Edinburgh is beautiful in all seasons but there’s something oh so magical about visiting the Scottish capital in the autumn. Even with the rain and cloud (and Scotland gets its fair share of both!), this fairytale city bursts into life at this time of year, making this a must-visit UK destination.
Why visit Edinburgh in autumn?
Autumn is a great time of year to visit Edinburgh, as the summer crowds have long gone and the Christmas tourists have yet to take over the city. Plus, there’s plenty of indoor attractions, museums and galleries to keep visitors entertained, if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
But come rain or shine, it’s worth bundling up and getting outside to explore Edinburgh’s seasonal colours. Luckily you don’t have to look far to spot the fiery foliage – it’s all around you; lining the cobblestone streets and lighting up the city parks.
So without further ado, here’s a few of the best places to leaf peep in Edinburgh.
Princes Street Gardens
Right in the heart of Edinburgh, you’ll find Princes Street Gardens, separating the Old Town from the New. There’s nowhere more vibrant in the autumn, as the trees erupt into breathtaking oranges and golds. The gardens are overlooked by some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including Edinburgh Castle, making this one of the most photogenic spots in Edinburgh.
Waverley Bridge and Scott Monument
Waverley Bridge is Edinburgh’s main transport hub and will likely be your first stop in the city. From the bridge, you can see across Princes Street Gardens and the city’s historic Old Town, which is cloaked in colour at this time of year.
At the end of the bridge (on the New Town side), you’ll arrive at Scott Monument – one of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks. From here, you’ll be greeted with gorgeous views of the gardens – or if you want a 360 view, you can climb the tower for £8.
Whether or not you decide to visit Edinburgh Castle itself, it’s well worth a walk up the hill to take in the panoramic views from the top. If the weather is clear, you’ll get a good look at the city’s colourful foliage and even the mountains in the distance. As you walk back down the hill, be sure to check out the cute cobblestone streets, illuminated in autumn hues.
Arthur’s Seat & Holyrood Park
Another must-do attraction in Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat, located in Holyrood Park. It’s a short 30-minute hike up this extinct volcano, where you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with some of the best views in the city.
Unfortunately, despite setting off to blue skies and clear views, the clouds soon rolled over in true Scottish fashion, obscuring our views from the top. Even so, it was great to see the colours of Holyrood Park below and to escape into nature, just a few minutes from the city.
Rooftop terrace at the National Museum of Scotland
Many visitors wander right through the National Museum of Scotland, without realising there’s a rooftop terrace where you can feast your eyes on some of the best views Edinburgh has to offer. Entrance to the museum is free, so head on up to the 7th floor for epic views of the city in all its autumnal glory.
Calton Hill is another quintessential stop on any first-time Edinburgh itinerary and is even prettier at this time of year. Located right in the city centre, it’s just a 5 minute walk up the hill where panoramic views await. From here, you’ll get one of the best views of Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding Scottish countryside.
Looking for other great UK spots to explore this autumn? Check out my guide to Westonbirt Arboretum here, or if you’re travelling further afield, take a look at my weekend itinerary for Chicago in the Fall.