Five of the best ice cream shops in Edinburgh

Most people will happily list ice cream among their favourite foods and none more so than here in Scotland. Luckily, the Capital offers plenty of places for you to indulge your sweet tooth.

Published 25th Mar 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

Scotland has always had a fascination with sweet things. Indeed the Scottish sweet tooth is a thing to behold, from shortbread to fudge, cranachan to tablet, our obsession with sugary treats shines through in our cultural cuisine.

Nowhere is this love of all things sweet more apparent than in our love for ice cream.  It was Italian immigrants in the 1920s and 30s who really cemented our love of the cold stuff, bringing with them expertise and family recipes to create some of the best-known ice cream across the country. Scotland's 'hokey pokey' men as they became affectionately known, graduated from selling cones and ices from carts at park entrances to opening parlours and cafes emblazoned with their family names.

Nowadays it would be hard to imagine a town or city in Scotland without its very own parlours selling everything from 99s to oysters, nougat wafers and knickerbocker Glories.

We asked our readers of our Facebook page  to vote for their five best places to get ice cream in Edinburgh:

1. Cafe Luca - High st, Musselburgh and Morningside Road

There was no prizes for guessing what the most popular choice was. S Luca's shops are considered an Edinburgh institution and rightly so. This family run business is onto to its third generation and they have been making ice cream since 1908. Created by Mr Luca Scappaticcio and his wife Anastasia, the couple decided to drop their surname in favour of Luca's catchier first name. The company has won various awards and the queues outside of both cafes come rain, wind or shine testify to its popularity. Yolanda Luca, who now runs the cafes with cousin Michael, explains why she thinks Lucas is so popular:  "The quality is always consistent, our original recipe has never changed and we make our ice cream fresh every day . Best of all our calorific content is no where near as bad as you think!"

We recommend: The Hot Fudge Sundae - original Lucas ice cream lovingly covered in hot fudge sauce.

2. Mary's Milk Bar, the Grassmarket

Hugely popular in the 50s and 60s, Mary's aims to revive the once ubiquitous Milk Bar. Originally created to promote wholesome milky products, milk bars were famous for selling milkshakes and ice cream. Mary's goes a little further than that by offering some of the best gelato around in a truly retro feeling cafe with "gleaming formica as far as the eye can see". Mary herself trained in Italy to perfect her ice cream- making skills and has perfected her trade with a selection of unusually exquisite flavours. Current seasonal favourites are the passion fruit with lemongrass and the baked pear and dark chocolate.

We recommend: The Hot Chocolate Float - a hot chocolate topped off with a scoop of Mary's amazing ice cream.

The west Highland hotel with 'Scotland's best restaurant' and access to tranquil island
Mary's Milk Bar

Mary's Milk Bar

3. Nardini's, Merchiston Place, Edinburgh

The west coast ice cream moguls have now opened their very own east coast cafe and it won't come as a surprise that it continues on the excellent tradition of truly great ice cream which was born in Largs. Though the flavours on offer (32 at last count, tends towards the more traditional. Sundaes are their true forte and you'll be spoilt for choice.)

We recommend: If you can gear yourself up for it - the mighty 12-scoop Clyde Coast Extravaganza.

Nardini cafe. Picture: TSPL

Nardini cafe. Picture: TSPL

4. Affogato gelato, Queensferry Street

If you're looking for ice cream in the heart of Edinburgh's west end then look further than Affogato. Using all natural ingredients and offering gluten and dairy free options, Affogato is the place to try some amazing hand-crafted Gelato. 18 flavours - traditional and contemporary - are on offer and best of all. if you bring your four-legged friend then Affogato has them covered too with their special dog-only gelato. Of course if you don't have a dog of your own, you can always look out for Epix, the shop dog, who you can pet while you wait.

Scotland's first official 'Tartan Army Pie' for Euro 2024 launched by prize family bakers

We recommend: Salted caramel gelato, and of course the dog-only gelato for your favourite pet.

5. Frisky's Frozen Yoghurt, Forrest Road

For those of you who like to keep on eye on their waistline then there is always frozen yoghurt and few do frozen yoghurt better than Frisky's. They own two branches in the city and are open late which means you can enjoy a late night snack should you so desire. Using free range milk to make each frozen yoghurt, you can choose natural, chocolate and Alphonso mango (and even on special occasions Machta green tea) flavours. All topped up with fresh fruit or other tasty treats.

We recommend you try: The Alphonso


Prize Scottish fish and chip shop transports foodies back to 1940s with prices
Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
Copyright ©2024 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram