The Perfect Edinburgh Packing List – We Live in Scotland

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Looking for the ideal Edinburgh packing list and wondering what to pack for the city that experiences four seasons in one day? This guide takes you through each season and details exactly what to plan for all occasions and events including dining out, casual pub drinks, day hikes and visiting attractions. Why trust us? We live here, all year round!

Read the whole guide as we use spring as a base then build on it for the following three seasons. We’ve also included what electronics to pack and how to choose the best luggage for your trip.

Images used throughout this post were taken during the season being discussed.

You may also like our guide on the best time to visit Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Packing List – Spring (March, April and May)

We love spring in Edinburgh.

Cherry blossoms flush Princes Street Gardens with pink in April and locals enjoy the “taps aff” (tops off) weather at the numerous Edinburgh beer gardens in May.

Daylight savings time provides an extra hour of daylight in the evening which means late-night walks and activities. 

The spring months can be glorious in Edinburgh with highs hitting 18 degrees Celsius in May.

Consistently sunny days sees locals often referring to May as the Scottish summer.

However, some spring days can also be brutal, lows have dipped to -6C/21.2F even in April.

Edinburgh Castle Cherry Blossom Spring season_

Word of caution, schools break off for Easter holidays (vacation) for two weeks so factor this into your Edinburgh itineraries when planning your trip

Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays. Most restaurants in Edinburgh and tourism attractions remain open.

What To Pack For Scotland In Spring

Here are our suggestions for keeping comfortable while looking good in the city.

Sunshades

Pack shades for all seasons. Not only do they keep the sun’s glare out of your eyes, but they are also perfect for hiding a hangover behind.

Tops

Vest tops, tank tops, t-shirts and short-sleeved shirts are a great option if you layer them with shirts, cardigans, sweatshirts and hoodies.

If you are packing a wool top or fleece, match it with a decent raincoat as wool and fleece don’t mix well with rain and there’s nothing worse than soggy clothes!

Definitely pack a few sundresses but consider a thin top for underneath and cardigans for on top for cooler days.

Note: Panama-style ‘Instagram’ hats are great for pictures but you may lose it to a gust of wind.

Victoria Street Gemma Cocktail

Bottoms

We have to clear something up before we move on.

In Scotland, we call US pants ‘trousers’ and we call knickers/panties, pants!

Check out our lingo guide for more translations.

Long trousers/pants such as track pants, chinos, leggings/yoga pants and denim are recommended for cooler days and nights.

While denim looks good, it sucks when it is wet so don’t stuff your suitcase with jeans.

You won’t see many locals in tights/pantyhose in spring so it’s up to you if you want to brave the chillier days with bare legs.

There will hopefully be days where you can wear sundresses, skirts and shorts comfortably!

Note: Scotland is pretty liberal when it comes to clothing. You won’t be out of place in denim hot pants but you might be a little cold at times!

If you do plan to hike and rain doesn’t put you off, we love a pair of affordable waterproof overtrousers (shop US/shop UK) that can be pulled over slim-leg trousers like yoga pants or wider hiking pants/trousers.

Shoes For Sightseeing

Since Edinburgh has lots of cobbled streets, if you don’t have the comfiest sightseeing shoes on you will suffer for it later.

A comfortable pair of sneakers/trainers or well worn in Doc Martens could do the trick. You will need closed toes for some attractions such as the South Bridge Vaults. Read our review of the Edinburgh Vaults tour here.

Pack a nice pair of dress shoes and sandals if you plan to dine out at one of the fancier restaurants.

Arthrus Seat Gemma Windy

Sturdy Walking Shoes/Boots

If you are planning on having a few days in the city then heading to the countryside for another part of your trip, pack sturdy walking boots for the hikes.

Make sure that they are lightweight and waterproof like these Solomon boots US/UK.

You can easily hike Arthur’s Seat in sneakers/trainers if the weather is dry. We’ve hiked them in Doc Martens (image above).

Salomon Boots grey and green boots

A Reliable Waterproof Coat/Jacket

You can never be sure that there won’t be a shower of rain at some point in the day.

This rain can make or break your trip.

Scottish rain can come down in a deluge, or it can seem fine, what we would call needle rain. (Rain that goes through everything!)

So a decent waterproof jacket that will fold up and go into your backpack like this Marmot Precip US/UK is a must.

Your raincoat of choice will need to be able to take a bit of a battering from the elements if you plan to hike up Arthur’s Seat.

Straight after this photo was taken below I went to a shop to buy another layer and pair of socks. Learn from my mistakes!

Le Monde Bar Cocktail Gemma in Edinburgh

These fashion jackets (below) are great as they look good, cover your behind, have a hood and can take on a good downpour.

A wax Barbour is a must if brunching in Stockbridge.

Victoria Street Gemma Yellow Coat Rain Edinburgh

What About An Umbrella?

We don’t love brollies because the Edinburgh rain is often sideways and the wind is comical!

If you want to keep your hair in place while nipping into a taxi for dinner, by all means, pack an umbrella but don’t rely on it.

Circus Lane Rain Umbrella

Underwear and Swimwear

Your swimwear will probably be reserved for the hotel pool or spa day but we don’t want you to forget it so added it to our spring Edinburgh packing list.

We do have two beaches in Edinburgh and Portobello, especially, gets very busy with sunbathers on rare sunny days.

Pack lots of underwear, we always suggest two extra pairs of knickers/pants.

The Balmoral Pool Gemma

A Comfy Backpack

Lugging around that camera, the water bottles, your waterproof jacket, maps, battery charger and whatever else you need can be a pain.

However, with the right backpack, your life will be made so much easier.

Victoria Street Craig Bag

A decent backpack that has compartments and is waterproof is a good investment.

If you choose fashion over function, you won’t be out of place with a Kanken backpack.

Union Canal Gemma Coffee Rain Edinburgh

Handbag

Over the shoulder or strapless, whatever your style of handbag is acceptable for this city. You will see lux brand bags swinging by the sides of shoppers and brunchers on George Street.

A Water Bottle

Scottish water is clean and fresh and there is plenty of it!

In fact, you can drink this straight from the tap.

To save on the pennies, bring a water bottle with you and fill it up before you go on your day trip.

Most restaurants or cafes offer tap water on the table for free, you could always top up while you are having lunch.

There’s also free water taps located around the city and at Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh Airport Water Fountain

Going Out Clothes

Most places in Edinburgh will allow men and women to enter wearing jeans and a smart top.

However they do draw the line at trainers.

Edinburgh has so many amazing restaurants and if you are wanting to celebrate something special, then pack accordingly.

Bars around George Street in particular will expect customers to respect the dress code. Rose Street and the Grassmarket in the Old Town are more relaxed.

Women

A LBD wrap around dress is always a reliable option. If packing light, one that rolls up is perfect.

Remember that it can be chilly in the evenings in spring, so a wrap such as a poncho, cape or a thin coat that you can throw over your shoulders is just what you need.

Men

As said before, you will get away with jeans and a smart shirt or jumper which is a sweatshirt in Scotland.

It is advisable for you to add in a pair of smart casual shoes so that you don’t get refused entry to that place you have been looking forward to visiting for ages!

Edinburgh Packing List – Summer

June, July and Autumn, the summer months in Scotland can be warm, and dry, warm and wet or wet and very cold.

You need to be able to go from t-shirt and shorts to warm fleece and waterproofs in a matter of minutes.

Sometimes it reaches 78.8 Fahrenheit/26 degrees Celsius during summer (July) and other days can be as low as 46.4 Fahrenheit/8 Celsius (June). 

The weather in Edinburgh in August can show the city off at its best.

This is when the Fringe Festival takes place and you will be able to enjoy the street performances and soak up the atmosphere while enjoying the sun.

The packing list for spring will see you right for summer as well, with just a few extras which we’ll discuss below.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe On the Mile

A Denim Coat

For summer, we’d definitely be leaving our fluffy, padded coats and teddy bear jackets packed away and bringing out the denim but with a light cardigan underneath and the ability to duck undercover when the heavens open up!

Team up with a light summer dress and sandals. By June, we don’t care if our feet get wet, we’re embracing the summer months.

Sunscreen

Believe it or not, the Scottish sun is hot and powerful when it shines.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can get away without sunscreen.

You will get burnt and walking around with a backpack on sunburnt shoulders, is not an easy task.

Midgie Repellant

The curse of the Highlands and often found near water in the Lowlands is the Scottish Midgie.

They swarm in clouds and leave no one unbitten!

Some say they are even worse than mosquitos.

The prime time for these wee beasties is the summer months of June to August.

The warm damp weather breads them and then unleashes them on the unsuspecting tourist.

It is a good idea to bring some repellant with you to help keep them away if you plan to hike or travel outside of the city.

A Raincoat

We want to stress that you can’t get complacent when you hear the word, summer.

A decent raincoat is an essential Edinburgh packing list item even for June, July and August.

Hiya from summer in Scotland…

Union Canal Ronan Gemma Rain Edinburgh

Edinburgh and Scotland in Autumn/Fall

Burnt oranges, warm browns, golden yellows and fiery reds alight the landscape of Scotland in autumn.

This time of year, Edinburgh can be as warm as spring and even up to the heady temperatures of summer!

Libterton Kirk Edinburgh Autumn Tree

Best of all, there are no wee midgie beasties to feast on your flesh!

September can still enjoy highs of 69 Fahrenheit/21 degrees Celsius with a steady decline to lows of 39.2 Fahrenheit/4 degrees Celsius in October.

However, autumn can also mean the rainy season.

The Scottish schools do have either one or two weeks holidays in October, so please take that into account when planning your trip.

We also lose an hour of daylight in October which can make the days feel very short.

Edinburgh Castle Autumn with a Red Tree

October is one of our fave months as we love Hallowe’en at Everything Edinburgh!

If visiting, definitely check out some of the spooky tours and learn more about the local legends that haunt the cobbled streets.

What to Pack for Scotland in Autumn/Fall

Tops

Moving away from light layers and packing thicker sweatshirts, high necks and wool jumpers is what we recommend for September and October.

You might still get the occasional ‘taps aff’ day early on in the season.

Edinburgh Castle Gemma Tartan Shawl Vennel

Bottoms

Autumn is when we welcome back tights/pantyhose so we can continue wearing dresses and skirts without freezing our knees!

Shorts are mostly out and long trousers are… well they never really went away to be ‘back’.

Outerwear

Leather coats, trenches and denim with padding work for early September but by the end of October, you’ll want to pack a bomber, teddy bear (below), padded or a parka for warmth.

Always pack a raincoat! If you plan to hike the Pentland Hills or a hill/Munro outside of the city, you will need a heavy-duty raincoat such as the Mountain Equipment Rupal US/UK.

Ramsay Lane Edinburgh Instagram Gemma

Shoes

Say goodbye to sandals and hello to ankle boots and trainers/sneakers. Expect to be walking over wet cobbles and skipping over puddles. Pack accordingly.

What to Pack for Scotland in Winter

Winter in Scotland is truly beautiful.

From around November, the snow begins to fall on the mountains and hills and these icing topped peaks bring the skyline to life as the winter sun shines on their tops.

Sunsets start earlier and they are pretty epic on the east coast. Pastel tones for subtle sunsets and burnt oranges when it is more intense.

Calton Hill Edinburgh at Sunset

However, as beautiful as this is, it can be very cold.

November sees temperatures of 39.2 Fahrenheit/4 degrees Celsius while February can take us into minus low numbers.

It does snow in Edinburgh but it doesn’t tend to last long unless it is a freak year like The Beast From The East that shut the whole country down.

Central Scotland doesn’t cope well with snow!

Walking around Edinburgh during these winter months can be uncomfortable if you don’t have the right items to wear.

As discussed in the spring section, layers are super important to keep you cool and comfortable while you explore.

If you are visiting Edinburgh to Christmas shop, you’ll be in and out of shops all day so be ready to have your coat on and off!

If you are a shopper, you’ll like the January sales that start on Boxing Day.

Circus Lane Winter Stockbridge Edinburgh_

Around the 5th of November, there are fireworks displays around the city to celebrate Bonfire Night aka Guy Fawkes.

The 30th of November is our patron saint, St Andrew’s Day.

Late November all the way up to Christmas Day is party season so expect glitz, gorgeous Christmas decorations, visits from Santa, hotels looking especially festive and the Edinburgh Christmas market.

Edinburgh Market Winter Christmas

New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay in Scotland and Edinburgh hosts the biggest street party in the world!

Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and January 2nd are public holidays.

The Dome Decorations Christmas Tree Winter Edinburgh George Street_

Tops

Ah, we love winter for the return of the sparkles and velour!

Layering is recommended with heavier sweatshirts and cardigans.

Bottoms

You might want to pack extra socks to double up to keep your feet warm. Especially, if you are wearing tights/pantyhose.

Padded Jacket/Coat

Winter is all about the padded jackets in Scotland. You’ll see parkas, puffers and heavy wool coats saunter about the city. Warning, the latter doesn’t bode well with rain.

Circus Lane Stockbridge Edinburgh Winter

Shoes

Comfortable waterproof boots, waterproof leather boots, waterproof trainers, you are seeing at theme here…

Hat, Gloves Scarves

One of the most important items in your winter packing list has to be a hat to keep the heat in.

That sun may be shinning and it may look like the perfect day, however, the wind in Scotland can cut through you like a knife.

With a warm bobble hat, you will be able to enjoy wandering or hiking without discomfort.

They also make a winter outfit look cute! Bobble or beanie, what’s your preference?

This is the season to bring out your tartan scarf!

Keep your hands from nipping by packing a pair of gloves.

Snow. Girl. Edinburgh. Winter. Christmas

Currency and Cards

Scotland uses Pound sterling (£) for currency and today’s rate can be found here.

British and Scottish notes both circulate the city and Scotland.

Notes come in £50, £20 (below), £10 (below) and £5.

Coins are also part of the currency – £2, £1, 50p (pence), 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, and 1p.

Most shops, hotels, tourism attractions and restaurants accept credit and debit cards and use contactless or chip and pin.

American Express is not widely accepted in restaurants and bars so bring a back up. Most hotels do accept it.

Twenty Ten Pound Notes Money Royal Mile Edinburgh

How Much Does Edinburgh Cost?

How big is your budget! Here’s a selection of prices.

  • Two alcoholic drinks at an Old Town pub £10-12
  • Two pizzas and two alcoholic drinks at a pizza restaurant on the Royal Mile £34
  • Two breakfast rolls. and hot drinks on Cockburn Street £16
  • Two tickets for a walking tour £32

Hotels start at under £100. Find out more at our where to stay guide.

Electronics

Phone and Associated Items

Communication, camera, entertainment, notes, banking and torch is there anything the devices attached to our hands can’t do?

Invest in a durable screen cover and phone case, if you drop the device on a cobbled street it might not come back from the accident.

Pack cables and plugs required for charging. See plug section below for more information.

Flower Clock Princes Street Gardens Phone Edinburgh

Electronic Battery Bank/Pack

With us using our phones for more than just calls, that battery life takes a, well, battering!

You don’t want to miss out on taking that most Instagrammable photo or uploading your TikTok video of the amazing streets in Edinburgh.

So you really need a battery pack like the reliable range by Anker US/UK.

Camera

If you own a camera you will want to pack it for your trip to Edinburgh! Remember to include additional batteries, SD cards and cables.

Keep it in a waterproof bag during downpours and pack something to clean the lens when it rains.

Remember your external hard drive for saving images from the SD card.

Victoria Street Gemma Yellow Coat Rain Camera Edinburgh_

Bluetooth Speaker

If you like to get ready to music or hike to some tunes, we recommend this JCB portable speaker US/UK. We always have it packed for trips.

Hairdryers, Straighteners and Curling Tongs

If you are staying in a budget hotel or apartment you may need to pack your own hairdryer.

There definitely won’t be straighteners or curling tongs in your hotel room so if you like to iron out the waves or add curls, pack ’em.

However, since our voltage is nearly double that of the US (see next section), you will need to do one of the following:

  • Pack a dual wattage converter like this one
  • Buy appliances in the UK
  • Let your hair go wild

Electrical AC Plugs and Sockets

In Scotland we use the UK plug which has three pins – one on the top and two on the bottom like a triangle.

We recommend this international travel plug which caters for all variations US/UK.

Most modern hotels will have USB charging slots.

Voltage is usually 230 volts. This is nearly double that of the US.

Sally Beauty Supply on the South Bridge deals with a lot of tourists with broken hairdryers!

Pack a dual wattage converter like this one.

Skross Universal Plug USB Port on worktop
Skross Universal Plug USB plugged in

PacSafe Net

If your accommodation doesn’t have a safe, consider investing in a PacSafe net US/UK which ties around your belongings and attaches to an object that can’t be moved easily.

We’ve used this safety device all over the world.

Luggage and Baggage

Suitcase or Backpack

When choosing a suitcase to bring on the trip, make sure it is lightweight, super durable and easy to carry or pull along.

Edinburgh has a lot of very cobbled streets and what you don’t want is one of your wheels to come off. This happened to me in Italy so now I use a very durable case by Eagle Creek US/UK.

Edinburgh Airport, Waverley and Haymarket Train Station and Edinburgh Bus Station all have elevators and/or escalators so users can travel through with luggage comfortably.

You will find taxis on Market Street outside of the Waverley Train Station and directly outside Haymarket.

If you plan to use a backpack you’ll avoid the challenge of the cobbles but watch out you don’t knock anyone or anything out your way with your pack.

During high season, expect crowds so leave plenty of time to get out of the city with your luggage.

Find out more about how to get to the city from the airport.

Tote Bag

Scotland has a charge on the use of plastic bags so pack a tote bag to do your bit and save money.

You’ll need a tote bag for grocery, clothes and souvenir shopping.

Black tote bag hanging up

Toiletires

Aside from personal medication, all of the below can be purchased in Edinburgh at stores such as Boots, Superdrug or supermarkets (grocery stores).

  • Sunscreen
  • A nice high factor face moisturiser like this one US/UK
  • Cleanser
  • Consider a solid soap and conditioner to avoid spills
  • Body wash/soap although hotel may provide
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Makeup
  • Midgie repellent if visiting in season and you want to travel outside of the city or hike US/UK
  • Electrolytes for whisky hangovers US/UK
  • Any medication
  • Hand sanitiser

Always travel with insurance.

Pharmacies are located in Boots and around the city. One is called LloydsPharmacy, there are many other.

John Knox House Storytelling Museum Royal Mile Buildings

What is a Jacket?

Throughout this article I have mentioned the word jacket several times.

But what is a jacket?

A jacket in Scotland is a coat.

We don’t just have waterproof coats here, we also have some very fashionable ones.

A popular outdoor coat is a Barbour coat.

This is an iconicity British piece of clothing that has become very fashionable to wear as an everyday coat.

There are also denim jackets and leather jackets.

In Scotland we are rarely seen far from our jacket, just in case it does rain.

What is the best jacket for Scotland?

One that keeps the rain off!

What to Buy in Scotland

You don’t have to bring everything with you.

You can pretty much buy anything in Edinburgh! Here’s a list of things you can save safe space on or make room for!

  • Toiletries
  • Clothes
  • Tote bag
  • Tartan items
  • Harris tweed products
  • Bottles of whisky
  • Scottish artwork and craft
  • Food especially souvenirs like tablet, check out our what to eat guide

Scotland’s Packing List Essential Overview

Here’s the list of every item mentioned in our packing list for Edinburgh guide so you can tick it off!

  1. Raincoat
  2. Nice jacket – Barbour, trench, leather, denim, teddy, puffer (season depending)
  3. Tops – Tanks, t-shirts, shirts
  4. Outerwear tops – Cardigans, sweatshirts, polo necks, hoodies, fleece
  5. Trousers (pants) – Jeans, chinos, yoga pants/leggings, track pants/tracksuit/joggies
  6. Summer bottoms – Shorts, skirts, sundresses
  7. Overtrousers for hiking
  8. Going ‘out out’ clothes – As fancy as you like
  9. Underwear – Pants/knickers, bras, socks, tights/pantyhose, swimwear for the hotel
  10. Shoes – Sneakers/trainers, casual shoes, fancy shoes, sandals, waterproof boots, hiking boots if hiking
  11. Winter items – Hat, scarf and gloves
  12. Shades
  13. Day bag
  14. Handbag
  15. Reusable water bottle
  16. Currency and cards
  17. Passport and driving licence
  18. Phone and associated items
  19. Battery bank/pack
  20. Camera and associated items
  21. Speaker
  22. Hairdryer, straighteners and curlers?
  23. Dual wattage converter
  24. Universal plug
  25. PacSafe net
  26. Suitcase or backpack
  27. Tote bag
  28. Sunscreen
  29. Face sunscreen
  30. Cleanser
  31. Hair products
  32. Body wash
  33. Razor
  34. Toothbrush
  35. Toothpaste
  36. Makeup
  37. Midgie repellent
  38. Electrolytes
  39. Any medication
  40. Hand sani

Golfing in Scotland

Edinburgh is a perfect base for some of the world’s top golf courses.

From Edinburgh, you can access the courses in Fife and East Lothian.

You can hire/rent golf clubs here which stops you having to bring your own clubs as extra baggage on the airline.

However, the courses over here have strict dress codes and if you want to play a round or two, you will need to ensure that you pack accordingly.

  1. Golf shoes
  2. Golf trousers
  3. Golf top
  4. Golf jumper
  5. Waterproofs
  6. Hat
  7. Golf glove

You will not regret making the decision of playing a round in Scotland, after all, it is the home of golf!

Final Words

Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries to visit and you have chosen the most striking cities in the country to stay in.

This Scotland packing list is a guide to help you get the most out of your trip to Edinburgh and your exploration of the many other areas around our country.

Just remember the most important item of all – your sense of adventure!

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Edinburgh packing list images: Calton Hill at sunset and woman in tartan cape at Circus Lane

Essential Edinburgh Information 

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Best time to visit Edinburgh
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