Edinburgh in Summer: Best Things to Do (2024)

ross fountain in edinburgh

The enchanting atmosphere and historic charm of Edinburgh in summer will steal your heart. Edinburgh in summer feels almost magical – and I’m not just talking about Edinburgh’s influence in the Harry Potter series.

The colorful pubs, majestic castle, and history around every corner is all part of what makes Edinburgh (or Ed-n-bruh as the Scots say) one of the best places to visit in summer. During summer, the exciting  lineup of festivals add a new energy to Edinburgh that you won’t find during any other time of year. 

Simply put, Edinburgh in summer is exquisite. Below are the 25 best things to do and see in Edinburgh in summer. 

Table of Contents

25 Best Things to Do in Edinburgh in Summer 

1. Fringe Festival 

Fringe Festival Performer Edinburgh
Photo Credit: Roberto Ricciuti; Performer: Rugg Tom Cat

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or more commonly known as the Fringe, is the largest celebration of arts and culture in the world!

 The Fringe takes over Edinburgh in summer during the month of August.  In one month, the Fringe draws in over 400,000 visitors and  2,500 artists from around the world!

So, where did the name “Fringe” come from? In 1947, the Fringe Festival began as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival. The Edinburgh International Festival had a more elite audience. A group of performers who were not officially invited to the International Festival decided to perform on the “fringes” of the event – which led to the name “Fringe.” 

Performances at the Fringe range from theater, comedy, dance, music, spoken word, and even circus acts! You never know what you’re going to see next! 

Part of the unique beauty of the Fringe is its open-access policy, which means that any artist can participate as long as they pay a fee and find a venue to host their performance. As a result, this inclusive approach has led to a larger diversity of shows,  from small and experimental performances to larger, more professional productions.

In 2024, the Fringe Festival will be from August 2th – August 26th. More information about tickets, performances, and future dates can be found on the Fringe Festival website.

2. Experience the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Photo Credit: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

There’s no ink involved in this tattoo! The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are military performances held throughout the month of August as part of the Fringe Festival. The Tattoo performances always include military bands, bagpipes, and musicians from around the world

Why the name “Tattoo”? 

The term tattoo originates from the 17th century Dutch phrase “doe den tap toe” meaning “turn off the taps”.  The phrase refers to a signal made by trumpeters and drummers to announce to inn-keepers to stop giving soldiers beers so they can return to the barracks.

The Tattoo is set-up in a large stadium just outside Edinburgh castle. Sound and light shows are projected on the castle walls throughout the performance. The sound of bagpipes along with the castle as your backdrop makes this a must do experience in Edinburgh in summer. 

Popover Tip: On Saturdays, the second Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performance includes a firework show! 

Attending a tattoo is the perfect way to experience Scottish culture and tradition. Performances are throughout the month August, and tickets sell out fast! Book your tickets in advance.   

3. Taste Scottish Cuisine on a Food Tour

Scottish cooking might not top your list of your favorite food, but after a tour with Secret Food Tours in Edinburgh you’ll discover all the culinary gems Edinburgh has to offer! 

The local guides at Secret Food Tours are experts when it comes to finding the hidden gems you won’t find in the guidebooks. Our guide, Skye, was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Edinburgh and the local food scene. We used the restaurant recommendations he gave us throughout our time in Edinburgh. 

The Secret Food Tour Edinburgh includes 5-6 different stops, and we had 10+ different bites and sips. All of the places we visited had a Scottish influence with a focus on local and organic ingredients. 

Your final stop is a lowland single malt whiskey tasting where you’re taught the art of tasting whiskey – don’t leave Edinburgh without a whiskey tasting

The highlight of the tour was the George IV pub where we tried haggis, neeps and tatties. You can’t get more Scottish than haggis, neeps and tatties! I’ll let the guides on your Secret Food Tours share more about this iconic Scottish dish. 

The Secret Food Tour Edinburgh is £69 per person, and you can add the upgraded drink package for £15 per person.

Reserve your spot on the Secret Food Tour Edinburgh!

4. Explore Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens is a beautiful park that lies in the heart of Edinburgh between the Old and New Town right beneath Edinburgh Castle. During summer, Princes Street Gardens is a beautiful spot to see the flowers in full bloom!

Scott Monument 

It’s hard to miss this stunning Victorian Gothic monument dedicated to Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott. The spire is decorated with 64 figures representing characters from the writer’s novels.

Popover Tip: You can climb the 287 steps up the  narrow spiral staircase for panoramic views of the city. 

Ross Fountain 

ross fountain in edinburgh

The centerpiece of Princes Street Gardens is the Ross Fountain. The Ross Fountain is one of my favorite photo spots beneath the northern ramparts of Edinburgh Castle. 

The fountain was gifted to the city by the gunmaker Daniel Ross. Ironically, the city wanted nothing to do with the fountain. In 1872 the city decided to move it to Princes Street Gardens; however, it wasn’t until 2018 when the fountain was fully restored and became a functional fountain again!  

Floral Clock 

From July to October, you must visit the Floral Clock. The immaculately tended floral display has been a tradition in Edinburgh in summer since 1903. It also functions as a working clock with a cuckoo every quarter hour! The design of the floral display changes every year. In 2023, the display was a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Flying Scotsman train.

5. Quirky Cocktail Bars

For a city that runs on whiskey and craft beer, Edinburgh has a wide range of unique and eclectic cocktail bars

Panda & Sons

Panda & Sons is known for their speakeasy – style vibe. Guests enter in what appears to be a vintage barbershop. However, go down the stairs and push through the bookcase to be transported to a 1920’s speakeasy style bar. The six-chapter cocktail menu is separated by mixing techniques and special ingredients. 

In 2023, Panda & Sons was awarded number 6 on the Top 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the UK.

6. Harry Potter Magical Walking Tour 

Wands at the ready! It’s been over 25 years since the final and seventh Harry Potter book was released in 2007, but Pottermania is strong in Edinburgh! Edinburgh is where the author of J.K. Rowling spent the majority of her years when she was writing the Harry Potter series

If you’re a Harry Potter fan like me, then you must visit Edinburgh and take a Harry Potter walking tour. A guided Harry Potter walking tour is the best way to experience these iconic sites, and even the biggest Potterheads (Harry Potter fans) will learn something new! 

You will be amazed at the nods of inspiration Edinburgh played in the Harry Potter series in J.K Rowling’s writing. I love this Harry Potter walking tour in Edinburgh for their knowledgable and passionate guides!

Where are J.K. Rowlings handprints in Edinburgh?

In 2008, J.K. Rowling received the Edinburgh Award for her contributions to Edinburgh and outstanding achievement as an author. All recipients of the award have their handprints displayed in the courtyard of the City Chambers. 

To help narrow your search, I’ve pinned the exact location of her handprints in a map at the end of this guide!

7. Explore the Real Mary King’s Close 

Part history tour and part ghost tour – The Real Mary King’s Close is one of the most unique tours in Edinburgh! Step back in time and discover the secrets that lie beneath the Royal Mile on a tour of Mary King’s Close

Why the name “close”? 

Scottish names for the streets were close, court, entry, and wynd. Closes were private roads with a locked door or gate at the entrance, hence “close” for being closed. During this tour you’ll go underground and explore the narrow alleyways and abandoned houses of Mary King’s Close that date back to the 17th century. 

All tours are led by guides in periodic costumes who share stories about real-life residents of Mary King’s Close.  The tour is just over an hour, and the guides do a fantastic job at staying in character and keeping you engaged. 

Step back in time and reserve your tour of The Real Mary King’s Close

8. Visit St Giles’ Cathedral

St Giles Cathedral

This iconic landmark is located right on the Royal Mile in the heart of the city. Dropping by St. Giles Cathedral is a perfect way to find a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile

St. Giles’ Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture with intricate stonework and beautiful stained glass windows that dates back to the 12th century. 

An interesting Fact about St. Giles Cathedral is that, despite its name, it’s not actually a cathedral! It was only a cathedral for two brief periods during the 17th century. Today, St Giles is a Presbyterian church with services you can attend at 9:30 and 11:00 every Sunday. St. Giles Cathedral is free to enter, but a suggested donation is recommended. 

Two free daily walking tours of St. Giles are available at 10:30am and 2:30pm. Tours last around 45 minutes. More information about the services and tours at St. Giles can be found here. 

9. Taste the Best Ice Cream in Edinburgh 

It’s not a summer holiday without ice cream! There’s no better way to celebrate a summer day in Edinburgh than indulging in Edinburgh’s best ice cream.  

Mary’s Milk Bar has the best ice cream in Edinburgh. Not to mention, they also have the prettiest pink store front. The owner is Italian and trained at the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy. 

Flavors change weekly, but during our visit you could try white chocolate and basil, or goat’s cheese and fig jam! If those flavors are a little too outside your comfort zone you can’t go wrong with their salted caramel! 

Popover Tip: Around the corner of Mary’s Milk Bar are the Vennel Stairs with incredible views of Edinburgh Castle!

10. Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
View of Edinburgh Castle from the Vennel Steps

Edinburgh Castle sits boldly atop the hill of an extinct volcano and dominates the skyline of Edinburgh.

Exploring the Edinburgh Castle is an experience you cannot miss when in Edinburgh!  For many years Edinburgh Castle was the home of Scottish Kings and Queens, then it was turned into a military fortress and later served as a prison. 

 Inside the castle, you can explore historic rooms and see the crown jewels of Scotland. The crown jewels include the Crown, Scepter, and Sword of State – which were all recently used in the coronation of King Charles in July of 2023! 

The panoramic views of the old and new city from the castle ramparts are breathtaking! You’ll love taking this fast-track guided tour of Edinburgh Castle to learn more about its fascinating history! 

How much time do you need for Edinburgh Castle?

Plan to spend around 1.5 – 2 hours at Edinburgh Castle. 

Should I book tickets in advance for Edinburgh Castle?

Edinburgh Castle

I recommend booking this fast-track guided tour that includes your entrance to the Castle and a local guide! When we visited Edinburgh in summer, the castle was sold out every day of our visit! Definitely don’t wait around to book your Edinburgh Castle tickets.

Plan your visit to coincide with the One O’Clock cannon that is fired every day (except Sunday) from Edinburgh Castle!  It’s a tradition that goes way back to the 19th Century whereby maritime captains would set their clocks to navigate the oceans.

11. Tour the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.  For that reason, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is absolutely worth visiting for any royal enthusiast

Holyrood Palace stands at the east end of the Royal Mile with Arthur’s Seat in the backdrop. It’s actually one mile between Edinburgh Castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse

When King Charles visits Scotland, Holyrood Palace becomes his official home. When the Royal Family isn’t visiting you can tour the palace and its beautiful gardens

A few of the must see sights at the Palace of Holyroodhouse are the Royal Dining Room and the massive tapestries which were sent to the Palace by Prince Albert. Also, you can see the two thrones commissioned by King George V in the Throne room that date back to 1911! 

I recommend booking these Holyrood Palace tickets before your trip. This will save you the time waiting in lines, or navigating crowds at the entrance.  

12. Get Lost Inside the National Museum of Scotland 

National Museum of Scotland

The most popular museum in Scotland perfectly blends the old and new. The National Museum of Scotland features several exhibitions on natural and ancient history, ancient civilizations, and the history of Scotland.  

They have a wide assortment of kid friendly activities for the whole family!  My favorite part of the National Museum of Scotland is their stunning open air Grand Gallery that looks over all three floors. 

Some of the famous exhibits include Dolly the Sheep (the first cloned mammal), the millennium clock and the Lewis chessmen. I recommend spending at least an hour or two here. 

Best of all, the National Museum of Scotland is free to enter!  

Popover Tip: You can visit the rooftop of the museum for stunning views of the Edinburgh Castle. If you can’t find the entrance, ask anyone who works at the museum to show you.

13. Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral 

Palm Court at The Balmoral

Edinburgh isn’t lacking beautiful places to enjoy afternoon tea. However, for the ultimate luxury afternoon tea look no further than the Palm Court at The Balmoral, a luxury five-star hotel which opened more than 100 years ago.

The setting of Palm Court is stunning. Large crystal chandeliers sparkle from the ceiling and beautiful tall palm trees frame the room perfectly. Pink cherry blossom trees in the center of the room perfectly twinkle under the light. 

A harp plays in the background that adds that extra touch of elegance in the air. 

Choose between over 80 (yes, 80!) different loose-leaf teas from around the world. Your first tea selection is poured table side in a one-of-a-kind presentation. During your afternoon tea experience, you can change your tea preferences, or choose to order a pot of coffee or hot chocolate.

 All tables are limited to two hours which is more than enough time to enjoy your experience and sample a few different teas. 

You’re welcomed with an amuse bouche (a one bite appetizer) from the chef to cleanse the palette. Next, a tiered tray with fresh, scones, pastries, and savory dainty sandwiches arrives. Finally, the last course includes a selection of seasonal cakes that will be the highlight of anyone with a sweet tooth. 

How Much does Afternoon Tea at the Palm Court Cost? 

A classic afternoon tea at the Palm Court costs £60 per person – this afternoon tea is worth every last penny.

As a farewell gift, you also receive a complimentary tea tin with their own Balmoral blend loose leaf tea blend for you to recreate the memories at home! 

Reserve your table for afternoon tea at the Balmoral Palm Court.

14. Spend a Night in the J.K. Rowling Suite 

J.K. Rowling Balmoral Suite

J.K. Rowling spent much of her time writing the Harry Potter series in Edinburgh. When she was completing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2006, she checked into the Balmoral Hotel in August 2006 as a quiet retreat to write. A few months went by, and she didn’t check out until the final book was completed on January 11th 2007. 

When she finished the book, she wrote on a marble bust “J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room”. The room at The Balmoral Hotel has been renamed the ‘J.K. Rowling Suite’, and the marble bust she wrote on is now on display in the suite. 

This is the ultimate bucket list experience for Potterheads in Edinburgh! 

The J.K. Rowling Suite is now decorated with subtle Harry Potter references throughout the suite. A few of my favorite magical touches are the owl knocker on the bright purple door and the statue of a stag. 

How much is the J.K. Rowling Suite? 

A night in the J.K. Rowling suite at The Balmoral Hotel typically costs around £1,779 per night. If you’re looking to visit Edinburgh in summer, the J.K. Rowling Suite gets booked up far in advance. 

Want to visit the J.K. Rowling Suite without the £1,779 per night price tag? This is the best secret we learn in Edinburgh on our Harry Potter Walking Tour! You can stop by the Balmoral Hotel and ask the check-in desk if the J.K. Rowling Suite is unoccupied and available for a room tour. 

The hotel staff at The Balmoral was so friendly and happily escorted us to the J.K. Rowling Suite following our afternoon tea at The Balmoral. We had around 5-10 minutes to look around the suite and take photos. 

15. Visit the World’s Most Haunted Cemetery  

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Edinburgh is known for being one of the most haunted cities in the WORLD. If you’re a fan of all things spooky, you’ll love Edinburgh. 

Even if spooky isn’t your style, Greyfriars Kirkyard is still a must visit to see this  historic cemetery located in the heart of Edinburgh. It’s not often a cemetery pops up on the list of “must visit ” spots in a city, but Greyfriars Kirkyard has a rich history and is a significant place in Scottish culture and literature

Greyfriars Kirkyard

The most famous grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard is actually not that of a person, but of a small Skye Terrier dog. His name was Greyfriars Bobby, and dog lovers will appreciate the story of Bobby the Skye Terrier! 

What’s the Story of Greyfriars Bobby?

Bobby was the best friend of his owner John Gray. John worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a nightwatchman. Bobby remained loyal at his side for years and always joined him on his watch. After John Gray passed away from Tuberculosis, Bobby continued to guard the grave of his owner. 

Bobby eventually became a landmark in the city, and he was even awarded a new collar by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.

When Bobby died, he was buried just a few yards away from his master. 

But the story doesn’t end there…

To this day, visitors have claimed they’ve heard Bobby’s bark echoing throughout the graveyard. Some people have even reported seeing Bobby standing guard over the grave of his deceased master. 

Where are the Harry Potter graves in Greyfriars?

Potterheads (Harry Potter fans) will recognize Greyfriars Kirkyard as the home to the tombstones with names of some characters in the Harry Potter series

I’ll let you take the Harry Potter Walking Tour to discover the exact locations and names of characters on these tombstones. However, a location hint I’ll give is that most of the Harry Potter gravestones are found behind Flodden Wall – which is on the far side of the graveyard as you enter the cemetery.

16. Dinner at Baba Restaurant

Located in the STUNNING, Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel is Baba Restaurant. Throw out the door any preconceived thoughts of what you think a hotel restaurant might be – and get ready to be blown away by my favorite restaurant for dinner in Edinburgh

Restaurant Baba is where mediterranean and middle eastern flavors blend to create unbelievable Levantine-inspired dishes

You walk into Baba and the first details that catch your eye are the bright turquoise walls, golden curtains, and plush velvet seating. The decor is chic and the music is at the perfect level. 

Baba regulars will tell you that sharing dishes is a must to have the full experience. I couldn’t agree more. 

What to Eat at Baba 

Start with the hummus topped with charred peas, lemon and mint. The grilled garlic chicken wings were packed with flavor. With confidence I can say these were the best chicken wings I’ve ever tasted!

The marinated chicken and slow cooked lamb melted will melt your mouth! Save room for their cauliflower shawarma and blackened sweet potato side dishes. 

The menu at Baba Restaurant is constantly changing, and there’s always a new dish to try! 

What to Sip at Baba 

Nothing says Edinburgh in summer better than a rhubarb sour or prosesco fizz cocktail. These cocktails were so refreshing after a full day of sightseeing! 

Add Baba Restaurant to your Edinburgh itinerary and book a table here.

17. Have a Farm to Table Brunch at Edinburgh Larder 

Just off the Royal Mile is the best cafe in Edinburgh for brunch. The team at Edinburgh Larder sources everything from their coffee beans to their meat and fish from the top producers in Scotland. 

Edinburgh Larder has an incredible brunch menu with the freshest, most organic and sustainable produce

Best of all Edinburgh Larder does accept reservations! Their café is small. Therefore, reservations fill up fast. However, next door they have a small sister café with the same menu exclusively for walk-in guests. 

What to Eat at Edinburgh Larder

This is the best café in Edinburgh to experience a full Scottish breakfast.  A Scottish breakfast varies at every restaurant. However the basic ingredients to a traditional Scottish breakfast include link sausages, fried egg, bacon, baked beans, black pudding,  haggis, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, and toast.

What to Sip at Edinburgh Larder 

Their fantastic coffee is made using locally roasted beans. If tea is more your style, their teas are blended by Edinburgh based company Eteaket.

18. Custom Design a Islander Harris Tweed Handbag

Summer in Edinburgh
Photo Credit: Islander Harris Tweed®

Create your very own Islander Harris Tweed® Handbag at this unique workshop!

These iconic wool blend handwoven bags can only be produced with fabric made in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Harris Tweed fabric has a distinct color pattern and beauty. 

At this unique workshop, you can custom design your own Harris Tweed handbag by selecting the body color of the bag, your favorite Harris Tweed® cloth lid and decorative straps. 

The workshop is only 60 minutes!  You can book your time slot to create your own  Islander Harris Tweed® bag on their website here.

19. Visit Dean Village at Sunset 

Deans Village Edinburgh

Edinburgh in summer is perfect for late night strolls. Don’t leave Edinburgh without visiting the charming and picturesque Dean Village

Dean Village is known for its well-preserved Georgian and Victorian homes. The picturesque cottages create a charming and unique atmosphere, especially at sunset. Dean Village is located just northwest of the city center, along the Water of Leith, a river that runs through the city. 

From the Kimpton Charlotte Square, it was only a short 10-minute walk! Dean Village has several walking and cycling trails around the neighborhood.

20. Climb to the Top of Canton Hill

Canton Hill Edinburgh

Climb to the top of Canton Hill for the most stunning views of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh. Standing at the top of Canton Hill lets you appreciate the architecture and beauty between the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. 

At the top of Canton Hill you can clearly see the Royal Mile beginning at Holyrood Palace climbing all the way up to Edinburgh Castle.  I love the view of the historic buildings, clock towers, the spires of churches peeping out in the distance. 

During summer in Edinburgh, Canton Hill is also a popular spot for a picnic or to watch the sunset. 

21. Wander through Victoria Street 

Victoria Street

A curved wave of cobblestone streets and vibrant buildings – Victoria Street is one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful streets. 

Victoria Street is referred to as the original Diagon Alley (yes, another Harry Potter reference). With independent bookstores, art galleries, boutiques it’s no surprise J.K. Rowling was inspired by Victoria Street when she created Diagon Alley’s. 

There’s even a store on Victoria Street that was originally a joke shop that resembles Zonko’s Joke Shop in the Harry Potter series. The store now sells Scottish Tweed, but the quirky facade is still the same!

22. Get Spooked on a Ghost Tour 

With its tragic and gruesome history, it’s no surprise Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the world. 

The secret to finding the best ghost tour in Edinburgh is to look for one that explores underground! On this Underground Walking Tour, you’ll explore passageways and the hidden underground vault below the street level.

On this tour you’ll be led by an entertaining guide to hear why the vaults were built, and why they were eventually abandoned…

I love this Underground Walking Tour of Edinburgh because they make sure to take you to the hidden underground vaults.

23. Visit the School of Divinity 

School of Divinity Edinburgh

The School of Divinity at New College, is part of the University of Edinburgh, and is my favorite photo location in Edinburgh

The school was built in the 19th century, and it is still used today. You can find the exact location in the Edinburgh map I linked below at the end of this guide. 

The entrance gates to this quad are typically closed on weekends. However, we were able to enter on Monday without any trouble!

24. Have the Best Coffee in Edinburgh

The Milkman Coffee Edinburgh

The Milkman is everything you want from a coffee shop – a cozy vibe, fabulous coffee, and reasonable prices. 

This charming independent coffee shop is just off the Royal Mile – the perfect location for when you need an afternoon pick me up. 

What to Sip at The Milkman 

The flat white at the Milkman was not only delicious, but reasonably priced for the quality.

25. Learn about Edinburgh’s Beloved Writers 

Edinburgh is the birthplace and home to some of the most world-famous writers, poets and playwrights. A few of these writers include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Walter Scott (Waverley), and of course our favorite J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)

The Writer’s Museum is a free museum devoted to the lives of three of Scotland’s leading literary figures. You can visit the museum in around 20 minutes. If you enjoy Scottish literary history, the Writer’s Museum is a hidden gem you must visit.

26. Get Lost in a Charming Bookshop 

Did you know that there’s such a thing as a UNESCO City of Literature? Better yet – Edinburgh was the first city in the world to be a UNESCO City of Literature. 

Armchair Books is the quintessential cozy bookshop that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Books are stacked floor-to- ceiling and the smell of old books hits you right as you step through the doors. 

If you appreciate a quaint second-hand independent bookstore you’ll love Armchair Books

Popover Tip: If you’re a bookworm, you need to plan your visit around the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place the second half of August for two weeks. It’s one of the most famous festivals in Edinburgh in summer.

Stay at the Perfect Hotel in Edinburgh 

Kimpton Charlotte Square

One step inside the Kimpton Charlotte Square, and you’ll see why this is the best hotel in Edinburgh

We loved the Kimpton Charlotte Square for its stunning design and fabulous location in New Town Edinburgh. The location is perfect. In a short walk you’re minutes from all the major landmarks in Edinburgh.

Unique to the Kimpton Hotels, are their individual properties designed to reflect the culture and characteristic of that city. Therefore, no two Kimpton Hotels are alike. The Kimpton Charlotte Square is made up of seven classic Georgian townhouses in New Town Edinburgh. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time with historic charm complete with all the convenience of modern luxury amenities. 

Don’t worry about a stuffy atmosphere. Kimpton Charlotte Square is anything, but pretentious. It’s warm, welcoming, and a design that’s a little eclectic (dog self portraits anyone?) that will make you smile. 

Rooms at the Kimpton Charlotte Square

Kimpton Charlotte Square

All the 199 Kimpton rooms are designed in a way that makes you feel like you’re staying in a stylish home, rather than a stiff large corporate hotel.

You’ll love the quirky sketches of local wildlife drawings that hang framed above the beds. The candy apple red retro cord phone adds a fun vintage flair. All rooms come with a selection of teas and a treat box filled with local snacks. 

The bathrooms at Kimpton Charlotte Square have beautiful tubs – perfect for a relaxing soak. All the bath and body care toiletries are from Rainbow Bar by 19-69 that carry a warm, woody, boozy, aromatic scent. After all, when you’re staying in luxury, you might as well smell like luxury! 

Amenities at The Kimpton Charlotte Square

Kimpton Charlotte Square

Kimpton Charlotte Square has thought of everything to make your stay exceptional. 

My favorite perk of staying at Kimpton Hotels is their “Forgot It? We Got It!” service. If suddenly your hair spray runs out, or if you forgot to pack your toothpaste, the team is happy to assist with replenishing any of these items for you without a charge. It’s this level of service and care that makes staying at a Kimpton Hotel truly exceptional. 

A well-equipped fitness center is waiting for you in the morning complete with  Peloton®  bikes. During select days of the week, they hold group fitness classes. 

Take a spin on one of Kimpton Charlotte Square complimentary bikes. Edinburgh has a large network of cycle paths. However, skip the busy traffic cycling around the city center. Instead, take a short bike ride to Dean Village during sunset. 

Best of all is their nightly evening social hour in BABA bar from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Enjoy complimentary beer and wine at their social hour before you head to dinner. 

Don’t miss the shareable mezzes and charcoal-grilled entrées at their onsite, Baba Restaurant. The Middle Eastern–inspired menu at BABA was one of our favorite dinners of our trip. 

A Dog’s Dream 

Kimpton Charlotte Square

Pet lovers rejoice! Kimpton Hotels have the best pet friendly policies of any hotel. Pets stay for free and are provided with a bed, food, bowls and mats – all free of charge. 

Pool and Spa at the Kimpton Charlotte Square 

After a day of sightseeing, nothing sounds better than taking a dip in their gorgeous mood-lit pool. After your swim you relax in the sauna or steam room. Best of all, the Kimpton Charlotte Square has a full spa available  where treatments incorporate natural, organic ingredients and products from luxurious skincare lines. Remember to book in advance for any treatments. 

Breakfast at the Kimpton Charlotte Square 

Is there anything better than room service on vacation? The Kimpton Charlotte Squares offers a full menu of savory or sweet breakfast dishes delivered to your room. I loved traditional Scottish breakfast! Guests can also enjoy a full breakfast buffet downstairs.

Getting Around Edinburgh 

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Edinburgh is surprisingly a compact city! It’s easy to navigate your way around Edinburgh in summer despite it being one of the cities busiest times of the year!

Is Edinburgh a walkable city?

Edinburgh is a very walkable city, and all of the best things to do in Edinburgh I listed in this guide are close together.  Plan on wearing comfortable shoes because you’ll inevitably climb up a hill or two. Edinburgh’s weather can change in a moment’s notice! You’ll appreciate (and likely use) your umbrella or raincoat.

How do I get from the airport to Edinburgh city center?

Getting from the airport to the city center couldn’t be easier. I loved our experience taking the Airlink Shuttle 100 Express Bus

The Airlink 100 Express Bus picks up right outside the Edinburgh Airport arrivals exit and drops you off at several major drop off locations in Edinburgh city center. You’ll get to Edinburgh in about the same time as a cab, but for a fraction of the cost. Tickets can be purchased on board from the bus driver. The bus runs 24 hours a day. 

How many days do you need for Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a small city, and you can see and experience the best things to do in Edinburgh in three days. With the extra festivals and activities Edinburgh has during summer, you should plan to spend at least three full days in Edinburgh. 

What is the best time of year to see Edinburgh?

The best time to visit Edinburgh is during summer from June – August. The days are longer, there’s less rain (hopefully), and Edinburgh has a full line-up of festivals to explore! 

What to wear in Edinburgh in Summer? 

The temperatures in Edinburgh range between 52°F (11°C) and average highs are 66°F (19°C). You won’t likely experience extreme temperatures. I recommend packing a rain jacket for the occasional bit of rain you’ll experience (rain is almost unavoidable in Scotland). Edinburgh can be on the windy side. Therefore, rain jacket will be more user friendly than an umbrella. Plan on wearing comfortable shoes for walking! 

What are the driest months in Scotland?

Scotland is well known for its rain. April and May tend to be the driest months, although don’t be surprised if you get a heavy ‘Spring shower’ during your trip.

Things to do in Edinburgh – A Map! 

To help you navigate Edinburgh, I created a map saved with all the best things to do, what to see, where to eat, and where to stay in Edinburgh in summer. 

You can use this map during your trip – you only need internet access. If you do not have cellular data, I recommend downloading an offline Google map to access when you don’t have WiFi.

Final Thoughts: Best Things to Do in Edinburgh in Summer

There’s so much going on in Edinburgh during summer! Between fireworks, festivals, and concerts, summer is without a doubt the best time to visit Edinburgh.  Start planning your trip to Edinburgh, Scotland and add these 25 best things to do to your Edinburgh bucket list.


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  1. I loved Edinburg the first time I visited, but didn’t spend enough time there. You just got me super excited to go back soon, time to start planning a little trip!

  2. I adore Edinburgh, it’s just so cute. When I visited in summer, it was pretty cold for my taste so I had three layers on, but I saw people happily strolling around in t-shirts 😆

  3. My home town! I am always interested to know what visitors make of it. A very comprehensive article. I might add in Arthur’s Seat for the views, but Calton Hill is almost as good! I love Edinburgh and lived there for over 30 years. My daughter is still there so visit often.

  4. I’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh! I’ll be saving this in-depth guide on the top things to do in Edinburgh for a future visit. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I literally lol-ed at the military tattoo! Would love to witness that..and explore the museums… Scotland has such rich history..saving your list for a future visit.

  6. Some great unique spots here! Edinburgh is such a special place, maybe even more magical in the winter.

    Arthurs’s Seat was a trip highlight for me, which might be good to add on 🙂

    Thanks for the guide though. Defo found some new spots for my next visit.

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