Christmas market edinburgh

Heading to the Edinburgh Christmas Market?  Check out my fun things to do and top tips.

The Edinburgh Christmas Market is one of my all-time favourite places to visit in Edinburgh at Christmas. Actually, it’s one of my top things to do at Christmas just in general.

My uncle used to run a coach tour company, and each year he’d run multiple tours to the Christmas markets of Germany.  Now Christmas markets in the UK are so good that you don’t have to travel to the continent to have a great time and make long-lasting cherished memories.  I’ve been to the Edinburgh Christmas Market every year I’ve lived in/around Edinburgh. Now nothing says Christmas to me more than spending the day there with my family, a glass of mulled wine in hand!

My Favourite Things to Do in Edinburgh

Of course, apart from the Edinburgh Christmas Market, the city is full of other great things to do at Christmas.  Edinburgh is such a great place to visit, whether you’re local or have travelled a bit further afield.  So when Premier Inn invited me to spend the day in Edinburgh, to share with you my favourite things to do in the city at Christmas, I jumped at the chance.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

The first thing we did when we arrived in Edinburgh for the day was head straight to the Edinburgh Christmas Market in Princes St Gardens.  We armed ourselves with a nice mug of mulled wine and had a little wander around the stalls.  Even if you’re not buying anything it’s a lot of fun to window shop all the wares!

bark owls at edinburgh christmas market
christmas ornaments at edinburgh christmas market
Russian Dolls at edinburgh christmas market

The Big Wheel

Our little girl got a bit too excited about seeing the Big Wheel, so that was our next port of call.  The Big Wheel is quite pricey to go on. However, if you live in or around Edinburgh and have an EH postcode you can get 20% off the Big Wheel (and all rides) at the market. Be sure to bring some ID!

big wheel edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle
wendy moral fibres
big wheel
Old Town Edinburgh

It didn’t look that high from the ground, but once we got to the top we realised it’s pretty pretty high!  You do get some fabulous views of the city so it’s well worth getting over your fear of heights to go on it!

Santa Land

After spending a bit more time at the market and enjoying a few more rides and stalls, we headed further down the hill in Princes St Gardens towards Santa Land with a very excited little girl.  Santa Land is aimed at little kids, and there are lots of fun rides for them.  We had a blast going on the kiddie rides with my daughter. However, the pièce de résistance was the main man himself – Santa.

Santa’s Grotto

The Santa at the Edinburgh Christmas Market is possibly one of the best I’ve seen. It’s such a magical experience.  You have to book a ticket for it at a specific time slot. This means there’s no horrendous queue with over-excited kids, which I really appreciated.  

We had no idea what to expect. However, we were very pleasantly surprised when we were ushered into a cosy and charming cabin with a small group of other kids.  Santa then greeted the children and sat and read a story.  The kids then get to meet Santa one by one, and each kid got a small gift.  I think we were in there for about 20 minutes/half an hour. So, for £7.50 it was great value for money.  You can even take your own photos – unlike some grottos I’ve seen where you have to pay for a photo.  I’d maybe go as far as to say it’s the best Santa in Edinburgh. Our daughter thought it was magical.

santa edinburgh christmas market

Once you’ve exhausted the Christmas Market in Princes St Gardens you can head over and enjoy the Christmas offerings at St Andrew’s Square. Here you can ice-skate, feast on some fantastic food from local vendors, and more.

Other Top Spots in Edinburgh

If by this point you’ve reached Christmas market saturation point then don’t worry. Here are some other favourite independent places in Edinburgh to enjoy on your visit to the city:

Around The Mound

Hendersons, on Hanover Street, is a favourite for lunch, and not too far from St Andrew’s Square.  Full of vegetarian and vegan deliciousness it comes highly recommended.  If you fancy a sweet treat after lunch my favourite is the cherry pie – so good!

You can then head up over the Mound and across the Royal Mile to Victoria Street and the Grassmarket.  One of the prettiest areas in Edinburgh, it’s full of independent and vintage shops (my favourites include Red Door Gallery, Armstrongs, and Godiva).  It’s also a nice area to walk about and soak up the atmosphere.

victoria street edinburgh

If it’s a chilly day and you’re in need of a hot chocolate to warm your cockles then from the Grassmarket it’s only a short hop to Peter’s Yard, in Quartermile.  Their cardamom hot chocolate is just amazing, and they do pretty good coffee too.  They also make delicious cardamom vanilla buns (below), which are my all-time favourite cake (they just pip Henderson’s cherry pie!).

Peter's Yard Edinburgh

If It’s Raining

After Peter’s Yard, I’d recommend a visit to the National Museum of Scotland.  It’s free to get in and a great way to spend the rest of the afternoon.  It’s such a beautiful building with exhibits for all of the family, and a really handy trick to have up your sleeve in case of bad weather!

national museum of scotland
Edinburgh museum

Edinburgh by Night

To finish off your day I’d recommend David Bann on St Mary’s Street for delicious vegetarian and vegan food.  It’s a little bit formal so if you’re with kids then I’d completely recommend  La Favorita, on Leith Walk.  It’s a little bit out of the centre of Edinburgh (but easily accessible by bus) and great for families.  The staff are very accommodating for little ones and the food (Italian) is out of this world – it’s my favourite pizza joint EVER (not a crown I bestow lightly!).  Their secret is their wood-fired oven – so good!

Finally, if you fancy a drink then you’re in luck because Edinburgh is home to some great pubs. Blackfriars, on Blackfriars Street, is very nice. Joseph Pearce on Elm Row is always good. Or if you’re in the mood for cocktails then Bramble on Queen St is home to some seriously tasty (but a little pricey) cocktails.

Hope you enjoyed this festive guide to the Edinburgh Christmas Market and more!  Have a lovely festive season! Do also check out my Edinburgh Ethical Shopping Guide. And if you’re visiting Edinburgh with little kids, then be sure to visit the Teacups Travels House!

Premier Inn kindly covered our expenses for our family day out in Edinburgh for the purposes of this post, but all words, opinions, and photos are my own.  Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

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