10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

My birthday falls in December and this year, we decided to spend 24 hours (child free might I add) in Edinburgh. We love this city and it is so easy to get to. Edinburgh is an easy 2.5 hours drive from South Northumberland or 1.5 hours on the train from Newcastle. We could not recommend Edinburgh enough for a city break in December. Here's why:-

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

1 - Cheap Accommodation

City centre hotels can be expensive and yes you could blow the budget and stay somewhere like The Balmoral however if you do need to watch the pennies, there are plenty of budget options too. We stayed at Motel One Royal Mile which was perfectly placed in the heart of the city within very easy walking distance of Waverley train station, the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street/The Christmas Markets. Rooms are from just £59 (ours was £69) and include free Wifi, a late 12 noon check out and a 24 hour bar/reception.

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - Motel One Royal Mile

2 - The Christmas Markets at Night

How pretty are the Christmas markets in Edinburgh! They are way better than ours in Newcastle. We visited on a weeknight between 4pm-6pm which seemed like the perfect time. The lights were pretty, the stalls were bustling but not too busy and there was a lovely festive atmosphere. There are some wonderful foods and gifts for sale as well as fairground rides for young and old. You can't miss the main market area right in front of Princes Street.

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - Ferris Wheel

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - Prince's Street Christmas Market

3 - Mulled Wine

Nothing says Christmas more than a warming mug of mulled wine and there's plenty to enjoy in Edinburgh. We sampled a cup when walking around the Princes Street Market (£5) but actually preferred the Mulled Wine from the Scandinavian-themed bar in the centre of the Ice Rink at St Andrew's Square which was £1 cheaper and provided somewhere nice to sit down. Most of the bars were selling mulled wine for around £5 too.

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - mulled wine

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - christmas market at night

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - Scandanavian bar near ice rink

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - mulled wine

4 - Cocktails in the Dome

I have wanted to visit the Dome for years and I'm so pleased we finally made it. It really does not disappoint. Yes it is busy and I think we waited maybe 15 minutes for drinks but this is the same for most cocktail bars. You don't need to book to visit for a drink but expect queues during peak times (we walked straight in at around 6pm on a weeknight). I enjoyed a beautiful Apple Crumble Martini for £7.50 which I think is a very good price. Afternoon tea in the dome is next on my list! 

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - The Dome Christmas tree

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - The Dome Christmas Bar

5 - The Street of Light

I really wish I had known about this before I visited. This beautiful Castle is actually a whole street filled with 60,000 light bulbs at the end of George Street. You can book a free ticket here to walk through and enjoy this attraction which is accompanied by synchronised music from local choirs. We admired from afar this time but will definitely book up next year. 

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - Street of light

6 - Scottish Hospitality

Scottish people are just so friendly. We made random friends with the locals and ended up joining forces to take part in a pub quiz together at the end of the evening. 

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - pub quiz

7 - Beautiful Decorations

Edinburgh is a stunning city at any time of the year but even more so in December. The streets are filled with twinkling lights and Christmas trees and the photo opportunities are endless.

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

8 - Whisky

Scotland is obviously home to some of the best Whisky in the world. Although we've visited Edinburgh on numerous occasions, Steve has only really appreciated a good Whisky for the past couple of years. If you're a Whisky fan you simply must visit the Whisky stores around the Royal Mile area. There are lots of them and the staff are all knowledgable and helpful. We'll definitely be booking up on a Whisky tasting tour next time. For now though, Steve was happy with a spot of window shopping. 

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - whisky shop

9 - Ice Skating

There's no way I would voluntarily step onto ice but I was happy enough to watch those who did. Some skaters were superb and the kids put me to shame. Others provided some good entertainment whilst we enjoyed a warming mulled wine :-) You'll find the ice rink near George Street and prices are from just £5. Details here. 

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - ice skating

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

10 - Scottish Food

The people of Edinburgh are clearly proud of their Scottish cuisine as we were spoilt for choice. We finally settled on Cannonball restaurant by Contini which is a renowned family-owned restaurant serving Scottish cuisine right next door to Edinburgh Castle (with views from the window). The atmosphere was lovely and felt special enough for a birthday treat but still relaxed and informal. The restaurant sources all of their ingredients from over 70 artisan suppliers across Scotland and the quality is superb.

Steve and I weren't too hungry so opted for a Scottish Cheese board with a glass of Prosecco for me and a local beer for him. At under £25 this is one of the best value lunches we've had in long time and we'd recommend seeking this place out.

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December - Scottish cheese board at Contini

We had the best time in Edinburgh. Let me know if you've visited and where you'd recommend.

Click here to read my top tips for visiting Edinburgh Christmas Markets with kids

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10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December including the Dome at Christmas, the Christmas markets and ice skating.



  1. You have to visit The Witchery next time! Expensive but magical. The restaurant is like a grotto. Very Harry Potter-esque :)

    1. Oh yes, we have visited before (and stayed in one of their suite's pre-children). Unfortunately we were on a shoestring budget so couldn't visit this time but we did walk past and vow to save enough to re-visit at some point.

  2. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities in the UK and I cannot believe I have never taken the kids. Gorgeous photos

    1. Oh it's lovely isn't it. We've taken the kids a few times but never at Christmas time - maybe next year.

  3. Your photos are beautiful! So Christmassy!!!!! I've not visited Edinburgh at Christmas time for years, think I need to make it a priority next year.

    Good find with Motel One, most hotels in Edinburgh are crazy expensive, especially at Fringe time!

    I am DESPERATE to go to the Dome, I can't believe I've never been!

    1. Definitely make it a priority! We've decided to visit Amsterdam for my birthday next year. I hope the North Sea crossing isn't too rough in winter!

  4. Happy Birthday!
    It looks like you had a wonderful time! Gorgeous photos x

  5. Love your photos, Sam! What a bargain of a room. We stayed at Tiger Lily for our wedding anniversary earlier in the year. Edinburh was the first place I had a job when I qualified as a chiropodist --- a very long time ago --- its such a beaut city.My husband ( another Steve) quickly felt the same way when we met!

  6. This looks amazing!! Love Edinburgh and want to go back to festival in August

  7. It looks like you have had the best time, beautiful photos. I love Edinburgh although I have only ever stayed overnight twice as we normally just visit for the day. The Rutland hotel is amazing at the bottom of princes street & we also loved hotel du vin too. The Mary close tour was probably my favourite touristy type thing I have done there xx

  8. Edinburgh's fab, but I've never been there in December. Great tip about the mulled wine at the Scandi bar. If we visit D's brother this winter, I'll give everyone a nod to head there! #citytripping

  9. Oooh Edinburgh looks lovely during the holiday season! Especially that tree! Although I'm sad to see they give you paper cups for your Gl├╝hwein! #CityTripping

  10. I bet accommodation prices are much lower in December? Coming from the tropics, the thought of visiting Edinburgh in Dec gives me the shivers but as long as I'm properly dressed for the climate should be quite an enjoyable trip, right? Based on your post and pictures, looks like it's great fun! :-) #Citytripping

  11. You've absolutely made me want to revisit Edinburgh - at Christmas time. Great value hotels, lights, mulled wine and great food! Yes please. #citytripping

  12. You had me at cocktails in the Dome, but this all looks so magical. Would love to go during Yuletide! #citytripping

  13. Lovely blog. My husband is Lebanese and we've only been in the UK together for a year, so I am going to take him to Edinburgh for his December birthday. The place you went to for a cheese board looks great, so we'll try that! Thanks for the blog and the recommendations. :-)


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