift, bookish or otherwise!

Address: 8 Victoria Street, EH1 2HG
Opening Hours: 10am – 6/7pm every day

RELATED: 17 Best Edinburgh Day Trips

The Edinburgh Bookshop

The Edinburgh Bookshop is another award-winning bookshop having been crowned Scottish Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2018.

They are particularly well known for their selection of children’s books and they are all about encouraging access to reading. A mission I can very much get behind!

It’s run by a small team of women who are all passionate about reading and that’s evident from just a few minutes in the store.

If you’re stuck on what to get, these lovely ladies will be able to bring together a wonderful selection for whatever the occasion or mood.

The Edinburgh Bookshop is one of the smaller bookshops in Edinburgh and with floor to ceiling shelves, it does feel very cosy.

If you can’t find what you need on the shelves then you can have it ordered in. They’ve got a form on their website where you can request any book you like and they’ll source it and have it ready to collect within 24-48 hours. How insane is that?

Address: 219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DH
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday; 12pm – 4pm Sundays
Website: www.edinburghbookshop.com

That concludes my guide to Edinburgh bookstores! There are many, many more that I’d love to explore so here are some further suggestions:

Other Edinburgh bookshops

The Portobello Bookshop
Tills Bookshop
Lighthouse Books

The Edinburgh Bookshop
The Bookworm Bookstore
Main Point Books
Amnesty International Books
Cornerstone Bookshop

Where to Stay in Edinburgh: Literary Hotels

The Place, Edinburgh

The Place in Edinburgh has a number of beautiful literary suites inspired by some of Scotland’s greatest writers.

These are four themed suites available: Robert Louis Stevenson, love and romance (inspired by Edinburgh poets and romance writers), thrill and intrigue (inspired by crime writers such as Rankin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and enchantment (inspired by the likes of JM Barrie, JK Rowling, Daniel Defoe and Iain M. Banks).

Each literary suite has its own library with books chosen according to the theme of the room. If one takes your fancy you can even purchase the books from the library to take home with you!

Prices start from £115 per night.

Check availability and book a room at The Place here.

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If you liked this post, check out my other UK bookshop guides:
Bookshops in Oxford

Bookshops in Cambridge
Bookshops in York

Bookshops in Bath
Bookshops in Brighton
Bookshops in Hay-on-Wye
Independent Bookshops in London
Second-Hand Bookshops in London
Specialist Bookshops in London

Bookshops in Dublin
Bookshops in San Diego

Nathan

Wednesday 17th of June 2020

Looks amazing :) Big fan of Harry Potter and your article definitely makes me want to check out all these bookshops!