Edinburgh in October | 10 things to do

If you ask me about the best time to visit Edinburgh, I’d probably recommend late September or early October. It’s as if this city was designed to be the capital of autumn aesthetics, bound to leave you mesmerized by its beauty. If you’re a fan of October hues, horror stories, and the Harry Potter ambiance, then lace up your boots, don your cozy tartan scarf, grab a pumpkin spice latte from a local café, and set out to explore the city.

Here’s my special list of 10 things to do when visiting Edinburgh in October.

1. Spend a Half Day at the Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Edinburgh is already an impressive site, but in October, it transforms into a magical realm of golden carpets. Visit in the morning or early afternoon, especially when the sun is shining, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The allure isn’t confined to just the outdoors. Inside, a delightful cafe tempts visitors with the aroma of freshly baked scones. When paired with a hot cup of tea, it’s a transcendent experience. So, if you’re in Edinburgh during autumn, dont miss out the Botanical Garden.

2. Participate in the Samhuinn Fire Festival

October in Edinburgh is teeming with various events, and of course, some have made it to my list. One of the most captivating pagan  events is the Samhuinn Fire Festival. This celebration occurs annually on the 31st of October, embodying an ancient Celtic tradition that signifies the end of summer and heralds the onset of winter. The festival unfolds on Calton Hill after sunset, so ensure you’re dressed warmly. If you’re enamored with fire, Halloween, and pagan traditions, this event is a must-attend. Secure your tickets in advance via the official Samhuinn Fire Festival website.

Address – Calton Hill ( Location might change, so please check official website)

3. Visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

As you’ve probably heard, it rains frequently in Scotland. Although Edinburgh retains its beauty even in the rain, not everyone is keen on getting soaked. If the weather isn’t on your side and you’re looking to stay both entertained and dry, consider visiting the national galleries.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art consists of two buildings and showcases an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. It’s an excellent venue to visit, offering numerous opportunities for creative photography. Be sure to wander through the gallery’s garden; trust me, there’s an abundance to admire there. Keep in mind, however, that the museum closes at 5 pm, and you’ll likely need 2-3 hours to fully explore it. And the best part? Admission is free! Revel in the art.

Address – 75 Belford Rd.

4. Celebrate Oktoberfest

Calling all beer enthusiasts and those who love a good time: YES, we do have our own Oktoberfest in Edinburgh, and it’s been a recurring event for the past 10 years! Located right in the heart of the city, Oktoberfest is a lively and bustling affair. Revel in the live music, let the Bavarian beers flow, and enjoy the sight of men clad in leather lederhosen.

P.S. – This is a ticketed event, so you’ll need to purchase your pass online. The festival runs from 05.10 to 08.10.

Address: West Princess Street Gardens

5. Learn about Scottish Whiskey at the Holyrood distillery

When the rain sets in, what could be better than enjoying some whisky? But instead of just sipping it, take it a step further by delving into its rich history and seeing how it’s made. Holyrood Distillery is an active distillery located in Edinburgh where you can witness the entire whisky-making process firsthand. Tour prices start from £20.00 per person.

For more details, check out the Holyrood Distillery website.

Address – 19 St Leonard’s Ln.

6. Join the Horror Festival

I’m a fan of horror movies, so I couldn’t resist including the Horror Festival in this list. The festival kicks off on the 26th of October and runs for five days. Across the city, there’s a variety of events — from comedy and theatre to cabaret and more. Simply choose what appeals to you the most. This year, I’m eagerly looking forward to the zombie apocalypse theatre; maybe I’ll spot you there? Tickets for the events are quite affordable since they’re organized by a charity. To pick the perfect show, visit their official webpage.

Address – Varies depending on the event.

7. Ghost Tour

If you’re in the mood for something spooky or Halloween-themed, consider embarking on a ghost tour. Edinburgh is rife with phantoms and legends that are said to haunt its shadowy alleys, especially when the mist rolls in. With a plethora of tales and tours available, I won’t pinpoint any specific recommendations here—after all, the best choice depends on your personal preferences. Options abound: there’s a ghost bus tour, walking tours, and even underground explorations. So, muster your courage, and godspeed, fellow ghostbuster!

8. Day Tours from Edinburgh

Prefer spending your day surrounded by nature? Consider a day tour from Edinburgh to experience Scotland’s natural beauty. With numerous choices available, I’d especially suggest a day tour to the Highlands or Pitlochry — they’re particularly captivating in autumn.

9. Visit Roslyn

Day tours can be expensive, and not everyone prefers group excursions. For those who relish autumn forests, I highly recommend visiting the quaint town of Roslin, just outside Edinburgh. You can easily reach Roslin by city bus from Edinburgh, and the entire journey should take less than an hour.

In Roslin, the renowned Rosslyn Chapel stands out not only for its architectural mastery but also for its historical significance. Adjacent to the chapel, the forest dons a captivating array of autumnal shades. This combination provides a perfect opportunity for those keen on delving into Scotland’s rich heritage amidst natural splendor. Don’t forget your camera; the picturesque views are truly memorable.

P.S – Did you watch the movie “The Da Vinci Code”? Rosslyn Chapel was prominently featured in it!

10. Celebrate Halloween

As October draws to a close, there’s no better place to embrace the spooky spirit of Halloween than in Edinburgh. With its cobbled streets, ancient buildings, and chilling legends, the city itself feels like a setting straight out of a gothic tale. Dive into the festivities by attending costume parties, haunted tours, or simply reveling in the eerie ambiance that descends upon the city. Children and adults alike can find plenty of events, from trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving to ghost storytelling sessions. As the nights get longer and the shadows deepen, Edinburgh offers a Halloween experience that’s both authentically Scottish and universally thrilling. Whether you’re here for the chills or the traditions, you’re in for an unforgettable celebration.

To Conclude

Enjoy yourself! Dress warmly and let your legs guide you on an exciting adventure around town. Get lost in its beauty, wander through the meadows and parks, all while sipping your hot coffee. Edinburgh in autumn is an experience in itself, and the best way to truly appreciate it is to immerse yourself fully.

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