9 reasons to visit Edinburgh before the year ends

Edinburgh is known for its phenomenal festival and events scene in summer, but the capital is a place you can explore all year round. With an impressive history, top class dining experiences, vibrant nightlife and an eclectic arts scene, there’s plenty to discover in Edinburgh before the year ends.

1. Geek out at museums

Light streams into the Grand Gallery inside The National Museum of Scotland. Wrought iron railings and ironwork.

A favourite attraction in the capital, the National Museum of Scotland is filled to the brim with more than 20,000 artifacts. Learn all about Scotland's history, from the Stone Age to the present day, as you walk through its Scottish galleries.  

Housed inside one of the city’s most iconic structures, you’ll find the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Come face-to-face with depictions of notable figures from Scotland's illustrious history including Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

If you're more of a fan of modern art, check out The Fruitmarket Gallery, for work by contemporary Scottish and international artists. The gallery is free to enter and its MILK cafe is also worth a visit, as it sells a delightful array of seasonal produce to keep you warm when the weather turns cooler!

National Museum of Scotland

2. Celebrate the art of storytelling

Get ready for a wave of enchanting performances, workshops, talks, and events as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October. Join in with community gatherings to share tales, anecdotes, music, songs, and ballads that the whole family can enjoy.

If the festival isn’t enough, make sure you head to the Writers’ Museum to delve into the life and works of three Scottish literary legends – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Enjoy the wide range of stories and personal objects that tell the tales of the writers’ lives and the inspiration behind their creations.

Writers' Museum

3. Stock up on seasonal produce

Scotland is well-known for its fresh local and seasonal produce and you’ll be spoilt for choice with markets and food stalls across the city. Make sure to check out the farmers’ market held every Saturday at Castle Terrace, at the foot of Edinburgh Castle. You’ll be able to find plenty of autumnal goods, including hand-reared beef, lamb and poultry, fruit, organic produce, pies, cheese, coffee and soap. If the farmers' market leaves you wanting more, take a trip to Stockbridge Market on Sunday, for more delicious offerings and craft stalls.

Farmers' market

4. Admire the autumn colours

A day out in Edinburgh. View from a hilltop over Princes Street gardens towards Castle Rock.

The autumn months bring stunning colours and scenery to the city, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere everywhere you go. Luckily, Edinburgh has its fair share of gardens and parks to admire nature in all its glory. Lined with trees, bushes, and shrubbery that completely transform at this time of year,  Princes Street Gardens, The Meadows or Inverleith Park are all magical sights to see.


The Meadows

5. Have a warming dram (or two)

Woman standing inside The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, Scotland. 3,384 whisky bottles stored in one large display.

Take a tour through the swirling and bubbling processes of whisky production at The Scotch Whisky Experience, learning the secrets, tips, and tricks of the trade as you go. Choose from a wide selection of tours and masterclasses on offer and enjoy a dram or two of some of Scotland’s finest whiskies. Stop off at the shop before you leave and take home a bottle of your favourite. 

The Scottish Whisky Experience

6. Or maybe a glass of gin?

Tasting caves inside Edinburgh Gin, colourfully lit, bottles and glasses on table, bench seating

If gin is more up your street, head to Summerhall Distillery for guided tours on handcrafted gin production. Or take a tour of Edinburgh Gin Distillery in the West End and discover more about the city’s gin heritage. Celebrate your newly acquired knowledge with a quirky cocktail at one of Edinburgh’s many gin bars.

Edinburgh Gin Distillery

7. Party like it's 1999 (or 2019)

Edinburgh Hogmanay

Christmas is a magical time in Edinburgh with endless events to keep you full of festive cheer. Pick up last minute gifts at the traditional Christmas market in the heart of the city or go for a spin on the ice at Princes Street Gardens ice rink. The city lives up to its reputation of knowing how to party at Hogmanay, with three days of concerts, processions and a cracking fireworks finale. The atmosphere at this time of year is electric. Don’t miss it!

Princes Street Gardens

8. Count the green men

Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin, Midlothian

A few miles outside Edinburgh is the medieval Rosslyn Chapel, with ornate stonework and mysterious carvings including ‘green men’ - faces with leaves sprouting from their mouths. A striking sight year round, see if you can count them all (there are around 100), keeping an eye out for the other carvings linked to the chapel’s mystical past.

Rosslyn Chapel

9. Cross the Firth of Forth

The Forth Bridge across the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.

Straddled across the Firth of Forth are three of Scotland’s iconic bridges, the Forth Bridge, the Forth Road Bridge, and the Queensferry Crossing. The bridges, connecting Edinburgh to Fife, are an impressive sight. Enjoy a sunlit winter wander across the Forth Road Bridge and marvel at the spectacular views around you. If you’re not a fan of heights, stroll through South Queensferry and admire the scale of these bridges from below.

Firth of Forth
27 Mar 2020(last updated)