Princes Street Highlights
Best attractions and shops on Princes Street, Edinburgh
Princes Street runs in a straight line from Waterloo Place at the East End to Shandwick Place at the West End. Along its entire length there are landmarks, monuments, statues and shops that would take most tourists a day to explore in detail.
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Balmoral Hotel at 1 Princes Street
The first notable building on Princes Street is the famous Balmoral Hotel. With its impressive clock tower it is the first of the many spires that define Edinburgh's skyline.
This luxury, five-star hotel is right on Princes Street and the views from its top floors overlooking Princes Street Gardens and the Old Town is unlike most tourists will ever experience.
The Balmoral Hotel has not only the most prestigious address in Edinburgh -- 1 Princes Street -- but also a long history in the hotel business. Formerly known as the North British Hotel, it was completed in 1902 for the renowned railway company, the 'North British'. The design was inspired by Europe's finest hotels.
The Waverley steps leading to Edinburgh's main train station are right next to the Balmoral Hotel. For some reason, there is always an incredible draft when you come out of the hotel's shelter and pass by the steps. Princes Street can be quite windy because of its openness on the south side.
Princes Mall and the Edinburgh Tourist Information Centre
Princes Mall and the tourist information centre are both located in an open space near the Balmoral Hotel. Princes Mall is a contemporary covered shopping centre adjacent to Waverley Train Station.
The staff at the tourist information centre are very friendly and helpful. You can use the tourist centre to arrange accommodation -- hotels, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation near Princes Street and the City Centre. You can also exchange currency, reclaim VAT for your shopping and buy souvenirs and books.
The tourist information centre on Princes Street has, as far as I know, the most comprehensive collection of tourist brochures and leaflets on events and attractions in Edinburgh. If there is anything worth seeing in Edinburgh, it's very likely that you will find a leaflet at the Princes Street tourist information centre.
Scottish Pipers and the Scott Monument
The Scott Monument is another of Edinburgh's spires and one of Princes Street's most famous landmarks. The dark neo-gothic monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott is the world's largest monument ever built in memory of a writer.
The 200 ft tall Monument in Princes Street is a collection of figures from Scott's novels and from Scottish History. The statue of Sir Walter Scott is white and represents him with his favourite dog.
If you hear bagpipes when approaching the Scott Monument, you are not hearing things -- although it may seem like you do because of the noise on Princes Street. During the summer season it's uncommon not to see a piper playing near the Scott Monument.
Many tourists stop to admire the piper in his full traditional Scottish dress and to take pictures alongside him. If you do, it's common courtesy to give some change in return.
Old Waverley Hotel and Royal British Hotels
Both hotels are located on the north side of Princes Street and while smaller in size than the Balmoral Hotel, the view from their top floors is just as impressive.
Jenners - Princes Street's classy department store
'London has Harrods, New York has Bloomingdales, Edinburgh has Jenners' is the famous line describing this classy shopping centre. Jenners is located in one of the few Victorian buildings left on Princes Street. It's an extremely classy -- and expensive -- place to shop for normal things but it does have a variety of souvenirs you don't find anywhere else.
Marks & Spencer - The Food Mecca of Princes Street
Shopping at Marks & Spencer is more than just a tradition for the British, it's a way of life. The green Marks & Spencer bags are unmistakable and at lunch time, everyone in the gardens or on the street has one.
Eating in the gardens is convenient and many choose Marks & Spencer's excellent sandwiches, bakery and food for a cheap way to have a nice lunch. I cannot recommended it enough. Marks & Spencer also has two shops on Princes Street selling a variety of clothing and home decorations.
National Gallery of Scotland and Royal Scottish Academy
Both galleries are located halfway between the East and West End of Princes Street. A 5 year project has recently been completed to connect the two galleries through an underground link with new visitor facilities, shops, a restaurant and a cafe.
The Caledonian Hotel
Located at the very end of Princes Street, the Caledonian Hotel is Sean Connery's favourite hotel. He always uses it when he's in town.
Other shops along Princes Street
Princes Street has a wide range of high-street shops. Some of the ones I've shopped in are:
- Next - clothing, footwear, handbags
- Barrats and Clarks - shoes, bags
- Boots - Cosmetics and pharmacy store
- Dixons - Electronics
- Thorntons - Excellent chocolate shop, highly recommended
- Marks & Spencer - Ladies, men and kids clothing, footwear, jewelry, etc.
- Waterstone's - Bookshop located at both Princes Street East and West End
- HMV, Virgin Megastore - Music, games, DVDs, videos and posters
- GAP, H&M - Men and women clothing
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