How to spend a very rainy day in Edinburgh | A Local’s Guide

Edinburgh is known for its wild and unpredictable weather, chances are you’ll experience 4 seasons in a day and no one ever really knows what to wear. Not even the locals. Every day is a surprise (even if you have checked he weather every 5 minutes until you leave), all year round and we always have sunglasses and a brolly tucked away in our bags.

One of the questions I get asked most is – ‘What do I wear when I visit Edinburgh?’ – Short answer, Yes.

I’m a rain lover, I know many aren’t, but it’s my favourite thing. I grab my camera bag and head straight for the centre of town. And then I sit in a cafe and people watch before wandering around capturing the cobbles and glistening stone work on my favourite buildings.

You see, there are two types of people when it comes to Edinburgh rain.

1: You’ll see these people scramble in their bag for that brolly they KNOW they put in there and always carry, while standing in a narrow doorway trying their best to stay as dry as they can.
2: Watch those that have succumbed to the fact that its raining. That they are wet. And there’s no longer anything they can do about it, because they are in Edinburgh and that’s the city and it’s whole charm.

It’s rains approx 120 days of the year here in Edinburgh, with around 250 in Scotland total.
Here’s how to spend a rainy day in Edinburgh:

A good waterproof jacket:
While it rains a LOT, it’s not always cold enough for layers. Chances are if you are visiting, you’ll see me wandering around in my yellow raincoat. It’s my favourite for the wet weather and easy to keep in my backpack rolled up for when it’s needed.
See it here: Yellow Waterproof Jacket

A Hat:
Because rain…

An Umbrella:
Now, a brolly seems like a good idea in the rain, but Edinburgh is a hill, and it’s often windy so if you are using an umbrella, don’t make it your favourite one, because chances are it might not last to the end of the day, you’ll often see them inside out with broken spokes discarded at the side of bins.

Rainbow Umbrella if you really want to bring one along this is a windproof version of a classic.

Walking shoes:
A lot of the Edinburgh streets are paved with cobbles. These can be beautiful, but really slippery in the rain. So good footwear’s essential. Not only for the amount of walking you’ll be doing but for slippage will be needed. Bring decent pair of walking trainers or boots. No one likes to walk around all day with soggy feet or end up on their backside on the cobbles, I’ve seen it many times.

The Vennel:
When it’s rainy my first stop is the Vennel. I love watching the rain fall & passersby scurry past the opening at the bottom of the steps. Some brave it to the top, having to take breaks half way but it’s one of the best views of the Castle, in my opinion.

Victoria Street:
The cobbled road leads up to something resembling a scene from Harry Potter. The street is filled with unique little shops and the curve of the street is just magic. Don’t forget to visit the Upper Bow and look down on everyone walking below.

Graveyards are my favourite all year around, there’s some beautifully historic ones dotted around the city, St Cutheberts might be one of my favourites. You can see them here: Edinburgh’s Best Graveyards.

See a movie:
There are some pretty excellent and quirky movie theatre’s in Edinburgh that you can stop by, there’s a handful round the city and any of them guarantee a great evening.

Art Galleries & Museums:
There’s a plethora of galleries and museums sprinkled over the city and 99% are free! There’s some special exhibitions you need to pay entry for but you can find out any information you might need before hand, you can wander for a few hours, stop by the cafe and wander some more.

Castles, Ruins & Volcanoes
Atop an extinct volcano sits Edinburgh Castle. You can visit this all year round (check the website for Christmas closures). The 1 O’Clock gun is a sight to see and you get excellent views of the city from the esplanade.

Calton Hill, another stop for excellent city views, you can see all the way down Princes Street, right over to Fife and Leith. It’s got a hidden road around the side that’s much easier to walk up than the stairs!

Arthurs Seat, another excellent climb but the view is 100% worth it. It’s the highest point in the city and the views can’t really be beaten.

In the rainier months the cafes become full quickly, the city becomes filled with students starting their courses so things can get a little busier in the run up to Christmas. When the colder/darker days hit I find myself craving comfort foods. Pub lunches, roasts and all the mash tatties I can get on my plate.

The Pipers Rest: Whisky, traditional Scottish food and live music. It’s the heart of comfort in Edinburgh.
Makar’s Mash Bar: I told you, all the mashed tatties. They have comfort food written all over, with so many types of mash, GF options and a vegan menu too.
Greyfriars Bobb’s Bar: Named after Edinburgh’s most loyal dog, they offer a seasonal menu and are pretty well known for their excellent pies.

For Coffee you can click here: Best Coffee Shops or Best Hot Chocolate in the city.

There’s also these handy wee guides over on instagram (click the image to see more)…

However you decide to spend a rainy day in Edinburgh, embrace it! Often when it’s wet people run for cover, which means the city can become a little quieter. Enjoy the atmosphere and soak it all up.

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