Visiting the Botanics and Staying Safe

Opening Times

When is the Garden open?

The Garden is open every day from 10am to 5pm (4pm November). Please do not arrive before the time slot you have booked. To learn how to book a time slot, read on.

How long can I stay?

Once you have entered the Garden, you can stay as long as you like. The Garden will close daily at 5pm.

Are both entrances open?

Yes. Entry at the west side of the Garden is through the gate on Arboretum Place, 100 metres south of the main John Hope Gateway entrance. Signs on Arboretum Place will direct you there. Entry at the east side of the Garden is through the usual entrance on Inverleith Row.

Will there be queues?

By creating time slots for visitors and by limiting capacity, we aim to keep queueing to a minimum.  However, on busy days, it might be necessary to operate a queueing system outside the entrance(s). You will be asked to queue at a safe distance of two metres apart and continue to observe physical distancing guidelines once inside the Garden.

Time Slot Tickets

How do I book a time slot ticket?

Time slots are available to book online. All visitors must select a day to visit and book a time slot in advance. Time slots are available to book now for visits up to and including 15 November. Everybody requires a time slot ticket including carers, members, children and babies. This enables us to manage visitor numbers in the Garden effectively. Unfortunately, if you arrive without a ticket, you will not be admitted. Bookings can be made for up to a maximum of eight tickets. There should be no more than six adults in any group, from a maximum of two different households, in line with Scottish Government guidelines.  Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

How does the new time slot system work?

There are half-hourly time slots available throughout the day between 10am and 3pm and details can be found online when you book.

Following booking, you will receive a confirmation email. Your chosen time slot, that is your entry time into the Garden, will be displayed on the top left corner of your ticket(s) which will be attached to your confirmation email.

To reduce queueing, please do not arrive before your chosen time slot. You have up to 45 minutes after your selected time slot to gain entry.


Is this time slot system temporary?

Yes. It has been introduced to limit the number of visitors accessing the Garden at any given time, allowing everyone to have some space and encourage physical distancing of two metres apart.

Health and Safety Measures

What health and safety measures are in place to protect visitors?
  • You will receive a warm welcome at a distance.
  • Time slot tickets and limited visitor capacity will give everyone more space.
  • Visitor capacity is monitored to facilitate physical distancing.
  • There are hand sanitiser units at entrances and other points within the Garden.
  • There are protection screens at receptions.
  • Contactless payments only.
  • PPE is available for our staff.
  • There is helpful, directional signage within the boundaries of the Garden.
  • Please observe two metre physical distancing in line with Scottish Government guidelines.   
  • Toilets, including additional temporary facilities, are open but please observe maximum limits.
How is physical distancing managed?

The Garden, which is 72 acres, is open to a maximum capacity of 3,300 visitors per day. This capacity is well below our usual daily visitor number during this season. We may increase capacity when we feel that it is safe to do so.

There are physical distancing guidelines at the entry points, a one-way system operational in the John Hope Gateway visitor centre and prominent signage within the Garden to serve as a reminder to visitors that they must observe a two-metre distance from each other.

Within the Garden, there is a one-way system in operation on some paths and in areas including the Chinese Hillside, the Queen Mother’s Garden and the Rock Garden. There is prominent directional signage on display to guide you. Signs also indicate areas which may be temporarily closed.

We have set the visitor capacity at a sufficiently low level to enable all visitors, including the elderly, vulnerable or shielding, to keep their distance from others.

Do I need to bring a face covering?

Face coverings are mandatory when visiting the Botanics Shop, John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre and are recommended in all enclosed spaces. Exemptions include children under five, visitors with breathing difficulties or those with disabilities when the wearing of a face covering would be distressing or make communication difficult.

Toilets and other facilities

What buildings are open for visitors?

The Garden’s outdoor space and Glasshouses are accessible (admission charges apply to the Glasshouses). The Botanics Shop, the Gateway Restaurant (takeaway only) and Terrace Cafe (takeaway only) are all open. Inverleith House remains closed.

Are toilets open?

Toilets, including temporary mobile facilities, are available at the West and East Gate entrances. Accessible toilets are available in the John Hope Gateway visitor centre and at the Fernhouse Toilets in the centre of the Garden.  New hygiene measures are in place, with more frequent cleaning and reduced capacity for using toilets. So, please do bear in mind that you may need to queue. Baby changing facilities are available in the accessible toilets.

Are guided tours available?

There are no guided tours at this stage.

Are there storage facilities for visitors?

Unfortunately, there are no storage facilities for children’s scooters, balance bikes or cycles. The lockers are not in service during this time.

Food and Drink

Are refreshments available on site?

The Terrace Cafe and Gateway Restaurant are open for takeaway service only. For further details on the Gateway Restaurant call 0131 552 2674.

Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drink, including picnics, into the Garden. Unfortunately we are not be able to provide water refill stations at this time. Barbecues and alcohol are not permitted.

Card payments only being accepted currently.


Can I hire a wheelchair or mobility scooter?

A limited number of wheelchairs are available to hire. Please book in advance by emailing or by calling 0131 248 2909. Unfortunately, mobility scooters are unavailable to hire at this time. This is for health and safety reasons – we are unable to demonstrate safe usage at an appropriate distance. Visitors are welcome to bring their own mobility scooters.

First Aid

If any of our visitors sustain minor injuries during their visit, our staff will assist at a safe distance of two metres away.  They will be wearing PPE.  Whilst our staff will not be able to treat minor injuries directly, they can offer first aid supplies so that visitors can treat themselves.  In an emergency, staff will follow normal emergency procedures and call 999.

Extreme Weather

Please note that to ensure the safety of our visitors, the Garden can close at short notice during extreme weather.  Always check our website before you visit.

What you can do to help us

Please follow these additional guidelines below: 

  • If you have Covid-19 symptoms, or fall into one of the vulnerable groups, please stay at home and do not visit the Garden. If you or anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus you must continue to self-isolate.
  • Plan ahead and check information on our website before you visit. Make sure you have pre-booked your time slot online.
  • When you are outside for leisure, exercise or work it is still important to practice physical distancing. We ask that all visitors help us by observing physical distancing guidelines. Please maintain a two metre distance from our staff and other visitors.
  • Please bring a face covering with you.  Please bring a face covering with you.  These are mandatory when visiting any indoor area within the Garden, including our Cafes. 
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds after using the facilities and use the hand sanitiser dispensers at every opportunity.
  • Please do not expect all facilities to be open immediately. Like many places, we have a phased approach to re-opening while we work to make them safe.
  • If you go somewhere and it looks busy, it is probably too busy and you'd be best to go somewhere else. It is crucial that we all maintain physical distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus.
  • As a charity, we need your support more than ever. When you visit, please give a donation on your arrival or exit.  Your much-needed contribution will help us to explore, conserve and to protect the world of plants.
  • If you require any further information or have an enquiry about your visit, please contact us at or call 0131 248 2909.  Also, follow the latest Scottish Government advice.


Test and trace protect privacy policy

During the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we are supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect strategy by recording details of customers making online bookings in line with GDPR. Read our test and trace privacy policy for more details.