What to do in Edinburgh when it rains
From The Number Shop to Edinburgh University's Anatomical Museum, here are some activities to keep you entertained a rainy day
National Museum of Scotland / credit: Andrew Lee
If you live in Edinburgh, you know you're bound to encounter rain at some point as you go about your daily business. But don't let a little drizzle (or a full-blown storm) ruin your fun, because the city is packed with places and activities that are ideal for those cold and rainy days. Whether you're looking for something culturally stimulating or just a nice spot to warm up, here are some suggestions.
1. Catch an indie film
Going to the cinema has to be the ultimate rainy day activity. But with cinemas like the Filmhouse and the Cameo at your doorstep, you can choose to catch the latest blockbuster film, arthouse indie flick or something that's part of one of the many curated seasons that both cinemas organise. There's also the Dominion Cinema in Morningside, which is well known for hosting screenings with its giant, comfortable sofas.
2. Find your new favourite art
Edinburgh is in no short supply of galleries with the RSA, the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art remaining popular choices. But why not try one of the many smaller galleries that the city has to offer? The Fruitmarket and Embassy galleries are renowned for their range of contemporary art while Stills Gallery has regular photography exhibitions and courses. The Number Shop is an artist-run space with exhibitions frequently running in partnership with visiting artists.
3. Become Disloyal and highly caffeinated
If you're into your coffee, you'll know that Edinburgh has a number of speciality coffee shops dotted around the city that are perfect for hiding out in when it rains. The Disloyal 7 scheme gives you the chance to visit seven of these independent coffee shops before getting your eighth coffee free at the shop of your choice. Not only does is this an opportunity to expand your horizons as far as coffee shops go, you also get rewarded for your curiosity/disloyalty. It's a win win situation. The Disloyal 7 are: Baba Budan, Brew Lab, Cairngorm, Cult Espresso, Filament, Fortitude and Lowdown.
4. Hide under the Arches
The Waverley Arches at the New Waverley development have a range of cool and quirky shops to peruse, giving you a break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Shops like Elk and Wolf have unique homeware, jewellery and gifts while the Buff Concept Store sell organic lifestyle products and relaxing manicures. For food and drink, Baba Budan have excellent coffee and even better doughnuts that are made fresh everyday while Gannet & Guga provide tasty gourmet sandwiches, salads and Vietnamese summer rolls.
5. Try to escape
Room escape games have become all the rage in recent years and with the amount of fun that you can have with a group of friends in an hour, it's no real surprise why. Edinburgh has a few options, from the Escape Hour at Cranston Street to Can You Escape? On Holyrood Road. Locked in Edinburgh is set in real rooms in Summerhall, Edinburgh's old vet school, which lets you explore the interesting history and culture that's attached to the building.
6. Go crate diving
There are a number of record shops in Edinburgh that you could easily spend a rainy afternoon in, getting lost in the various selections of new finds and second-hand wonders. Underground Solu'shn is a haven for electronic music and equipment from mixers to turntables. VoxBox Music in Stockbridge sell mostly pre-owned vinyl for a variety of tastes while you may find more than a few hidden gems in Vinyl Villains. Just down the road, Elvis Shakespeare also has an awesome selection of rare vinyl as well as second-hand books.
7. Drink lots of gin
Drinking is definitely one way to pass the time when its wet and gloomy outside. Luckily, Edinburgh Gin offer distillery tours so that you can learn all about how their gin is made while simultaneously sampling the product. For something a bit more special, sign up for the Gin Making Experience, where you can take part in a tutored-tasting session, bottle a custom-made gin and of course, sample some of Edinburgh Gin's finest recipes. Pickering's Gin, based in Summerhall, also offer a distillery tour where you can get a sneak peek at how a small batch gin is made.
8. Get creeped out
Visiting the National Museum of Scotland is a staple when it comes to rainy day activities for all ages. But Edinburgh has lots of museums with intriguing and often peculiar collections that are well worth a visit. The Surgeons' Hall Museums are an example, with many items on display that were originally meant for the teaching of medical students. Wander around and you'll see bone and tissue specimens, works of art and even a letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in which he credits Royal College of Surgeons Fellow Dr Joseph Bell as the main inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. The Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh is equally strange and wonderful, with exhibits including death masks, George Buchanan's skull and the skeleton of infamous serial killer William Burke. Plan your visit carefully though because it's only open on the last Saturday of every month.