This NEVER Happens: What To Do On A Sunny Day In Edinburgh
Is it randomly really sunny on your trip to Edinburgh and you want to make the most of the weather? Fear not! I’m a tour guide on the Royal Mile and I spend a lot of time in Old Town in between shifts. Plus, I’m from one of the only places on planet earth where it’s usually colder than Edinburgh. AKA, I love a sunny day, and I always want to do the most on sunny days. So I know the ins and outs of how to make the most of sunny weather here in Edinburgh! Here are my top tips on what to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh:
Take In The Sun At The Foot Of Edinburgh Castle
In Grassmarket, at the far end near the West Port, you’ll find something called the ‘Granny Steps’. The steps take you up to Edinburgh Castle, so naturally at bottom of the steps you’ll find one of the best views of the castle. About halfway up the steps the railing opens up to the green grass beside it, and people love to sit there when its sunny! There’s something really quintessentially Edinburgh about it. Where else could you possibly sit in the grass below a castle, just taking in the day? Bonus points if you go to Mary’s Milk Bar first.
Mary’s Milk Bar and Ice Cream in Grassmarket
What to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh? What to do on a sunny day anywhere: get! ice! cream! Mary’s Milk Bar is everyone’s go-to ice cream shop in Edinburgh. They have old classic flavours like dark chocolate and salted caramel, but they always have some fun new ones as well! Yesterday I went twice. Seriously. It was sunny, that’s my only excuse. Flavours included spiced milk chocolate, honey and lavender, and cherry Bakewell. And… can I just say? Cherry Bakewell was delicious. If you’re looking for something with a shorter line (Mary’s can get busy in the sun!), there’s an ice cream hut at the bottom of Victoria St in Grassmarket. The ice cream there is just as nice, but they have more classic flavours like mint chocolate chip and strawberry. And, they’re not as ‘famous’ as Mary’s.
Climb Arthur’s Seat (Or One of Edinburgh’s Other Seven Hills)
Loads of tourists really want to climb Arthur’s Seat. Mostly, I think, it’s because it’s such a hotspot on lists of things to do in Edinburgh on the internet. Arthur’s Seat is, personally, not my favourite (though it has it’s benefits!). Edinburgh actually has seven big hills, Arthur’s Seat is just the highest and the closest to the city centre. Calton Hill is usually an alternative I offer to tourists in the winter when it’s windy and miserable on Arthur’s Seat. You have to remember: Arthur’s Seat is just a peak. Once you’re up there, it’s just you and the wind! This is why a sunny day is the perfect time to climb, but it will also be one of the busiest. If you have a lot of time in Edinburgh you can climb one of the others. Or, you could even take the #44 or #4 bus out to the Pentland Hills and take in some of Edinburgh’s wilderness!
Venture To Portobello
What to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh, you ask? Go to the beach! Portobello is easily my favourite place in Edinburgh. I dream of owning a beach-front house there one day. Portobello is essentially the ‘beach town’ of Edinburgh. It’s not as far as you think it is. Hop on a #26 bus and get off at King’s Road, wander down King’s Road, and you’re at the boardwalk. With no traffic you can be there in 20 minutes! Also, it is conveniently adorable and exceptionally beachy. Fish and chip, and ice cream kiosks on the boardwalk, dogs running loose, kids playing in the park, it’s such a sweet little area! Definitely worth a visit if you’re getting tired of the hustle and bustle and want to see the quieter side of Edinburgh.
Visit Princes Street Gardens
The gardens below Edinburgh Castle, between Old Town and New Town are Princes Street Gardens. The gardens along with Waverley train station used to be full of a body of ‘water.’ Famously called the Nor Loch, it was where all of the sewage of the city would gather. Yuck. Today, it’s a much more beautiful place! Full of flowers, trees, and statues, it’s a really calm place to go right at the centre of it all. Plus, there are a ton of benches, a ton of grassy spots to sit in, and a ton of food kiosks to grab a snack from. Did I mention it’s got a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle?
Wander Through The Meadows to Bruntsfield
If you want to stay more central, Bruntsfield is a wonderful new place to explore! If you’re in Old Town: turn off the Royal Mile at George IV Bridge, continue on as it turns to Forrest Rd after Greyfriars Kirkyard, cross the street and follow down the footpath. You’ll see a big park in front of you, and the University of Edinburgh to your left. Keep following that path, heading forwards with a slight right, and you’ll end up in Bruntfield Links where there’s a little outdoor golf course. Then, the park ends and you’re in Bruntsfield! It’s about a 20 minute walk total. Bruntsfield has a ton of cute cafes, and even cuter shops! My favourites are Project Coffee (for coffee and scones, on my list of favourite coffee spots!), Seeds for the Soul (vegan restaurant), and Nordic Living (homeware shop). There are also loads of little cafe kiosks along the walk there!
Visit Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens
Of course, last but not least is the Botanic Gardens. They’re easy to walk to, so you can maximise your time outside. I would recommend walking from New Town, through Dean Village, along the Water of Leith to Stockbridge. From Stockbridge you can walk through the main part of the neighbourhood. You’ll get to visit the best of it. My favourites in Stockbridge are Golden Hare (bookshop), lovecrumbs (cake + coffee), and I.J. Mellis (food + cheese). You can see the Instagrammer’s favourite street: Circus Lane. Then, it’s a short walk over to Inverleith Park where you can take in a great view of the city, and then saunter over to the botanic gardens. The botanic gardens are lovely year round, but if you don’t want to pay to visit the glasshouses (6 pounds entry), it’s worth going when it’s sunny.
So what will you get up to on your sunny day? Today is mine! I have to work, so I think I’ll be spending some time in Holyrood Park (where Arthur’s Seat is), and in Grassmarket!