The most scenic and popular street in Edinburgh
Princes Street -- often misinterpreted by tourists as Princess Street or Prince Street -- is Edinburgh's busiest and most popular street. Princes Street is just about average in width with traffic islands running for the better part of it.
While the street divides the Old Town from the New Town, Princes Street is not really considered to be in the New Town. Its original name was St Giles Street but the name was changed after King George III's sons.
While not an attraction in itself, Princes Street is one of the most scenic streets in the world. The street is approx half a mile long and the numerous monuments, buildings and views all form the unmistakable panorama Edinburgh is famous for. Few streets have the fortunate setting Princes Street has in Edinburgh.
Attractions and shops on Princes Street
Shops run along the entire length of the north side of Princes Street while the south side with its Princes Street Gardens is an excellent vantage point for admiring the Old Town, Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle.
Edinburgh's City Centre is quite unique in that respect. Few cities can give you an instant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and to a park with the view Princes Street Gardens have.
Princes Street was originally a residential area. The wealthy class of Edinburgh had chosen it for its panoramic view: the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle. One of the reasons the Old Town was preserved so well is because the rich didn't want their home views spoiled by shops, so the Old Town was never touched.
Princes Street gradually became a commercial centre becoming the busy shopping street it is today. Along with Scott Monument and the Castle, it's at the very heart of Edinburgh.
Princes Street tips for tourists
- If you intend to take the bus from Princes Street, get on the bus as near to either end as possible. Traffic on Princes Street can be quite bad and you want to avoid being stuck in a bus for too long.
- When you cross Princes Street spend a few seconds on the traffic island to admire the view towards the Balmoral Hotel. The further you are from the Scott Monument and hotel, the better you can see why Edinburgh is called 'The City of Spires'.
- If you are on a budget the cheapest food to find on Princes Street is from any of the 3 Greggs bakeries on Rose Street, the street that runs parallel with Princes Street or in Marks and Spencer. There are also many affordable pubs and cafes on this pedestrian Edinburgh Street.
- If you're mainly interested in sightseeing and taking pictures, walk along the south side of Princes Street -- the one with the gardens -- to avoid the shoppers.
Accommodation near Princes Street
Due to its central location, any hotel on Princes Street is quite expensive. The most affordable choice for accommodation would be the Princes Street East Backpackers Hostel -- very close to the St. Andrews Bus Station -- or the Caledonian Hostel at the West End.
Hotels on Princes Street itself are the Balmoral Hotel, Old Waverley Hotel, Royal British Hotel and at the West End, the Caledonian Hotel. You can also use the Tourist Information Centre to ask for advice and help on accommodation on or very near to the City Centre.