‘In August, when the streets are full of festival crowds, take a walk through its literary heritage.’

Edinburgh was the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Awarded the title in 2004, the city embarked upon a remarkable mission to grow a network of cities of literature and there are now twenty across the globe – Melbourne, Iowa City, Dublin, Heidelberg, Prague, Reykjavik, Norwich, Dunedin, Krakow, Granada, Ulyanovsk, Baghdad, Tartu, Lviv, Ljubljana, Barcelona, Nottingham, Óbidos and Montevideo, along with Edinburgh.

Building on a strong historical legacy of writers, publishers, philosophers, booksellers, libraries, and universities, Edinburgh City of Literature extends its reach into the life of the city with words projected onto castle walls, pub windows, the main railway station, and elsewhere.


Literary apps

In August, when the streets are full of festival crowds, take a walk through its literary heritage. There’s a great collection of apps on the Edinburgh City of Literature website: let one of them guide you round.


A detailed map

For a walking tour of the city, we also recommend a detailed map such as Edinburgh on Foot (by Hallewell Pocket Walks) that offers you a variety of walks through the centre.


Top 10 Edinburgh books

And should you want a fully immersive experience of the city, here’s our Top 10 Books inspired by Edinburgh and its streets.


44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (Little, Brown)

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (Vintage)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (Polygon)

Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin (Orion)

Edinburgh’s Historic Mile by Duncan Priddle (Luath Press)

Reading Round Edinburgh: a Guide to Children’s Books of the City Edited by Lindsey Fraser and Kathryn Ross (Floris Books)

Horrible Histories: Gruesome Guides: Edinburgh by Terry Deary (Scholastic)

The Tattoo Fox by Alasdair Hutton (Luath Press)

A Work of Beauty by Alexander McCall Smith (Historic Environment Scotland)

The Making of Classical Edinburgh by A J Youngson (Edinburgh University Press)



Books, beer biscuits

And, for lovers of print culture, Edinburgh used to be known as the city of three B’s for its books, beer and biscuits.


For further  reading related to this article:

Edinburgh and Reykjavik: A Tale of Two Cities of Literature

Look Up Edinburgh by Adrian Searle and David Barbour

David Robinson Reviews: Enlightenment Edinburgh by Shelia Szatkowski

Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh


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