When is the best time of year to visit Edinburgh?

If you're weighing up the options, here are the benefits of visiting Scotland's capital in each season.

Snowfall in Edinburgh. Picture: John Devlin
Snowfall in Edinburgh. Picture: John Devlin

World famous for its annual arts, comedy and film festivals, summer might seem like the prime time to pay Edinburgh a visit - but the city has something wonderful to offer no matter the time of year.


Those spending time in Edinburgh during the spring months can look forward to milder weather (relatively speaking), although some rainfall is likely.

Visit green spaces like Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows or Bruntsfield Links to see the first crocuses, snowdrops and cherry blossom of the year in bloom and - weather permitting - stay a while to enjoy a coffee from one of the city’s many great cafes.

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Every year, March and April bring with them the fascinating and varied Edinburgh International Science Festival, which is one of Europe’s largest science events.

For music and visual art fans, the unique Hidden Door Festival is also well worth a visit.

Since spring in Scotland can still be on the chilly side (particularly at night), visits to some of the cities welcoming pubs and restaurants will definitely be in order in the evenings.

You can also warm yourself up with a traditional tasting of the country’s national drink at The Scotch Whisky Experience.


June to August is undoubtedly festival season.

Summer in the capital might seem all about August’s arts and culture-focused Edinburgh International Festival and the comedy-heavy Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but there’s a lot more going on elsewhere in the city.

No matter your interests, there’s a festival for you - from the Edinburgh International Film Festival to Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.

Other annual highlights include Edinburgh Art Festival, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Visitors and locals alike are invited to attend events at all festivals and immerse themselves in the atmosphere.

To escape the hustle and bustle, though, you can take a trip to Portobello Beach or Cramond on the outskirts of the city, and enjoy the sea air.

Although rain is a possibility all year round in Scotland, the summer months tend to be drier and certainly warmer than any other time of year in Edinburgh.


Edinburgh’s weather cools down a little during autumn, but the sunshine is likely to stay, making this a prime time to see the area at its best.

After the majority of tourists and visiting performers have vacated the city (the population doubles during Festival and Fringe time), there will be plenty of space to explore the stunning outdoor spaces Edinburgh is lucky to have.

Wander the Royal Botanic Garden to enjoy the changing colour of the leaves, or walk the peaceful Water of Leith Walkway from Stockbridge to Leith and treat yourself to a pub lunch at the end.

If you’re in the mood for a hike, you can tackle Arthur’s Seat or the less challenging Calton Hill - both offer stunning panoramic views of the city.

While you might think the city would be tired of culture after such a jam-packed summer, October brings with it the engaging Scottish International Storytelling Festival, which promises to keep attendees of all ages entertained.

Snow isn’t guaranteed in Edinburgh during winter, but it does happen sometimes, and even a hard frost leaves the landscape looking absolutely magical.

The highlight of the festive season is undoubtedly the city’s Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations, which take over the whole of the city centre.

From late November until early January, Princes Street Gardens, St Andrew Square and parts of George Street are transformed into a winter wonderland, with an ice rink, market stalls and food and drink vendors.

See the city from a new perspective with a trip on the temporary big wheel, which is erected every year.

On New Year’s Eve, the entirety of Princes Street and its surrounding areas are shut off to traffic, making way for an enormous street party. An evening of live musical performances, dancing and merriment culminates in a huge firework display, launched from Edinburgh Castle.