Best things to do in Edinburgh this summer

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Megan Murray
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Summer is a fantastic time to explore Scotland’s capital, but as well as the famous Fringe Festival, here are the best things to do in Edinburgh. 

Steeped in history and culture, with a vibrant foodie scene, Edinburgh is sumptuous place for a staycation, whatever the season.

In summer, though, the city particularly comes alive – which has more than a little something to do with the arrival of Edinburgh Fringe every August. This electrifying hub of comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus and cabaret draws in thousands of people and is a spectacle impossible to ignore.

However, while there’s much to do and see at the festival (these 10 must-see female-lead shows for example), the city’s medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town are brimming with other ways to get your kicks.

From unique (and boozy) experiences, to beautiful panoramic views, we’ve put together a list of fabulous ways to spend your time in Edinburgh. And we have no doubt in our minds that, whether you’ve got plans to head North this summer or not, our pick of the best things to do in Edinburgh will be more than enough to persuade you…

Visit the Secret Herb Garden at The Old Curiosity Gin Distillery 

The meadows that surround the distillery 

This enchanted botanical nursery – part of The Old Curiosity Distillery – is perched just on the outskirts of Edinburgh, making for the ideal day trip. 

Back in 2012, as the story goes, Liberty and Hamish purchased some charming lowlands with dreams to create a space inspired by all things vintage, and since then they have poured endless passion into their project to make that dream come true.

Over the years, they have curated a space that boasts a local arts centre, shop, café and as of 2016 with the help of mixologist Steve Ross, a distillery. Visitors with a penchant for gin are free to roam The Secret Herb Garden, which has over 600 naturally grown and tendered varieties of herbs. They can then experience the whole process that goes into making the gin, from hand picking flowers to witnessing distilling and labelling of bottles. These flowers will go on to make some of the distillery’s floral infused tipples, like Damask Rose or Geranium & Mallow gin. 

If you fancy visiting or booking onto a tour, see more information here

Taste Scotland’s heritage on a Secret Food Tour 

Traditional Scottish cakes, yum!

From the Burn’s Night special of haggis, to a wee dram of whiskey, Scotland’s niche cuisine is something it’s famous for. So it makes sense, then, that when in the country’s capital, you should digest as much culture as you can. Literally.

Secret Food Tours in Edinburgh do a brilliant walking tour that takes you around the city, introduces you to historical sites and sharing stories of old along the way. Most importantly, though, they do their utmost to fill you up with lots of Northern nosh, too.

Highlights of the three hour tour include a sample of the national dish Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, a traditional Scottish afternoon tea and a whisky tasting.

Tickets are £59 and you can purchase your own, here

Visit the glasshouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens

Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.

These whimsical, flower-filled gardens are a simply gorgeous place to spend a summer’s day, thanks to the many winding paths, pretty-as-a-picture views and glorious glasshouse.

Originally built in 1670, the gardens have continued to grow in size and beauty throughout the centuries, and represent one of the world’s largest living collections of plants.

Take a picnic and spend the day exploring the wildlife, but don’t forget to walk through the majestic, palm-filled glasshouse, which makes a perfect backdrop for pictures. 

The gardens are open daily from 10-6pm. You can find more information here

Tuck into street food at The Pitt Street Market 

The Pitt

Every Saturday between 12-2pm, Leith’s quirky industrial yard opens up and becomes a buzzing street food market, packed with some of Edinburgh’s finest food vendors. Cuisines are ever changing as the vendors switch every week, so the great news is there’s always something different to try. 

The well-stocked bar will keep your thirst at bay, and there’s usually live music to get the atmosphere going. What’s not to love?

Entry to The Pitt is £2 and many stalls are cash only. See more information here

Check out the views from Arthur’s Seat at sunset 

Arthur’s Seat as the sun goes down 

Arthur’s Seat is no big secret. The famous hilly peak that looks out over the city is a must-visit landmark for tourists, and a familiar haunt for locals. But, what you may not have previously considered is what time to take a hike to the top. 

We suggest making your experience extra special and heading over at sunset, as the entire skyline turns golden. It goes without saying you’ll want to arm yourself with a beverage of choice and some delicious snacks, so you can cosy up for the night and watch the ever-darkening sky change colour.

Images: Courtesy of venues / Getty