22 February 2023

10 reasons to visit Edinburgh this spring

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

Plan your season with the best things to do in Edinburgh this spring.

  • Tip 1: Book your tickets in advance to secure your space.

  • Tip 2: Check the forecast on the day. As some of our recommendations are enjoyed outdoors, make sure you pack for the weather.

  • Tip 3: Plan some evening entertainment using our dedicated ‘Evenings in Edinburgh’.

Goodbye winter, hello spring!

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 to relax in and soak up the sun or to rediscover new parts of the city, our suggestions will give you 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
Image Credit: 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.

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 Cycling in Edinburgh

2. Have fun at a Festival

Perfect for

Escaping the everyday with a year-round programme of festivals. You’ll find entertainment, exciting shows, creative displays, engaging exhibitions and much, much more.

Edinburgh Science Festival 2023
Image Credit: Edinburgh Science Festival, Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh is well known for its summer festivals, however, the spring months play host to a variety of exciting festivals.

Exploring the world of science, technology, engineering and design with an inspiring line-up of talks, exhibitions and hands-on events, the Edinburgh Science Festival offers a packed programme for all the family. Or 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.

Love live music? There’s a fantastic range of festivals to choose from. 2023 sees the 42nd 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 Edinburgh Tradfest’s 11-day festival showcases the very best of traditional and folk music from Scotland and around the world.

Discover more live music events coming to the city in 2023 in Music Festivals in Edinburgh

Making use of disused spaces and venues around the city, Hidden Door Festival offers a diverse range of live music, theatre, film and dance. 2023’s festival took place at a former office space on Dalkeith Road. Or head along to Calton Hill and enjoy dazzling fiery displays, elaborate costumes and immersive storytelling as Beltane Fire Festival celebrate the first signs of summer.  

Beltane Fire Society
Copyright Gordon Veitch for Beltane Fire Society.

3. Catch the cherry blossom season

Perfect for

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

Spring time in St Andrew Square

It’s that beautiful time of year again. From the end of April, cherry blossoms begin to bloom, transforming Edinburgh’s parks and gardens.

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

4.Get fit for a good cause

Perfect for

Challenging yourself and meeting other like-minded people while doing good for others. Good for the mind, soul and fitness.

Edinburgh Marathon
Image Credit: Paul J Roberts

Spring time 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. Choose to run the full 26.2 miles (which includes some of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks) or make it a team event with the relay. For a trail through one of the region’s most picturesque grounds, the MYPAS Bluebell Trail Run at Dalkeith Country Park is a great choice.

5. Stock up at the local markets

Perfect for

Sourcing some of Scotland’s best local produce to gift or cook with.

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 and Stockbridge Markets are full of foodie delights and unique handcrafted gifts. On the first Saturday of the month Leith Market, located beside the Water of Leith, is also home to a Vegan Quarter.

In the shadow of the majestic Edinburgh Castle, the Grassmarket neighbourhood 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, freshly baked bread 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.

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 1,000 fabulous animals, Edinburgh Zoo is situated in beautiful parkland and includes fabulous flamingos, cute koalas and cheeky chimpanzees. They 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 180 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? Over at East Links Family Park at Dunbar, visitors can enjoy everything from a train safari and pony rides to small animal handling.

7. Wander along the Water of Leith Walkway

Perfect for

Wildlife spotting, with otters, kingfishers and herons spotted along the route.

Water of Leith Walkway

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, pushchairs and on horseback, its leafy 12 mile trail links the neighbourhood of Leith with central Edinburgh, by-passing landmarks such as the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city when you’re on this walk.

From glorious gardens to pretty parks, explore more of Edinburgh’s green spots in our guide to Outdoor Spaces in Edinburgh

8. See blooms at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Perfect for

Appreciating and learning about the importance of plants in our world.

Botanic Gardens

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

There’s lots of public gardens in the city, but a must is the free-to-visit Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape, it’s a wonderful oasis of calm. There’s 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

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

Expect to find many Edinburgh whisky venues taking 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 the Whisky Ambassadors will be able to advise what’s best. Cheers to that!

Build up a thirst by taking a look at guide to the Top 10 Whisky Bars in Edinburgh

10. Explore beyond Edinburgh

Perfect for

Enjoying memorable day trips and seeing more of Scotland from Edinburgh.

Glencourse Boats on Waterway

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; try your hand at some of the world’s most popular golf courses in the Kingdom of Fife or discover the hidden gems that make Midlothian an area of both natural and industrial heritage.

Whether you choose to go east or west, a day-trip beyond the city offers something for all the family. Discover more in our guide to Exploring Beyond Edinburgh

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