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Without a doubt, the capital is the dreamiest city in Scotland. With its cobbled streets, secret closes and dramatic landscape, there’s no bad photo spot in this city making it the perfect base for a couples trip. There are so many romantic things to do in Edinburgh and activities start from free so you don’t have to worry if you are looking for budget activities to do with your better half. This guide details things to do as a couple during the day, date night suggestions, nice places to eat and where to stay. We’ve also thrown in some walks if are looking for some quiet time to chat and get to know each other.
Romantic Things to do in Edinburgh During the Day
1. Afternoon Tea For 2
There is no shortage of restaurants and hotels offering afternoon tea packages in Edinburgh.
An afternoon tea consists of sandwiches and cakes served on tiered trays.
Naturally, you get a pot of tea with your lunch and there is often an option to upgrade to something harder.
If splurging, the most sought after sit down afternoon teas take place at the Signet Library, Palm Court (The Balmoral Hotel) and aboard the Fingal in Leith.
There are very affordable options Mimi’s Bakehouse.
Another romantic activity is afternoon tea on the vintage bus.
Why not see the sights of Edinburgh from the comfort of the bus whilst enjoying afternoon tea with a glass of fizz.
Why not consider afternoon tea at a rooftop bar in Edinburgh?
2. Whisky Date
‘Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky.’
You’ve no doubt heard this saying a few times.
Edinburgh can offer you a world class whisky tour so there’s no need to travel to Islay!
Walking through the Old Town with a local host, you can work your way around Scotland’s best whiskies without leaving Edinburgh.
This three hour walking tour, takes you some of the best areas of Edinburgh and you also visit a whisky cellar as well as one of Edinburgh’s finest pubs.
This is the perfect first date for whisky fans as the at the end of the tour you’ll both be merry on the four single malts.
Some Dutch courage for you to be brave and steal a kiss!
3. Whisky Experiences
If three hours of walking sounds too intense, consider a whisky experience instead.
4. Beer Tour
Or if you prefer beer, check out a walking and tasting craft beer tour.
Beer has influenced the city for over 800 years and the craft beer scene has exploded in the last decade.
Prefer to do you own craft beer trail? Here’s our guide created by Gemma, Everything Edinburgh’s brew expert cousin, Katherine.
5. Let The Romance Be-Gin
Edinburgh Gin is world renowned and this tour offers you the ideal place to taste what Edinburgh has to offer.
From the miniature gin stills to the atmospheric rooms, you are given the history behind the gin and even the chance to create your very own gin to take away.
It’s also a ten minute walk to the picturesque Dean Village mentioned in this guide.
Edinburgh Gin keeps good company, neighbouring next to the lively Ghillie Dhu which hosts our next romantic suggestion…
6. Pub Crawl
Do as the locals do date day, pick a location and stumble between pubs. End the night with chips and cheese and an argument.
Best streets/areas for pubs and bars include:
- Royal Mile
- Rose Street
- George Street
- Leith Walk
- The Shore, Leith
Alternatively, join this ready-made pub crawl walking tour.
7. Join a Ceilidh
Fast, fun and full off hilarity, ceilidhs are a Scottish dance where couples swing each other about to live music.
In Edinburgh, the most popular place to take part in a ceilidh is at the Ghillie Dhu.
You will sweat and you will be sore the next day but it honestly some of the best fun you will have with your clothes on.
Traditionally, ceilidhs are part of Scottish weddings.
If dancing isn’t your thing, the Ghillie Dhu has cute snugs downstairs at the bar.
8. Have a Picnic
Set up in Princes Street Gardens under the castle with the crowds or at The Meadows with the students.
For quieter green spaces, consider the lovely Starbank Park in Newhaven pictured below.
Drinking alcohol in public is tolerated as long as you are not being a nuisance.
Thinking of proposing? Here’s our recommended locations and tips.
9. Wander Edinburgh Botanical Gardens
Edinburgh’s Botanical Gardens are free to wander around and cover over 70 acres.
Just as beautiful in winter as they are in summer, you can indulge yourselves with a picnic in a secluded area and let the romance of Edinburgh into your hearts.
If you want to visit the glasshouses, where you can experience 10 different climates, then this will cost £7 each, payable at the gate.
Edinburgh Botanical Gardens is one of the best places to see the city’s Christmas lights in winter.
10. Edinburgh Chocolate Tour
Synonymous with romance, chocolate is where Edinburgh can offer you fun and romance.
One of the most delectable places to visit is Edinburgh’s Chocolatarium. Here you can indulge your senses and immerse yourself in the wonder that is chocolate.
Learning about chocolate’s history to tasting Scottish chocolates that include malt whisky-infused chocolate and haggis-inspired chocolate, you will also get the chance to create and take away your very own Edinburgh themed chocolates.
11. Set Sail from South Queensferry
All aboard the Three Bridges Tour!
Learn about the UNESCO Forth Bridge which connects the rail links between and with The Kingdom of Fife.
Listen to the audio tour to find out more about the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing as you sail across the Firth of Forth.
Consider at stop at Inchcolm Abbey.
Check out this 90-minute cruise!
Find out more: Things to do in South Queensferry.
12. Get Fake Married at Camera Obscura
Give the folks back home a fright with a fake wedding, with a certificate, at Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura at the top of The Royal Mile!
Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura also has epic views over the city for a cute couple pic.
If you head to the rooftop for 1pm you will hear the 1 o’clock gun go off from Edinburgh Castle which is just next door.
Here’s our review of Camera Obscura.
Bonus: Hire a Photographer
Lousy with landscapes lines? Selfies looking at bit squashed?
Why not hire a local photographer to document your romantic day?
Probably not recommended for the first date…
Free Things to do in Edinburgh For Couples
13. Calton Hill
Start your day early with sunrise stroll or end a day of sightseeing with a sunset, with views.
Calton Hill is home to many attractions including a 12 pillar stone Parthenon called National Monument of Scotland and the telescope-like tower, Nelson Monument.
From the top you can walk around the hill and spot the places you’ve visited or plan to visit, making it a decent base for getting your bearings.
Sights stretch down to the hip neighbourhood of Leith and over the Firth of Forth to The Kingdom of Fife.
From the Dugald Stewart Monument side of the hill (pictured), you will see Edinburgh Castle and The Balmoral Clock with its flag standing proud on Princes Street.
The Balmoral Hotel is one of the most romantic hotels in the city with its suites, spa and fine dining restaurant.
If you opt for a sunset hike, take a picnic with you, find a comfy space, cosy up, and watch as the colours unfold over the city.
Wrap up though, temperatures drop quickly in Scotland.
One of the downsides of Calton Hill is that it is a popular hike.
It’s proximity to the city’s shopping street, Prince Street, makes it a target for tourists and photographers.
On the plus side, it only takes 5 minutes of walk up the hill so if you decide it’s not secluded enough for you then you can always just pop back down to the city centre.
14. Arthur’s Seat
If you are a more athletic couple, you won’t get a better view than from the top of Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.
Arthur’s Seat is a relatively easy hike for those who don’t mind walking for 1-2 hours.
During the hike up and at the summit, you can see the city’s most popular landmarks such as Holyrood House, the Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh Castle.
Like Calton Hill, you can see over to Fife from the top.
To get to Arthur’s Seat make your way to the bottom of The Royal Mile in the Old Town and follow the path to the busy summit.
Salisbury Crag runs alongside Arthur’s Seat is another option which can hiked in less time.
St Anthony’s Chapel (below) is a ruin that can be found during the hike up to Arthur’s Seat.
15. Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is a beautiful set of gardens to wander around.
Created by draining Edinburgh’s Nor Loch which was used as a medieval defence, these gardens run from Waverley Station along the whole of Princes Street.
As you wander through the different levels, you can see The Scott Monument, built to commemorate Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most famous novelists.
This gothic style monument sets the romantic tone for the gardens. Looking up towards the heavens, you can see Edinburgh Castle standing proud on top of the rock.
The Ross Fountain is another landmark that you can spot with its carvings of mermaids, walrus and lion heads and cherubs.
There are also four female figures representing science, arts, poetry and industry.
From the gardens, you can access the Scottish National Art Gallery.
There are always various exhibitions in the building as well as the famous portrait exhibition.
Here you can see the romantic portrait of the Skating Minister by Raeburn.
16. Water of Leith Walkway
Moving away from the city centre and into Edinburgh’s lesser-known neighbourhoods there is a series of paths that connect cool areas along the canal.
By far the most quaint areas you will encounter in Edinburgh.
Stockbridge is an upmarket, bustling neighbourhood with a strong cafe scene and Sunday market.
Set into the deep gorge of the river Leith, you feel as though you have been transported back in time, Dean Village itself is one of the most instagrammable areas of Edinburgh, often used for engagement photoshoots!
There are plenty of opportunities for you to take that memorable photo as a keepsake of your romantic trip to Edinburgh.
17. Union Canal
You’ll even surprise even a local with this walk!
Tucked behind Tollcross is the start (or end) of the canal that runs from Edinburgh through Falkirk and on to Glasgow.
You can canoe through the canals system in Scotland but it is recommended you start in Glasgow and end in Edinburgh.
Alternatively, grab a coffee at the cute cafe on the water at Edinburgh Quay and walk by the waterway.
Looking for more hiking trails? We’ve documented the best walks in Edinburgh here.
18. Bathe at the Beach
Portobello Beach is a popular stretch of sand close to Leith.
There is a boardwalk for walks, cycling and running which has a couple of cafes and a bar on it.
It does get immensely busy on sunny days so avoid trying to park here.
19. Cramond Falls
There’s another beach in Edinburgh which is mostly dominated by those taking a stroll and dog walkers.
The easy walk takes you to a wooded area leading to Cramond Falls.
Cramond Falls Cafe sells lovely scones.
Learn more about Edinburgh’s beaches here.
Romantic Things to do at Night
Edinburgh may be romantic through the day, however as night falls, lights interject and since Scotland is always cold at night, there’s an excuse to cuddle up!
20. Eat Dessert
While many date night ideas in Edinburgh focus around drink, there are dessert places that are perfect for sweet toothed couples.
Check out Haute Dolci Edinburgh for design your own puddings in a lovely setting at St. James Quarter.
21. See a Show Sitting on a Sofa
Who want to catch a movie if you can’t snuggle up together?
The Dominion in Edinburgh’s Morningside neighbourhood is a vintage picture house with modern seats that come in twos.
From your sofa, you can order drinks and snacks before the film starts.
The Scotsman Picturehouse is also an elegant cinema with double sofas and singles seats.
Each seat as its own vintage light.
22. Stargazing at the Royal Observatory
One activity you should definitely book in advance is stargazing at the Royal Observatory.
Is there anything more romantic than looking at the stars with the one you love?
You can book programmes that the astronomers have created to take you through an exploration journey of the stars.
You must pre book this activity directly with the observatory.
23. Catch a Comedy Act
Comedy doesn’t end when the final flyers are binned at the end of the Fringe Festival in August.
All year round live stand up can be watched at Monkey Barrel Comedy (9-11 Blair Street) or The Stand (5 York Place).
However, if you are around for the Fringe three weeks you will have thousands of shows to choose from in all shapes and sizes of locations from dingy cellars to conference sized spaces.
Alternatively, check out this comedy walking tour hosted by a stand up comedian and local.
24. Enjoy Live Music
Edinburgh isn’t quite the UNESCO City of Music like its bigger cousin, Glasgow but it does attract international artists as well as local.
Venues include The Queen’s Hall, Corn Exchange and the Usher Hall.
Local live bands and singers pull in crowds at Whistle Binkies, Brewhemia and Stramash.
DJs and popular bands can often be found at The Liquid Rooms, La Belle Angele and Sneaky Petes.
25. Climb to the Top
Head out to the EICA (Edinburgh International Climbing Arena) or Alien Rock to test your coordination and grip during this unusual couple things to do in Edinburgh.
EICA has over 11,000 bolt-on holds with 300 routes ranging in difficulty from grades 2 to 8b.
At Alien Rock, climbing without a rope is available in the fully matted bouldering wall (up to 4.8 meters high).
The walls include vertical to 45 degrees overhanging.
You can book a taster lesson where a staff member guides you as you take turns climbing the walls.
26. Hit the Slopes
On the outskirts of Edinburgh (Hillend) you can pizza or French fry down the dry slopes of Midlothian Ski Centre.
There are two ski slopes. The main slope is 400m and top station has a loop.
Grab a hot chocolate at the cafe to warm up afterwards.
That’s Gemma and her husband Craig on a date day at Midlothian.
27. Hit the Karaoke Machine
Elvis, Elton or Eternal? Whatever your song is, Edinburgh has a few great karaoke bars.
Supercube gives you your own private room where you can sing away to your heart’s content without anyone else hearing you.
The venue brings you your drinks to the room so you don’t have to leave the fun at all!
If your partner loves to sing and dance they will be ecstatic with a ticket to Edinburgh’s silent disco tour if you are brave enough.
28. Special Date Night Restaurants
What about eating out?
There are so many romantic places to eat in Edinburgh but dinner will cost you more than lunches where you can get some superb deals at the city’s fine dining and Michelin star restaurants.
Here’s a select few but you can read the full guide to romantic restaurants here.
- The Witchery By the Castle – historic, gothic, very popular with couples.
- Six by Nico – Six courses and new themed menu every six weeks.
- ROLLO – Unpretentious food and wine bar, family owned.
Here’s a review of Edinburgh’s rooftop bars too.
29. Find the Speakeasy
Snuggle up on red velvet seats at Jackson the Tailor, located across from St. James Quarter.
Or, knock on the door of Never Really Here and let them know your fave type of drink for an adjacent tipple.
For a more popular speakeasy experience, head to Panda and Sons hidden behind a barbers on Queen Street.
30. Romantic Hotels in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has around 14,000 rooms to choose from and if it is romantic places to stay in Edinburgh that you are looking for, you will be spoiled for choice.
From 5 star world renowned hotels to small cosy ones, it is down to you to choose that one place that will make your romantic weekend in Edinburgh the most memorable.
For inspiration, try our article.
31. Stay on a Floating Boat
If a hotel with roots doesn’t suit your date style, what about one that floats on Alexandra Docks by Leith Canal?
The 5 star luxury Fingal Hotel’s ship was built in 1963 by the Blythswood Shipbuilding Company in Glasgow, commissioned by the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB).
After touring and looking after Scotland’s lighthouses, it was privately sold and renamed Windsor Castle, before being acquired by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust in 2014.
Five million pounds worth of investment later, she opened as the Fingal, boasting of 14-bedroom cabins, including four duplex rooms; cabin names pay homage to lighthouses around Scotland.
Guests have access to the Lighthouse Restaurant and Bar as well as the stunning deck which overlooks Alexandra Dock and Leith.
Plus, free tours of the engine room!
If you don’t want to stay overnight you can book an afternoon tea or meal at the Lighthouse Restaurant.
If the Fingal is a little out of your budget, check out Ocean Mist which is also docked in Leith.
Where to Propose
Thinking of popping the question? Here’s an overview of places to do so.
- Edinburgh Castle
- Calton Hill
- Ross Fountain at Princes Street Gardens
- Gardener’s House at Princes Street Gardens
- Arthur’s Seat
- The National Museum of Scotland
- Dunbar’s Close Garden
- Circus Lane
- Dean Village
- Union Canal
- The Meadows
- Portobello or Cramond Beach
- Laurieston Castle’s Japanese Gardens
- Hotel suite at The Witchery or The Balmoral
Since there is no shortage of places in Edinburgh to propose we’ve dedicated a full guide with our recommendations.
We’ve considered seasons and personality behind the proposal location ideas.
Our Romantic Edinburgh Guides
- Best hotels for couples
- Most romantic restaurants to dine at
- The best places to pop the question (Old and New Town)
- Edinburgh spring, if you are sticking around to celebrate
About the author: Hi, I am Ruth. A Highlander living in Fife longing for the mountains of home but I can’t give up the delights of the big city!