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The best time to visit Edinburgh in 2024: monthly guide

Looking to plan a trip to the capital of Scotland? We'll cover the best times to visit Edinburgh based on weather, costs, festivals and crowds. 

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Table of Contents

Like the rest of the country, Edinburgh has moderate temperatures in the Summer and gets very cold and wet in the Winter Months. However, there are some benefits to going when it’s colder – like cheaper airfare and hotels. There’s also plenty going on in the city year-round, whether it’s a festival or national holiday. You’ll also have enough to do in Edinburgh to enjoy your time in any season.

What is the best month to go to Edinburgh?

Generally, May is considered the best month to go to Edinburgh. The days are long and warm, and it’s also the driest month. It’s just before peak tourist season so the city shouldn’t be too busy. 

When is the best temperature in Edinburgh?

May-September sees the best weather in the city, but this is also when there are the most festivals so the city will be very busy. Even so, you should still go prepared with a raincoat and umbrella, as it rains year-round!

Edinburgh is coldest in January and February, and there will probably be some snow. Spring is normally mild and dry, with lots of sun in April and May. Summer is usually warm but can bring some rain. July is the hottest month.

Generally, always come prepared with layers, rain gear and waterproof shoes, especially if you’re planning on walking around the city. 

What’s the best month for sightseeing in Edinburgh?

The best time for sightseeing is between May and September. The days are longer and the weather is usually nice. Go for May, June or September to avoid the big crowds!

What is the cheapest month to go to Edinburgh?

Prices in Edinburgh don’t change that much throughout the year, as there’s always something going on in the city. The peak months in July and August will probably be most expensive, so look for a deal in the other months. 

When is the peak tourist season in Edinburgh?

Peak season is overall dictated by the weather, although there are big crowds around Christmas and Hogmanay. The busiest times in Edinburgh are usually late spring and summer, due to the warm weather and constant festivals and events that take over the city. It’s a very walkable city with lots to see outdoors, so it’s ideal when the sun is out. 

Edinburgh Castle on sunset

Guide to the best time to visit Edinburgh

January

January in Edinburgh is quiet, as the Christmas and New Year celebrations have died down. The days are short and cold (with average high temperatures at 5°C), so be prepared for the chilly, wet winter weather and plan your trip accordingly. Pack a warm, waterproof jacket and lots of layers.

It’s a good time to come to avoid crowds, or if you want to experience Burns Night – a Scottish tradition that marks the passing of poet Robert Burns. This happens on January 25th, and usually involves a special dinner known as Burns Supper (with haggis and whiskey galore!).

Earlier in the month, New Year is celebrated on 1st and 2nd of January, and Hogmanay festivities are celebrated through to January 5th. There’s also an annual polar dip on 1st January, where people will jump in the freezing cold River Forth. 

February

Like January, February is cold and dark. Note that Scotland’s schools have a half-term holiday in the middle of the month, which can bring some crowds. If you’re looking for a Valentine’s getaway, Edinburgh is a great pick though – lots of restaurants offer special menus and it’s a great time to visit the empty museums and local attractions.

If you’re interested in antiques, head to Edinburgh Antiques & Collectors Fair on the last weekend in February. Held at the Royal Highland Centre, this fair has an amazing selection of vintage, antique and retro clothing, jewelry, ceramics and furniture. 

March

March is still quiet, with few events and not many tourists. The weather can be a mixed bag, as Spring slowly starts to arrive and the daffodils start to bloom. Although it’s an Irish holiday, Scots love to celebrate St Patricks Day and you’ll find some events in the city for this. 

The cherry blossom during Covid 19 lockdown.

April

April in Edinburgh is when the weather starts to get nicer. There’s less rain and wind, and crowds aren’t big yet. Plan around the Easter school holiday though, which will be over a long weekend at some point in the Spring. It’s a really nice month to visit if you want to hike Arthur’s Seat, as the gorse bushes start to bloom with bright yellow flowers. Edinburgh Comic Con also takes place over two days in April, which can be lots of fun if you’re into nerd culture. 

May

May is when Spring has fully arrived in the city, with trees and flowers blooming. For the local experience, grab a disposable barbecue from a supermarket and sit underneath the cherry blossoms in The Meadows. The schools are still open so it’s not too busy yet, so it’s a really good time to visit. Attractions will have shorter lines, and the sun will be out.

June

June is the start of tourist season in Edinburgh, and there are a lot of international visitors in the city. The weather is warm and sunny, and it’s also a good time to come if you plan on seeing more of Scotland. Events in Edinburgh in June include the International Science Festival and International Film Festival. 

July

July is the hottest month in Edinburgh, and has the longest days. It’s a lovely time to explore and make the most of the outdoor activities. As the big festivals happen in August, it’s the best month to come if you want the best weather without the crowds. 

August

August is the busiest month in the city, but the best month to visit if you’re interested in art and theatre. This is when the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh International Festival take place – they fully take over the city and draw in crowds from worldwide. The Edinburgh Fringe is a massive art festival that covers theater, dance, cabaret, and comedy whilst the Internation Festival showcases performing arts in the city’s theaters. 

You also the the Edinburgh Art Festival which hosts a few different exhibitions and events across the month. Princes Street Gardens hosts the Edinburgh Summer Sessions in August too, with musical acts taking over the outdoor stage for family friendly concerts. 

September

September, especially the first half, is perhaps the second best time to visit Edinburgh. The weather is still pleasant, and it’s a lot cheaper than the peak of Summer. If you want to experience Edinburgh in good weather, without the events, September is a good shout. Plus, the autumn foliage is beautiful, especially in the Royal Botanic Garden. 

Edinburgh Castle

October

October in Edinburgh starts to get quiet again, and the weather gets colder and wetter. There are a couple of events on though, such as the International Storytelling Festival which holds performances and events around the city, and Halloween, which brings haunted houses, events and themed fun. 

November

November is when Winter hits in Edinburgh, and the days get shorter. It’s the least popular month for tourists, so on the plus side, travel will be a lot cheaper. On November 5th there’s Bonfire Night, which is a popular event in the UK. Big gatherings take place across the city to watch fireworks and light bonfires. 

The Edinburgh neighbourhood Leith also hosts EH6 Festival, where you can go to try craft beer, food, and enjoy music. 

December

December is a busy, festive time across Scotland, and Edinburgh is a great place to go for some holiday cheer. Shops and restaurants will transform for Christmas, and there are plenty of Christmas markets, events, and activities to enjoy. Castle Street Christmas Market is one of the most popular, with a lovely view of Edinburgh Castle. 

Hogmanay is one of the biggest winter festivals, with street parties and other fun activities around. It takes place on New Year’s Eve, and there’ll be live music and fireworks to celebrate. 

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