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A big appetite for Edinburgh's Food Heritage Trail

Edinburgh's Food Heritage Trail, launched as part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, has been declared a runaway success.

Published: September 11, 2015

Launched this summer by Edinburgh World Heritage, up to 20,000 people are believed to have taken part in the Food Heritage Trail.

The self-guided tour takes visitors on a journey to discover the city’s unique architecture and uncover its many centuries of food history. The 21 key spots on the trail range from historic banking halls in the New Town to Royal palaces and present day foodie hot spots.

The royal highlights include: Queen Mary’s Bath House, the quirky, bath-shaped 16th century building where royal guests once dined; Parliament Hall, host to King George IV and his 300 dinner guests in 1822; and the Palace of Holyrood House with its Royal Dining Room – first used by Queen Victoria and still used to this day by Queen Elizabeth.

The trail also reveals some of the city’s forgotten traditions. For example, ‘oyster cellar’ parties were a fashionable form of entertainment in the 1700s. Held in taverns throughout the city, locals enjoyed copious amounts of the raw shellfish pleasantly washed down with a jug of heavy porter. The modern day equivalent can be experienced at the acclaimed seafood restaurant, Ondine which is nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic city centre. Their ‘Oyster Happy Hour’ offers a variety of oysters in different tasty guises, perfectly prepared and ready to indulge.

David Hicks, Communication Manager, Edinburgh World Heritage said: “The idea for the trail came from the visitors themselves. An Edinburgh Visitor survey revealed that 68% of people visit Edinburgh for its heritage, while a VisitScotland survey discovered that 70% of visitors also look to sample traditional dishes and local produce. We wanted to surpass their expectations in creating the Food Heritage Trail, combining these two attractive features, sending visitors off the beaten track to discover the nooks and crannies of Edinburgh and add in the fun factor.”

Food Trail maps are available from all partner venues, but can easily be accessed online. As it’s sure to build up an appetite, a select few contemporary restaurants have been pin pointed, enabling visitors to plan their own dining experiences along the way.

Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland’s Regional Director for Edinburgh and the Lothians, said: “This fantastic project has certainly whetted the appetite of visitors to Edinburgh, particularly in this Year of Food and Drink. With such a rich culinary history, this self-led tour, coupled with the amazing variety of eating experiences on offer throughout Edinburgh is beginning to make the Capital a ‘must’ for foodies.”

Led by Edinburgh World Heritage, the trail is a unique partnership project, bringing together a range of public, charitable and private sector partners to showcase the city’s built heritage and food traditions. The project is supported by the VisitScotland Year of Food and Drink Growth Fund.

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In the autumn a series of videos will be produced to support the trail along with a programme of guided tours highlighting the more hidden aspects of the city’s food history.

• To view the trail and for further information, visit

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