10 Things to Do in Edinburgh in August

With the best festivals of the year happening throughout the month, August is by far the ideal time to visit Edinburgh, especially for those who love fun and art. Here's everything you need to know!

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

9 min read

10 Things to Do in Edinburgh in August

Walter Scott Monument | @Radu Daniel

As you may already know, in addition to everything there is to see and do in Edinburgh, in August there are several great festivals that take place during that month. But, in addition, the Scottish capital also allows you to enjoy nature, its beautiful castles, the surrounding beaches and the delicious craft beer that is produced here.

1. Get to know the city in a tourist bus

A good way to take advantage of the good temperatures of the city at this time of the year is to take a tour to get to know it in its tourist bus. You have two floors to choose from (one indoor and one outdoor), and during the tour you can enjoy an audio guide that is available in several languages.

Among the monuments you will pass will be the National Museum or Edinburgh Castle and during 24 hours you can get on and off the bus as many times as you want. A perfect option to get to know Edinburgh in a comfortable way and without missing any of the essential monuments of the city.

Book an Edinburgh sightseeing bus

2. Take a trip to the lakes and castles of the Highlands

Edinburgh is a beautiful city to know but I also recommend you to visit its surroundings. The Highlands, or also called Scottish Highlands is a mountainous region located in the north of Scotland that is considered a paradise for nature lovers. Among its attractions we also find the typical castles famous in the area with idyllic landscapes, thick forests, blue lakes ... without a doubt, perfect to know with good temperatures!

We suggest you book an excursion to the lakes and castles of the Highlands, located 50km from the capital, specifically in the so-called Arrochar Alps, with an expert guide who will accompany you on a visit to some of the most important castles in the area such as Doune and Inveraray, among many other attractions that you can not miss.

Book your excursion to the Highlands

3. Check out these arts and culture festivals to visit during the month of August

Edinburgh International Festival| ©Nik Watt
Edinburgh International Festival| ©Nik Watt

If there is something that Edinburgh is known for is the amount of leisure and cultural plans that it offers to its visitors throughout the month of August. Here are some festivals that can be perfect to know during your days of tourism in Edinburgh if you go in August.

  • Edinburgh International Festival: Classical music, dance and theater. In the last three weeks of August is enjoyed in Edinburgh. This festival takes place in the main theaters and concert halls to present outstanding figures of classical music, performing arts and dance. Tickets can be purchased directly from the Edinburgh International Festival website. They are usually available, with prices, from the first months of the year.
  • Fringe Festival: The Fringe is possibly the most famous of Edinburgh's festivals as far as the celebration of art and culture is concerned. It takes place in August for practically the whole month.

Its stages cover the whole city: bars, nightclubs, improvised stages and much more. You can buy your tickets directly on the Festival's website, although there are also free performances.

  • International Film Festival: characterized by an innovative approach that includes short films, experimental cinema and genre documentaries. This festival is especially famous for the variety of premieres that take place there. The sale of tickets for the screenings of both short films and films are subject to each year's program and can be purchased directly on the website or at the box office of the participating screening room.

4. Royal Military Tattoo Festival - Enjoy the most talented military bands in the world

Royal Military Tattoo Festival| ©Dan McCarthy
Royal Military Tattoo Festival| ©Dan McCarthy

For two or three weeks in August, the Royal Military Tattoo takes place, an event whose objective is to showcase the talent of numerous artists from different nations, but with a particular focus: military bands. This show includes the presentation of musicians, dancers and acrobats, all dressed in luxurious and elaborate uniforms.

Throughout history, at least 40 nations have participated in the event; over the years it has seen everything from New Zealand bagpipe bands to youth acrobat teamson motorcycles.

Where it is held

Since its founding in 1950, the festival has taken place every year on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and is considered one of the most iconic events in the city's annual calendar.

How to buy tickets

Tickets are sold well in advance and can be purchased directly from the EdinburghTattoo event website. It is good to keep in mind that proceeds from the event are used to support various charitable causes.

5. To follow the party, check out the other festivals in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Arts Festival| ©The Fruitmarket Gallery
Edinburgh Arts Festival| ©The Fruitmarket Gallery

The celebration of festivals continues non-stop throughout the month of August. Here is some information about other lesser known international events, but equally very interesting, that you might consider enjoying during your stay in the city.

Edinburgh Mela

  • What to expect: Founded in 1995, this is a festival that celebrates the city's ethnic minority communities, including traditions from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, various regions of Africa and others.
  • Where: Since 2010 it has beenheld at the Link Leith, with 3 stages for events, food and drink area, bazaar area and children's area.
  • Tickets: Approximately 5 € the adult ticket. Free for children under 12 years.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

  • What to expect: This festival lasts between 15 to 20 days and exhausts an extensive calendar of activities including autograph signings, talks, cultural and political debates around different themes; they also have a didactic learning program for children.
  • Where: During the last three weeks of August in Charlotte Square.
  • Tickets: Adult-focused events can cost between €9 and €18, while children's events cost between €3 and €9.

Edinburgh Art Festival

  • What to expect: During festival season the city's leading galleries, museums and exhibition spaces celebrate the best and brightest in the visual arts; bringing together local talent and international talent with emerging figures.
  • Where: Art Festival activities take place at venues such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, The National Galleries of Scotland, Jupiter Artland and more.
  • How to buy tickets: The vast majority of the exhibitions are free. It is advisable to look carefully at the program website days before the trip for more information.

6. Spend an afternoon shopping at the West End Craft Fair

West End Craft Fair| ©Leonel K
West End Craft Fair| ©Leonel K

Steeped in the festival atmosphere is the West End Fair, where no less than 100 artists and craftspeople from all corners of the country come together. The aim is to present a truly unique selection of jewelry, clothing and many other pieces of contemporary wear.

If you find yourself in Edinburgh these days it is well worth spending an afternoon exploring the stalls. The fair runs throughout the month.

If you like quirky and original fashion accessories, explore the vintage stores in Stockbridge. On the other hand, if you're interested in summer sales, be sure to visit the stores on Princes Street, where discounted merchandise is on display every Thursday evening.

Where it takes place

In the area known as the West End, located on the western edge of the city center. It is famous for elegant boutiques and beautiful bars.

How to buy tickets

No tickets are necessary, it is a free event with free admission to the public.

7. August is the last month to enjoy the beaches in Edinburgh

Gullane Beach Edinburgh| ©Rev Jacqui
Gullane Beach Edinburgh| ©Rev Jacqui

Edinburgh' s coastal area is obviously a less frequented area by tourists, who head to this part of the country driven by the rich history and cultural heritage of the Scottish city.

However, at the end of August the good summer temperatures start to move away, so it is a good opportunity to enjoy the waters.

Gullane Beach Edinburgh:

This area is home to some of the best golf courses in the country. Located 45 minutes drive from the center of Edinburgh, taking the road to North Berwick. By public transport you will have to take bus 124 from St Andrew 's House station.

Yellowcraigs Beach

It is located 45 minutes by car. By public transport you should take the 124 bus from St Andrew's House station, which will take you to Yellowcraigs Parks which is a 20 minute walk from the Beach.

Cramond Beach

It is a beautiful beach located in front of the Firth of Forth sea where you can observe the coast from the promenade. It is one of the closest beaches and is only a 20 minute drive away. Taking bus 29 at the Foot Of The Mound stop, it will leave you just 5 minutes walk from the coast.

8. See the best rooftop bars in Edinburgh

Visiting Rooftop 51| ©Janis M
Visiting Rooftop 51| ©Janis M

Rooftop bars are a great alternative to enjoy almost all year round, but especially on cool summer nights. If you're looking for plans to enjoy with friends, family or for a romantic getaway with your partner, it's the perfect plan!

In the city you will find many centers that meet this entertainment format. Here are my favorites.

Nor' Loft Rooftop and Champagne Bar

Located on the rooftop of the Market Street Hotel, this establishment offers fabulous views of the Scott Monument and Princes Street Garden, one of the best shopping spots in the city.

Rooftop 51

A mixed indoor/outdoor bar located on the rooftop of the Moxy Hotel. It is characterized by two very attractive qualities: the presence of young people and for offering fabulous views of Edinburgh Castle, especially if you visit during the day.


This is one of the most exclusive rooftop bars in the city. Located in the Doubletree Hilton the space is mainly used for cocktail type events and weddings. They are open to the public a couple of days a week.

Cold Town House

If you're looking for a relaxed and fun atmosphere, Cold Town is your place. One of Edinburgh's most unstructured rooftop bars where you'll find a wide selection of craft beer and pizza cooked in old stone and wood-fired ovens.

Book a whisky tour in Edinburgh

9. Take a tour of the city's most beautiful Beer Gardens

Exterior of The Last Drop| ©Gary L
Exterior of The Last Drop| ©Gary L

The Beer Gardens in Edinburgh are beer garden style spaces with a terrace that are very popular with the locals. It's the perfect outing when the sun is shining on a Wednesday afternoon to enjoy the great weather with friends, so if you're only in town for two or three days on vacation include at least one of the following options.

The Last Drop

If you are looking for a traditional Scottish pub this is a great option. Located in Grassmarket Square, the Last Drop is also an excellent choice if you are looking for good music at night.

The White Hart Inn

Another popular and busy pub located in the Grassmarket area. Urban legends say that the place is haunted and perhaps this is the reason for its popularity.

Subway Social's Secret Garden

The landscaped roofs of this place are really beautiful, it is worth going just for the beautiful night illumination of the space.

Cold Town House

Offers a wide selection of Neapolitan pizza cooked in stone and wood-fired ovens. When the skies are clear, the roll-up roof of this pub 's terrace is released for beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle.

Book a guided tour of Edinburgh

10. Enjoy a quiet afternoon amidst nature

Princes Street Gardens in spring| ©Stuart Montgomery
Princes Street Gardens in spring| ©Stuart Montgomery

Summer is the best time to enjoy the green and landscaped spaces of central Edinburgh. Here are two spaces you shouldn't miss.

Princes Street Gardens

Considered the most beautiful garden area in Edinburgh, you can't leave the city without lying in the sun on the grass of Princes Street Gardens.

Even during the crazy festival season, this space is much quieter than the rest of the city, so you can take the opportunity to have a fun picnic with your friends.

Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh

The space of the Botanic Garden is divided into four distinct areas allegorical to four major areas of the planet: aquatic plants, European plants, North American plants and plants of the southern hemisphere of America.

The best time to visit is undoubtedly during the summer, when all the vegetation on display is at its peak of splendor.