Scenic Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination all year round, but many people try to determine when is the best time to visit Edinburgh for them. Many travel bound people will claim the best time to visit Edinburgh is during the summer when the temperatures are balmy and there are so many outdoor festivals in full swing.
However, if you are looking for a more low-key experience, visiting during the spring or fall months will see fewer tourists, giving you the opportunity to experience the city like a local and visit many of the top attractions without having to fight super huge crowds. You can also find some of the best deals on hotels and airfare during these months.
Winter, with Christmas markets brimming, is another busy time in Edinburgh. This season is still not as busy as the summer months, but tourism really picks up during the holidays as people flock to the city to wander through the iconic Edinburgh Christmas markets. The New Year’s celebration is legendary so if you are planning a trip to Edinburgh in the winter, you do not want to miss it.
Remember, the Scottish are known for withstanding adversity, including the harsh weather this majestic land doles out during the winter months. If you are more of a warm weather kind of person, you will want to visit between June and August when the climate is more people friendly.
For those willing to brave the cold winter weather, or even the slightly less harsh spring or fall, there are plenty of magnificent attractions that will grab you and make you forget about the frost that is nipping at your nose. Be sure to bring an appropriate wardrobe so you are not chilly during your stay.
Once you have determined which season is best for visiting, start planning your trip and deciding where you want to stay and what you want to do. Traveler tip: When in Edinburgh and ready to explore, don't weigh yourself down with extra luggage or backpacks. Find Bounce luggage storage to safely stow your bags while you enjoy your time in this gorgeous city.
The best time to visit Edinburgh? Whether you are hoping to see cherry blossoms at The Meadows in spring, want to spend summer days listening to live bands at the numerous music festivals, or maybe have holiday time in mind (Easter weekend for eggs hunts is fun), we think any time of year is terrific in Edinburgh!
Summer in Edinburgh: June to August
Summer in Edinburgh is from June through August and even at its hottest, temperatures do not generally exceed 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) with the average highs around 66 degrees F (19 degrees C). The lows average around 52 degrees F (11 degrees C). You can expect quite a bit of rain during the summer months in Edinburgh.
You will find the summer season is really the peak season to explore all the city has to offer. Plan to strike out into surrounding areas to see more of the breathtaking Scottish landscape, too! During the summer it stays light out until around 9:00 p.m. so you can spend a lot of time outdoors, when it is not raining, and see more of the terrific architecture in Edinburgh.
Summer is also festival season and when Edinburgh really comes alive. Sit outside at a café or kick back in one of the beer gardens and feel the vibrancy of the city engulf you and pull you in. Summer in Edinburgh is magical, but it is also very crowded as it is the peak tourist season. The Edinburgh International Festival is a must-visit when here.
When you plan your summer itinerary in Edinburgh, be sure it includes Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the biggest performing arts festival in the entire world. An interesting story lies behind the name – you may wonder why it is not called the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Back in 1947, eight theatre groups arrived and performed without being on the regular schedule. They became known as 'the fringe' and set the stage for additional performances (everyone is welcome to perform here) every year.
Plenty of smaller festivals will have you jazzed up and excited to experience the variety, from the Edinburgh Jazz Festival to the Edinburgh International Film Festival. When you are not rocking out at a festival, be sure to check out some of the major sites including Edinburgh Castle located at the top of Castle Rock on the Royal Mile. It is the most iconic structure in Edinburgh and the number one most visited attraction in Scotland.
The Edinburgh Zoo is another fun attraction to visit during the summer when the weather is warm and the animals are out in their habitats playing and having fun. With more than 1,000 animals including the only giant pandas in the UK, you will easily spend an entire day exploring all the zoo offers.
Fall in Edinburgh: September to November
Fall in Edinburgh is generally cloudy and you'll see a lot of rain. But there are lots of things to do on a rainy day in Edinburgh! As the weeks pass, the temperatures steadily decline. November is usually cold, rainy, and very windy. Early fall in Edinburgh is great for getting outdoors, when it is not raining, for long walks through the city’s parks so you can see the magnificent color changes in nature.
With 112 parks in Edinburgh and numerous tree-lined streets, you cannot miss the explosion of colors as summer fades to fall and fall morphs into winter. The foliage becomes picture perfect from September through November. Your social media posts from Edinburgh in the fall will make your family and friends green with envy!
The crisp air will make you feel alive and many times it chases the fair-weather tourists away. September usually sees an end to the festivals and sends many tourists packing. However, travelers looking to spend more time indoors or take advantage of deeply discounted airfare and hotels will begin to appear.
There are still a few festivals that can be found in the autumn season. Plan to visit the International Storytelling Festival where traditional and contemporary storytelling is highlighted. Young and old alike will be captivated as master storytellers spin their tales. You can even learn more about traditional Scottish folklore during this imaginative festival.
The average high temperatures in the fall can reach around 55 degrees F (12.5 degrees C) and the average low temperatures can reach around 37 degrees F (3 degrees C). You will definitely want to dress accordingly and bring along a warm jacket, gloves, and scarf for those chilly mornings and evenings.
Mark your calendar for November 5th and enjoy a fun-filled night during Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night. The Edinburgh Meadowbank Sports Centre hosts this festive celebration that starts off with a bang. Come for the pre-show entertainment which starts at 6:30 p.m. then enjoy a half-hour fireworks show held at 7:30 p.m. to kick off the bonfire event.
Winter in Edinburgh: December to February
December through February are the coldest months in Edinburgh and this season is not usually the best time to visit Edinburgh if you want to spend a lot of time outside. Still, you can bundle up and see the magnificence of the architecture of the city while out on an invigorating walk.
Rain is a frequent event throughout winter, but snow is a rare event and accumulating snowfall is generally nonexistent. The temperatures average 44 degrees F (7 degrees C) for the high and 33 degrees F for the lows (1 degree C), but Edinburgh can experience cold spells where the temperatures dip to around 16 degrees F (-8 degrees C).
Edinburgh does see a lot of wind during the winter months along with heavy fog and rain. Even though the weather is sometimes not ideal for outdoor ventures, those who decide to visit during this season do generally find great deals on hotels. Just remember to pack your winter wardrobe and bring along a heavy coat if you plan on exploring the outdoors.
Edinburgh does offer simply amazing Christmas markets so you will want to bring along an empty suitcase to cart home all your magnificent finds. The main Edinburgh Christmas Market is spectacular for all your Christmas shopping. Edinburgh shopping malls are also generally packed during the winter months when everyone is basically forced inside because of the weather.
When visiting Edinburgh during the winter you will have more time to explore the indoor activities and attractions as well as the theatre and cultural events that make the city so special. Plan to stay through the Christmas season or make your travel plans so you can experience New Year’s in Edinburgh, it is a celebration that rivals New York City’s Times Square. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, or New Year celebration, is truly wonderful.
The National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery are two indoor activities that will keep you toasty and give you a glimpse into the history of this fabulous country and its loyal and passionate people.
Add a few of the lesser-known museums to your winter itinerary such as The Writers’ Museum which highlights three of the most famous Scottish writers: Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The People’s Story Museum tells the story of the Scottish working class dating back to the 18th century. Admission to both museums is free.
Spring in Edinburgh: March to May
Visitors to Edinburgh during spring will notice the temperatures are still quite cold but they begin inching back up toward warmer temps for more outdoor activities. May is still considered quite cold, but for those willing to brave the chilly temps, it is fun to see the city begin to come alive after a long, dormant winter.
With the average temperature highs being around 58 degrees F (14 degrees C) and the average lows hovering around 37 degrees F (2.9 degrees C), you will probably spend much of your time exploring Edinburgh’s indoor activities until mid-afternoon when it is a bit warmer. Slip on your warm jacket, hat, and gloves and brave the cooler weather to see more of nature in and around the city.
Surprisingly, the spring months in Edinburgh are some of the driest the city sees through the year. While the morning and evening temps can be a bit cold, the afternoon temps are perfect for getting outdoors and exploring the historical sites throughout the city.
With so many parks and natural spaces, springtime in Edinburgh is a breathtaking experience as nature begins to wake up. The smells of fresh flowers as they begin to blossom are delicious and the vibrant colors will instantly lift your spirits. The Princes Street Gardens are fabulous to visit during the spring but you definitely do not want to miss the chance to stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Springtime is when Edinburgh hosts the Edinburgh Children’s Festival and the Edinburgh Science Festival. Children can get out, stretch their legs, and use their imaginations as they experience all these fantastic festivals have to offer from whimsical to scientific.
Because it is still a bit on the cold side, spring is not a super busy touristy time for the city, making it a great time to visit to avoid the big crowds. Stroll along cherry blossom lined streets that lead to The Meadows or hike along the Royal Mile and visit Edinburgh Castle.
Many call spring and fall a shoulder season where the city is either waking up or going to sleep and the temperatures are neither super cold nor really warm. Daylight hours are not as long as the summer season but not as short as the winter. Hotel prices are also generally cheaper during a shoulder season.
Bonfire Night and More in Edinburgh
The busiest time to visit Edinburgh and experience the many tourist attractions is in late spring and summer. Street performers entertain the crowds and the festival season gets underway highlighting the Scottish tradition of putting on a fantastic celebration. The warmest temperatures are found in July and August but good weather is still found in May and June.
If you want to avoid crowds and find lower accommodation costs, pack your rain gear and plan to visit Edinburgh during the autumn season. Kick back with a craft beer and warm up during Bonfire Night. You will find plenty to keep you busy as you explore many of Edinburgh's indoor activities.
Winter sees colder temps, markets brimming with colorful and interesting finds, and a New Year's Eve celebration that you have to see to believe. Scotland's capital knows how to party any time of year including street parties and costume parties that are fun and festive.