Immerse Yourself in Inspirational Edinburgh Literature with Caledonian Sleeper

For centuries Edinburgh has offered inspiration to imaginative writers.

The city’s vibrant culture, intriguing history and dramatic skyline has encouraged some of the world’s most well-known authors including J.M. Barrie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J.K. Rowling to put pen to paper and create the stories which we love today.

Celebrating this talent, the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival will take place from 12 – 28 August offering the opportunity to learn more about the city’s literature history as well as hear from 800 writers and thinkers from across the globe.

Championing the festival and the capital’s UNESCO City of Literature status, Caledonian Sleeper has picked out the top literary locations which have inspired some of the world’s favourite books.

Birthplace of Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling’s decision to move to Edinburgh in the early 1990s shaped much of the Harry Potter series and resulted in many Scottish references throughout the books.

One particular place of importance was a small café in the centre of the capital – The Elephant House.

A now popular location with wizarding fans from across the globe, this quaint and quirky café is where Rowling spent much of her time writing her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, taking inspiration from the surrounding ancient city and overlooking castle.

Aspiring witches and wizards can reach The Elephant House from Edinburgh Waverly Railway Station and enjoy a wide selection of coffee, tea and home baked goods on offer. 

Outlander Experience

Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series can travel back in time to Claire and Jamie’s Edinburgh.

Led by Mercat Tours, this walking tour brings to life the real events that inspired the acclaimed novels and captures the spirit of the Jacobite rebellion in Edinburgh in 1745.

Walk deep into Edinburgh’s Old Town to the places where history was made including the Tolbooth Jail, Canongate Kirkyard and World’s End Tavern as well as sites mentioned in the Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager books in the Outlander series. 

Hidden Treasure

Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson often visited the popular natural cove beach of Yellowcraig which offers spectacular views of Fidra Island.

Stevenson’s map of Treasure Island is said to be inspired by the shape of Fidra which features a lighthouse built in 1885, rugged edges, grassy slopes and steep cliffs.

Easily accessible by public transport or a short car journey from Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station, Yellowcraig is popular with families who enjoy the area’s nature trails, barbecue sites and network of footpaths.

Sherlock’s Surgery

As a medical graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took much of his inspiration for his Sherlock Holmes character from Scottish surgeon and medical lecturer Joseph Bell.

Much of Bell’s work and other intriguing artefacts which inspired Conan Doyle’s famous books can be seen at Edinburgh’s award-winning Surgeon Hall Museum, which is open seven days a week to visitors keen to know more about the history of medicine, health and well-being.

Kim Traynor/Creative Commons

Tour the various sections of the museum including the Bell Collection, Dental Collection and Pathology Museum whilst learning more about the instruments and discoveries that hold a significant place in the history and development of surgical procedures. 

To find out more about the Caledonian Sleeper or to make a reservation, visit

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