Perfect Day: Julia Donaldson

Best-selling author of The Gruffalo gives us the lowdown on her perfect day in Edinburgh

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Julia Donaldson image courtesy of the artist
Published 17 Aug 2022


If I go out for breakfast I might head to the Fortuna Cafe on Queen Street. It’s quite close to where we stay when in Edinburgh – the coffee is great and the staff are lovely. As are their pastries.

There’s a nice walk from Dean Village to Stockbridge along the Water of Leith.  I sometimes go there with a book and sit on a bench whilst the world walks by.

The best show that clashes with ours? I would have to say The Smeds and the Smoos at Pleasance Courtyard. Luckily for us it is being performed on our day off so I might get the chance to see it. I am also quite intrigued by the giant puppet show Dragons and Fantastical Beasts at McEwan Hall.


For lunch I would suggest Howies on either Waterloo Place or Victoria Street where you get Scottish food at its very best.

I love strolling around the Royal Botanic Garden, and there are plenty of benches to flop on if the strolling gets tiring.

We’ve booked for Ibn Battuta: The Traveller of Time which promises to be a brilliant musical experience, and for a play called Bloody Difficult Women, about the court case against Theresa May. And because our own show is in Underbelly’s Purple Cow we get free passes to see any Underbelly show which isn’t fully booked, and that is bound to mean some great comedy shows.
Edinburgh Filmhouse 


My favourite restaurant for supper is Cafe Marlayne on Thistle Street. It isn’t a big restaurant and has a brilliant reputation so we have to plan ahead if we want to go there.

We are big fans of the Edinburgh Filmhouse. We can walk there and there are always really interesting films, sometimes foreign ones with subtitles which I like because my hearing isn’t great.

People think that The Gruffalo lives in a deep dark wood but actually he lives in a cave and has been scared away from woodland by the mouse in the story. So maybe you could find him in the Edinburgh Vaults under the South Bridge, if you go on one of the historic or ghost tours. No promises though. For all I know he might have ventured out to Arthur’s Seat.