Edinburgh has been in existence since the Middle Ages and is full of history and culture. Considered the genteel and more refined sister of the major Scottish cities, Edinburgh boasts beautiful architecture and a vibrant and full nightlife. From shopping on Princes Street to exploring the latest cocktail bars, there are plenty of fun things to do in Edinburgh at night. Keep reading to find out more!
Scotland’s national drink is well-loved the world over. Enjoy it at its most authentic in the capital city of Scotland! Whisky bars are to be found all over the city and carry such a vast range of whiskies from all around the country. A well stocked whisky bar would have offerings from each of the main regions, ie Speyside, Lowlands, Highlands, Islay and Campbeltown. Some of our must-visits include The Bow Bar on 80 Bow Street, the Whiski Bar on the Royal Mile (great views in the day, too!) and, for something trendier, the Bramble Bar which is tucked in a cellar on Queen Street.
The Bramble Bar boasts the accolade of being the first Scottish bar to make it on Bartender magazine’s Top 20 list. The term “ scotch” refers to Scottish whisky, which can be single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain or blended scotch! Confused yet?! So were we! If you are traveling alone and don’t want to drink alone, there are also organized bar crawls that you can join. Make friends, explore a new city, enjoy a few drinks, and enjoy Edinburgh’s nightlife!
The Bow Bar
Address: 80 Bow Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SG, UK
Website: Bow Bar
Address: 119 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SG, UK
Website: Whiski Bar
Address: 16A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JE, UK
Website: Bramble Bar
The Alternative Bar Crawl
Address: (Meeting Point) The Scotsman Lounge, 73 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BU, UK
Whisky and Folklore
Duration: 2 hours
Explore an old historical building that used to be a prison and a courthouse all while enjoying your first beer on this tour. Then, you will be taken to the hidden vault under the building where you can taste four more local beers. The guide will tell you all about the history of brewing in Edinburgh for an enhanced experience. You will also discover hidden rooms in the old prison and some stories about old prisoners will be shared while you enjoy your beer. With all the activities on this tour, you won’t experience a dull moment.
Underground Beer Tasting
Duration: 1 hour
Learn all about the interesting life of the author of Harry Potter, JK Rowling. See Edinburgh’s old streets and visit museums to see JK Rowling’s original inspirations for her world-famous book series. Let the sorting hat decide and find out which magical house you belong to. Learn magic spells and practice on your wandwork by engaging in different activities on this tour. Nothing gives a true Potterhead greater joy than seeing the magical world of Harry Potter come to life.
3¾hr Harry Potter tour with a warlock
Duration: 4 hours
If you like going to parties and meeting new people, then you will definitely want to experience this silent disco tour. You are probably used to hearing loud club music, and dancing to the beat is your idea of fun. With this silent disco tour, you will still hear the same music as everyone else, except you’ll hear it from a pair of headphones instead of speakers. And the best part about this tour is that you will roam the beautiful streets of Edinburgh all while listening to great music. Let go and witness everyone around you having fun!
Silent Disco Tour of Edinburgh
Duration: 1 hour
Want to try a chilling experience in Edinburgh? Look no further than journeying into the haunted Blair Street underground vaults. Filled with eerie atmosphere, you’ll be hearing grisly tales of horror as you go deep into the medieval closes and finally descending into the spooky vaults. The creepy experience is made complete by your guide, cloaked in a veil of mystery and plausible storytelling skills – all of those stories of blood and gore are actually based on facts. So as you immerse in those hair-raising tales and as the night thickens, it’s time to gather in Megget’s cellar for a whiskey or something light and non-alcoholic if you’re not up for a dram. Here you’ll be hearing more stories of the city’s past. For those looking for night entertainment in Edinburgh, this tour will definitely give you an evening to remember. Make sure to bring your loved ones over to share the fun, or rather, the grim!
Edinburgh ghosts & ghouls Old Town walking tour
Edinburgh Ghost Tour with Blair Street Vaults and Whisky
Duration: 2 hours
6. Money can buy happiness
Happiness is shopping! Did you know, the term “retail therapy” is not just some clever phrase dreamed up by marketing gurus? Shopping can indeed lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Maybe this doesn’t apply to the last minute Christmas gift buying frenzy, but taking your time to buy something you can enjoy, like a new shade of lipstick, is a great little pick me up. The powers that be who decided that Thursday nights in Edinburgh should be designated late night shopping days must have made an informed decision on this one!
Shoppers can look forward to a closing time of 8pm instead of the usual 5:30pm. Some key shopping areas are the Royal Mile, Princes Street, Thistle Street, George Street and Multrees Walk for the high end designer boutiques. Shopping in Edinburgh is more than tartan covered paraphernalia. While in the city, look at the boutiques of Scottish fashion brands such as Pringle, Johnstons of Elgin, Lyle & Scott and Crombie.
7. Play me a jig and a reel
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Traditional Ceilidhs (Scottish dancing) is still very much alive today. Not just at weddings and Burns Night as some may have you think! In Edinburgh the Ghillie Dhu on Rutland Place holds a regular Friday and Saturday night ceilidh known as the Burly Ceilidh Club. The menu features traditional “Scottish Fayre” such as haggis, neeps and tatties (Haggis, turnips and potatoes in English!). Or you can join in the dancing when the band starts at 9:30pm! Exuberant and lively, this is a great night out for those who want more than a quiet drink. A DJ spins from midnight till closing at 2:30am. Bring your dancing feet!
Address: 2 Rutland St, Edinburgh EH1 2AD, UK
Website: Ghillie Dhu
8. Lights, camera, action - The Cameo Picturehouse
A little bit of history about the Cameo: located at Tollcross, it was once known as the King’s Cinema and is one of the oldest cinemas in Scotland still in use today. It was independently owned for most of its lifetime until being bought by the Cineworld chain of cinemas. Housed in a gorgeous building, the Cameo has ornamental cornices and moulding and is protected from further refurbishment of its interior by Historic Scotland.
For architecture buffs, it is worth a visit on this basis alone! The Cameo features Vintage Sundays and the Screen Art series, making it perfect for the film aficionados. There is also a lovely bar with a selection of cocktails and whiskies which can be taken into the Auditorium. Win! Keep an eye out for the work of local artists lining the walls, as well as film memorabilia dotted about the premises, if that’s your type of thing.
The Cameo Picturehouse
Address: 38 Home St, Edinburgh EH3 9LZ, UK
Website: The Cameo
If you’re looking for fun evening tours in Edinburgh, why not go for one that lets you explore the city’s underbelly? The subterranean maze of tunnels beneath the city was discovered by accident in 1985 and have since been very popular with visitors who want to get an idea of the impoverished living conditions of the time. In particular, the Blair Street Underground Vaults bore witness to some sinister tales of body snatchers and crime. As dwellings for the very poor, this was a place where people could “disappear”, whisked away to be used as medical experiments at the neighboring University or even as human sacrifices in devil worshipping rituals.
Access to the tunnels is only via licensed guided walks, of which there are several. The Viator tours are highly recommended, as guides not only dress in capes and other authentic costumes, but are also accomplished storytellers! As they regale you with ghostly tales coupled with the chilling temperatures below ground, this night activity is a great precursor to our next suggestion on the list - cocktail bar hopping! You might need a dram or two to quell your nerves, after all.
Blair Street Underground Vaults - Guided Walk
Address: The walk leaves from the High Street by St Giles High Kirk, EH1 1RE
Edinburgh Night Walking Including Underground Vaults
Duration: 1 hour
The Forth Bridge is just west of Edinburgh in the town of Queensferry. Spanning across the Firth of Forth it was and remains to be an important crossing point from Fife into the capital. A ferry went back and forth for centuries linking farmers to trade. Today, there is a paved pedestrian and cycling path on the edge of the bridge. People often do this walk in the daylight to admire the river views, but a bracing night walk to enjoy the twinkling city lights of Queensferry and its surrounds is well worth it!
The Forth Bridge offers a magnificent viewing platform too. Photography buffs will love the kaleidoscope of colors given off by the lights dotting the cityscape. If a walk across and back is not to your fancy, consider taking a train across the Forth Rail Bridge to return to your starting point, or ride a bicycle across! Edinburgh Bike Tours offers tailor made tours for groups; contact them for more information.
Forth Road Bridges
Website: Forth Bridges
Edinburgh 5-Hour Bike Tour: Coast & Forth Road Bridges
Something for everyone
There you have it - these suggestions appeal to all types of personalities, interests, and the ever-changing Scottish weather! Have fun discovering this gem of a city after hours. Venturing further afield, consider taking a ferry to the islands for a weekend getaway or perhaps, a hike on the Highlands to discover the latest glamping spots. Enjoy these best things to do in Edinburgh at night because whatever you decide, this city is definitely an ideal starting point for your great Scottish adventure.
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