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There’s no bad time to visit Edinburgh but April and May can be a delight if you prepare your packing list* for all four seasons!
Scotland has woken from its winter slumber, meaning that days are longer, flowers bloom, cherry blossoms explode and the city celebrates Easter traditions and holidays.
This guide details the best things to do in Edinburgh in spring, what to eat, where to drink and how to celebrate Easter activities.
We’ll also give you ideas for rainy days and walking tours not to miss when it’s dry.
- Edinburgh Weather In Spring
- 1. See Edinburgh’s Gardens Bloom
- 2. Cherry Blossoms in Edinburgh
- 3. Enjoy a Drink, Outdoors
- 4. Take a Dip, in the Sea
- 5. Beach Strolls
- 6. Urban Walks
- 7. Edinburgh Walking Tours
- 8. Daylight Savings Bonus Time
- 9. Edinburgh Rainy Day Activities
- 10. Eat Pancakes
- 11. Easter Celebrations
- 12. Easter Lunch
Edinburgh Weather In Spring
Fully expect to be enjoying takeout lunch in Princes Street Gardens one day and ducking from hailstones the next.
You really don’t know how the weather is going to act in April.
Temperatures can plummet to -2C/28.4F then spike to 18C/64.4F so pack your snow hats and your sunscreen!
May tends to be consistently drier and warmer than summer, true “taps aff” weather which translates to “tops off” to visitors. You can learn more about the lingo here.
Many locals spend much of their time in their gardens and at Edinburgh’s gardens during spring.
1. See Edinburgh’s Gardens Bloom
Edinburgh is a city with many popular parks and not so secret gardens.
You know it’s springs when tulips provide pops of colour and daffodils brighten up grim gardens.
Lesser-known gardens such as Dunbar Close start to smell sweet around mid-April.
2. Cherry Blossoms in Edinburgh
One of the things that stands out the most when spring arrives in Edinburgh is the pink buds that takeover the bare trees around the Old and New Town.
You will see voluminous cherry blossoms on the Royal Mile at Canongate Kirk, whimsical pink tunnels in The Meadows and stand-alone blossoms in private New Town gardens.
Buds have been known to bud at the start April with full blooms around 20th.
Read are guide on the best places to see Edinburgh’s cherry blossoms here.
3. Enjoy a Drink, Outdoors
Sip a sophisticated beer in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle or watch sports on the outside big screen, there’s heaps of options for al fresco drinking in Edinburgh!
Cold Town House (below), Three Sisters, The Pear Tree, Starbar, to name a few beer gardens in Edinburgh.
Many have heaters so you can enjoy a cocktail minus the frost bite.
Find out the full list plus beer garden map here.
4. Take a Dip, in the Sea
This Edinburgh spring activity is not for the ill-prepared!
April is when fair-weather wild swimmers can be spotted bopping about Portobello Beach.
If you plan to wild swim, ensure you are educated and equipped.
Check out the Edinburgh Wild Swimmers Facebook page.
5. Beach Strolls
Dog walkers, joggers and cyclists take to the prom for fresh morning walks and families make sandcastles on sunny afternoons, Portobello Beach (below) is a busy location during spring.
Cramond Beach is another option with a forest walk to Cramond Falls or to Cramond Island when the sea is out.
If you can go further afield, East Lothian and The Kingdom of Fife have lovely beaches under an hour from the city.
6. Urban Walks
If you are a fair-weather hiker, spring is a good time to start stretching the legs on one of Edinburgh’s many hikes.
Hike to the Calton Hill viewpoint in under 15 minutes (below) or up Arthur’s Seat/Salisbury Crags in an hour.
More adventurous hikers might want to consider Blackford Hill or the Pentland Hills.
7. Edinburgh Walking Tours
Some of Edinburgh’s walking tours hibernate over winter, returning to the streets around April/May rarely to share stories about Auld Reekie.
The classic tours include an Old Town walking tour with Edinburgh Vaults and Harry Potter locations.
8. Daylight Savings Bonus Time
Since we follow Daylight Savings in Scotland, clocks go forward one hour at 1 am on the last Sunday in March which means extra light at night.
If you are visiting from abroad, factor this time change into your planning!
Since nights are lighter earlier, you can pack more into your Edinburgh itinerary.
Enjoy a sunset hike up Arthur’s Seat or consider an Edinburgh day trip to see more than the city.
9. Edinburgh Rainy Day Activities
One thing you just have to accept in Scotland is that it rains.
It’s what makes our greenery so lush and our lochs swell.
Downpours and puddles in the city can be a pain but there are plenty of indoor activities to take shelter at!
Things to do in the Rain in Edinburgh
- Play with your drink at Cocktail Geeks
- Learn about whisky at the Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Experience
- Catch a movie and a drink at The Dominion or The Cameo
- See a band at Stramash, Whistlebinkies or Brewhemia
- Have a laugh at Monkey Barrel or The Stand
- Drink cocktails and score at Lane 7 bowling
- Have a nosey at the Royal Yacht Britannia
- Play retro games at NQ64 of Lothian Roadd
- Try to escape the Department Of Magic
- Shop at the Royal Mile Market
- Relax at a spa hotel
- Climb at Alien Rock
- Learn about Edinburgh’s underground at Mary Kings Close
- Make chocolate at The Chocolatarium
- Get whacky at the Camera Obscura
- Take a tour of Edinburgh Dungeons
- Get your skates on at The Boardwalk
- Challenge your strength at Ninja Warrior
Museums in Edinburgh
- National Museum of Scotland – Scottish antiquities, culture and history
- Museum of Edinburgh – Exhibits sharing the history of Edinburgh
- The People’s Story Museum – The story late 18th century to the present day people of Edinburgh
- St Cecilia’s Hall Concert Room and Music Museum – Musical instruments
- John Knox House – Historic owned and lived in by Protestant reformer John Knox during the 16th century
- The Writers’ Museum – The story of Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson
- Museum of Childhood – Toys through the ages
- Surgeons’ Hall Museums – Artefacts and medical history
- Museum on the Mound – Learn about money in Scotland
- National War Museum – 400 years of conflict in one museum
Read our guide to Edinburgh Museums next.
Galleries in Edinburgh
- Scottish National Gallery – Fine art including The Skating Minister
- Royal Scottish Academy Building – Annual Scottish graduate show
- Fruitmarket Gallery – Art gallery, bookshop and a cafe
- Scottish National Portrait Gallery (below) – Famous Scots in portrait
- Modern One and Two – Modern and contemporary art
- The Queens Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse – Small gallery at Holyrood
10. Eat Pancakes
Once an event observed by Christians, now an activity carried out by families, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday is a flipping fantastic day for dessert fans.
A mix of eggs, milk and butter is heat up and flipped in a frying pan then topped with lemon and sugar or Nutella!
If you prefer to purchase a pancake, The Chocolate Cafe in Edinburgh does a mean crepe or Loudons (below) or The Treehouse cooks up a pancake stack.
11. Easter Celebrations
On Easter Sunday, kids decorate boiled eggs and roll them down hills.
Some families create Easter egg hunts with clues to find a chocolate egg at the end!
Look out of community efforts for group Easter egg hunts around the city.
Schools break off for two weeks so expect the city to be busier around this time.
12. Easter Lunch
As we move into spring, menus say goodbye to winter comfort foods and hello to seasonal spring produce such as rhubarb, leeks and wild garlic.
Scotland has an internationally respected fish scene, oysters and herring are particularly sought after in spring.
Still not sure if spring is for you? Here’s our advice on the best time to visit Edinburgh.
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