Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Top 10 reasons to visit Edinburgh this autumn

05 September 2019

Autumn in Edinburgh is a beautiful and vibrant time of year to enjoy the city. In Princes Street Gardens, the leaves change colour and you can feel the refreshing breeze starting to blow through the capital. The city also offers lots of activities both indoor and outdoor to cater for the good old Scottish weather. Whether you are in the mood for art and culture, entertainment for a rainy day or simply want to take in the autumn colours of the city, Edinburgh has all the options covered for you.

1. See Edinburgh’s changing colours

Autumn With Castle 500X210

Stroll through the New Town and enjoy the traditional Georgian architecture whilst admiring the trees shedding their autumnal red leaves.

Equally as beautiful at this time of year is the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. We highly recommend you take a stroll through the Formal Garden, where the azaleas will show off every autumnal shade imaginable.

Find out other beautiful spots to enjoy autumn walks in Edinburgh>

2. Lose yourself in Edinburgh's enchanting museums

Wyse Exhibition Museum Of Edinburgh 500X210

[Image credit: Museum of Edinburgh]

Even though a rainy autumn day usually calls for a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, we suggest that you take at least one day to visit one of the many extraordinary museums of Edinburgh. With the vast majority free to visit, and exhibits refreshed all year round, the city offers something for everybody.  

You can find a number of Edinburgh's 101 Objects located in the museums dotted around the city, so tick a few off your list and delve into the past while staying out of the rainy weather that sometimes comes in autumn.

Get lost in some of the city's most fascinating museums>

3. Find your new favourite festival

Samhuinn Fire Festival Credit Richard Winpenny Beltane Fire Society

[Image credit: Richard Winpenny, Beltane Fire Festival Society]

August may be a key month for many of Edinburgh's festivals, however the autumn months also have their fair share!

Celebrate the best of oral traditions and cultural diversity (including Samhuinn - pictured) at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival from the 18-31 October. Or, if coffee is your thing, you can stimulate your senses at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival, taking place on from 5 October, or find your next favourite "fromage" at CheeseFest on 9 November at the Royal Highland Centre.

Take a look at other festivals throughout the year in Edinburgh>

4. Take a bite out of the autumn harvest at Edinburgh's markets

Grassmarket Farmers Market 500X210

New seasons mean discovering new seasonal produce, and there's no better time to try something new than in the harvest season! Farmers' markets are a huge part of Edinburgh's culture, with lots happening across the city every weekend.

A crisp autumn day wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the one of Edinburgh local farmers’ markets where you can enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and eats at the city’s farmers market.

Check out our guide of Edinburgh’s best local markets>

5. Enjoy Doors Open Days

Royal Observatory Edinburgh 500X210

For one weekend, many of Edinburgh’s most famous, remarkable or secret landmarks, museums and houses open up their doors as part of Doors Open Days on the 28-29 September - all completely free of charge.

Residents and visitors can enjoy iconic venues such as the Lothian Buses Depot, John Knox House and Royal Observatory of Edinburgh. It’s your chance to explore some of Edinburgh's most architecturally and culturally significant buildings. 

6. Edinburgh Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest 500X210

[Image credit: Edinburgh Oktoberfest]

Edinburgh will get a taste of Germany’s famous Oktoberfest right in the heart of the city again this year. Taking place at Princes Street Garden from the 30 October - 3 November, residents and visitors can look forward to a celebration of food, beer and music.

To soak up all the German brewed beer, there’s a belt-loosening array of munchies, from German Schnitzel to Bavarian potato salad. All the delicious food and beer will be served by friendly staff in traditional Bavarian costumes.

7. Experience Edinburgh's Hallowe'en scene

Mercat Tourscover 500X210

Halloween in Edinburgh is an amazing time of year, especially as the city’s Old Town closes and cobbled New Town alleyways provide the perfect eerie backdrop for the occasion. 

Shops, bars and restaurants duly adopt the Hallowe'en theme and take on a whole new vibe. Join in with the special themed events that are happening in the city, ranging from the Samhuinn Fire Festival, guided tours with Mercat Tours, Real Mary King’s Close and The Edinburgh Dungeon

Uncover more of the dark sides of Edinburgh in our haunted guide section>

8. Fill your belly with comfort food

The Chocolate Tree Comfort Food

As the weather begins to change and the nights draw in, autumn is the time of embrace hearty comfort foods, as well as enjoy the great seasonal produce on our doorstep.

Looking for some comfort as the days get colder? A warm hot chocolate from the Chocolate Tree should be just the ticket.  Union of Genius is a great spot for warming up to the most universally accepted comfort food ever: soup. Here you can find delicious soups and gluten free bread options which will leave you wanting more.

Looking for more comfort food options in Edinburgh? See more in our comfort food and drink page>

9. Raise a glass to Edinburgh Cocktail Week

10 Reasons Cocktail Week

Charge your glasses and get ready to discover your next favourite tipple at Edinburgh Cocktail Week, 14 - 20 October.  Over 70 of the city's top bars are taking part in this year's festival, each creating a bespoke signature cocktail, which wristband holders can enjoy exclusively for £4 each.

Following its popular introduction to the festival last year, the Cocktail Village returns to Festival Square, expanding in size and experience with a new Forest themed extension - a dark enchanted space featuring a wigwam, pop-up bars, forest floor & canopy, giant toadstools and a twinkling night sky - inviting festivalgoers to escape the city and go ‘camping with cocktails’.

10. Celebrate 50 years of the Open University at Dynamic Earth

10 Reasons Science Showcase

The Open University turns 50 this year, and to celebrate Dynamic Earth are running a very special Science Showcase with a daytime programme and evening talks 14 - 16 October. Meet academic and student scientists from The Open University involved in BBC Broadcasts, try your hand at some virtual science experiments, or discover the fascinating science behind the Blue Planet.