5 things to do in Edinburgh this autumn

Last updated: Friday, 4 August 2023

With autumn well and truly underway, it’s time to start embracing all the wonderful things that the season brings with it.

Edinburgh Castle at sunset

Cosy nights in, chunky jumpers, pumpkin spiced lattes, clear crisp skies and hazy sunshine. Well, we can keep our fingers crossed for the last two.

This autumn, if you live in Glasgow, why not switch your city for a day out, or night away in Edinburgh?

Scotland’s capital is filled to the brim with fantastic things to do on a day out. One of the best ways to enjoy the city’s architecture and atmosphere is to simply take a wander. Divided in two, the Old Town and New Town both have distinct characters and plenty of places to explore.

Here’s our top five things to do in Edinburgh in the autumn:

Take in the history

Take some time to delve into Scotland’s history at the National Museum of Scotland . Taking you on a journey through time and covering nature, art, design and science to name a few, there’s something to grab everyone’s interest. On a sunny autumn day, head up to the outdoor viewing terrace for great views over to the castle and the rest of the city.

Enjoy a hot drink

Autumn and cosy drinks go hand in hand, but let’s throw one into the mix that still manages to sneak a bit of summer along with it – a hot chocolate float at Mary’s Milk Bar. There are nearly 30 different flavour combinations to choose from when creating your dream hot chocolate and it’s pure, delicious indulgence on an autumn day. Sip it in the window of the cosy shop while enjoying a view of Edinburgh Castle. The gelato flavours change every day so if you’re in Edinburgh for a weekend, it’s the perfect excuse to visit more than once.

Experience the views

One of the great things about Edinburgh is that there are lots of great view points within easy walking distance of the station. One of our favourites is Calton Hill because it’s only a small bit of exertion for great rewards. The views are stunning, particularly in autumn when the colours all over the city are mesmerising. You can see all over the city, down to the Forth and across to Fife. There are lots of benches dotted around so take a seat and soak it all in.

Walk the walk

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are beautiful at any time of year, but there’s something so special when the colours start changing and you can wander around all cosied up in a hat and scarf. It only takes 25 minutes to walk there from Waverley train station or a ten-minute bus ride. The walk itself is lovely and takes you through Canonmills which has lots of lovely cafes including Cuckoo’s Bakery (best cupcakes in the city) and the Blue Bear Café (great brunch). Inside the Botanics, you can wander through 70 acres of landscaped gardens and discover 350 years of history.

See the attractions

Walk around the Old Town and discover the city’s oldest buildings. A must do in Edinburgh is to at least see the castle, even if you don’t fancy going inside. The façade of the castle is really impressive and the Esplanade offers fantastic views over the city. From the castle, wander down the Royal Mile. There are some great attractions down here including Camera Obscura and the Scotch Whisky Experience.

Some buildings to look out for as you wander down include St Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament and finishing up at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Once you reach the bottom of the Royal Mile you’re at the entrance to Holyrood Park, where if you’re feeling extra energetic, you can head up Arthur’s Seat for the best view in the city.

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Image credit: Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam