Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a treasure trove of culture and history, and is the second most popular destination for visitors to the United Kingdom, second only to London. Edinburgh’s climate is considered a temperate, maritime climate, and the city enjoys mild to warm summers and winters that rarely fall below freezing. Scotland is traditionally known as a very rainy country, yet Edinburgh gets noticeably less than other Scottish cities to the west. It is subject to a great deal of wind from the North Atlantic Current, while winter and spring can often experience a cold, coastal fog known as haar.
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Summer in Edinburgh is a magical time to visit this lively Scottish city, and visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of the city in warm weather in the drier part of the year; there is an average of 9 days of precipitation in the summer season.
The average mean temperature during summer in Edinburgh is an overnight low of 11C (52F) climbing to a daytime high of 18.5C (65F).
Visitors to Edinburgh in the summer season are in for a truly spectacular treat. Every summer in Edinburgh offers locals and tourists alike the chance to see the largest arts festival in the world, and it is appropriately called the Edinburgh Festival. It begins in July, and is composed of seven smaller festivals. The Fringe Theatre Festival and the Jazz and Blues Festival are arguably the biggest, but the world’s largest book festival, contemporary art, and opera also have their day in the Scottish sun. There is also the very popular Foodies Festival in August which features world-class chefs, wine tastings, and local food stalls as well. For those who want more sightseeing on their vacation, the city is packed with stunning buildings and historical architecture. One of the most visible and important edifices in the city is Edinburgh Castle. This legendary bastion transports visitors to historical Scotland, even completing the illusion with a daily burst of shellfire from an authentic field gun. A unique festival also held in the summer is called The Speed of Light. For a few weeks in August and September, hundreds of local runners in light suits and even tourists carrying random sources of light travel up and down the majestic Arthur’s Peak, the main hill of Holyrod Park. It creates a dynamic and memorable experience for the thousands of viewers each night. Wrap up your summer travels in Edinburgh with a local scotch in a friendly pub like the famous Blue Blazer or The Caley Sample Room.
Autumn in Edinburgh may be slightly cooler and wetter than summer, but it doesn’t mean that the city shuts down. Visitors should expect chilly to mild temperatures throughout the season, and a slight increase in rain; the city averages about 11 days of precipitation in the autumn, and after October, the cold fog known as the haar is an occasional backdrop for the city.
The average mean temperature during autumn in Edinburgh is an overnight low of 6.5C (44F), climbing to a daytime high of 13C (55F).
The damp chill of autumn can be a perfect setting for a visit to Edinburgh, which has a reputation for being wet and brisk. One of the best sights of autumn comes from the top of Calton Hill, from which you can see both Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, provided the dense haar hasn’t swallowed them on that particular day. One of the rich traditions of Scottish history is storytelling, and autumn in Edinburgh is just about the best time to hear some tales spun by true masters. At the end of October, celebrate the art of storytelling with locals and international masters at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, which is held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and John Knox House, a worthwhile place to visit at any time of the year. If you want to go out amidst the rain and fog, St. Giles Cathedral is especially beautiful this time of year, and the architects that built this city even made the Bank of Scotland in a marvelous design worth scoping out and snatching a picture of. Edinburgh is a World Heritage Site, and one of the outstanding spots that warranted that distinction is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official home of the Kings and Queens of the Scots for more than 800 years. Another stunning example of Scottish architecture is the Old College of the University of Edinburgh, and in fact the entire campus is a wonderful place for a brisk, autumn stroll.
For its’ latitude, Edinburgh does not drop to the normal freezing temperature that one would expect, so even though winter in Edinburgh can be cold, it is not unbearable, and tourists still visit the city during the winter months. The rain still comes down approximately 11 days per month, but it remains rain more than snow in the coldest season.
The average mean temperature of Edinburgh’s winter is an overnight low of 1.4C (35F) and reaches a daytime high of 7C (45F).
The holiday season is a fantastic time to visit Edinburgh if you don’t mind the cold bite of winter. Edinburgh fills up with lights, music, dancing and festivities during the month-long program that leads up to Christmas. If the weather is too cold for your tastes, than warm up your belly at the Distiller’s Fair. Get a rare opportunity to talk to some world-class distillers about their mysterious gifts, and then sample some of Scotland’s finest offerings. Another great indoor activity out of the harsh weather of winter in Edinburgh is an afternoon at the Scottish National Gallery of Art, to enjoy work by UK artists and internationally renowned talents as well. After a warm-up in the galleries, brace yourself for a scenic wander along the Water of Leith Walkway, situated right outside the museum. If you happen to be in Edinburgh for New Years, expect to get caught up in the historic Hogmanay, a city-wide celebration of traditional music, dance, food, and of course, a massive fireworks display. It would seem a shame to travel all the way to Scotland without seeing any sports, so if your travels come later in the season, do your best to catch a rugby match; Edinburgh Rugby matches can get pretty intense at Murrayfield Stadium, so wear the right colors!
When spring returns to Edinburgh, so too do the tourists, and as the weather warms and the rain slows, the city begins to wake up. It isn’t the balmy weather of summer, but spring in Edinburgh can be quite a beautiful thing.
The average mean temperature of Edinburgh’s spring is an overnight low of 4.5C (40F) and a daytime high of 12C (54F). There are approximately 9 days of precipitation per month in the spring season.
As soon as the frost disappears from the fairways, Edinburgh is once again open for golfers. Braid Hills and Duddingston are the two choice courses near the city, but bring your A-game, because they are both quite challenging. After your nine holes, treat yourself to some world-class food at one of Edinburgh’s numerous Michelin star restaurants. Although some people think Scottish food always involves haggis, Edinburgh is a culinary capital in the UK, and between the offerings at Castle Terrace and Kitchin, foodies visiting the city have plenty to smile about. If you do want some more traditional food, stop by Stac Polly or Dubh Prais, for some venison or haggis. Since the weather turns up in spring, the Edinburgh Botanic Garden becomes a destination for many visitors looking for some seasonal greenery. For more of a spooky spring excursion, sign up for one of the City of the Dead Tours, or the Mary King’s Close tours, which take you into the catacombs, winding paths, and even sealed off plague areas of Edinburgh’s more ancient areas. For some traditional Scottish culture, the end of April means that it’s time for the Beltane Fire Festival, the rebirth of an ancient Celtic festival of fertility. The strange and fun procession through the city is a must-see if you are in Edinburgh the last week in April, but watch out for the fire spinners and the wild crowds! Finally, for you literature lovers, page through a few dusty tomes at the PBFA Book Fair, a huge gathering of antique and rare booksellers from around the UK.
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