The Christmas season is almost here, and holiday festivities will soon take place all over the world. If you're looking for a more unique time of the year to visit Edinburgh, this post is perfect for you. To make this Christmas truly special, there are many ways to experience Edinburgh's festive spirit in style and comfort.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city that is full of Christmas cheer. It’s the perfect setting to spend the holidays with your loved ones and enjoy some of the best things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas.
This year, we are bringing you a list of some of the best things to do in Edinburgh over Christmas. From festive walks and tours to festive markets and events, there’s plenty to keep you entertained during this festive time of year!
We hope this guide helps you plan your trip over the festive period and make sure you get the most out of it!
.Not sure which walking tours are the best? Check out this article too
- Get to and from the Airport: Save on airport transfers with HolidayTaxis. From only US$69.08
- Visit Edinburgh by train. Get Cheap Train Tickets from only $10
- The easiest way to get around Edinburgh is to use the City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. Get Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour tickets starting at US$22.48
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Here we have listed 13 top places where you can enjoy an unforgettable holiday:
Table of Contents
1. Winterfest at Edinburgh Christmas Market
If you want to get away from everything then why not try out the famous Edinburgh Christmas Market. Here are just a glimpse of things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas and what will happen from November 25, 2022 and January 3, 2023
- East Princes Street will host market stalls selling arts and crafts and festive food and drinks and the Christmas Market
- Artisan markets also at Parliament Square and Castle Street
- West Princes Street will include Santa Land, featuring the magical Santa’s Grotto and family-friendly attractions.
- An icon of Edinburgh’s Christmas, the Forth 1 Big Wheel with 36 enclosed, weather-proof pods
- Nativity Carol Concert 28 November in St Andrew Square at 3pm.
- Ice Skating on famous George Street
- The Nativity Scene at St Andrew Square.
Looking for a gift from Scotland? Check out our guides
Winter Lights are back this year – see what’s happening when it gets dark outside.
Christmas at Botanic Garden
Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a botanical world, immersed in the joy of Christmas?
Join Christmas Lights at The Botanics where you can experience all the festive cheer. Christmas Cathedral, Digital Rain, Laser Garden, Santa, there are just a few sparkling illuminations.
A delicious twist of tasty treats is also available. Toasted marshmallows for anyone?
Starting 17th November 2022 – 30th December 2022. Trail times start from 4:15 pm with the last entry at 8 pm. See the booking page for details
Castle of the Light: Hidden Treasures
The festive season is the perfect time to visit Edinburgh Castle. The castle, which has been at the very centre of Scottish history for over 1000 years, will be filled with state-of-the-art lighting installations.
It will illuminate the iconic landmark walls with holograms to make it even more enchanted.
Expect wonder, enchantment and a spectacle of colour this festive season as Edinburgh Castle, the defender of the nation, becomes an indoor winter wonderland.
18-20 & 25-27 November. 2-4, 8-11, 16-23 & 27-30 December 2022
4.30pm to 9pm (last entry between 7.30pm and 7.45pm)
See the booking page for details
Check the price and available dates for the guided tours here!
3. Christmas at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The must thing to do in Edinburgh at Christmas is to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
The Great Gallery will display a 15 foot, glittering Christmas tree adorned with decorations of all sorts.
There will also be lights, making the entire palace seem to shine even brighter this time of year.
They will decorate apartments and the Royal Dining Room with flowers, wreaths and spires of faux candied sugared fruits.
Palace of Holyroodhouse will offer festive events for adults and children through November and December. You can find here the details of the events.
Do not forget their gift shop offers a wide range of exclusive gifts inspired by the royal palaces and the works of art in the Royal Collection.
Insider tip: Complete your visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse or The Queen’s Gallery with homemade cakes and tea.
Every Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; Tuesday and Wednesday closed.
4. Edinburgh Afternoon Tea Experience
The best way to get around Edinburgh is by foot, but if you don’t have time or the Edinburgh weather is not what you like, then opt for a tour on the vintage 1966 Routemaster Bus.
We found what might be the coolest way to do afternoon tea in Edinburgh on a double-decker bus! So whilst you take in the stunning sights of Edinburgh, you can indulge in first-class traditional afternoon teas.
Red Bus Tour Departing at 12 pm or 3 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
Below, you can find the best ticket prices during your holiday
5. Guided tour and whisky tasting
Winter is perfect for enjoying a dram or two of the finest whisky. This guided tour will introduce you to the aromas of the drink while walking you through the production stages.
A ride in a whisky barrel? Oh man, you can’t wait to see the World’s biggest collection of Scotch whisky!
6. Chocolatarium Tour, Tasting & Chocolate Making
Edinburgh’s winter visit could not be completed without tasting and making chocolate.
This tour is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas.
This unique tour allows you to make your chocolates using various chocolate moulds.
In the Chocolate Kitchen, you can choose your bar design, select your favourite flavours and create your personalized bar.
The entire experience is very interactive for both children and adults, whilst you learn a lot about the history of chocolate from the Aztecs to the first chocolate bar and the newest inventions.
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Follow this self-guided tour for some of the best highlights of Edinburgh’s Old Town along with some spectacular hidden gems.
It’s no question that the holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year. From the sweaters and scarves, we wrap up in to watch Christmas movies with our family, to the hours we spend at work playing Christmas music and decorating our desks. It’s a time of giving and sharing and spending time with those we love.
I would encourage you to travel to places yet to be discovered. The area of Stockbridge Edinburgh, well-known to locals, has something of a village atmosphere mixed with some bohemian vibes. Its unique character along with the scenic route along Water of Leith invites many urban explorers who prefer to travel off the beaten road.
7. Royal attractions with Hop On Hop Off
8. Hogmanay New Year's Eve Fireworks
Oh, New Year’s Eve celebrations – the event takes place every year on December 31st and has become something of a symbol for the city.
You get to enjoy spectacular fireworks displays over the castle and other historic venues in town. It doesn’t get more exciting than this!
You can watch the fireworks for free (they are visible all over the city) but if you like to join the street party you need to buy the tickets
9. Take a history class with a professional comedian
Engaging, informative and entertaining comedy-meet-history walking tour that set up a great mood for the entire day!
The cultural experience of meeting a real Scot, born and bred in the Highlands you’ll never forgot.
10. See Scottish Opera & Ballet
Enjoying opera and ballet performances during the holidays is something everyone should do once in their lifetime. And what better way than watching them live from the magnificent stage of the Usher Hall?
11. An Edinburgh Christmas Carol
From the novel by Charles Dickens
The idea for A Christmas Carol might have been inspired by one of Edinburgh’s most famous residents. Charles Dickens visited the city in 1844 and whilst out walking, he came across the gravestone of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is thought to be the character on which Scrooge was based
Buy your tickets here
24th November 2022 – 31st December 2022
12. JK Rowling's Edinburgh and the Writing of Harry Potter Tour
This tour is not like the others. You get to see areas tucked away from main tourist areas and items relevant to Harry Potter. The guide is a ‘Harry Potter’ fan who shares fascinating details about the wizarding world in Edinburgh.
It takes 4 h of listening and walking, so come prepared for 5 km of up-and-down walking through Edinburgh’s hilly old town. You’ll see the inspiration for many locations in the Wizarding World, including Old College and Greyfriars Kirkyard.
13. Pickering's Gin Jolly with Gin Tastings
Explore Edinburgh on foot, tasting local beers with a narrative tour that tells the history of Scotland while you drink
Where to stay in Edinburgh this Christmas
As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter what your budget is; whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or simply want to enjoy a few days off work, Edinburgh offers everything that makes a holiday memorable. For a taste of home away from home, book now one of Edinburgh hotels with the best festive decorations.
- 5*Balmoral Hotel – An iconic, luxury hotel located at the most prestigious address in the city centre
- 5*Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian an imposing hotel with views of Edinburgh Castle
- 4* InterContinental Edinburgh the George, an IHG Hotel combines five Georgian houses welcoming guests since 1881
- Cheval The Edinburgh Grand is a collection of prestigious serviced apartments in a very grand location
- 4*The Rutland Hotel glamorous and stylish has bedrooms and serviced apartments
- 5* The Witchery by the Castle luxury in a Gothic style property with a range of opulent suites
- 4* Hilton Edinburgh Carlton is an impressive Victorian building with an excellent location in the heart of the Old Town
- 4* Nira Caledonia luxury boutique hotel in the heart of elegant New Town