Edinburgh’s Best Picnic Spots & Where To Get Your Food!
It’s no secret that Scotland’s summer weather is often temperamental so when the sun comes out, so do the people! Naturally, you want to spend as much time as possible outside as soon as the weather permits, but busy days and short notice mean we may not get to enjoy that fleeting sun as much as we’d like to. Heading outside for a spontaneous picnic is a great way to squeeze in those extra rays.
The perfect Edinburgh picnic
Luckily for us, Edinburgh just happens to be the city with the most green-spaces in the UK, so we’re spoiled for choice with a multitude of beautiful places to dine al fresco. Of course, food plays a key role when it comes to a great picnic – especially if it’s an evening meal – so we’ve also included some great places to get your food. There’s no time for extensive meal planning when the sun comes calling!
So whether you’re popping out during your lunch break or making a family occasion of it, our list can help you plan the perfect picnic. But one last thing before we dive in – if you do head out for a picnic, please help keep our city looking beautiful by responsibly disposing of your rubbish.
1. Calton Hill
We’d like to start this list with one of our favourite lookouts in Edinburgh – and we’re not alone. Calton Hill is one of the city’s most popular visitor destinations, but not to fear, there’s plenty of room for everyone atop this stunning precipice. As well as being one of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks, Calton Hill boasts some of the city’s best views. Naturally, this makes it an excellent place for a picnic. Thankfully you don’t have to work hard for these views as just a short flight of stairs off the main road will bring you to the top, where you can pull out your blanket and your picnic and sit back and enjoy the views.
Where to get your food: Pep & Fodder
On your walk up to Calton Hill, you’ll pass by Pep & Fodder on Waterloo Place. Open until 5pm, this wee coffee shop is dedicated to serving wholesome food and fantastic coffee. A variety of salads, paninis, and sandwiches are on offer here with plenty of fresh fillings to choose from. And just moments away from the steps up to Calton Hill, you won’t have to carry your lunch too far!
2. Dunbar’s Close Garden
This favourite hidden gem is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful lunch outside. To find this little escape in the city, head down the narrow and quiet Dunbar’s Close off the Royal Mile. You’ll soon be delighted when it opens out into a beautiful and tranquil space with cobbled paths, wooden benches, and well-kept greenery. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day or have a quiet moment away from the hustle and bustle. Relaxing in the peaceful surroundings, you’ll feel as if you’re one of a lucky few to have discovered it.
Where to get your food: Oink
Just a few minutes walk from Dunbar’s Close is a branch of the Edinburgh chain, Oink. They claim to sell “the best pulled-pork sandwich in Edinburgh”. Straight from the farm to the city, their popular rolls come with your choice of bread, stuffing, & sauce. They even sell a roll stuffed with haggis.
3. Princes Street Gardens
Perhaps the most central place on our list, Princes Street Gardens is a great place to escape to for lunch on a busy workday. And where better to enjoy a picnic than under the shadow of Edinburgh’s magnificent Castle? The Gardens sit in what used to be The Nor Loch and are at the heart of the city centre, dividing Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town and the elegant Georgian New Town. It’s a popular spot amongst locals and tourist all year round but when the sun shows its face everyone heads out to enjoy a picnic and top up their vitamin D!
Where to get your food: Victor Hugo
One of Edinburgh’s most popular delis, Victor Hugo, opened its second branch on Castle Street this June. This continental-style delicatessen is less than five minute’s walk from the gardens and is the ideal place to stock up on some gourmet picnic food. Tempt your tastebuds with a freshly-prepared baguette or sandwich, like their famous pastrami on rye, or have a charcuterie platter made with all of your favourite treats. Freshly baked cakes and pastries, as well as coffee to-go, make this the perfect place to pack your picnic.
4. The Meadows & Bruntsfield Links
These sister parks are two of the most popular hangouts to flock to on a sunny Edinburgh day and it’s easy to see why. Head to The Meadows and you’ll find groups of friends enjoying a barbecue under an open sky, children playing in the playground, and joggers making use of the wide pathways.
Just a short walk away (you only have to cross one street!) is the smaller but equally inviting Bruntsfield Links. This charming green space is often quieter than The Meadows and is filled with benches perfect for enjoying a picnic under the stunning elm trees.
Where to get your food: Söderberg
Who says Swedish cinnamon buns aren’t the perfect picnic food?! Well, if you’re looking for something more substantial to take to the park for lunch, they have that too. They’ll pack your food to go, perfect for a picnic in The Meadows. Their incredible bread makes for some pretty tasty sandwiches and you can save that cinnamon bun for dessert, washed down with a delicious dark-roasted coffee.
5. Inverleith Park
Located just beside the Royal Botanic Gardens is Inverleith Park and at 54 acres, it’s one of Scotlands largest urban green spaces. With its massive expanses of grassy fields, relaxing pathways, a children’s playground, an idyllic pond, a running track, rose gardens and more – it’s the ideal place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. So get your lunch to go in nearby Stockbridge and head to this urban escape!
Where to get your food: Stockbridge Market
For a weekend picnic, head to the Stockbridge Market. This popular market takes place every Sunday from 10am-5pm on Saunders Street, only a 10-minute walk from Inverleith Park. You’ll find fresh produce, artisanal goods from local producers, and stalls with loads of ready-to-eat baked treats and street food here, making it the perfect place to fill your picnic basket.
If you’d like to explore more of this popular part of Edinburgh, our Stockbridge guide has more.
8 Of The Best Beer Gardens In Edinburgh
If you’d like to continue relaxing in the sun, head over to one of 8 of the best beer gardens in Edinburgh!
Visiting Edinburgh this year?
We have a home away from home waiting for you!
There are many Dickins homes available situated close to some of our favourite Edinburgh parks. Our very special home, The Painter’s Studio, is nestled above the Princes Street Gardens, next to Edinburgh Castle with magnificent views of the Princes Street Gardens below. Staying here, you’ll live like a local. And with its close proximity to some of the city’s best independent shops and restaurants, it’s the ideal place for self-catering. So make yourself at home, pack a picnic full of the best local food, and head to one of the city’s best outdoor spaces!