10 things to do on a Winter’s day in Edinburgh
edinburgh winter

Brace yourselves – another miserable Scottish winter is here. The time has officially come to arm yourself with the necessary bad weather paraphernalia.


As we look forward to being mercilessly pelted with all forms of precipitation during the next four to six months, here are our top 10 ways to avoid a total washout in Scotland’s capital.

1. Travel back in time

Georgian House Edinburgh
[Picture: Pelle Sten / Flickr / CC]

The Georgian House, 7 Charlotte Square
£6.50/£5 – more info

Hidden in plain sight in the city’s New Town is a museum with a difference that many born-and-bred Edinburgers will probably never even have noticed before. The Georgian House on Charlotte Square is a fully restored town house, set up to look exactly as it would have in the late 18th to early 19th centuries, from the first piece of period furniture to the last soup spoon.

2. Get your skates on

[Picture: TSPL]

Murrayfield Ice Rink, Riversdale Crescent
£5.30+£1.70 skate hire – more info

Murrayfield Ice Rink (like many others) is stuck in a bit of a time warp, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone from visiting. Prices are reasonable, general skating sessions are frequent, and the rink’s retro decor is actually quite charming. With regular lessons, family sessions and disco skating on Friday and Saturday nights, there’s something for everyone. Home to the Edinburgh Capitals ice hockey team, you can also catch regular games here.

3. Take a tropical trip

[Picture: Daniel Hall / Flickr / CC]

Butterfly & Insect World at Dobbies Garden World, Lasswade
£7.50/£6.50/£5.50 – more info

Sick of the cold weather but can’t afford a holiday in the sun? Edinburgh’s answer to the Bahamas is a visit to Butterfly & Insect World, where the butterfly house is kept at tropical temperatures. Usually unbearable during the summer months, the steamy greenhouse will no doubt be a welcome retreat from any wild winter weather. Stick around for various interactive demonstrations, including snake feedings and a tarantula handling demo – fun for all ages, but not for the faint of heart.

4. Haver over hot chocolate

Hot chocolate
[Picture: macinate / Flickr / CC]

Hotel Chocolat, 7a Frederick Street – more info
Coco of Bruntsfield, 174 Bruntsfield Place – more info

The Zulu Lounge, 366 Morningside Road – more info

When you’re safe and cosy inside with no particular place to go, rainy days can be okay. Why not revert back to your childhood days and while away a few hours with a cup or two of the best hot chocolate Edinburgh has to offer? If you’re shopping on Princes Street when a hurricane hits, duck into the Hotel Chocolat shop and café on nearby Frederick Street. Alternatively, Coco Chocolate have shops both north and south of the city centre, with one on Broughton Street and the other on Bruntsfield Place. Although primarily a chocolate shop, their hot chocolate is regularly deemed the best in the city. Southsiders should make a stop at the tiny South African café Zulu Lounge in Morningside. You might have to fight for a seat, but their “posh” hot chocolates are worth it.

5. ‘Escape’ a puzzling predicament

Escape Edinburgh
[Picture: Facebook]

Escape, 1 St Colme Street
£60 per room – more info

On a lazy day, puzzles help to keep your brain active and your mind young. Recruit up to four friends or family members to take part in Scotland’s first live escape game. Designed as a team building exercise, Escape has proved popular with Edinburgh residents and visitors since it opened in May this year. The idea is that your group is locked inside a seemingly normal room and given one hour to escape, using creativity and team work to find various hidden clues and keys. Sounds more exciting than doing a crossword, doesn’t it?

6. Play pub games

Pure Pool review

The Ball Room, Meadowbank and Morningside – more info
The Sheep Heid Inn, 43-45 The Causeway – more info
BrewDog, 143 Cowgate – more info

If you and your friends would prefer a pint to problem solving, there are plenty of ways to entertain yourselves from the comfort of one of Edinburgh’s finest drinking establishments. The Ball Room has two locations in Edinburgh, both of which have a range of pool and snooker tables, regularly broadcast sport and serve food as well as drinks. The more old school Sheep Heid Inn is home to Scotland’s oldest surviving traditional skittle alley, which can be hired out for a few games. Finally, the Edinburgh branch of BrewDog has a strict ‘no sport’ policy, but offers a variety of board games for patrons to borrow and enjoy while they sip a beer or two.

7. Become a wallflower

Climbing wall
[Picture: Joamm Tall / Flickr / CC ]

EICA: Ratho, South Platt Hill, Newbridge – more info
Alien Rock, 8 Pier Place and 37 West Bowling Green Street – more info

The Scottish climate’s tendency to rain means that exercise enthusiasts will have tried almost every indoor sport under the sun. A visit to one of Edinburgh’s multiple indoor climbing walls is a welcome alternative to yet another afternoon spent swimming or playing badminton.

Alien Rock has two locations in the Leith area, with facilities for both roped and non-roped climbing. Edinburgh International Climbing Arena is located about half an hour outside of the city centre in Ratho, but has an impressive climbing arena with an aerial assault course. Beginners classes are available at both establishments, so nobody has to feel left out of the fun.

8. Get crafty

HoneyPot Ceramics
[Picture: HoneyPot Ceramics]

HoneyPot Ceramics, EICA: Ratho, South Platt Hill, Newbridge – more info

Sharing the same premises as EICA: Ratho, HoneyPot Ceramics has a variety of classes and workshops which are suitable for all ages and perfect for inclement weather. As well as pottery painting, visitors to the arts and crafts studio can learn how to make jewellery, soap and bath bombs, or even have a go at glass fusing.

9. Go on a nostalgic quest

Laser tag score
[Picture: Mack Male / Flickr / CC]

Laser Quest, 56b Dalry Road
£5 per game – more info

Made cool(ish) again by Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother fame, laser tag is just as fun these days as it was at your 9th birthday party. Walking into Laser Quest on Dalry Road is likely to induce a strong wave of nostalgia for visitors of a certain age, and a couple of rounds of laser tag is a surprisingly good workout regardless of your maturity level.

10. Get lost in the library

Signet Library Edinburgh
[Picture: The Signet Library]

Gran Caffé in The Signet Library, 2 Parliament Square – more info

Sometimes simple pleasures are the best, and there’s nothing more comforting than curling up with a good book as the rain or snow falls outside. Edinburgh has libraries aplenty, but the most spectacular of these is actually more commonly used as a wedding venue than a library. The Signet Library has a breathtaking interior, decorated in Georgian period style, and last September the lower library became home to the Gran Caffé. Open Monday to Friday, customers are welcome to enjoy afternoon tea as they observe the goings on of the surrounding functional law library on the same floor.

What are your tried and tested winter’s day activities in Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter via @wow247edinburgh

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