(Last updated on: 18/06/2022)
Being in Edinburgh for Christmas is one of the most magical places to spend your Christmas for so many reasons and you will make so many holiday memories that you’ll be able to cherish for a lifetime. This post will tell you everything you need to know about Edinburgh for Christmas and why Edinburgh should be your next destination to visit!
- Tourism in Edinburgh
- Why visit Edinburgh for Christmas?
- Edinburgh Christmas weather
- How to travel to Edinburgh
- The best places to stay in Edinburgh for Christmas
- The best things to do in Edinburgh for Christmas
- Tips for visiting Edinburgh Christmas market
- The best places for an Edinburgh Christmas lunch
- Edinburgh for Christmas packing list
Tourism in Edinburgh
Tourism in Edinburgh has been thriving over recent years – and rightly so! Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is covered with history in every corner of the city. The city sells over £1.3 billion of services to tourists every year, supporting around 30,000 jobs, meaning that it’s a really popular destination for tourism. On average, the most common age group for tourists to visit Edinburgh are 25-34 years old, with the second most common age group being 35-44 years old. Additionally, in 2015 Edinburgh was the 2nd most visited city in the UK and over 70% of tourists travelled for leisure tourism, both inbound and domestically.
Most international tourists visit to see the historical landmarks, such as Arthurs Seat, The Royal Mile and museums. Although, Edinburgh also attracts lots of domestic tourists, families in particular due to attractions such as the Edinburgh Zoo. There’s also plenty to do for students as Edinburgh boasts a vibrant nightlife scene and also is a good destination for sports fans – in particular for the Six Nations Rugby Championships. Overall, Edinburgh has so much to offer for all types of tourists.
Some famous landmarks in Edinburgh are:
- Arthurs Seat – An ancient volcano that stands over 800 feet above sea level, making it the perfect viewpoint of the city!
- Edinburgh Castle – One of Scotland’s most famous castles, and also the 2nd most visited attraction in the UK.
- St Giles Cathedral – This is a 15th-century cathedral, and has a beautiful Victorian gothic exterior.
- Holyrood Palace – The royal family’s official residence in Scotland, with stunning gardens open for tourists.
Why visit Edinburgh for Christmas?
Why visit Edinburgh for Christmas? That answer is simple – it’s magical! Edinburgh for Christmas is decorated in pretty Christmas decorations, music floods the street, and there are amazing Christmas activities such as the Edinburgh Christmas Market! Edinburgh is also very famous for Harry Potter, so during Christmas time, there is an extra feel of magic and wonder. There is even a world-famous event called Hogmanay, which is the Scottish word for the last day of the year, and it’s a guaranteed party! It lasts over three days and has spectacular entertainment, incredible bands and amazing crowds who travel to celebrate from every corner of the globe.
Edinburgh Christmas weather
Strangely, the weather is very appropriate in Edinburgh for Christmas! Being in the UK, you can expect some rain however this only adds to the overall atmosphere and won’t affect your stay (just as long as you prepare for it, but keep on reading to find out more about that!). The amount of rain in December is relatively normal for the UK, with an average of 2.6 inches, and it rains on average for a total of 12 days. The average daily temperature is around 7.4°C and the lowest temperature is about 2.9°C, which is a great temperature if you love to look cosy and seasonal in woolly jumpers! Sometimes, it even snows in Edinburgh – so make sure to check the forecast before you visit!
How to travel to Edinburgh
If you want to come to Edinburgh for Christmas, then you’re in luck when it comes to accessibility! Edinburgh has so many options to get there. There are 3 most popular options for people to travel to Edinburgh and these are by train, driving or by aeroplane. The main airport in Edinburgh is called ‘Edinburgh Airport’ (pretty easy to remember, right?) and the airport code is EDI, and was the busiest airport in Scotland in 2019, as it handled over 14.7 million passengers.
If travelling by train, then the main station in Edinburgh is called ‘Edinburgh Waverly Railway Station’ and has connections all over the country such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff! The only main disadvantage of travelling by train is that it can be a bit expensive if you don’t book in advance – which I really recommend, especially if you are wanting to visit Edinburgh for Christmas! Another great option is to take a tour if you want to explore everything the UK has to offer.
If you choose to drive, then the main motorways you will most likely be travelling on are the M8 and the M9, however, there are also numerous A roads for people to travel on too if you don’t like motorway driving. If you don’t have a car but still want to drive, I recommend that you use the National Express, as it is a very cheap and easy way to travel around the UK!
The best places to stay in Edinburgh for Christmas
There are so many beautiful places to stay in Edinburgh for Christmas, that you’ll have a hard time choosing just one! Luckily, I’ve helped narrow the choices down for you:
Argyle Backpackers – This is the perfect budget hostel if you’re on a budget as it’s located right in the centre of Edinburgh! There are so many activities and discounts that staying at this hostel offers for guests, so if you’re adamant about sticking to a budget then this is the perfect place for you.
Holiday Inn Express – Staying here is guaranteed to give you a good night’s sleep on a budget! Visitors can relax in the modern lounge area, use the free WiFi, or make use of the all-day dining and stylish bar, there are even pizzas served 24 hours a day! Edinburgh Airport, is 7.5 miles from the property, making it very convenient if you’re travelling by air.
Ibis Budget Edinburgh Park – Only an 8-minute drive from Edinburgh Airport, this hotel is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh but has lots of amazing transport options for easy access to Edinburgh centre, such as the tram and bus lines. Each room is air-conditioned, has a heater, a flat-screen TV and an en suite shower.
Ben Cruachan Guest House – The rooms in this cosy guest house are all fitted with a flat-screen TV and include a kettle, a private bathroom and free WiFi. There’s even an à la carte breakfast available each morning to satisfy your tastebuds! It’s a home away from home, perfect for Christmas in Edinburgh as is in a great location to all the shops.
Old Waverley Hotel – On Edinburgh’s famous Princes Street, Old Waverley Hotel offers elegant accommodation for your stay in Edinburgh for Christmas. Waverley rail station is a 1-minute walk away, making it a great option if you are travelling by train as you can relax almost as soon as you step off the train.
Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge – This hotel features a Rooftop Bar with a terrace with brilliant views of Edinburgh Castle and the cityscape. Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge is less than 0.6 miles from Edinburgh Castle, making it the perfect hotel perfect for history lovers to stay in. The accommodation offers a fitness centre, a 24-hour front desk and free WiFi throughout the property.
Museum Apartments – Each apartment is outstandingly furnished with a sofa, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, a well-fitted kitchen, and a private bathroom with amenities. A dishwasher, a microwave and a fridge are also offered, making it the perfect place if you actually want to spend your Christmas in Edinburgh as it has all the facilities to keep you covered over the holidays and the oven is even big enough to fit your turkey in!
Macdonald Holyrood Hotel and Spa – Situated just metres from Holyrood Park, this attractive hotel features an award-winning restaurant and spa. All of the rooms at Macdonald Holyrood have a marble private bathroom and drink making facilities. It is a guaranteed gorgeous place to spend your Christmas in Edinburgh.
Tigerlily – This award-winning boutique hotel has amazing chic rooms, an elegant bar and a restaurant – there is also even a nightclub. It is about a 10-minute walk from Edinburgh’s most popular shopping area and financial district, so you won’t need to carry all of your Christmas shopping far.
The best things to do in Edinburgh for Christmas
There are so many things to do in Edinburgh for Christmas – you’ll have trouble fitting them all into your itinerary. Here are a few of the best things to do that I recommend:
- Magical Christmas Tour. This is an exclusive tour only during Christmas time in Edinburgh! Together with a friendly, local guide, you will visit the most outstandingly decorated places in Edinburgh. You will feel spellbound by the charming atmosphere Edinburgh exudes, which you can only truly experience during Christmas in Edinburgh.
- Edinburgh’s Christmas Lights and Festive Black Taxi Tour. Discover the festive Christmas lights all around Edinburgh in your own private black taxi. The tour is 2.5-hours long and you will explore the historic streets of the city, as well as the gorgeous Edinburgh Castle that is specially illuminated over Christmas.
- City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop On Hop Off Tour. No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a fun, informative hop-on, hop-off bus tour – allowing you to explore the city at your own pace! Buses depart regularly and tickets are valid for 24 hours from first use, meaning there’s no rush and you can relax!
- Edinburgh Castle Tour – Skip The Line Tickets. Be guided around the iconic Edinburgh Castle and gain a deeper understanding of what happened here over so many centuries. This tour is ideal for you to do, especially as Christmas in Edinburgh is a busy time so this tour will let you skip the line and save your precious time!
- Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience. Sit back and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea as you cruise past city landmarks whilst sampling fresh scones, sandwiches, and tea, on a vintage Routemaster bus! This is a uniquely British experience that is perfect to relax with after all the other activities you’ll be doing in bustling Edinburgh for Christmas.
Tips for visiting Edinburgh Christmas market
If you visit Edinburgh for Christmas, then you will definitely need to visit the charming Christmas market which is one of the reasons that makes Edinburgh so special during this time! The market dates change every year, but generally, it’s from the middle of November to the beginning of January. Here are some tips that you need to know about visiting to make your visit go as smooth as possible:
- The first Saturday is always the busiest, so if you don’t like crowds then go another time! This is because the Christmas market is so popular and everyone wants to see the opening!
- Buy tickets online beforehand! As the Christmas market is so popular, it’s a good idea to buy tickets online in advance. It’s cheap and always better to be safe than sorry!
- Bring some cash. Although most stores will take cards now, some don’t and others have minimum spend requirements if you pay with a card, therefore, it’s always a good backup to take some cash with you.
- Visit on an empty stomach. Edinburgh Christmas market has so much delicious food available to cater to a wide range of dietary requirements – you’ll going to want to eat it all, so that’s why I recommend eating on an empty stomach if you are a foodie!
The best places for an Edinburgh Christmas lunch
What are the best places for an Edinburgh Christmas lunch? Fortunately, Edinburgh has so many great establishments, you will definitely be sure to find something to tantalise your tastebuds over Christmas in Edinburgh! Here are some of my favourites:
- Twenty Princes Street. Christmas in Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas lunch at Twenty Princes Street! This award-winning restaurant will be one of the best dining experiences of your life! They offer exceptional Christmas menus, which incorporate the finest seasonal ingredients to deliver an unforgettable dining experience. Their Christmas menu starts at around £50 per person.
- Contini. A Christmas lunch at Contini is the perfect place to dine if you want a plateful of amazing flavours on a budget! They have lots of different items on their Christmas menu which is modestly priced from £35 per person. Additionally, you’ll be dining in a remarkable old building, which makes the atmosphere amazing!
- Le Monde. Le Monde Hotel is located on Edinburgh’s iconic George Street, meaning you’ll be dining in style! Their Christmas menu offers delicious contemporary dining combining global inspiration with local Scottish produce in order to make you the Christmas meal of your dreams! A three-course Christmas lunch costs around £70.
- The Dome. Christmas lunch at The Dome is sure to make your Christmas in Edinburgh spectacular! The interior is draped in sparkling Christmas decorations to put you in the Christmas spirit as well as having an extensive Christmas menu with food for even the pickiest of eaters. Their Christmas menu is around £45, and you have to book ahead before.
Edinburgh for Christmas packing list
If you’ve decided that you want to travel to Edinburgh for Christmas, then you definitely need to add these to your packing list:
- Jiguoor Handheld Umbrella – Don’t get caught in the rain; carry this handy little umbrella with you! Scotland is infamous for its rainy weather, so it’s better to be safe than sorry with this stylish compact umbrella that allows you to carry it around everywhere.
- Berghaus Expeditor Trek 2.0 Waterproof Walking Boots –These walking boots are ideal for trekking around Edinburgh as you’ll want to protect your feet as much as possible from all the uphill walking you’ll be doing. They’re very comfortable and durable, so will last you years!
- ANYOO Lightweight Rain Poncho Unisex – You will most likely need a lightweight rain poncho when in Edinburgh, just in case you get caught in a rainy spell! This lightweight rain poncho is ideal for throwing over your outfit to protect it, and is easy to carry around with you when you don’t!
- Dresswel Women Merry Christmas Jumper – Get in the festive spirit with this gorgeous Christmas jumper! It’s perfect to wear in Edinburgh for Christmas as the design fits perfectly in with the traditional Scottish tartan that you will see dotted all-around your time here!
- ZhengYue Tote Bag – In the UK, you often have to pay if you want to use a plastic bag from the shop, so don’t get caught out and carry this adorable, zip-up canvas tote bag to put all of your Christmas shopping in! It will never go out of style, and there are lots of colours to choose from to fit your taste!
If you’re going to Edinburgh for Christmas then what is on your list to do? Have you ever been to Edinburgh for Christmas before? If you’d like further reading, I really suggest: