So you want to visit Edinburgh. And why shouldn’t you? Scotland’s capital city is one of the loveliest, most medieval-looking, engaging, and exciting places in the United Kingdom that you can visit!
Taking a trip to Edinburgh involves a lot of planning, but the result is worthwhile. You’ll create incredible memories in Edinburgh, experience a whole new range of nightlife activities, and even have the opportunity to hike through the Scottish highlands!
As one of the U.K.’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s definitely worth visiting. But what is the best time to visit Edinburgh? Here’s our take.
The Best Time to Visit Edinburgh
The best time to visit Edinburgh is in summer. Specifically, the months of June, July, and August feature some of the best weather and a full schedule of festivals and events.
August in particular is filled with fun cultural activities that’ll give you a taste of what Edinburgh is really like! Visiting in the summer means enjoying the weather when it gets warmest.
On average, the temperature will rarely rise above 65 degrees. The lows are usually between 48 and 52 degrees, so pack some cozy sweaters. Scottish festivals are another big reason to visit Edinburgh in the summer.
Known by some as the world’s leading festival city, you can find everything there, like:
- Science fairs
- Children’s festivals
- Rock music concerts
- Military parades
- Book festivals
- Historical tournaments and festivals
You’ll notice that a lot of people enjoy visiting Edinburgh during the season of the festival. As long as you don’t mind crowds, summer is the best time for you to visit.
You’ll be surrounded by other tourists, which might put you at ease if you’re traveling internationally. And you’ll have plenty of fun activities to keep you occupied.
Cheapest Time to Visit Edinburgh
The cheapest time to visit Edinburgh is during the winter. That excludes major holidays, such as the New Year celebration (or Hogmanay, as it’s known in Scotland!)
You’ll find reasonable prices on flights and cheap accommodations anytime between November and December. The winter season is cheap for travelers to Edinburgh primarily because of the weather and the dwindling festivals.
You’ll find the most city-wide festivals and celebrations in the summer, and those are typically a big draw for tourists from all over the world. This means that hotel prices are much lower because not as many people are visiting the city.
Winter weather in Scotland can be brutal, also playing a significant role in keeping tourists away. In November and December, you’ll see highs in the mid-40s and lows in the upper 30s.
It isn’t the coldest season in Scotland, but it certainly comes close. There’s nothing quite so magical as Edinburgh in the snow. It isn’t exceptionally snowy, although you might be lucky enough to catch at least one snowfall if you visit in the winter.
In addition to chilly temperatures, Edinburgh is known for having cold gusts of wind that can drive the temperatures down even further.
Least Busy Time to Visit Edinburgh
The least busy time to visit Edinburgh is in the off-season, from October until March. You’ll still see tourists in the area; after all, Edinburgh is worth visiting no matter what time of year it is!
But you won’t see the crowds that swarm the place in the summer months. October, November, and December see the weather in Edinburgh start to turn cold and gusty
January and February are the coldest months in Scotland, typically reaching an average high of only 41 degrees. By March, the high is creeping closer to 50 degrees, while the average low remains around the mid-30s.
The best part about visiting Edinburgh in the off-season is taking advantage of all the great deals you can find bargain hunting on flights, hotels, and even restaurant reservations.
Since the city doesn’t have nearly as many visitors as usual, prices tend to drop and budget travelers can have a great time exploring the city for cheap.
If you’re looking for the most romantic time to go to Edinburgh, the off-season is the perfect choice for you and your special someone! It’s also a wonderful opportunity to explore the city without having to push your way through crowds. It feels like you have the city to yourself.
Worst Time to Visit Edinburgh
The worst time to visit Edinburgh (if such a thing exists) is during the winter, from January to March. The weather is hard to tolerate (and predict!), and there aren’t many tourist attractions open during those months.
With lots of rain and short, dark days, it might be tough to truly enjoy your Scotland experience if you go in the late winter. January and February are the coldest months in the country, making it harder to get around on foot. March is only slightly better, and it all tends to be very wet.
However, there are also upsides to visiting when the weather is so unwelcoming:
- Fewer crowds mean more of the city to yourself
- The off-season guarantees cheap accommodations
- Scotland is beautiful all year long, so you’ll still have a great time
- Exploring Scottish ruins in the rain is a dream come true for some
- Edinburgh in the winter will give you a more authentic Scottish experience
If you don’t mind a little rain, you might enjoy Scotland’s late winter! That is if you’re willing to brave the unpredictable Scottish weather. Since winter is considered the off-season in Edinburgh, it’s a great time to look for deals on flights and accommodations.
Things to Consider
Here are some things you’ll want to consider when you’re visiting Edinburgh, no matter what time of year you choose to go:
- Pack for the cold. Even if you visit Scotland in the summer, you’ll still run into cool weather if you do any activities in the evening. If you intend to explore the city at night, you’ll want to make sure you have a jacket or sweater to stay warm in the fabulous Scottish air!
- Plan for hikes. There’s so much to see and do in Edinburgh that it might be tempting to spend your entire vacation within the confines of the city. But you’ll miss out on some of the most stunning views and breathtaking experiences if you don’t go for at least one hike through the Scottish countryside.
- Try the beer. If you’re not usually a beer drinker, you might want to consider changing that at least for your trip. You’ve not tasted good beer until you’ve had a fresh Edinburgh brew.
- Avoid bus tours. Although many people think they can see more of the city if they travel around in a bus, there are much better ways to experience Edinburgh. Walking tours give you more flexibility, and planning your tours ensures you see everything on your list.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve learned a lot about traveling in Edinburgh, especially when it comes to weather and tourist seasons. Let’s take a quick look at some frequently asked questions:
What are Edinburgh’s nicest parts of town?
Some parts of Edinburgh are considered the best neighborhoods to live, work, and play in. Some of those areas include:
- Haywood Market
- Edinburgh Old Town
- West End
- New Town
Overall, Edinburgh is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So you’ll have something to see no matter where you stay.
Should I visit Glasgow or Edinburgh?
Glasgow and Edinburgh are Scotland’s two major cities and are huge tourist attractions. It’s hard to say if one city is better than the other because they offer so much for visitors to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a more modern understanding of Scottish culture and want to spend your nights at clubs and parties, then Glasgow is probably more up your alley. However, if you want an authentic look at historic Scotland, go to Edinburgh.
How much time should I spend in Edinburgh?
If you’ve never been to Edinburgh, you need at least three days to get a well-rounded experience. If you’re traveling internationally, consider staying for at least five days to ensure you hit your bucket list items.
Is Edinburgh a safe city?
Edinburgh has one of the lowest crime rates of all the cities in the United Kingdom. People who live in Scotland consider it safe and walkable, and tourists should feel comfortable exploring the city without too much concern for danger.
It’s always advisable for tourists to take precautions when exploring a new city, especially when traveling alone or at night. Try to avoid walking alone when possible, keep your money in a secure place that isn’t readily visible and always be aware of your surroundings.
Does Edinburgh have many castles?
One of Edinburgh’s most stunning features is the number of exquisite castles, and castle ruins, that you can tour and explore. With 14 different castles to choose from, make sure you have at least one on your list of things to do!
So, When Should You Visit Edinburgh?
So, what’s the best time to visit Edinburgh? It’s a stunning city that welcomes visitors worldwide all year. Even in the off-season, it’s worth seeing.
You’ll have the best weather and the most festivals if you visit in the summer. You’ll find cheap flights and hotels when you go in the winter, and you won’t have to worry about swarms of tourists if you visit anytime between October and March.
It should seem obvious at this point that traveling to Edinburgh is always a good choice, even if you can’t go in the summer. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!