How to Spend a Hot Day in Edinburgh

What to do when the Scottish capital is actually sunny

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  • 24 July 2019
  • • 6 min read

When it’s a hot day in Edinburgh, the whole city rejoices. The streets fill with locals, beer gardens come to life, the parks are packed and everyone is in a happy mood. If you happen to be in the Scottish capital on a sunny day, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors and make the most of the heat. In the summer months, the temperature in Edinburgh can reach highs of 25 degrees, so just because it’s Scotland, doesn’t mean you don’t need to pack sun cream. Need some ideas on how to spend a hot day in Edinburgh this summer? Here’s our roundup of the best things to do...

A walk in Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park is a Royal Park in the heart of Edinburgh boasting dramatic hills and various different walking routes. On a warm day, there’s no place better to enjoy some fresh air and nature. The park is home to plenty of wildlife, lochs and the highland landscape was formerly a 12th century hunting estate. If you’re up for a bit of exercise in the sun, climb up to Arthur’s Seat (the highest point of Holyrood Park and an ancient volcano), where you will be amazed by 360 degree views over Edinburgh. The views are simply beautiful from the top - just remember to pack a bottle of water to hydrate yourself on a hot day after all that walking.

Sip on Edinburgh Gin and Tonics

There’s nothing better than a refreshing glass of gin and tonic on a hot day. Did you know Edinburgh has its very own gin? On a warm day you can visit the Edinburgh Gin Distillery, where they actually make Edinburgh Gin. You can test out some of the new gin and tonic flavours for summer including Petal Passion, Orange Blossom and Mandarin, Rhubarb and Ginger gin and more. You can find some shade from the sun and take a full tour of the distillery and learn how they create this perfect summer spirit.

A picnic on Calton Hill

When in Edinburgh during any time of year, Calton Hill is a must. It’s the best spot in the city for incredible views over the Old Town, with plenty of grassy space to spread out and have a good picnic on a hot summer’s day. Bring a blanket, pack a Tesco picnic and take your pals up to the top of Calton Hill for a relaxed day of making the most of Edinburgh’s sunshine. The hill is really easy to get to - just a 5 minute walk to the top when you reach the bottom of the pathway up. The panoramic views from the highest point have Princes Street, St Giles Cathedral and even Edinburgh Castle all in sight making it the perfect place to set up camp and enjoy a picnic with a view on a hot day in Edinburgh.

Indulge in the city’s best ice cream

Cool off from the summer heat and take a pitstop at the best ice cream shop in Edinburgh. There are a few places that have nailed it when it comes to gelato in the Scottish capital, but Mary’s Milk Bar is renowned amongst locals for her delicious, homemade ice cream. Every morning, Mary crafts her every-changing flavours of ice cream until 11am, so you know whichever you choose couldn’t be more fresh. Find her shop just opposite Edinburgh Castle on Grassmarket. The tiny and charming exterior is enough in itself to draw you in for a taste!

Chill by the Leith waterside 

Head to the shore in the north of Edinburgh and enjoy some waterside relaxation in Leith. This buzzing port is brimming with waterfront seafood bistros, restaurants and traditional Scottish pubs where you can enjoy a drink or some food right by the mouth of the Water of Leith. This area of Edinburgh is simply beautiful and the perfect place to spend the afternoon enjoying the sunshine. We recommend hiring a bike and cycling to the shore which will take about 20 minutes on two wheels from the Edinburgh hostel. Or if you’re up for walking, it would take around 50 minutes.

Visit Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Garden

Spend a sunny day wandering through the beautiful botanics of Edinburgh. The city’s Royal Botanical Garden is the second oldest in Britain having been around for centuries, and it’s without a doubt one of the most impressive. Explore the different zones which include the Chinese Hillside, Rock Garden and the Biodiversity Garden that contains over 500 different species of plants that have been arranged in order of their evolution. Then find a place within the almost 70 acres of land to sit down and relax in the tranquil atmosphere of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Garden.

Enjoy an iced coffee at Castello

When it’s boiling outside, a hot coffee just doesn’t go down well but we still need a dose of caffeine. Thank god for the invention of iced coffee. For your caffeine fix head to one of the best coffee shops in Edinburgh New Town for a refreshing cup of the good stuff. Castello is located on Castle Street, just a 12 minute walk from the St Christopher’s Inns hostel and it won’t let you down for a refreshing iced coffee and the best lemon tart you’ll ever taste. They also sell canned cold brew coffees and delicious affogatos here. 

Rest your feet in a beer garden

Is there anything better than a beer garden when the sun’s out? There are a number of really great beer gardens in Edinburgh where you can chill in the sun with a beer or cocktail in hand - perfect for cooling off when it gets really hot. The Cumberland Bar in the New Town has a lovely little courtyard area to enjoy in the sunshine, plus they have 8 real ales on tap. The vibe at The Three Sisters is always buzzing, with a huge courtyard and a great drinks selection, there’s never a dull moment. The Pear Tree is a student favourite with great value drinks and barbecues on the regular. When you’re done exploring Edinburgh on one of the hottest days of the year, head to a beer garden for the rest of the afternoon off. 

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