15 February 2023

Top 10 sunny day activities in Edinburgh

Princes Street Gardens, View to Castle

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

Whether it's 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:

  • Tip 1 Keep cool, take a dip in the sea or treat yourself to a cold crisp drink

  • Tip 2 Bring a cardigan or jumper with you, it can get cool in the evenings

  • Tip 3 Wear lots of sun screen so you don’t burn

1. Have a picnic in the Meadows

The Meadows

As soon as the sun comes out, the crowds swarm to one of the city’s most popular parks, The Meadows.

If you get there quickly enough you can bag a spot in the sun. There are plenty of surrounding supermarkets and shops where you can quickly stock up on all the essentials.

This large green space is the ideal place to relax in the sun, meet friends and feast 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

If you fancy something sweet after your picnic, 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 1950s and 1960s, 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!

3. Dine al-fresco

Teuchters Landing

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

The good news is there are several Edinburgh bars, restaurants and cafes with welcoming outdoor terraces and gardens, such as Contini George StreetThe Pear Tree and Teuchters Landing where you can feel the sun on your face whilst enjoying some delicious food and drink. 

4. Catch some rays in Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens, Sunbathers

Princes Street Gardens is the place to be on a sunny day. As soon as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, people make a beeline for these lush green gardens, pick out their favourite spot and start soaking up the sunshine. With panoramic views of the majestic Edinburgh Castle, it’s no wonder it’s so popular.

Choose to buy sandwiches from the nearby shops or cafés or take a picnic to enjoy on the grass or one of the many benches. If you wander around, you’ll see the picturesque floral clock, the Ross Fountaina collection of monuments and memorials and a beautiful display of flowers. Not bad for being right in the middle of the city centre.

5. Grab your bucket and spade and hit the seaside

Portobello Waterboarding

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.

Discover more about the area’s beaches and harbours in our guide to Edinburgh’s Seaside

6. Experience Edinburgh’s festivals

Connect Music Festival
Image Credit: Connect Music Festival

Edinburgh has an abundance of gigs and festivals coming in 2023. Some even take place outside such as FLY Open Air FestivalLets Rock Scotland and Midstock Festival.

Check out more Music Festivals in Edinburgh in 2023 

And it’s during the summer months that Edinburgh comes alive with festivals – music, dance, art, performance, literature – whatever your interest, there’s an Edinburgh festival for everyone.

Learn more about the world-renowned Edinburgh Festivals

7. Relax in one of Edinburgh’s beer gardens

Roof Top Terrace

A warm summer afternoon spent in a pub beer garden is a true delight for many Edinburgh locals. From the Grassmarket’s buzzing Cold Town House to the laid-back Teuchters Landing in Leith, there’s plenty to choose from all over the city.

So, grab your sunglasses and get yourself down to one of Edinburgh’s brilliant beer gardens

8. Cycle around Holyrood Park

St Margaret's Loch

See Edinburgh from another perspective by hitting Holyrood Park for a cycle.

We recommend doing a loop around the park by starting 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 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!

Explore more routes that are perfect for exploring by bike in our guide to Cycling in Edinburgh

9. Take an open top bus tour

Edinburgh Bus Tour

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

If you have a spare hour and the weather is kind, this is a lovely way to explore the city. Both Bright Bus Tours and Edinburgh Bus Tours offer 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

Thirlestane Castle

Explore beyond Edinburgh’s city limits and discover all the 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 discover why it’s a haven for water sports, or explore ancient architecture and rolling green hills in Midlothian. From historic buildings and modern art to 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 golf courses in Fife, or explore the picture-perfect rolling hills, quaint villages, heather-clad moors and winding rivers of the Scottish Borders.

Don’t miss our guide to Exploring beyond Edinburgh – its got everything you need to start planning your next day trip.

What’s your favourite things to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh?

Let us know using the hashtag #ForeverEdinburgh and #edinphoto.

Add to

Listings on this page

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest news

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time to our newsletter.