13 Best Places to Picnic in Edinburgh

13 Best Places to Picnic in Edinburgh

There’s no denying it – Edinburgh looks stunning in the sunshine. So make the most of the good weather by enjoying the great outdoors. We’ve listed the best places to enjoy a picnic in the city.

1. Princes Street Gardens

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It is the most central park in Edinburgh and definitely one of the busiest parks in town when it is sunny. In the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, the Gardens were created in two phases in the 1770s and 1820s. Both run along the south side of Princes Street and are divided by The Mound. East Princes Street Gardens run from The Mound to Waverley Bridge and cover 8.5 acres (34,000 m2). The larger West Princes Street Gardens cover 29 acres (120,000 m2) and extend to the adjacent churches of St. John’s and St. Cuthbert’s, near Lothian Road in the west.

The Gardens are the best-known park in Edinburgh, having the highest awareness and visitor figures for both residents and visitors to the city. Various concerts and other events are held at the Ross Bandstand including the Festival Fireworks Concert, Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest, and during the city’s Hogmanay celebrations.

 

2. The Meadows

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The Meadows is a large public park in the south of the city centre. It consists largely of open grassland crossed by tree-lined paths, but also has a children’s playground, a croquet club, tennis courts and recreational sports pitches. It is bordered by the University of Edinburgh’s George Square campus and the Quartermile development on the site of the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to the north and Marchmont to the south. To the south-west, it becomes Bruntsfield Links where there is a free, public pitch and putts golf course. It is one of the best places in the city to organise BBQ with friends!

3. Royal Botanic Garden

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Just one mile from city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers visitors peace and tranquillity amongst 72 acres of stunning scenery.

4. Harrison Park

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Harrison Park is at the heart of a lovely community, shared by dog walkers, children, picnickers and duck feeders. It’s gorgeous in the summer and stunning in the autumn. It sits beside Union Canal, so throw down your blanket and get the sandwiches out and watch the world go by!

4. Granny’s Green – The Grassmarket

Favourite go-to spot after getting a scoop or two at Mary's milk bar

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Nestled right under Edinburgh Castle, this spot on a summer’s evening is perfection! You are surrounded by little cafes and bars, so this is a great spot for an impromptu picnic. Located in The Grassmarket, it can get quite busy so get down early and enjoy the sun all day!

5. Calton Hill

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One of the seven hills of Edinburgh, it’s well worth the short steep walk with your picnic to the top of Calton Hill. The historic site is in the centre of the city and overlooks the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. With such vast and stunning views down over the city, Calton Hill is popular with picnic-ers on the rare Edinburgh sunny day.

6. Blackford Hill

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Blackford Hill is towards the south of the city and popular with dog walkers and weekend hikers. From here you can see Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill and, on a clear day, all the way out across the Firth of Forth.

7. Inverleith Park

Inverleith Park was made for picnics. Meticulously manicured grassy parkland, lovely trees, and a resplendent sundial garden all add to the appeal. Once more, those looking to congregate in large groups, toss a ball about, meander over the quaint wooden bridge, or explore surrounding flora and fauna, will be in their element. Such a prime spot demands a perfect picnic.

8. Portobello Beach

Portobello is a coastal suburb of Edinburgh. Once known as a beach resort, it is located three miles (5 km) to the east of the city centre, facing the Firth of Forth, in eastern central Scotland. Although historically it was a town in its own right, and is often seen as such by its inhabitants, it is now a residential suburb of Edinburgh, with a promenade fronting on to the wide sand beach. It lies between the suburbs of Joppa and Craigentinny.

 

9. Cramond Beach

 

A bracing trip to the sea front

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Enjoy the feel of an old fishing village which the suburb of Cramond still retains. There is plenty of history to see in the area too with Cramond boasting one of the longest known periods of human settlement, and refreshments are available at the nearby pub or the nice coffee shop.

10. Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat may be a predictable choice and yet, it still never ceases to enrapture the people who walk it. Every time something new arises, whether it’s an added entity in the skyline or an uncharted route graced with new but equally astounding views. If lugging a picnic to the top doesn’t sound like too much of a headache, the vision of the city (and beyond) will erase all images of arduous power walking. That, and some surprisingly delicious Scottish BBQ from Reekie’s Smokehouse. Perfectly placed nearby, this family-run eatery is a winner in the meat, coffee, beer and cake game. Quick and easy, consider this a wonderfully spontaneous kind of Scottish picnic experience — no fuss, no frills — just good food and views.

 

11. Pentlands

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Star in your own film and escape for a picnic in the Pentlands. Rolling hills, picture-perfect streams and views worth knowing about make this an ideal spot to throw down that checkered blanket and soak up the serenity. Adventure junkies will see this as an exploration opportunity, which may or may not cut into valuable eating time. Budding romanticists, on the other hand, will see this as a blissfully remote location. Strategically placed at the foot of the Pentlands is The Secret Herb Garden. This herb nursery hosts a café filled with produce harvested on site, along with various jams, chutneys and jellies.

Near Edinburgh, there is also some great spots!

12. North Berwick

 

13. Yellowcraig

 

Yellowcraig is a natural cove beach with spectacular views to the 1885 lighthouse on Fidra Island, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson famous tale Treasure Island.

Diageo announce plans to build new whisky visitor experience in Edinburgh

Diageo announce plans to build new whisky visitor experience in Edinburgh

Diageo has announced it will invest £150 million over three years to transform its Scotch whisky visitor experiences in the biggest concerted programme ever seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector.

Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to the Johnnie Walker blend, but four distilleries, Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish, will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations of Lowland (Glenkinchie), Speyside (Cardhu), Island (Caol Ila) and Highland (Clynelish) crucial to the art of whisky blending.

Watch this video to find out more about the new Johnnie Walker global brand attraction & distillery upgrades designed to grow the appeal of Scotch.

Ever wondered who Diageo is and what they do?

Watch this short video to find out, or go to www.diageo.com for more information.

 

China’s giant lanterns to light up Edinburgh

China’s giant lanterns to light up Edinburgh

For centuries, the Chinese have celebrated the start of their New Year in late January or early February by displaying multicolored lanterns in a range of shapes and sizes. Along with marking the pending arrival of spring, the custom also serves as a showcase of Chinese artistry.

Traditionally, lantern-makers crafted their works of art from bamboo and paper, but these days, Chinese artisans are creating modern-day versions out of metal, silk and energy-efficient LED lighting. Through Jan. 2, Ohioans can experience these works on the Ohio Expo Center grounds, thanks to Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival operations and logistics manager Huiyuan Liu and her team.

This year, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is home to The Giant Lanterns of China, an installation of over 450 dazzling giant lanterns that will illuminate the Zoo for 50 awe-inspiring nights. There is 211 large scale animal-themed lanterns including 30 giant pandas, 12 lions, 30 native birds, 15 snails, 20 penguins and 25 flamingos alongside detailed backdrops of flowers, fauna, insects and Chinese heritage symbols such as signs of the zodiac and traditional archways. One of the highlights will be a 19-foot high and 115-foot long Chinese dragon, majestically guarding the Zoo until the event ends at during the Chinese Spring Festival.

Be wowed by Chinese performers, enjoy wintery hot food and drinks, and shop at the marketplace featuring hand-made crafts from Chinese artisans.

Walking through this lantern gateway really enhanced the journey and gave one a sense of awe.

Download the map here

Book your tickets here

Advanced online booking discounts are available. Tickets are priced from £17.50 per adult and available at edinburghzoo.org.uk/lanterns

Spectacular humpback whale in front of Edinburgh Castle

Spectacular humpback whale in front of Edinburgh Castle

Picture by Adrian Plumb

The moment a humpback whale breached from the water in front of Edinburgh Castle has been captured by a photographer. Birdwatcher Adrian Plumb got more than he bargained for when he caught an “image of a lifetime” while looking for a tiny bird. Birdwatcher snaps surprise whale shot in front of castle. The mammal was spotted surfacing against the striking backdrop in the Firth of Forth. He managed to capture spectacular pictures of a humpback whale in front of Edinburgh Castle. The huge mammal was swimming in the Firth of Forth while Adrian looked on from Kinghorn in Fife.

A number of the huge mammals were pictured in the Firth of Forth over the weekend, with some sightings also reported on Monday.

 

24 Doors Of Advent: Edinburgh’s Locked Doors Open To The Public

24 Doors Of Advent: Edinburgh’s Locked Doors Open To The Public

The free event 24 Doors of Advent returns from 1 – 24 December, allowing you to peep behind usually closed doors throughout the city during advent!

Discover an exciting new place each day, as this real-life advent calendar takes you through a different door throughout December, as Edinburgh opens its doors to showcase the unique buildings in the city.  So forget the snowman-shaped chocolates in paper calendars and enjoy the new discoveries. Check out the list below to reveal information on the site opened each day and make your countdown to Christmas even more fun than usual!

This year’s doors include John Sinclair House, Victorian School Room, McEwan Hall, Trinity House, Burns Monument, Mansfield Traquair, BT Murrayfield and Lauriston Castle.

Please note that some events and tours must be booked in advance.

1 December – Historic Environment Scotland
2 December – Dovecot Studios
3 December – The Victorian Schoolroom
4 December – Lady Haig Poppy Factory
5 December – McEwan Hall
6 December – Dance For All Studio
7 December – Heart of Midlothian, Tynecastle Park
8 December – Trinity House
9 December – Robert Burns Monument
10 December – Mansfield Traquair Centre
11 December – BT Murrayfield Stadium
12 December – Stills
13 December – Scottish Storytelling Centre
14 December – Georgian Antiques
15 December – Holyrood Park Education Centre
16 December – The Scottish Parliament
17 December – Edinburgh Printmakers
18 December – Edinburgh Festival Theatre
19 December – Lauriston Castle
20 December – St Cecila’s Hall and Music Museum
21 December – National Records of Scotland, HM General Register House
22 December – Drumsheugh Baths Club
23 December – Filmhouse
24 December – Church of St John the Evangelist

*Guided tours available at some locations

20 Things to do & see on the Royal Mile

20 Things to do & see on the Royal Mile

Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is the heart of Scotland’s historic capital. A short walk away is the Grassmarket, an area steeped in the city’s colourful history. The Royal Mile runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, perched high on a base of volcanic rock, with the splendorous Palace of Holyroodhouse, resting in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat. The Mile is overlooked by impressive, towering tenements, between which cobbled closes and narrow stairways interlock to create a secret underground world.