14 March 2024

10 reasons to visit Edinburgh this spring

Spring time in St Andrew Square

After a long winter, spring has finally sprung and this bright and colourful season is a glorious time of year to explore Edinburgh.

Whether you’re looking for family-friendly festivals, parks or gardens to enjoy or want to discover different parts of the region, take a look at our suggestions and get a real spring in your step!

1. Explore the city on two wheels

Perfect for

Discovering Edinburgh gems that are off the beaten track.

The Union Canal
Union Canal, ©Visitscotland Kenny Lam

Longer, lighter days mean that there’s more time to hop on your bike and take advantage of the range of cycle paths in and around Edinburgh.

Why not whizz down to the coastal neighbourhood of Portobello for an ice-cream, take in the sights along the flat route of the Union Canal, or enjoy the sounds of nature on the picturesque Water of Leith Walkway.

Edinburgh has a fantastic range of cycling routes for all abilities. Discover more in our Edinburgh cycling city guide.

2. Have fun at a festival

Perfect for

Escaping the everyday. You’ll find entertainment, exciting shows, creative displays, engaging exhibitions and much, much more.

Edinburgh is well known for its summer festivals, but the spring months also play host to a variety of top-notch festivals.

Exploring the world of science, technology, engineering and design, the 35th anniversary of the Edinburgh Science Festival is packed with a fun and inspiring line-up of talks, exhibitions, workshops and science-themed events. Experience the best of children’s theatre and dance from around the world at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. This multi-day extravaganza has several pop-up events taking place across the city centre, designed for audiences ranging from toddlers to teenagers. Another festival celebrating a big anniversary is Hidden Door, the grassroots pop-up art and culture festival who are hosting a pair of 10th birthday parties at a secret location on 10 and 11 May 2024.

Love live music? There’s a fantastic range of festivals to choose from. 2024 sees the 43rd anniversary of the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, the UK’s premier harping event; Terminal V Festival returns to The Royal Highland Centre with a huge line up of House and Techno DJ’s, and the 11-day Edinburgh Tradfest showcases the very best of traditional and folk music from Scotland and around the world.

Discover more Music Festivals in Edinburgh in 2024.

And if you’re longing for the return of summer, Beltane Fire Festival welcomes the sun with a wave of fire, dance and drumming. Join the crowds on Calton Hill on 30 April 2024, and wave goodbye to winter with a bang.

Beltane Fire Society
Beltane Fire Festival, ©Gordon Veitch for Beltane Fire Society.

3. Catch the cherry blossom season

Perfect for

Capturing beautiful photos or taking paints and paper and creating your own masterpiece.

The Meadows Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom in Edinburgh Meadows

From the end of April, cherry blossoms begin to bloom, transforming Edinburgh’s parks and gardens.

There are several places in the city you can enjoy these gorgeous blooms, including Lauriston Castle, Princes Street Gardens and Canongate Kirk, but for a truly special sight, take a stroll through The Meadows. Here you’ll be able to capture picture-perfect shots of these delicate flowers.

4.Get fit for a good cause

Perfect for

Challenging yourself while doing good for others.

Edinburgh Marathon
Edinburgh Marathon Festival, ©Paul J Roberts

Springtime means the start of marathon season. Not only are they a great way to burn off the winter calories, but they raise vital money for many charities.

The biggie is the Edinburgh Marathon Festival on 25 and 26 May 2024. The marathon and half-marathon are closed to entries, but there’s still time to sign up for the 5K, 10K, team relay or junior events. Or for a trail through one of the region’s most picturesque grounds, be sure to sign up for the MYPAS Bluebell Trail Run at Dalkeith Country Park on 12 May 2024.

5. Stock up at the local markets

Perfect for

Sourcing local produce to create delicious dishes at home.

Leith Market
Farmer Market summer
Stockbridge Market
Edinburgh Markets

As the season changes, so too does the fresh produce. Spring is one of the best seasons for fruit and vegetables, so stock up from one of the city’s delightful markets.

Open every Saturday on Castle Terrace, Edinburgh Farmers’ Market is busting with the best of Scotland’s natural larder, including meat, seafood, dairy and fruit and veg. Popular with residents, both Leith Market and Stockbridge Market are full of foodie delights and handmade crafts. On the first Saturday of the month Leith Market is also home to a vegan quarter.

In the shadow of the majestic Edinburgh Castle, the Grassmarket takes its name from the busy agriculture trade fares that took place here from the 14th century. Nowadays, it’s still a hive of activity with the Grassmarket Market happening every Saturday, with stalls selling a range of fresh produce and handcrafted gifts.

6. Meet the new arrivals 

Perfect for

Getting up close with animals from around the globe, including the world’s only knighted penguin!

Close up of meerkat at Edinburgh Zoo,© The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
Edinburgh Zoo, © The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Edinburgh and the Lothians are home to many attractions where you can get up close to all sorts of animals, and this time of year offers a host of new feathered and furry arrivals.

With over 2,000 fabulous animals, Edinburgh Zoo is situated in beautiful parkland and includes fabulous flamingos, cute koalas and cheeky chimpanzees. There also offer a year-round programme of events for all the family.

Venture just outside the city and there’s the choice of two attractions for a great family day out. Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder has over 160 different species of mammals, birds and reptiles from across the world. Why not learn more about your favourite at one of their daily keeper talks? At East Links Family Park in East Lothian, visitors can enjoy an action-packed day, with everything from a train safari and pony rides to small animal handling.

7. Wander along the Water of Leith Walkway

Perfect for

Wildlife spotting. Look out for otters, kingfishers and herons along the route.

Water of Leith Walkway
Water of Leith Footpath

On a bright spring day, you can’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll along the Water of Leith Walkway.

Suitable for walking, cycling and partly accessible by wheelchairs and on horseback, its leafy 12-mile trail links the neighbourhood of Leith with central Edinburgh. It’s easy to forget you’re in the bustle of a city when you’re on this walk. To learn more about the route’s local history, the river and its wildlife, there is also a downloadable Audio Trail.

8. See blooms at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Perfect for

Escaping into the sanctuary of nature.

Botanic Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Once the buds start blooming, Edinburgh public gardens are a riot of colour and scents.

There’s lots of gardens in the city, but a must is the free-to-visit Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (exceptions apply to some special events/exhibitions). Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape, it’s a wonderful oasis of calm. There are also ample benches dotted around the gardens – prefect for a picnic spot.

The gardens are largely accessible to wheelchair users, with marked routes. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs are also available for hire at no extra cost.

9. Enjoy a dram during World Whisky Month

Perfect for

Finding the perfect whisky for you.

The Scotch Whisky Experience building with welcome team member , The Scotch Whisky Experience
Scotch Whisky Experience

May brings the arrival of World Whisky month and Edinburgh has plenty of places you can enjoy a dram or two.

Several Edinburgh whisky venues take part in the celebrations – from The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile to Johnnie Walker Princes Street. Or how about a dram in the luxurious surrounding of the Balmoral Hotel’s Scotch Whisky Bar where their Whisky Ambassadors will be able to help you choose a dram from their collection of 500 whiskies.  

Explore more places where you can enjoy Scotland’s national drink in the Top 10 whisky bars in Edinburgh.

10. Explore beyond Edinburgh

Perfect for

Enjoying day trips and seeing more of Scotland from Edinburgh.

Glencourse Boats on Waterway
Glencorse Reservoir

From sweeping silver beaches and diverse wildlife to exciting museums and legendary golf courses, the Lothians have all you need for a great day out, and it’s all within easy travelling distance from Edinburgh.

Experience East Lothian’s 40 miles of stunning coastline and beaches and discover why it’s a haven for water sports, or try your hand at some of the world’s most popular golf courses in the Kingdom of Fife. Discover the hidden gems that make Midlothian an area of both natural and industrial heritage and visit castles that have played a major part in Scotland’s history in West Lothian. Head south to the Scottish Borders and admire the area’s stunning natural landscape.

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