There’s nothing quite like autumn in Edinburgh. There is something magical about the city when its leaves turn their glorious shades of red, gold and orange. The handsome grey stone buildings seem to suit a slight chill in the air and the swirling backdrop of autumn mists. The whole city starts to look a bit more gothic and moody and wonderful. It’s the perfect excuse to get wrapped-up warm, seek out the cosiest cafes and enjoy all Edinburgh has to offer during the off-peak season.
As an ode to autumn and as a way of celebrating the seasonal shift, I’ve put together an itinerary of how to spend a perfect autumnal day in this wonderful city. So, without further ado, here are my top (8!) favourite ways to enjoy autumn in Edinburgh.
Autumn in Edinburgh
Admire the changing leaves in Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens are one of the best places to admire the city’s changing leaves. The trees are a riot of gold, red and orange from late-September through to October and provide a wonderful backdrop for that perfect Instagram moment!
Treat yourself to a cinnamon bun from Södaberg Bakery
I live for Södaberg cinnamon buns. These are definitely not seasonally specific (I eat them all year round!) but there’s something rather delightfully autumnal about a freshly baked cinnamon bun and Södaberg do the best ones in town. They have bakeries across Edinburgh so you’re never too far from an emergency Swedish treat.
Visit Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens
Okay, I know I recommend the Botanic Gardens all the time but it really is the best place to go to view all that amazing autumnal foliage. There are so many conker trees for collecting autumnal treasure and the colours of the leaves are spectacular. There’s also a lovely café on site so you can warm up with a hot drink after your walk! The gardens are free to visit and are really family-friendly if you’re visiting with children.
While away the afternoon in one of Edinburgh’s cosy cafés
You can see my local’s guide and map for my full list of favourite café recommendations but there’s really nothing nicer than cosying up in cafe with a friend (or a good book!) when the weather gets colder. I love The Milkman on Cockburn Street, Lovecrumbs on West Port and Good & Proper (a recent discovery of mine!) in Stockbridge.
See the castle in all its autumnal glory
It just wouldn’t be autumn in Edinburgh without a quick stop at Edinburgh Castle! The castle looks beautiful all year round but you have to admit that it does look particularly magnificent crowned in autumnal leaves!
Browse the shelves in one of Edinburgh’s many bookshops
When the long autumnal nights start to draw in, there’s no better way to enjoy them than curled up with a new book. Edinburgh has so many amazing bookshops to enjoy but Armchair Books and Golden Hare have to be my two favourites. Spending a quiet afternoon browsing the shelves for some new reading material is my absolute favourite thing to do when autumn rolls around.
Invest in some cosy knitwear
Edinburgh’s cobbled streets are full of lovely boutique shops so you’ll be sure to find a few new autumnal pieces which take your fancy. Biscuit Clothing in Bruntsfield is a lovely place to browse while Ragamuffin stocks a wide range of designer knitwear. For something a bit more high-street, George Street has everything you’ll need, including my favourites: Mint Velvet, The White Company and Joules. If you’re more into the tartan and tweed side of things, the Royal Mile has you covered with everything you could need from cashmere to mittens! If you’re looking for something a little more special though, Edinburgh’s Walker Slater is a must-see.
Admire the autumnal foliage in Dean Village
Dean Village is a great place to admire the changing leaves. Take a walk through Dean Gardens (past St Bernard’s Well) and up to Dean Village for all the best views.
Get in the mood for Halloween with one of Edinburgh’s ghost tours
Edinburgh has a pretty spooky, gothic past and is supposedly one of Europe’s most haunted cities. You can visit Greyfriars Kirkyard where the notorious murderers Burke and Hare once snatched bodies to sell to the anatomy school. There are loads of different ghost tours on offer which explore the network of hidden streets buried beneath Edinburgh’s bustling city centre, the most famous of which has to be Mary Kings Close. There’s also a suitably spooky ghost bus which tours round Edinburgh’s grizzliest locations!
Autumn has long been my favourite season and Edinburgh really is the best place to spend it. I hope you enjoyed my suggestions of what to do in the autumn in Edinburgh – I’d love to know some of your favourite autumnal activities!