Best Time To Visit Edinburgh Explained

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There is no bad season for an Edinburgh break but depending on your travel budget, style and reason for visiting there may be specific times of the year that suit you best! This guide to the best time to visit Edinburgh will discuss what’s happening in Scotland’s capital each month, the expected temperatures and outline who might want to visit at that time! 

Note: In the UK we use Degrees Celsius but we’ve also included Fahrenheit for our US readers. For example, 19C/66F means 19 Degrees Celsius and 66 Fahrenheit.

You may also like our guide to planning a trip to Edinburgh and how much Edinburgh cost.

When is the Best Time To Visit Edinburgh? 

To avoid repetition, let’s talk about the elephant holding the tartan brolly in the room, the weather in Edinburgh! 

Rain in Edinburgh 

Since Edinburgh is an east coast destination, it sees less rainfall than Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow in the west but it does still experience downpours and light showers. 

To avoid soggy clothes and sour faces, pack for all seasons and include a waterproof coat and shoes.

We cover what to pack for each season in our Edinburgh packing list which includes pictures of items. 

The rainiest seasons according to Statista are autumn and winter, no month takes the crown for the wettest month consistently.

The driest month in Edinburgh tends to be April, so much for April showers!

Take a look at the best things to do when it rains so you can factor these attractions into your Edinburgh itinerary. 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Rain Mound Assembly Rooms

Overall Temperatures in Edinburgh

Edinburgh freezes in winter and locals aren’t afraid to take their ‘taps aff’ which means tops off in summer.

Winter lows hit -6C/21.2F and summer day highs tend to be between 23C/73.4F and 26C/78.8F.

The hottest temperature recorded in Edinburgh was 31.2C/88.16F in 2019.

An extremely cold night in 2021 hit the record of -12.9C/8.78F.

When we refer to the highs and lows we are focusing on the temperatures you can expect during the day.

‘High’ means the highest recorded lately and ‘low’, the lowest recorded.

This tends to be early morning around 6am and/or early evening before the night temperatures start.

Naturally, no temperature is certain so pack for comfort.

If you are visiting from Florida, your cold threshold is going to be lower than someone arriving from a similar climate such as England!

Going further afield than Edinburgh? Let us help you plan your trip with our free 7-day Scotland itinerary.

Calton Hill Edinburgh at Sunset

Summer in Edinburgh (June, July and August)

Summer is by far the busiest time to travel to Edinburgh and takes in the months June, July and August.

Some of the towns close to Edinburgh, such as Burntisland in Fife, put on a summer festival which includes a Games Day.

This is where Highland dancers compete, pipe bands play and athletes throw caber. 

Mornings start early with sunrise around 04:30 and the sun sets late around 22:00. 

Summer days are gloriously long so you can fit lots into your Edinburgh itinerary.

Ross Fountain Princes Street Garden Summer Castle Edinburgh

Edinburgh in June

June is the quietest of the summer months.

Scottish schools do not break off on holiday until the very end of the month or the start of July.

Temperatures see highs of 24C/75.2F and lows of 8C/46.4F.

Average temperatures hit highs of 17C/62.6F and low 9C/48.2F.

When the temperature drops by only a few degrees Celsius in summer, it can mean the difference between bare arms or a warm coat.

When the sun shines locals picnic in the parks and gardens and head to the local East Coast beaches.

Portobello Beach plant

Events and Festivals in June 

Food in June 

Seafood such as lobster and plaice are in season in June and fruit such as blackcurrants and strawberries are ripe for picking.

Craigies Farm in Queensferry is a popular choice for pick your own days out.

Edinburgh in July

School’s out for summer! 

The streets of Edinburgh are noticeably busier with families visiting the best attractions for kids, locals giggle from the beer gardens and walking tours are in full flung on the Royal Mile. 

Edinburgh is buzzing in July.

Not quite peak crowd level, as that comes next month, a busy yet fun time to visit the city.

Booking walking tours and popular things to do such as Camera Obscura, Edinburgh Castle and the South Bridge Underground Vaults is highly recommended to avoid missing out.

Skip-the-line tickets will help speed up your day so you can pack more in.

If you plan to drink at Edinburgh’s beer gardens at the weekend, book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Temperatures see highs of 26C/78.8F and lows of 11C/51.8F but averages of 19C/66.2F and 11C/51.8F.

Hand holding a pint of beer with Edinburgh Castle views at Cold Town House

Events and Festivals in July

Food in July 

Lemon sole is in season as are brambles.

Edinburgh in August

Whoah! Welcome to August in Edinburgh, the craziest month where the Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes over the city.

Every nook and cranny is crammed with shows and events covering a range of genres such as comedy, music and theatre. 

Some people love the Fringe, others loathe it. I personally can’t get enough of it and spend lots of time hopping between shows from afternoon to night.

Clubs enjoy a late licence staying open until 05:00 and there are numerous pop-up bars dotted around the city at spots such as George Street, Teviot and the Pleasance. 

If you plan to visit the Fringe you must book your accommodation in advance and plan to spend 2-3 times more than you normally would. 

Here’s our guide to accommodation in Edinburgh

Schools go back around the first or second week of August.

August has two public holidays but they do not impact tourist attractions.

Temperatures see highs of 23C/73.4F and lows of 11C/51.8F and averages are 19C/66.2F and 11C/51.8F.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival performer

Events and Festivals in August 

Udderbelly Edinburgh Festival Fringe_

Food in August 

You can enjoy a huge variety of food truck food during the Fringe including baked potatoes, churros and halloumi fries!

Cod and squid are the seasonal seafood items to look out for on restaurant menu specials.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Food Hut_

Autumn/Fall in Edinburgh (September and October)

Fall, or autumn as we call it in Scotland, is an enchanting time to visit and we’ve detailed an extensive list of things to do during the autumn season here.

Autumn colours spread over Edinburgh, the air is crisp and this medieval city turns particularly spooky with Hallowe’en. 

By the end of September, sunrise doesn’t show until around 07:00 and by the end of October, 08:15 so plan for lazy mornings.

Sunsets creep from 21:00 at the start of autumn to dinner time around 17:30 by October 31st, perfect for trick or treating which we call guising in Scotland!

Read next: Everything Americans need to know before visiting Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle Autumn Red Trees Leave

Edinburgh in September

September sees the city settle after the craziness of the Fringe.

University students start their courses at Edinburgh University, Napier and Heriot-Watt.

Schools enjoy an autumn holiday near the end of the month.

The start of the month can be warm so pack for summer as well as fall.

Temperatures see highs of 21C/69.8F and lows of 7C/44.6F and averages of 16C/59F and 9C/482F.

Surgeons Hall Secret Gardens Edinburgh Museum Tour

Events and Festivals in September

Food in September

Razor clams are the seasonal delight.

Gardeners Cottage Princes Street Gardens Autumn

Edinburgh in October 

Darker mornings creep in and a prominent chill sweeps through the city calling for lots of layers.

Schools in Scotland take their ‘tattie holidays’ for one or two weeks depending on the region.

October 31st in Hallowe’en, the perfect time to enjoy a spooky tour and learn more about the legends such as Deacon Brodie.

Pubs and clubs get in the spirit (boom boom) by decorating their premises and hosting themed events. 

Local kids go guising aka trick or treating. 

If you have time to travel outside of Edinburgh, visit the Perthshire area to see the most incredible red, orange and yellow foliage. 

Temperatures see highs of 17C/62.6F and lows of 4C/39.2F and averages of 16C/F60.8 and 9C/48.2F.

Ghost Bus Edinburgh Tour

Events and Festivals in October

Scotland Edinburgh sports stadium drone. Murrayfield. Rugby.

Food in October 

Monkfish makes it onto seasonal menus.

Underground Vault Corridor Tours

Edinburgh in Winter (November, December, January and February)

The city brightens up the early dark nights with its festive street lights, hotel decor and the Edinburgh Christmas market. 

Some attractions in Scotland close for winter. This is not the case in Edinburgh.

Mornings are dark with sunrise around 07:15 in November, creeping all the way to 08:45 in January.

The sun sets from 16:30 in November, then even earlier in December from 15:40 giving the Christmas decorations lots of time to shine.

By February sunsets are later around 16:30 – 17:30.

It can snow in Edinburgh but it doesn’t last long.

You’ll definitely want to pack a padded or wool coat, hats and gloves! 

Circus Lane Stockbridge Woman in Winter Hat

Edinburgh in November 

November sees the start of the many winter festivities including Bonfire Night and St Andrew’s Day.

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night events take place all over the city around November 5th.

Bonfires are lit and crowds enjoy firework displays. 

Edinburgh’s Christmas begins with the official light switch on and market in Princes Street Gardens.

People start Christmas shopping around Princes Street, George Street, St James Quarter, Ocean Terminal (Leith) and The Fort. 

Hotels and restaurants reveal their Christmas decorations, The Botanics opens its doors for its Christmas lights display and Santa starts to see all the good girls and boys. 

You may also like our guide to the most festive hotels in Edinburgh

While the national holiday, St Andrew’s Day (30th November) is not a public holiday for Scots, some restaurants and bars put on a special menu or event such as a ceilidh/Scottish dancing.

Temperatures see highs of 14C/57.2F and lows of 4C/39.2F and averages of 10C/F50 and 3C/35.6F.

The Dome Decorations Christmas Tree Winter Edinburgh George Street_

Festivals and Events in November 

  • Bonfire Night firework displays take place around November 5th
  • Christmas parties and menus kick-off at the end of November, booking a ticket/table is recommended 
  • November 30th is St Andrew’s Day, the national holiday celebrating Andrew the patron saint of Scotland but it is not a day off for Scots
  • Edinburgh Christmas Market

Food in November 

Duck is the meat speciality on menus.

Edinburgh Bonfire Night

Edinburgh in December 

The Christmas events continue until the first week in January and really ramp up in December.

Christmas Day (25th December), Boxing Day (26th December), New Year’s Day (1st January) and 2nd January are public holidays. 

Most shops, restaurants, bars and attractions close on Xmas Day and New Year’s Day however some hotels put on a dedicated menu for Christmas Day dinner. 

Traditionally, sales start on Boxing Day however, of late they have started earlier.

31st December is Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) and Edinburgh hosts the world’s biggest street party with live bands, a ceilidh and fireworks to ring in the new year. 

Hogmanay events actually start on ‘the night afore’, the 30th, with the Torchlight Procession and continue on until the 1st with the unofficial Loony Dook swim at South Queensferry

Schools go on winter break for two weeks over Christmas and New Year.

Temperatures see highs of 10C/50F and lows of -1C/30.2F and averages of 7C/44.6F and 1C/33.8F.

Edinburgh Market Winter Christmas

Festivals and Events in December 

Food in December

Eat, drink and be merry in December! Many locals will enjoy a Christmas meal of turkey, vegetables and stuffing at various Xmas events and on the 25th.

Visitors can enjoy a traditional Christmas meal at restaurants and hotels.

Waldorf Astoria Christmas Decorations Edinburgh

Edinburgh in January 

For many, the year starts with nursing a Hogmanay hangover! 

January is often one of the cheapest months to visit Edinburgh with hotel prices dropping to encourage overnight stays. 

25th January is Burn’s Night, a celebration for Rabbie Burns.

Some restaurants will put on special menus and events to ‘address the haggis’. 

Temperatures see highs of 10C/50F and lows of -5/23F and averages of 7C/44.6F and 1C/33.8F.

Festivals and Events in January

  • Rabbie Burns events

February in Edinburgh 

The last month of winter, February is a quiet one with the busiest days taking place over Valentine’s Day and the closest weekend to it. 

Check out especially romantic guides, things to do for couples, special places to propose, lovely restaurants and Edinburgh’s most romantic hotels.

Schools in Scotland go on February break which lasts between two days and a week depending on the region. 

Temperatures see highs of 11C/51.8F and lows of -13C/8.6F and averages of 7C/44.6F and 1C/33.8F.

Festivals and Events in February 

Prestonfield House

Edinburgh in Spring (March, April and May)

Lighter mornings, fresh winds, budding flowers, spring in Edinburgh is always welcomed after a long Scottish winter! 

The unmissable cherry blossoms start to flower around the end of April into May taking over The Meadows, Princes Street Gardens and Starbank Park

From March, sunrise start around 7:00 and by the end of May, 05:25.

The sun sets at 17:50 at the start of spring and 21:45 by the end, smoothly transitioning into the long summer days.

Edinburgh Castle Cherry Blossoms Spring season_

March in Edinburgh 

March is the quieter month in spring as schools are still in session and the weather is pretty unpredictable.

This is the best time to go to Edinburgh if you don’t mind short days and want to avoid crowds.

Temperatures see highs of 18C/64.4F and lows of -2C/28.4 and averages of 9C/48.2F and 2C/35.6F.

April in Edinburgh 

The city starts to enjoy a spring awakening in April which can often be confused as summer!

Cherry blossoms tend to start to bloom at the end of April with a full flush of pink taking over the parks and gardens during the first week of May. 

Once the cherry blossoms pass, lilac wisteria is photographed clinging to the New Town buildings in Stockbridge

The Easter weekend sees families decorate boiled eggs to roll down hills and follow clues during Easter egg hunts. 

This tends to be privately organised by families or arranged as a small community event.

Schools are on Easter holidays for two weeks.

Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays. 

The exam diet at university and high school starts in April and ends in May. 

Temperatures see highs of 18C/64.4F and lows of -6C/21.2F and averages of 12C/53.6F and 4C/39.2F.

Festivals and Events in April

Meadows Park Cherry Blossom Woman in pink hat

May in Edinburgh

May is often referred to as Scotland’s summer with many promising ‘taps aff’ sunny days.

However, this has not been the case of late. 

On sunny days, parks and gardens will be packed with university students and young people. 

There are two public holidays that have no impact on tourism in May. 

Temperatures see highs of 18C/64.4F and lows of 1C/33.8F and averages of 14C/57.2F and 6C/42.8F.

Starbank Park Edinburgh

Festivals and Events in May

Final Words

So when is the best time to visit Edinburgh?

There’s no right answer to this frequently asked question as it really depends on what you want out of the trip!

When do you plan to visit? Tell us in the comments below. 

Best time to visit Edinburgh Scotland

Essential Edinburgh Information 

Plan your trip, tips & advice
Where to stay in Edinburgh
Food & drink in Edinburgh
Best time to visit Edinburgh
Things to do in Edinburgh
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Temperatures are provided by Time and Date. Seasonal food information from this calendar.

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