Five reasons to visit Edinburgh this winter

Edinburgh is a stunning city to visit at any time of year, but during the winter months it becomes even more magical.

There’s the moody medieval architecture of its old town - made all the more atmospheric by darkness descending in the afternoon hours. The hilly terrain and scenic views from the top of Arthur’s Seat – ideal for crisp, brisk wintry morning walks. And of course, the Christmas and New Year celebrations in town – culminating in the world-famous street party on Hogmanay.

We’ve hand-picked five of the best activities in the city this year to help you make the most of it – read on for all the details!

Shop ‘til you drop at the Christmas markets

Every year, a flurry of traditional Christmas markets descends on Edinburgh – and we recommend making a beeline for the one in East Princes Street Gardens.

Set against the iconic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, it’s a picture-perfect spot to snag some Christmas gifts, enjoy a cheeky gluhwein and capture a few snapshots of the festive scenes.

The market hosts over 70 stalls from both local and international producers, selling everything from handmade gifts and bespoke products to piping hot snacks and delicious drinks. It’s also home to an epic big wheel. Standing 46 metres tall, Scotland’s largest Ferris wheel offers incredible views of the city – providing you have a head for heights.

The market is open from 17th November – 1st January 2024 – we’ll see you there!

Get your skates on

A Christmas ice rink will unfurl on George Street in Edinburgh’s New Town. We can’t think of anything more festive than gliding around an ice rink to festive music with majestic Georgian buildings in the background.

This year’s rink will be even bigger and better than before, so more people can enjoy the fun. Plus, it’s covered, so a little rain needn’t prevent you from finessing your pirouettes!   

Once you’ve completed a few graceful figures of eight, you can warm up with a hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts or – oh go on then – a freshly fried doughnut from the nearby food stalls. Or pick up some last-minute gifts from the nearby artisan Christmas market.

Eye up some wildlife

Love cute critters and fearsome creatures? Make some time to check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

This incredible selection of photography celebrates some of the finest pictures captured of animal behaviour, showcasing the breathtaking diversity of the natural world, with snapshots from over 95 countries. This year, 49,957 entries were judged by an international panel of industry experts – and only the best made the final cut.

This special photography exhibition is on at the National Museum from 20th January – 6th May 2024, so catch it while you can – booking in advance is highly recommended.

Tuck into truffles and tipple

For a true taste of the capital head to Johnnie Walker Princes Street for their whisky and chocolate tasting experience.

You’ll be guided through a selection of exceptional Johnnie Walker whiskies, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Port Dundas and Johnnie Walker Legendary Eight, expertly paired with a luxury chocolate truffle created by Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier. Yum!

The highlight of the experience is a dram of the sought-after John Walker & Sons King George V. This special whisky was created to celebrate the monarch who granted Johnnie Walker its first Royal Warrant in 1934 and includes some of the rarest whiskies from irreplaceable casks at Port Ellen Distillery.

Please note that this experience is available on selected dates in November and December and is suitable for over 18s only. You can book your experience at the Johnnie Walker website

See Edinburgh Castle in a different light

For a family activity that’s as atmospheric as it is beautiful, make time for the Castle of Light show at Edinburgh Castle.

Now in its fourth year, this exquisite experience sees the castle walls illuminated with colourful projections, leading you on a journey through the castle grounds with a sea of twinkling lights and colourful displays.

Just remember to dress for the weather and bring comfortable shoes – most of the trail is set outside! Find out more and book your tickets at the Edinburgh Castle website.

And after a busy day exploring Scotland’s capital, you can choose from three of our wonderful Luxury Scotland properties to put your feet up and relax – but which will it be?

  • Will you relax at The Roseate?

Located in Edinburgh’s vibrant and cultural West End, the stately Roseate is just five minutes from Haymarket station, and brimming with cosy creature comforts. Find out more and book here.

  • Float on Fingal?

Experience the 2023 AA Scotland Hotel of the Year first hand. Fingal is a luxury floating hotel, permanently berthed on Edinburgh’s waterfront. Experience this world class destination, with unique luxury cabins and decks just made for stargazing and champagne. Learn more.

  • Or pamper at the Sheraton?

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh’s city centre is best explored on foot, so make sure you don’t miss a thing with a stay at the fantastically central five-star Sheraton Grand.

Article correct at time of publication.