Let me guess, you’re visiting the Scottish capital and it’s pouring? Yep, that happens a lot here but don’t worry, there are many things to do in Edinburgh when it’s raining.
Scotland is known to be a rainy country. The whole of the UK is to be fair… With that said, it doesn’t mean that you will be bored.
People in Edinburgh don’t stop living when there is a bit of rain and there are loads of activities you can do in Edinburgh in the rain.
This includes indoor activities but also some more unusual ones.
No matter what, it’s recommended to wear a raincoat and walk around with an umbrella.
To help you find ideas of things to do in Edinburgh when it rains, we put together this awesome article.
Here you will find a selection of rainy day activities in Edinburgh for visitors and locals.
So, are you ready? Let’s get started!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Located in the Old Town, Camera Obscura is one of the most famous attractions in Edinburgh and it’s the perfect thing to do on a rainy day.
Why? Well, it’s one of the best indoor activities in Edinburgh and that’s something you should do anyway so if it’s raining, you might as well take that as an opportunity to go there.
Camera Obscura is situated on the Royal Mile, about 1 minute walk from Edinburgh Castle. It’s very easy to get there on foot.
Here you will find 5 floors of illusions. It’s so much fun and interactive. Colourful tunnels, magnifying mirrors… there is a bit of everything!
It’s also an excellent thing to do in Edinburgh with kids. You can be sure they will have a good time.
Also, if you love taking photos, you will be in for a treat. There are many photo opportunities here!
If you’re not sure whether it’s for you or not, head there and walk on the right side of the entrance. You’ll find a couple of illusions on the wall. They are free and for people to get a bit of an insight of what’s expecting them inside.
Pro tip: There is a rooftop in Camera Obscura and it boasts some of the best views of Edinburgh.
HOW TO BOOK: The best way is to book your ticket online here. It will give you access to the 5 floors and the rooftop. You can simply show the QR code at the entrance.
Try to book it as soon as you can since it can get a bit busy, especially on a rainy day!
Edinburgh Castle is the most famous landmark in Edinburgh. It stands on Castle Rock, at the very end of the Royal Mile and has been here since the Iron Age.
Its location is ideal since you can see the whole of the city and its surroundings from there. You can only imagine how perfect this spot was from a military point of view.
It is one of the oldest fortified castles in Europe and is still used by the British army to this day.
Visiting Edinburgh Castle is an absolute must-do in Edinburgh and since it’s raining, it’s the perfect time to do it! Once inside, you won’t know it’s pouring outside!
Inside, you will discover many beautiful rooms, the Honour of Scotland and St Margret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh.
HOW TO VISIT: You can buy your ticket directly at the castle however, if you can book it online on their official website it would be better since there is an online discount.
If you are truly interested in learning more about the history of Scotland and the castle, you can also opt for a guided tour of the Castle with Little Fish Tours. They are a local company and their guides are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.
Whisky Tasting and Folklore
Who says Scotland says whisky!
Yes, whisky without an ‘e’!
Fun fact: Scottish whisky is spelt without an ‘e’. It’s not a typo. The ‘e’ was added by the Irish so people could easily spot which one was Irish on the shelves. While this is less true now as many other countries make whisky, it is still always spelt without an ‘e’ in Scotland.
It’s run by a local tour company, Little Fish tours, and it’s such a great thing to do.
It takes place at around 5 PM and lasts a couple of hours, making it a great thing to do in Edinburgh in the evening when it rains.
You will meet your guide on the Royal Mile and then head to The Waverley pub. Here you will have the entire room upstairs privatised for the group.
You will get to try 4 single malt whiskies while the guide tells you stories about the local culture. This includes whisky facts, Edinburgh fun facts and Scottish legends.
Quick Story: Billy Connolly used to perform on the stage of the Waverley when he was in the band The Humbedbums before becoming a stand-up comedian.
It is a great thing to do. It’s super interesting, great value for money and very fun.
The guide is very friendly and will also give you loads of local tips at the end. If there is something you want to know about Edinburgh, feel free to ask!
Also, it’s dog-friendly! So if you are travelling with a dog, that’s something you can do.
HOW TO BOOK: It’s super easy to book online here. You just need to choose your date, book your ticket and you will get a confirmation email with a QR code. If you have the Get Your Guide app, you will also get notifications before the tour starts and directions with Google Maps.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Located at the very end of Canongate, the Palace of Holyrood is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.
To put it simply, that’s where the queen stays when she is in Edinburgh! Quite cool, right?
It’s also one of the most beautiful places to visit in the city and an excellent place to discover on a rainy day.
There is an entrance fee to visit the palace but it’s well worth it. It’s absolutely stunning!
Inside, you will discover the state apartments, the throne room, the treasures but also get to visit the Holyrood Abbey and the gardens (take an umbrella for the gardens).
It’s also a great place to learn more about Mary, Queen of Scots, since it used to be her residence as well. You will get access to her chambers where her second husband Lord Darnley murdered her secretary, Rizzio.
PRO TIP: Watch Reign beforehand. It’s a TV show about Mary Queen of Scots. Of course, it was very romanticised and not always historically accurate but still quite a good watch for anyone visiting Scotland.
HOW TO VISIT: You can book your ticket at the kiosk by the entrance however, if you can, book it beforehand online. That way, you are sure you will get a spot.
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the most famous British ships in history. It served the royal family for 44 years and was the floating royal residence of the Queen!
The royal family used it to tour the entire world and even for some royal honeymoons!
Needless to say that if you love everything that has to do with the British monarchy, this will be a must-see!
The Royal Yacht Britannia is located in Leith so you will need to take a bus to get there from the city centre but it’s well worth your time!
Admittedly, this is not exactly the best activity on this list when it rains as part of the visit is on the deck and therefore outside however, you will spend most of your time inside and stay dry.
Pro tip: Watch the crown before visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia. In season 2, you can see Prince Phillip going on a sailing tour, it was on this very same boat. Unfortunately, the filming team didn’t actually use the real yacht, everything was rebuilt as a set, however, the director worked very closely with the Royal Yacht Britannia team to ensure that everything was as accurate as possible.
HOW TO BOOK: Make sure to book in advance and online. Don’t take a bus to Leith without having your tickets booked as you could be in for a disappointment. It’s very easy to book on your phone. It really only takes a minute.
Located on Market Street, only a couple of minutes away from Waverley Station, Edinburgh Dungeon is the perfect activity for people who love haunted places.
This underground attraction offers super cool live theatre shows.
It is the perfect place to learn more about the ghost stories of the city.
While joining a ghost tour in Edinburgh is an excellent thing to do, it’s not that great on a rainy day.
Edinburgh Dungeon offers an all-in-one experience since you will hear some spooky stories, be underground and see great shows!
You will also walk around a creepy mirror labyrinth.
Basically, it’s super fun!
That having been said, you need to like spooky things. You will be frightened and if that’s not something you enjoy or seek, it will ruin the experience.
HOW TO BOOK: It’s very easy to book tickets online here.
Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is home to loads of underground tunnels and hidden witchcraft temples.
There is a whole lot more to see in Edinburgh than what is on the surface!
If you want to learn some witch stories and discover ancient vaults, joining an underground tour is a must-do.
As the name suggests, most of it is underground which means you will be protected from the rain.
The guides are very knowledgeable and more importantly, amazing storytellers! It’s very entertaining as well as unique.
HOW TO BOOK: You can book your tour here.
Ghost Bus Tour
Since it’s raining, ghost walking tours are a bit off the table however, it doesn’t mean you can’t go on a cool ghost tour.
There is a fantastic ghost bus tour and it’s the perfect thing to do on a rainy day in Edinburgh.
As a matter of fact, it might be even better on a rainy day since it gives it a darker atmosphere.
The ghost bus tour starts in the Old Town and goes around both the Old and New Town.
It’s a refurbished vintage double-decker (so very British!) painted in black with some spooky decorations.
If you look at the photo below, you can even see a hand in front of the driver seat.
The guide will tell you loads of stories about ghosts, witches, murders and plenty more!
The guide is dressed up which makes it even more immersive!
The bus goes around the city which means you get to see loads and discover the exact spots where the murders took place.
HOW TO BOOK: You can easily book online right here.
Scottish Cooking Class
Eating traditional dishes is a must-do while travelling but learning how to make them is even better!
If you love Scottish cuisine, you should opt for a cooking class with a local.
Here you’ll learn how to make a 3-course dinner and get to eat traditional Cullen Skink, haggis and cheese.
It’s good fun and a great way to spend your evening on a rainy day.
You learn new things, eat delicious local delicacies and chat away with a local. How perfect is that?
HOW TO BOOK: The Scottish cooking class has to be booked online here.
Magical Cocktail Experience at The Cauldron
Calling all Muggles for this one! If you are a Harry Potter fan, Edinburgh will be your paradise.
The only downside here is that most Harry Potter activities in Edinburgh are outside so they are not the best when it rains.
That having been said, there is one experience that not only you can do when it rains, but is even better when it rains!
It’s potion cocktail making!
The Cauldron is a Harry Potter-themed bar located in the New Town.
They offer a potion cocktail making experience. It lasts 1 hour 45 minutes during which you will learn how to make magical cocktails using molecular mixology.
Wands and robes are provided so you truly look like you’re in Hogwarts!
It’s also a great place to take some Harry Potter themed photos in Edinburgh!
HOW TO BOOK: You can call the Cauldron directly or book online here.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
The Scotch Whisky Experience is located at the top of the Royal Mile, just across from Camera Obscura and near the Castle.
It’s the most famous whisky experience in Edinburgh.
It is not the same as the whisky tasting tour previously mentioned. The experience is completely different and while they both are about whisky, it’s important you understand what makes them unique and which one would be best for you.
Here you will discover an impressive collection of whisky, the largest in the world actually.
There are almost 3,500 bottles of whisky!
You will be going on a guided tour during which the guide will tell you everything you need to know about Scotland’s national drink.
You will also get to taste a scotch whisky and take the crystal glass as a souvenir.
If you are travelling with kids, it is also possible to visit. They will be given an Irn Bru instead (Scotland’s national soft drink!).
HOW TO BOOK: It can be a busy attraction, especially when the weather isn’t too nice so make sure to book online as soon as you can.
National Museum of Scotland
Located on Chambers Street, a couple of minutes walk from Greyfriars Kirkyard and Bobby’s statue, the National Museum of Scotland is, without the shadow of a doubt, the best free thing to do in Edinburgh when it rains!
Inside, you will discover many galleries and exhibitions. There is a bit of everything so you can be sure to find something you will like.
The transportation, science and technology, fashion and natural world galleries are absolutely fantastic!
There is so much to discover and learn here.
It’s also a great thing to do with kids. It’s fun and educational!
The museum also has temporary exhibitions on so even if you’ve visited in the past, you can still head there and discover new things.
PRO TIP: A lot of people don’t know that but you can actually access the rooftop terrace of the museum. The views over the city are fantastic.
HOW TO BOOK: No need to book! You can just walk in!
Museum of Edinburgh
Located on Canongate, the Museum of Edinburgh is lesser-known but well worth a visit.
The entrance is free (though donations are welcome) which make it a great activity for people visiting Edinburgh on a budget.
As you walk down Canongate, you’ll be able to spot the museum very quick since it’s painted in yellow.
PRO TIP: The courtyard is an excellent photo spot in Edinburgh so if you like taking pictures, make sure to bring your camera. Also, if you have a red umbrella, you can snap a cool ‘Mary Poppins’-like photo.
Inside, you will discover amazing collections of objects that represent Edinburgh. There even is the bowl of Greyfriars Bobby!
It’s a great place to learn more about Edinburgh, its fascinating history and also some ghost stories.
HOW TO BOOK: No need to book or buy tickets for this one, you just need to show up!
Visiting a distillery is always a great thing to do on a rainy day. It’s an indoor activity, it’s fun and it warms you up!
While Scotland is mainly known for its whisky, it also produces amazing gin!
While Edinburgh Gin is the most famous, Holyrood Distillery is also a great place to visit.
Best of all? This distillery makes both whisky and gin!
This is ideal if everyone in your group doesn’t like whisky.
You can join the gin and whisky tour and taste the one you prefer.
You will learn how whisky and gin are made and get a full tour of the distillery.
HOW TO BOOK: You can easily book your tour online here.
Edinburgh Gin Distillery
Now, if you are huge gin fan, visiting Edinburgh Gin Distillery is a no brainer.
While I’ll always recommend Holyrood Distillery to people who want to experience both whisky and gin or to groups with different beverage preferences, Edinburgh Gin is the ultimate gin experience in Edinburgh!
Edinburgh Gin is a popular gin in the whole of the UK. You can find it in every bar!
They have loads of versions including a pretty delicious rhubarb one!
The distillery is located near Princes Street Gardens, not too far from Charlotte Square.
The great thing about this distillery is that they don’t only offer a tour and a tasting, they also have some gin-making activities.
So, if you love gin, don’t think about it twice and head straight there.
HOW TO BOOK: You can book your tour on their official website.
If you are looking for a cultural thing to do in Edinburgh in the rain, visiting the Scottish Parliament will be an excellent idea.
The New Scottish Parliament is one of the most polemical buildings in the city.
At the beginning of the 00s, an international competition was held to decide which architect would design the new parliament.
The design chosen was from Enric Miralles, a Spanish architect and is still to this day a pretty divided choice.
Some people like it, some hates it. Whichever way, you can be sure to have an opinion on the matter!
Another reason that made the new parliament quite famous is the fact that its construction went 10 times above budget!
Whether you are a fan or not, it’s still a very interesting building to visit.
Firstly, it’s a great place to learn more about the politics in Scotland and why the winning design was chosen.
If you don’t like the look of the building, going on a tour might even be better for you since you’ll get a better understanding of the architectural choices.
HOW TO BOOK: The guided tours of the Scottish parliament are free. You can find more information on their official website.
Edinburgh’s Chocolatarium is a micro chocolate factory located in the Old Town, near Canongate and High Street.
They offer chocolate tours which include tastings and chocolate making.
It’s very good fun for both kids and adults.
Firstly, you’ll discover the history of cocoa and chocolate, how chocolate is made and will even get to make your own chocolate bar.
You can include the flavour of your choice to make it truly yours.
It truly is a great activity on a rainy day. It’s fun, interesting and you get to eat chocolate. What else can we ask for?!
PRO TIP: If you are visiting Edinburgh in autumn, you’ll be happy to know that they also offer Halloween themed tours!
HOW TO BOOK: You can easily book your workshop here.
Edinburgh Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
This one is a bit of an odd one. On one hand, I don’t exactly consider it as the optimal rainy day activity in Edinburgh.
On the other hand, if you are visiting Edinburgh for the first time and only have a small amount of time, you will need to brave the rain one way or another.
With the hop on hop off bus, you get to see the most important landmarks in the city while staying relatively dry.
Of course, every time you will get off the bus, you will need to go in the rain but while you are on the bus, you’ll be warm and dry.
Also, everything is so easy! You just need to go with the flow.
So, on in all, if you want to visit Edinburgh in the rain while sparing yourself as much as possible, the hop on hop off bus will be the best way to do so.
HOW TO BOOK: You can easily book your tickets here.
Having an afternoon tea is a quintessential British experience.
Nothing screams Britain more than a cup of tea, some scones and mini sandwiches.
If it’s raining and you don’t want to spend your time outside, then booking an afternoon tea will be the best thing to do.
There are loads of places where you can get afternoon tea in Edinburgh.
Honestly, it can’t really go wrong. You’ll always get good food and delicious tea but some places are known for their afternoon teas in Edinburgh and if you can, aim for those.
Amongst the famous ones, you’ll find Mimi’s Bakehouse, Colonnades at the Signet Library and The Dome.
FUN FACT: The Dome is an excellent place to visit if you are in Edinburgh in winter. They put up beautiful Christmas decorations and serve festive cocktails!
If you are looking for something a bit more unique, opt for the vintage Routemaster bus afternoon tea. You’ll cruise around the city from the comfort of a vintage bus and while having delicious food!
HOW TO BOOK: Tickets for the vintage bus afternoon tea can be booked here. For the other restaurants and tea shops, just give them a call to book.
The United Kingdom is one of the best countries when it comes to theatre and musicals.
Edinburgh is incredibly famous for that since it hosts the Fringe festival every year.
The Edinburgh Playhouse is the main theatre in Edinburgh. It’s located in the New Town and you can easily get there on foot.
It is an ATG theatre so all the famous musicals and theatre productions perform there at some point.
Book of Mormons, The Lion King, 9 to 5, Beauty and the Beast… they’ve all been there!
There are shows from Tuesday to Sunday. One in the afternoon, the matinée and one in the evening.
It’s a great thing to do on a rainy day since you’ll be inside.
HOW TO BOOK: Go to the ATG Edinburgh Playhouse website and look what is on.
If you are trying to book for the same day, you can also go straight to the box office and even try to bargain your way. They often give discounts if you ask them nicely.
Please note that if you have an ATG theatre card, it will work on this theatre as well and you can get your usual discounts.
READ MORE: How to get cheap theatre tickets in the UK
Now that you know exactly what you can do in Edinburgh when it rains, it’s time to have fun!
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- Edinburgh 2-day itinerary: How to spend 2 days in Edinburgh, Scotland
- 11 Harry Potter Sites in Edinburgh & Other Magical Activities