Yes, the stigma is true – Scotland is a rainy place. While it’s not usually a washout and more of a gentle mist, slippery slush and murky mud don’t create the best conditions for hiking Arthur’s Seat or exploring Edinburgh Castle. Trust us, you’ll want to leave those activities for the sunny days (and there will be some, we promise).
Edinburgh is a cozy city, and the rain makes it even cozier. Smell comforting fireplace chimneys as you splash down stone streets lined with warmly-lit pubs, inviting shops, and cozy cafes. Here’s how to turn those rainy days into the most memorable days of your trip.
Photo by Instagram user @sushiksyusha
Cozy up in a coffee shop
We didn’t know this until we visited Edinburgh either, but this city’s coffee scene is huge. The cobbled streets of Edinburgh are sprinkled with tiny cafes boasting artisanal roasts, yummy pastries, and industrial-chic design. Each cafe feels like New York cool meets Paris tradition.
Try some of our favorite spots:
- Cairngorm Coffee
- The Milkman
- Fortitude Coffee
- Address: 3C York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB, UK
- Artisan Roast
- Filament Coffee
- Address: 38 Clerk St, Edinburgh EH8 9HX, UK
- Cult Espresso
Photo by Instagram user @jennyandersonphoto
Drink the grey away in a pub
What’s a better way to warm up than whisky, beer, live music, and friendly locals? Hey, you might as well throw some tasty bangers and mash in the mix. Enjoy a delightful afternoon of booze and bar food in one of Edinburgh’s vibrant traditional pubs. We promise, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is the weather outside.
Not sure which pub to go to? Have no fear. These are loved by tourists and locals alike:
- The Bow Bar
- Address: 80 W Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH, UK
- Phone: +44 131 226 7667
- The Oxford Bar
- Address: 8 Young Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JB, UK
- Phone: +44 131 539 7119
- The Royal Oak
- Address: 1 Infirmary St, Edinburgh EH1 1LT, UK
- Phone: +44 131 557 2976
- Bennets Bar
- Address: 8 Leven St, Edinburgh EH3 9LG, UK
- Phone: +44 131 229 5143
- Sandy Bell’s – the best for live folk music!
- Address: 25 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh EH1 2QH, UK
- Phone: +44 131 225 2751
Photo by Instagram user @soebart
Go gallery and museum hopping
What’s better than amazing artifacts and breathtaking artistic masterpieces? Free admission! Explore the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – all at no cost. Be sure to check out Edinburgh’s wonderful smaller galleries, like Fruitmarket and Embassy.
Photo by Instagram user @thearchesedinburgh
Hang out under The Arches
At first glance, it’s a row of 19 stone Victorian arches. When you get up-close, however, you’ll see that they are filled with an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Find a souvenir you’ll treasure forever, then stop at Baba Budan and try our favorite doughnuts in Edinburgh.
Photo by Instagram user @tartanweavingmill
Snag some souvenirs
Just outside of Edinburgh Castle, you’ll find Tartan Weaving Mill and Experience – a five-story wonderland of kilts, rugby gear, cashmere, and much more! Let’s just say, this place could keep you occupied all day. Watch working looms produce kilts in front of your eyes, then go peruse rooms filled with Harry Potter memorabilia, swords, and Scottish treats. For a small fee, you can even have a staged photo of yourself taken in a kilt with a sword! You can tell your friends and family back home that the battle was real brutal.
With its convenient location, the Tartan Weaving Mill is a perfect stop to make if it begins to rain after you explore the castle. Be sure to follow Castlehill down to Victoria Street, where many other souvenir, craft, and specialty shops are located. Don’t worry; there’s a whisky shop.
Photo by Instagram user @tess2kill
Catch a flick
Ah, the classic rainy day activity: going to the movies. In Edinburgh, however, “going to the movies” is a unique old-school experience. Cinemas in Scotland boast red curtains, velvet red seats, cinema bars, and/or large recliners. Head to any of these independent movie theatres and see an artsy independent film or the latest blockbuster:
- Cameo Cinema
- Address: 38 Home St, Edinburgh EH3 9LZ, UK
- Dominion Cinema
- Address: 88 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ, UK
Photo by Instagram user @dovecotstudios
Immerse yourself in royalty at Holyrood Palace
Nestled at the end of the Royal Mile near Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat, the historic Palace of Holyroodhouse was once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Today, the palace allows visitors to explore ornate State Apartments, romantic ruins, and pristine royal gardens. See Her Majesty The Queen’s official residence up-close!
Photo by Instagram user @toplesscoffee
Stare up in awe at St. Giles’ Cathedral
This is one of those churches – you know, the ones that take your breath away as soon as you step in. Feel your head bobble around as you admire sky-high ceilings, colorful stained glass, and artistic masterpieces. Whether you are religious or not, St. Giles’ is a work of art for everyone. And with its convenient location in the center of the Old Town, it makes for the perfect place to run in and hide from the rain for a while.