Top 10 Sunny Day Activities in Edinburgh

01 July 2021

Princes Street Gardens On A Sunny Day

Looking for beautiful scenery, outdoor day trips and unmissable cultural experiences this summer? Edinburgh has it all!

Whether its strolling down Portobello Beach or grabbing an ice cream from Mary’s Milk Bar, our city is the perfect place to brighten up your summer. To get you started, here are our top 10 favourite sunny day activities:

1. Have a BBQ in the Meadows

Meadows Barbeque Cc Antonis Lamnatos

[Image credit: Antonis Lamnatos]

As soon as the sun comes out, the crowds swarm to the Meadows. If you get there quickly enough, you might snag a barbeque spot, where you can set up a disposable barbeque and cook up a storm without damaging the grass. There are plenty of supermarkets and shops surrounding the park where you can quickly grab and stock up some food if the sun comes at a moment’s notice!

This is the ideal place to relax in the sun, meet friends and grill your beef burger or halloumi to your heart's content - just don't forget to keep our green spaces clean, take your rubbish with you when you leave and be considerate of local residents. 

2. Enjoy an ice cream from Mary’s Milk Bar

Marys Milk Bar Ice Cream

[Image credit: Mary’s Milk Bar Facebook]

If you fancy something sweet after all those burgers and sausages, head down to the Grassmarket for a cooling cone of ice cream from Mary’s Milk Bar. Taking inspiration from the traditional milk bars that were popular in Britain in the 50’s and 60’s, Mary brings that joy of savouring a cheeky wee cone during a trip to the seaside right into the city centre. 

With an ever-changing flavour selection and “scoop of the day”, the humble ice cream cone will never be the same again!

19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2HS

3. Dine al-fresco

Contini Ristorante Exterior

Whether it’s brilliant brunches, exceptional afternoon teas, tasty tapas & sharing plates or indulgent desserts you certainly won’t struggle for choice when it comes to dining out in Edinburgh.

And the good news is there are several Edinburgh bars, restaurants and cafes with welcoming outdoor terraces and gardens so you can feel the sun on your face as you enjoy a bite to eat.

From the New Town to the Old Town, Morningside to Leith, our Guide to Outdoor Dining in Edinburgh will leave you hungry for more!

4. Catch some rays in Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens On A Sunny Day

Princes Street Gardens is never quiet on a sunny day. As soon as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, people make a beeline for the gardens, pick out their favourite spot and start soaking up the sunshine. The park is a bit of a sun trap, and with panoramic views of the Old Town to enjoy, it’s no wonder it’s so popular.

Some people choose to buy sandwiches from the shops or cafes nearby and take their picnic to enjoy on the grass. If you wander around, you'll see the picturesque floral clock, the Ross Fountain and a beautiful ever changing display of flowers in the beds by Princes Street. Not bad for being right in the middle of the city centre.

5. Grab your bucket & spade and hit the seaside

Portobello Beach Cc Alljengi

[Image credit: Alljengi]

You really don't have to travel far to get some 'vitamin sea' in Edinburgh. Long summer days mean there is plenty of time to escape the city and head to our beautiful sandy beaches. There are plenty to choose from, including Portobello beach (pictured) which is just a mile or two from the city centre and the picturesque Cramond beach.

Top tip: When the tide is out at Cramond beach you can walk along the causeway over to Cramond Island. Just make sure you check the board at the start of the causeway to ensure you have enough time to walk out and return safely.

Discover more about Edinburgh's Shores and Waterways > 

6. Experience Edinburgh’s Festivals

Festivals Edinburgh EIF Performance

While a lot of Edinburgh’s Festivals were sadly cancelled in 2020, the good news is that this year, a lot are back.

With many offering a hybrid of online performances and live shows within different venues across the city, the thrill of inspiring, innovative and captivating shows, performances and exhibitions is back!

Whether you’re a science nut, book worm, music fan or lover of the theatre, this year’s Edinburgh Festivals offer something for everyone.

Discover more about Edinburgh’s 2021 Festivals > 

7. Relax in one of Edinburgh’s beer gardens


(Image Credit: Cold Town Beer)

A warm summer afternoon spent in a pub beer garden is a true delight for many Edinburgh locals. From the buzzing Pear Tree to the hidden gem Royal Dick at Summerhall, there's plenty to choose from all over Edinburgh. So, grab your sunglasses and get yourself down to one of Edinburgh's best beer gardens.

Discover our top Edinburgh Beer Gardens > 

8. Cycle around Holyrood Park

Bikes Dynamic Earth

See Edinburgh from another perspective by hitting Holyrood Park for a cycle, where you can admire the surrounding hilly landscapes right in the city centre.

We recommend doing a loop around the park by starting your cycle at Holyrood Park's Queen Drive and following the cycle path to St. Margaret’s Loch, where you can stop off for a quick break and admire the swans and ducks in the loch. Continue on your route by following the Mountcastle Road all the way back to the west side of Holyrood Park. Make sure you round off your big ride by rewarding yourself at Edinburgh's oldest pub, The Sheep Heid Inn, for a refreshing drink! 

9. Take an open top bus tour

Bright Bus Collage

You may already live in Edinburgh, but have you ever jumped on one of the many open-bus tours that passes you everyday?

If you have a spare hour and the weather is kind then this is your perfect chance to explore the city. Both Bright Bus Tours and Edinburgh Bus Tours offer locals and visitors alike a new perspective on Scotland's capital. Taking a bus tour not only gives your legs a rest, but also gives you a unique perspective of Edinburgh from the top deck and the chance to get some picturesque photos.

From breweries to stadiums, bike to ghosts, discover more about the varied tours available in Edinburgh > 

10. Have a day trip beyond Edinburgh

Abbotsfor Exterior Garden View

Explore beyond Edinburgh’s city limits and discover all the Lothians region has to offer. From sweeping silver beaches, diverse wildlife, exciting museums and legendary golf course, the Lothians has 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. Explore ancient architecture and rolling green hills in Midlothian. Historic buildings, modern art and the world’s biggest collection of owls – there’s plenty to discover in West Lothian. Wander through picturesque coastal villages and try your hand at some of the world’s most popular golfing courses in Fife; or explore the picture-perfect rolling hills, quaint villages, heather-clad moors and winding rivers of the Scottish Borders.

Explore our Guide to Explore beyond Edinburgh and start planning your next daytrip.


What’s your favourite things to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh? Let us know using the hashtag #ForeverEdinburgh and #edinphoto.