6 Awesome Things to Do in Edinburgh in Summer

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Edinburgh is a hive of activity in summer. There’s so much going on – street performances, fireworks, festivals, concerts… and the occasional heavy rainfall. The thing I love most about Scottish summer is the long days. It gets dark after 10pm, which means you can fit a lot of activities into one day.
In this guide, I share my favourite things to do in Edinburgh in summer. While many people head to Edinburgh in summer for the Fringe, the festival commotion can take its toll on you after a couple of days in the city. Thankfully, you can easily escape the crowds without the leaving city.
If you want to get off the tourist trail in Edinburgh, check out this post. Meanwhile, here are 6 not-to-miss summer events and activities in Edinburgh.
Recommended hotel: If you’re looking for a central hotel in Edinburgh, I highly recommend staying at ibis Edinburgh Centre on South Bridge (just around the corner from the Royal Mile). It is very clean and modern – and the beds are super comfy!

1. Leap into the crazy world of the Fringe Festival

Edinburgh’s world-famous Fringe Festival is known for its spontaneity. Held at different venues across the city, the festival is made up of hundreds of shows, including concerts, artistic performances and stand-up comedy. If you want to enjoy the Fringe without spending a lot of money (many shows cost between £10-£20), there are plenty of free shows you can attend. Moreover, there are street performances taking place on the Royal Mile all day long.
Edinburgh’s world-famous Fringe Festival is known for its spontaneity. Held at different venues across the city, the festival is made up of hundreds of shows, including concerts, artistic performances and stand-up comedy. If you want to enjoy the Fringe without spending a lot of money (many shows cost between £10-£20), there are plenty of free shows you can attend. Moreover, there are street performances taking place on the Royal Mile all day long.
If you’re in Edinburgh during the Fringe opening weekend, you might get some free tickets to some of the shows – many performances get reviews by critics and journalists on the first weekend, so a lot of performers give away free tickets to their first show to fill up the venue. Head to George Square and Bristo Place (University of Edinburgh campus) for a chance to snag free tickets.
The streets of Edinburgh are packed in August, so I highly recommend carrying an anti-theft bag and wearing comfortable footwear.

2. Attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo brings together military bands and dance schools from different countries. Each performance features bagpipe tunes with its a cultural twist. The show takes place on the castle esplanade, where colourful lighting and animation is projected on the castle facade.
The show normally ends with a firework display (weather permitting). Try to buy tickets as soon as they are made available as the show tends to sell out fast.
Tip: Make sure you take a waterproof jacket to the show. While it may be nice and warm during the day, the weather might change during the show (Scottish weather is very unpredictable!).

3. Go for a swim at Portobello beach

Yes, it’s possible to go for a swim in Edinburgh. Portobello is a quaint seaside neighbourhood, with a row of beautiful houses overlooking a long stretch of sandy beach. On a nice summer day, you can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the promenade, or go for a dip in the sea.
Portobello is just a short bus ride from Edinburgh city centre (around 20-30 minutes). Alternatively, you can head to Musselburgh (another pretty seaside town) and walk along the coast to Portobello beach.

4. Have a picnic in The Meadows

The Meadows is a popular hangout spot among locals – this beautiful park is an ideal place for a picnic or BBQ. On a warm day, you can also find several sunbathers. If you’re in Edinburgh during the festival season, you can grab some food from the stalls in George Square (just around the corner) and enjoy your lunch in The Meadows.
During the festival season, The Meadows can be a bit busy. If you’re looking for a quieter picnic spot, cross the road and walk up the hill to Bruntsfield Links.

5. Cycle along the Union Canal

Enjoy cycling? The path running along the Union Canal is ideal for those who want to explore the non-touristy side of Edinburgh by bike. The canal cuts through some beautiful Edinburgh neighbourhood, including Polwarth. You can stop for a wee break in Harrison Park, or grab a bite to eat from one of the indie cafes in Fountainbridge.
If you’re not an avid cyclist, you can go for a nice evening walk along the canal and take photos of the colourful barges.

6. Enjoy an ice-cream in South Queensferry

If you feel the need to get away from the craziness of the Fringe, take a trip to South Queensferry. This gorgeous town overlooks an estuary and is home to the Forth Bridge – a 19th century structure and UNESCO World Heritage Site that is regarded as an engineering marvel. The town centre has several pastel-coloured houses, a few good restaurants (try the fish & chips!) and ice-cream parlours serving a variety of flavours.
Check out this guide to visiting South Queensferry on a day trip from Edinburgh.
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Daniela Frendo

Daniela Frendo

Hi! I'm a Maltese blogger based in Scotland. I created Grumpy Camel to help travellers connect with places through culture, history and cuisine.
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