Slow Travel Tips for a Mindful Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland

“I need a holiday from my holiday!!” 

We’ve all heard it, and probably most of us have said it. But what if we didn’t treat that sentiment as just a little joke? What if we took a moment to ask ourselves if we’re really using our time well while we’re on holiday and if we truly come back feeling rested and ready for the demands of normal living? What if we allowed ourselves to choose peace over pressure, even if that meant taking a nap instead of seeing a sight? 

Most of us have been on trips packed with activities. From big things like visiting all the countries you can manage to small things like riding all the roller coasters in the park, the holiday tendency is to pack as much as possible into as little time as possible. Admittedly, it sounds like a first world problem. But if you explore the root, it’s a bit more serious. Omid Safi says it well in his article The Disease of Being Busy, “When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?”

While the as-much-for-as-little holiday tendency assumes quantity is more valuable than quality, the concept of colsie measures things a bit differently. It’s more of a “as-much-as-you-need-for-as-long-as-it-takes” model. It has the character of peaceful fluidity that takes into account the needs of the spirit and soul. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of suggestions for a colsie weekend in Edinburgh. We left off the big tourist destinations since you can find many of those wonderful lists online, especially the ones that have been written by our friends, Ildiko of The Weekend Enthusiast and Shawna of Exploring Edinburgh

Our suggestions are a mix both of internal mindful decisions and and external cosy corners around town, because both aspects hold great bearing on true rest. The places we mention are in the same little stretch along the Grassmarket so that everything is walkable and nearby. But do note that one of Edinburgh’s biggest charms is that it’s full of lovely corners all over town, so if you’re feeling adventurous then keep on walking! As much as it’s “A Local’s Guide to Edinburgh,” it’s also “A Guide for an Edinburgh Local” who needs a colsie staycation to, well, just stay colsie. We'd also love to hear your suggestions for a colsie day in Edinburgh, so leave them in the comments!

Set your intentions

Before you begin, sit down and lovingly ask yourself, “What do I need from this weekend?” Perhaps it’s taking a break from screens, taking time to reflect your dreams or simply getting enough sleep. Setting mini-goals gives structure to your days, and keeps time from slipping away unnoticed. Whatever you choose, taking the time needed to set your intentions is perhaps the most important step of making a holiday or staycation mindful. 

Armchair books

Dimly lit shelves filled in equal measure with literature and dust. Oriental carpets layered at odd angles through book filled shelves. Light bulbs hanging from single cords at different lengths, casting a warm glow onto shimmering gilded pages. A chair here and there to sit and explore whatever book has landed in your hand. Welcome to Armchair Books, perhaps the colsiest corner in all of Edinburgh, a beautiful place to begin your mindful weekend.

Treat yourself

Allow yourself a guiltless enjoyment. So often, we miss out on simple enjoyment because we are too busy shaming ourselves for spending time or money or calories on a delight, which is not only ironic, but counterproductive. Delight in your own delight. Eat the ice cream. Buy the flowers. Sit in the coffee shop for far too long staring out the window.

Mary’s Milk Bar 

And if you’re going to eat the ice cream, make it Mary’s Milk Bar. Discover the miracle of ice cream made from scratch with fresh ingredients and no preservatives. Their selection changes daily and includes some crazy artisan flavours like Black Sesame to Pistachio Cardamom, and even their classics are beyond words. It’s like if chocolate ice cream tasted exactly the way chocolate ice cream should taste. You’ll see.

Lily West Flowers

Buy yourself some lavender wrapped in newspaper and twine to place beside your bed for a restful night. Lavender is a well known natural stress reliever because the aroma intereteracts with your brain's neurotransmitters and encourages relaxation. Pretty cool, huh?

Lovecrumbs Coffee

If you need a good window to stare out of and think, Lovecrumbs Coffee is your spot! A window-seat-reading-nook that is the envy of cats around the world, you can also get a selection of vegan cake and light lunches that use killer local produce.

Don’t judge yourself for not doing anything!

Seriously, stop judging yourself. You need rest. Simply put, life is hard. It will be tempting to fill your schedule with productivity. Beware that it will take on seemingly positive guises like “Finally finish that book!” But what if you reword your goal to “Read and enjoy that book.” Doesn’t really matter if you finish it or not. Use the weekend to focus on process, not progress.

Porteous Studio

We’ve saved the best for last. If you’re going to spend the night anywhere in Edinburgh, spend it at Porteous Studio. It’s a clean, minimal place to rest that carries a quiet and thoughtful spirit, and it sits in the heart of the city. It’s a delightful anomaly. Be inspired by the colours and textures of the natural materials used to create the small studio, and let the beautiful space inspire beautiful thoughts.

Suggestions Further Afoot:


Gardener’s Cottage




Eden Locke’s Cafe 127

Timberyard Natural Wines


I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger


The Method


Water of Leith- From St Bernards Well to Dean Village

Along Portobello Beach


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