Visiting Edinburgh in Summer?
Warning: Scotland’s weather is super unpredictable!
Must have for the trip: An umbrella/poncho raincoat, smartphone (you won’t need a fancy camera if you have a good smartphone), selfie stick for solo travellers (else you can buy a cheap one in stores like Primark), a good pair of walking shoes.
An exciting list of places you can go to:
The wee bit sun that comes out in months starting from April to October is awesome. Apart from the fact that you start feeling the presence of people actually living here, you also get to wear all those colourful summer clothes! Just make sure you do a weather check before leaving your shelters. Nonetheless, always carry an umbrella/poncho/raincoat in your bags.
Most common outdoor things people would do in the city on sunny days are:
- Catch up with friends/family for BBQ in the parks (Meadows, Inverleith Park etc.)
- Go hiking on the hills or have a family day out to some indoor place where kids/dogs are also allowed.
In this post, whatever you wanna do is all outdoors so you can soak some sun too. Here we go:
Hike to the Hills
View from the top of Arthur’s Seat
“A hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design”- Robert Louis Stevenson
An extinct volcano considered to be the city’s main peak among the group of hills. It forms most of the Holyrood Park and is an excellent place to visit at time of sunset or sunrise.
I can never forget my first visit here after moving to Edinburgh for university in 2015. One evening I ended up eating the entire bucket of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge icecream and wondered the entire night why I couldn’t sleep XD – never do that – so, around 4:30 am when the day lit as if it were India time 11 am, I decided to go for a jog. I missed the sunrise however, the view at the top with sun’s heat on my back and a simultaneous soothing morning breeze were amazing!
So, if you’re spontaneous or planning to go on such solo ventures, I’d recommend having a music playlist on your Spotify or vintage mp3s ready. On that note, if you’re a Spotify user, I’ve made one of my playlists public and it’s called ‘Diverse Songs by mkd974’. Feel free to check it out! It’s a mix of Hindi, English, Spanish (J Balvin) and Punjabi songs and is regularly updated.
You can either drive up to the top or walk. I’d suggest wearing comfortable trainers in any case. The best routes are described by Gordon Lang in his blog.
More on the history of Arthur’s Seat can be found here.
Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill
One day I ventured on the streets south of Marchmont road just because I had never been to that side. I just let the twists and turns of the roads lead me wherever and finally reached a dead end that happened to be the entrance to Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill.
Sunrise View from the top of Hermitage of Braid and Blackford hill
On my way to the top, I came across wild rabbits that scurried away into the bushes at my sight, all sorts of flora, especially the Thistle blooms. After reaching the top I was sort of breathless because of all the uphill jog but the view was highly rewarding.
You can see the entire Edinburgh city with its architectural highlights outlining the canvas like sky all the way from Arthur’s seat to Calton Hill to the Edinburgh Castle to the Scott Monument. The best view is the outline of Arthur’s seat appearing to be merging with the North Sea. From where I sat on a bench, the sun appeared out at that conjunction and to me it literally seemed to be an animated scene from a movie or an image from my school geography books coming to life.
City View from the top of Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill
Walking around at the top of the hill you’ll also come across a metallic compass engrave that helped me to know for the first time about which part of the city I was standing in- the South. Behind me I watched cars transporting to some part of the highlands perhaps.
Metallic Compass Engrave
The view at the top of this hill was enigmatic, exhilarating with the sun coming on one edge, the clouds covering the hills/mountains on another and the city life on another.
This blog will give you another perspective and more insight to what other explorations are around this hill and it is a must read!
I’ve still got to visit this one and shall update this section once I do. But from what I’ve heard, it’s the best place to go cycling.
Now, if you are not keen on trekking or driving uphill then here are some other outdoor activities:
Easy to reach. Walk at the end of Princess Street, climb up some stairs and within 5 minutes you reach the Calton Hill!
Along with the marvellous city view you can also see the National Monument, the Nelson Tower and the city observatory all of them just a few metres apart from each other.
The National Monument
The Nelson Tower
It’s mostly a goto place for photographers to take golden hour pictures of the city or for friends after night outs to indulge in the delights of sunrise 😉
More on it’s history.
Wander the Gardens/Parks
Princess Street gardens
Ross Fountain has become another delightful tourist place since its restoration in 2018. The bright blue and golden architecture with the Edinburgh Castle in the background makes a scenic photograph in all weathers!
Inoperative Ross Fountain in 2016
Ross Fountain in 2019 after its restoration in 2018
The sunny days scenes are somewhat busy. People come out in the gardens to enjoy some coffee or ice creams while basking in the sun. The cute dogs are running around and greeting alomst every stranger, especially the children.
A large public park with beautiful pathways decorated with cherry blossom trees during Spring. The best place to meet people for BBQs and other fun activities. You can mostly see at least two cricket teams in a vigorous competition. I once witnessed a man playing drums in his boxers in the middle of the park! Can’t blame him, that day was actually declared to be the hottest in UK’s history and the summer was named the ‘Indian Summer’ by the BBC.
A courteous heads up to all Asians visiting during the summer and finding themselves walking through the Meadows on a bright sunny day. There’s a lot of friendly local & international folks around in the city whom you’d witness (men) playing football in their shorts or (ladies) reading a book or sunbathing in their super cool crops. So, don’t get scandalised the culture here is open and sunbathing or hanging out with various sorts of friends outside in public parks is pretty pretty prettttty normal here. 🙂
Funny story: In the year 2003 in India, when my Dad told some people that one of my sisters was going to London, some claimed to have heard stories of people getting drunk and having sex on streets. Incase someone still sells that sort of stories I’d like you to know for FACT that in last four years of my stay here I’ve NEVER witnessed that. You might witness people kiss but no one gets naked or have sex in streets, they’ve mostly got homes for that. Thankfully my Dad just ignored such rumours and my sister in her last 16 years also did not witness any such thing any where she’s ever been to in the UK. 🙂
Anyway, there’s plenty things to do other than hanging out or having BBQs with friends/family in the Meadows. If you’d like to play tennis there’s a tennis court (book here) and if you got children there’s also a children’s play ground at one corner.
Want to stop for a coffee? Söderberg coffee shop at almost 500 yards in Quartermile! They also sell ice cream in another shop that’s behind the coffee shop. It’s pretty huge block so don’t be shy to explore.
Meadows during Spring
Meadows on a Sunny weekend of Meadows Festival, 2019
Bruntsfield golf gardens
Golf lover? Got a 1-5 year old kid? Brunstfield has a nice golf course and a small children’s play area where you can take your little ones for some slides, swings and screams. It’s on the road parallel to the Meadows so should be significantly easy to find.
Evening vew of the Bruntsfield Golf Course
Another awesome park near to the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s bigger than the Meadows I believe as it’s got a 3 football, 4 rugby and 6 seven-a-side pitches, a cricket square, and a children’s play area. Apparently, it also accommodates allotments for gardeners.
My favourite place is the large pond with a landscaped “marsh” area, a secluded Sundial Garden (the sundial dated 1890). There’s also an arts access centre “Four Winds” that I yet have to visit.
It the best place for a quiet long walk and/or walking the kids or dogs to make them tired enough to go straight to bed after returning home.
Royal Botanical Gardens
A home to global flora species. This place can’t be described fully in words. I visited here twice, once with some fellow students in Spring and once with family and friends in the Summer. Both times it was surreal, and nature displayed its very different sides and various colours.
Pre-sessional students from Heriot-Watt visiting Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh
It took us an entire day to go around the place. There’s a grand Victorian tropical greenhouse, various micro-climate greenhouses, the heather rockery, the queen mother’s lavish garden, and the rambling Chinese garden. It’s the best place to be in if you’re a botanist or just curious to learn about trees, ferns, plants, and other flora from around the world! As a student you can just go sit in the park or perhaps as a painter feel free to take your canvas and palettes! Oh! And if you’re a photographer keep your devices charged and (phone photographers like me) don’t forget your fully charged power banks!
Little girl being helped by her carer to feed the squirrels
Ponds and flora of Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh
At last you can rest up at the cafe that has a perfect view of Edinburgh Castle or buy some souvenirs at the gift shop.
Cafe and outdoor seating to chill and relax
You only have to pay when visiting the greenhouse, and private parties such as for fireworks display at Hogmanay and the Edinburgh Festival.
Here are more details of the place or if you want to check out the next events.
This is the next place on my list so I shall update this section later.
But the general details to visit can be found here.
Now for something way more exciting…..
Edinburgh International Fringe Festival
Visiting in August is altogether a different experience because you lucky travellers get to see Edinburgh’s International Fringe Festival! It’s not a hype, it’s not mystery but it’s very big, different and unique each year and it just keeps getting better. This year it’s running between 2nd – 26th August, check out the free & paid shows etc.
My first fringe was in 2017 because I was also performing in a romantic comedy play called ‘The Amazing Clinic of Armour and Smith’. It was my first time doing theatre with no prior experience whatsoever. I shall be writing a full flegded blog on this experience in a few days time. So, right now I’ll focus on Fringe activities. There are theatre plays, stand up comedy, musicals, street performers, vintage stalls, face painters for kids, a lot of people on streets, no space to walk in Princess Street and so much more! Shout out to Sir Ian McKellen who’s going to be here this year (Alas! I lost my chance to book his show though! 😦 Better luck next time.)
And that’s it for this blog post. Thank you for staying tuned until the end! The next blog will be on places to visit in Edinburgh on gloomy rainy days.
[All the photographs are my own content and if you’d like to check out more of my work with iPhone photography then go on my Instagram page @mamtasofat and maybe give a follow 😉
(Bringing back my style of recomending one song 😉 )
Listen to: Awake by Freedom Fry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flV357yvbK4 ]