Quick, taps aff, the sun’s out in Scotland! But where do you go to make the most of our annual two day summer?
Don’t believe the hype, sunshine on Leith is not a thing, in fact sunshine in Edinburgh is an absolute rarity – something I’m still struggling to come to terms with even after ten years in this fine city!
So, where are Edinburgh’s best spots for catching some of that rare Scottish sunshine?
Grab your flip flops, portable bbq and some sunscreen, you’re going to want to check these places out before the sun goes down…
1. The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links
Stock up with refreshments and snacks from Sainsburys at the top of Middle Meadow Walk (in the Quartermile complex) and stroll down to the Meadows to soak up the sun – you might even catch some flame throwers or tightrope walkers practicing their performances. And when Sainsburys is inevitably ran-sacked at the slightest sign of sunshine, The Pavilion Café on the Meadows serves fresh sandwiches, salads and other treats. Head a little to the east over towards Bruntsfield and enjoy a game of free golf on Bruntsfield Links (photo above), or simply sit back and enjoy the sunshine!
2. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat
Want views of an extinct volcano while you swig cider and top up that tan? Edinburgh’s got it! Make your way over to Holyrood Park, just a short walk from the Royal Mile (opposite end to the castle) and wander through the 640 acre royal grounds to find your optimum sun spot. If you’re feeling really energetic you can climb the volcano, also known as Arthur’s Seat, but if it’s heatwave territory then seriously rethink, unless you’ve got a lot of water with you and don’t mind getting really sweaty.
3. Carlton Hill
You might work up a bit of a sweat getting up Carlton Hill (at the east end of princes Street) but the views across Edinburgh are more than worth it. This is one of the best spots for panoramic photos over the city, all the way from Leith to the Old Town, taking in the Pentland Hills beyond. Make sure to walk all the way around and check out the National Monument of Scotland, as well as the Dugald Stewart and Nelson Monuments, before parking yourself on the grass with a good book and an iced coffee.
4. Leith Links
Similar to Bruntsfield Links but on a slightly smaller scale – there’s still golf. If you want to know more about what to see and do in this historic dock area of Edinburgh, then have a look at my guide to an alternative day in Leith.
5. Inverleith Park
Down in Edinburgh’s New Town, at the very end of Stockbridge high street (Raeburn Terrace) you’ll find Inverleith Park. Next to Fettes College – J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts – this beautiful green space is home to tennis courts, a play area for kids and a hidden sundial garden. My favourite spot is up on the hillside, above the duck pond and wildlife garden, overlooking Edinburgh Castle and rest of the Old Town. Want more tips on what to see and do in Edinburgh’s tiny suburb, Stockbridge? Here’s my locals guide, with tips on where to eat, drink and shop.
6. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens are open until 6pm in the summer and totally free to visit, with the exception of the Victorian glasshouse, which is open until 5pm and a small concession is charged for entry. Although it’s only a mile from the city centre, it feels like a true oasis and there’s plenty of room among the flora and fauna to lay down a picnic blanket and spend a lazy afternoon with nature.
7. Princes Street Gardens
Great if you’re working in the city and want a sunshine fix on your lunch break. Pick a bench and watch the world go by. If the rain does come (let’s be real, this glorious sunshine won’t last forever) and you need shelter then the Scottish National Gallery is right there at the west end of the gardens, offering shelter and artistic masterpieces for you to pass the time with until the summer returns.
8. The Shore
Another reason to get over to Leith is the Shore. There’s no beach, deck chairs or golf, but there is a great selection of bars and pubs with outdoors seating, great atmosphere and delicious food. The best spots for some real sunshine in Leith? For a casual drink and live music, check out The Granary, or enjoy a tipple on the floating pontoon at Teuchters Landing.
9. Portabello Beach
A little further from the city centre, Portabello Beach is still only a short bus ride from Princes Street – the 26 takes about half an hour. Take part in a game of volleyball, try some coastal rowing, or choose a spot for lunch and enjoy a pint in one of the many beachfront beer gardens. The promenade is lined with pubs and cafés, so there’s plenty of opportunity for seaside fish and chips.
Missed any places or got any suggestions of your own? Fell free to leave me a comment and share your travel knowledge!