The Best Time of Year to Visit Edinburgh, Scotland

An informed traveler wants to make the most of their holiday. A big part of that includes timing the visit during the best time of year for optimal tourism. If you’re reading this, you are probably trying to figure out when the best time to visit the beautiful medieval city of Edinburgh is. I’m hear to answer that question!

Shoulder Season

Edinburgh Spotlight

Courtesy of Edinburgh Spotlight

April, May, September, and October. If I was travelling to Edinburgh, these are the months I would shoot to arrive. Crowds are not as large as during the summer months and the weather is moderate and beautiful more days than not. In the springtime, flowers will be in bloom everywhere and in the fall, the hills will be covered in purple Scottish heather. It is truly a beautiful sight. You will be able to experience Edinburgh much like the locals do without the Scottish winter weather to dampen your spirits (or your trousers).

Just because these are the months I would plan my visit to fall during, that doesn’t mean the other seasons are bad! Every time of year brings a different beauty to the “best wee city in the world”.

Summer

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‘Mon the tourists! This is the season of endless tourists in the Scottish capital. The weather is normally beautiful and fairly warm (I say fairly as I am from Texas so the Scottish weather never feels “hot” to me). If you visit during these months, be prepared to encounter large crowds pretty much anywhere you go. The  biggest month for tourism in Edinburgh is August. August is when the city goes crazy.

In Edinburgh, August is festival month. There are many festivals that take place during the month of August. They happen pretty much all at the same time and are co mingled all throughout the city. The festivals bring with them performers from all over the world, fireworks over the castle every night, vendors selling everything from leather works to canvas paintings, and droves and droves of people. The population of Edinburgh is normally around 500,000, but during August that number jumps up to almost 3 million. And it stays there from August 1st to August 31st. With this massive number of people, hotel prices skyrocket, buses are jam packed, the streets are bursting at the seams and restaurants are seemingly impossible to get into. Don’t get me wrong, the festivals are great fun and a phenomenal cultural experience, but plan to battle absolutely massive numbers of people no matter where you go in the city. It’s so crazy that many locals take this month as their holiday and get out town to avoid the frenzy. The good news is, on September 1st, the city resumes it’s normal, calm demeanor as cleanup from the festival chaos begins.

Winter

Edinburgh Snow

Courtesy of Edinburgh Spotlight

During the winter season (November through March) you will find the fewest tourists in Edinburgh. The castle can be toured without much worry of crowds and you will get a chance to see the city more as the residents do. Keep in mind that this time of year tends to be cold, very windy, and it rains almost every day. Even though Edinburgh typically does not get buried in snow, enough snow to cover the ground is a real possibility during the winter. Also, December and January have extremely short amounts of daylight with the sun not coming up until around 9:00 and setting close to 3:00. Don’t let these facts stop you from experiencing Edinburgh during the winter, just be aware that you will need to bring winter clothing and plan your days with the lack of daylight in mind. But come on, who wouldn’t want to see the Scottish capital lightly dusted with snow?

Read Next:

Ultimate Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

A Local’s Guide to Restaurants in Edinburgh

Two Days in Edinburgh, Scotland

10 Hidden Gems in Edinburgh

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