By Andrea Pearson

 

NEWHAVEN
Edinburgh

Two miles north of the city centre, Newhaven sits on the Firth of Forth, offering views to Fife and a mix of conservation heritage in the former village and newbuild homes at Western Harbour. With interest in open water swimming Wardie Bay is becoming a regular meeting point for those who love a restorative dip, and the healthy lifestyle can be continued at the David Lloyd sports centre – which also has an outdoor pool.

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Among the foodie attractions is The Shore Bar and Restaurant, part of the Fishers family of seafood restaurants, as well as The Fishmarket and The Old Chain Pier Pub and Restaurant which hark back to the glory days of Newhaven as a bustling harbour. Welch Fishmongers sells sustainably sourced fish and shellfish to tuck into at home. The bright and friendly Porto and Fi café, with its lovely Sunday vibe, serves as a focal point for the community and a short walk away are the independent delis and boutiques of Trinity, such as The Good Store with its plastic-free food shopping options.

The gastro pub nightlife of Leith – where the likes of The Lioness of Leith or Smoke & Mirrors await – is a few minutes away on foot.

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On sunny Sundays, take The Water of Leith Walkway – the city’s green corridor that snakes its way from Leith to Balerno in the Pentland Hills. Hop onto the cycle path to access a car-free network active travel routes around the city. Victoria Park, meanwhile, offers a pretty breathing space, as does Starbank Park, a community-maintained park with sweeping slopes, fabulous views, and a nice nature trail for little ones.

READ MORE: Seven cities, seven suppers: top restauranteurs ensuring we can dine in at home in style

 

ST JOHN AND GEORGE STREET
Perth

It may not be as busy as the capital or Scotland’s other cities, but Perth is beginning to boast a vibrant café and trendy bar scene, and there is a definite cluster of cool hangouts in a couple of streets – most notably George Street and St John Street – just to the west of the River Tay.

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St John Street is dotted with amazing little eateries and cafés. Coffee at The Rose House is a café/florist/gift shop that has become quite a little magnet, while Hinterland (when open) serves specialist coffees and bakes. Willows is a fully licensed café and one of the first to bring European style café culture to Perth. For refined drinking, it has to be The Venue where glorious gins and snacks provide the perfect preamble to an evening of live music and relaxed dancing upstairs.

The Tavern and The Old Ship Inn are Perth’s best traditional boozers, and just to the north on the High Street is the exquisite Breizh serving French cuisine.

By day, there are the eclectic delights of Perth’s Museum and Art Gallery, along with Boo Vake, a shop selling contemporary wares from Scottish artists, makers and designers. For a Sunday stroll head along Tay Street or cross over for the stunning park and gardens of the Norie Miller Walk and Public Art Trail on the eastern bank.

 

BATTLEFIELD
Glasgow

In the post-Covid fracturing of big cities into smaller, walkable neighbourhoods, Battlefield on the southside of Glasgow is emerging as a vibrant hub of community activity held together by some standout pubs and cafés.

Sitting on the southern edge of Queen’s Park – with tennis, a glasshouse, bowling and many other amenities – Battlefield is a short walk from the shops, pubs and eateries of Shawlands and Strathbungo.

HeraldScotland: Owner of the Battlefield Rest, Italian restaurant, Marco Giannasi, right Picture: Colin MearnsOwner of the Battlefield Rest, Italian restaurant, Marco Giannasi, right Picture: Colin Mearns

The area has been dramatically transformed with the conversion of the former Victoria Hospital and the redevelopment of the Langside Campus of Glasgow Clyde College, and is now very much social hub in its own right. At the very heart is the magnificent Battlefield Rest, an exquisitely conserved former tram stop that has housed an Italian restaurant since 1994.

The pretty green, white and red tile building has been immortalised in many a painting – and Lego – and just about every family in the southside has celebrated a birthday there at some point.

Among the new kids on the block is the wonderful Common Ground, with its Barrowland-style graffiti, which has captured hearts, minds, and sausage roll lovers. Foodies and caffeine fiends also flock to The Big Bear Bakery, Kerr’s Coffee Shop and Grain and Grind.

And the area is not short of good drinking spots either – go traditional at Armstrong’s, watch big sport screens at Church on the Hill, or try Glasgow’s oldest brew-pub The Clockwork.

It is fantastically well served by transport with several trains an hour into Mount Florida Station, while the large open spaces and woodlands of Linn Park and Cathkin Braes are just a few minutes’ away.

 

BRIDGE OF ALLAN
Stirling

If you are one of those people who just want the best of everything in life then Bridge of Allan is for you: Edinburgh and Glasgow in less than an hour; hillwalking just up the road; castles and monuments aplenty; beaches not too far; and even and skiing two hours away. Bridge of Allan is fast emerging as a foodie hotspot.

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Find healthy (and plenty of vegan) options at the relaxing hangout Friend of Mine, or take in the balmy afternoons on outdoor seating at Café 33 where you may fall for the pretty cakes and bakes on offer. Tucked down a side street, and breathing new life into the historic telephone exchange building, is The Hideaway Café, offering cool vibes and hot drinks. For something a little more substantial try an Italian at Ciao, or go a little special at Nick’s on Henderson Street, which offers seasonally-adjusted dishes from chef Nick Nairn.

Before you head home grab some treats from the La French Epicerie upmarket deli and shop, House of Mouse speciality cheese shop, Wood Winters whisky and wine shop, or the excellent Allanwater Brewhouse for ales and ciders.

Among the nice little indie shops is The Bloom Room, selling flowers and bouquets for special occasions – whether you can visit in person or want to send your flowers.

For drinks, The Meadowpark and The Westerton Arms have outdoor seating for summer evenings, while The Rising Sun offers football chat.

Take Sunday strolls along the Darn Walk beside the Allan Water which will give you the perfect excuse to call in for ice cream at The Allanwater Café.

 

BEAULY
Inverness  

It may be something of an anomaly these days, but Beauly, which means “beautiful place”, is a thriving satellite village with a great community spirit and plenty of activities (usually) keeping residents and visitors busy all year. The attractive central square is the hub of life, with the surrounding historic buildings housing an array of independent shops and cafés.

The village grew up around Beauly Priory, established by a French order in 1230, and the relaxing Beauly River, as well as the stunning glens of Affric and Strathfarrar, still offer the chance for quiet contemplation.

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The indie outlets range from the delightful department-store-in-miniature, Old School Beauly, to Iain Marr silverware and antiques and Campbell’s, a traditional Tweed tailor that makes clothing By Royal Appointment – hipsters can buy a full kilt with a handmade silver sporran in Beauly.

For the foodies, The Corner on the Square Deli stocks the very best of local produce, Harry Gow Bakery sells gut-busting breads and sweet treats, Café Biagiotti makes divine Italian breads and pastas, and the butcher John Munro has a selection of award-winning sausages.

Even if you don’t want to don Tweeds you can at least dine like a queen. Then unwind in the evening over a pint in The Lovat Arms or the Priory Hotel.

READ MORE: Inverness- Capital of myths and legends

 

ROSEMOUNT
Aberdeen

The city’s Rosemount area is crammed with indie shops, boutiques and cafés. If you are looking for a bit of a nail, face and hair makeover (and aren’t we all by now?) then head to Rosemount to find the city’s most creative stylists and beauticians. But there is plenty more on offer in this Victorian district.

On the café menu, The Richmond Street Deli is something of a community hub with fabulous food and a book-swap and great wraps. The BioCafé caters for those looking for a healthier lifestyle with Buddha bowls bursting with vits and sugar-free puds.

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Workers’ co-op Bonobo not only serves delicious vegan fare in the café, but also operates a low-packaging supplies shop. Simple Bee offers tasty, fresh wraps and salads, while Rosie’s is a social enterprise offering work to people distanced from the labour market. Try the Crolla Gelateria, Kao Thai, or The Queen Vic, Rosemount’s beloved local, for some indulgent self-care. For treats to take home, head to the Gourmet Cheese Co where you will find speciality cheeses from Scotland and across Europe as well an excellent selection of deli meats – much appreciated while supermarkets are mothballing counter services.

Even pets get special treats – check into Grampian Pet Services for healthy BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) products. When it comes to human health, the Victoria and Westburn Parks are close by for an early morning run – or a lazy stroll with friends.

 

BROUGHTY FERRY
Dundee

Who doesn’t love the seaside? And Broughty Ferry is Dundee’s pretty seaside retreat, filled with indie shops, cool cafés and a real sense of community. And recently, with the explosion of outdoor swimming, “The Jewel in Dundee’s Crown” has become even more popular: just four miles to the east of city centre, it is characterised by a Victorian esplanade overlooking a sandy beach along with an impressive castle.

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For food, this part of town is home to several of Dundee’s top restaurants such as The Tayberry Restaurant and Forgan’s, both of which offer stylish dining determined by quality seasonal Scottish produce.

For a casual night out, Sol y Sombra tapas bar recreates the feel of a typical Spanish family meal – let’s hope for a reopening this summer so we can dream of holidays.

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There is, of course, a traditional Italian-Scottish seaside café – Visocchi’s Café is a centre for indulgent ice cream and pastas, while Sweetpea serves delicious artisan fare and great coffee. For a pint or a fancy cocktail head to the The Bruach Bar and shop-wise, the Pretty Fly Workshop stocks beautifully curated jewellery, ceramics, textiles and prints.

The highlight of the Broughty Ferry calendar is Gala Week – so it’s fingers crossed for the second week in July.