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Where to splash your cash in Scotland's capital

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Princes Street
West End
Ocean Terminal
The first items on the itineraries of most tourists to Edinburgh are inevitably the same: the Castle, Holyrood Palace and similar historic sights. But the city doesn't live in the past; it's the modern capital of a major country. Leaving aside the history, this is a huge place with all the modern trimmings. During the daytime, its centre is a crowded, bustling place. Hanging from every hand are the shopping bags of Edinburgh's markets, boutiques and emporiums.
At the heart of the retail scene is Princes Street. It's the busiest of the city's boulevards, with very different halves. The north side is full of all the big name department stores you'd expect. The south side is lined with the trees, bushes and lawns of Princes Street Gardens. The resulting atmosphere is like the promenade of a seaside resort - but instead of offering views of a blue ocean, pedestrians can gaze over the greenery towards Edinburgh Castle.
On one of the street's corners is Jenners, the oldest department store in Scotland. It has occupied the same building since 1838. Inside there are a hundred different departments selling thousands of premium products - no wonder it's known as the Harrods of the north.

Princes Street
Photo www.theedinburghblog.co.uk
Running parallel to the main thoroughfare is George Street, which is actually a little wider than its neighbour. When it was built in the 18th century, this was supposed to become the city's most important retail destination. It has since had to make do with holding the runner-up position, but it's still exceptionally busy. George Street has a stylish reputation, with lots of places to buy a fashionable new outfit or grab a refreshing drink.

George Street
Photo kevgibbo
There's a similar choice along the Royal Mile, Edinburgh's most famous road. It links the Castle and Holyrood Palace, the two buildings that best sum up the city's past. The central area's main roads are wired together with a network of smaller alleys and lanes. There are plenty more chain stores, but some surprises as well. Multrees Walk, for example, purveys luxury clothing and accessories on a pedestrian-only lane. It's like the Scottish version of Bond Street.
There are more interesting fashions on sale in the West End. This is an arty area, with several theatres and cinemas. If you prefer a more relaxed shopping experience, you can check out the second-hand goods on show around Grassmarket. This is also a good place to pick up some souvenirs of your trip to Scotland's capital.

Shopping in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh
Photo Lord Biro
If you don't mind wandering a bit further a field in search of a bargain, you should investigate the nooks and crannies of Stockbridge. It's a quarter of an hour or so out of the centre, so it has its own individual, village-like atmosphere. The various charity and craft shops are broken up by a series of cafs and teahouses.
A little further to the north are the Leith docks. If Stockbridge feels like a village, then this feels like a town. Leith is Edinburgh's old nautical centre, where the trading ships would conduct their business. Nowadays there's an abundance of waterside restaurants and bars, with views over the water to Fife. The majority of the shops are inside the Ocean Terminal complex, which also boasts a cinema, a spa and an indoor skate park.
From its centre at Princes Street, Edinburgh's retail opportunities spread out a lot further than you might think. If you're willing to search for it, there's very little that you can't find.
Visitor Information
Most Shops in Edinburgh are open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm (and Sunday 11am to 5pm). Late night shopping is Thursday.
Princes Shopping Centre is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm (and Sunday 11am to 5pm). Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BQ. Tel: 0131 557 3759
St James Shopping Centre is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm (and Sunday 10am to 5pm). Leith Street, Edinburgh EH1 3SS. Tel: 0131 557 0050
Ocean Terminal is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm (and Sunday 10am to 6pm). Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6JJ. Tel: 0131 555 8888

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