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Looking for ideas for things to do at night in Edinburgh? This beautiful capital city is arguably even more spectacular at night. So, whether you are escaping the (sometimes sudden) rain, enjoying a gloriously warm summer’s evening or are looking for a romantic night – our guide details popular indoor and outdoor activities all year round.
Fun Things To Do in Edinburgh at Night
1. Dine, Drink and Wander Down The Royal Mile
This stretch of road in the Old Town goes all the way from the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace to the famous Edinburgh Castle.
Both during the day and at night, the Royal Mile is busy with shoppers and cafe goers.
At night, you will find its many bars and restaurants bustling with visitors and locals.
And, during Festival season, the Royal Mile plays host to large crowds gathering to watch street performers.
The Royal Mile is only a few minutes walk away from Princes Street, the Grassmarket, and George Square and is well worth the visit.
On warm summer evenings, it is highly recommended to take a stroll from one end to the other, soaking up the atmosphere.
You’ll be hard pushed not to find a pub that you’ll want to stop off at on the way for a whisky, beer, or two!
We love Monteiths, just look for the fairy lights down the alley next to John Knox House.
They serve hot buttered brews, oh hey Harry Potter fans!
Perfect for magic lovers and warmth seekers alike!
The famous World’s End is a hit with visitors, while The Waverley is a little more lesser-known.
The Piper’s Rest often has live music at night.
2. Have a Ball at the Camera Obscura
Looking for fun things to do in Edinburgh at night? Maybe you’re looking for indoor things to do in Edinburgh.
Look no further than Camera Obscura, located right at the top of the Royal Mile on Castlehill.
Prepare to be amazed by optical illusions and tricks of the eye at this 166-year-old attraction.
As you make your way through the exhibits, you’ll experience mind-boggling illusions and tricks.
The pinnacle of your visit will be on the sixth floor – the roof terrace – where you will be offered stunning panoramic views of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and Castle and the Firth of Forth.
Even better, there are binoculars and telescopes offered for free so you can zoom in on Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street Gardens and even the bonny Kingdom of Fife!
Catch the last entry in winter for the possibility of views at dusk.
This attraction is open late every night and is open no matter the weather, so is a great option if you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh in the rain or are looking for things to do in Edinburgh at night with kids.
Check out the Everything Edinburgh guide to Camera Obscura.
3. The Grassmarket Pub Crawl
Located at the foot of Castle Rock, offering an incredible perspective of the Castle which crowns the city, the Grassmarket is the place to go if you fancy a drink and a jig.
By day, this area is the destination for independent shops, cafes and markets. Great for something free to do during the day!
At night, this little section of Edinburgh’s Old Town comes to life, with pubs and restaurants opening their doors.
Popular with students, locals and tourists; the Grassmarket starts swinging in the evening so is perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh after 5pm.
A personal favourite is Biddy Mulligan’s Irish Bar.
Whilst not Scottish, our Irish brothers and sisters will certainly give you a good time with good food, great drinks, and live music.
Mulligan’s is also home to Scotland’s smallest pub – the Wee Pub! Here you have to read the menu with a (provided) magnifying glass.
If you’re looking for things to do in Edinburgh on a Friday night, look no further than the Grassmarket’s pubs and restaurants!
This is where many stag and hen parties drink.
Check out our hen party in Edinburgh ideas for more.
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4. Go On a Spooky Ghost Tour
Did you know – Edinburgh is a city on top of a city?
As the city grew, new layers were built on top of old and this higgledy-piggledy architecture has created some peculiar features.
One of these is the system of underground vaults which run underneath the city.
You can tour through these spooky dungeons on one of many Edinburgh ghost tours.
There are many to choose from, but most, apart from this vaults tour, end before sundown.
Here’s our guide to spooky tours.
5. Have a Laugh at a Funny Ghost Tour
If being frightened is not your thing, and you are looking for more funny things to do in Edinburgh, then look no further.
You can ride a vintage double-decker bus whilst touring this haunted city.
As you tour some of Edinburgh’s most haunted spots, you will listen to tales of haunting, execution and murder through a hilarious comedy horror show.
The tour bus is decorated with atmospheric lamps and window curtains.
It’s a real hoot. Highly recommended.
Revisiting this guide to freshen up the content, I still stand by the ghost bus tour being a personal fave.
6. Sample Some Excellent Edinburgh Nightlife
One of the best things to do in Edinburgh is to head out for food and drinks. Edinburgh boasts hundreds of places that you’ll love to sit down (or stand up and dance!)
You can also catch live music at Stramash and Whistle Binkies if you fancy a dance.
If you prefer indie and dance nights. Check out Sneaky Petes and the Liquid Rooms.
For those who are looking for a quieter evening, why not try the Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Experience?
This tasting tour will immerse you in the history of whisky with storytelling, which means you can learn about the importance of whisky to Scotland whilst sampling drams from around the country.
There’s something for you party animals too!
Friday and Saturday night in Edinburgh is when things really start going.
The classy George Street area has a host of nightclubs where you can drink fancy cocktails and sip on champagne, or more mature dancers might want to seek out Brewhemia and Club Tropicana.
Visiting in winter? Here’s the best spots to see Christmas lights where George Street venues such as The Dome feature.
If you’re looking for something a bit more grungey, the Hive on Blair Street is the place for you – sticky walls, sticky floors, sticky people, cheap drinks and music to suit all tastes.
And for the LGBT+ community, Edinburgh’s small (but friendly and fun) ‘Pink Triangle’ around the Playhouse theatre is the place to be.
Start in Planet bar or the Street for drinks, then head to Habana or CC Bloom’s to dance the night away!
Prefer comedy? Check out The Stand or Monkey Barrel.
7. Learn About Whisky
Reserve the last time slot for The Johnnie Walker Whisky Experience then head up to the rooftop bar for stunning views over Princess Street and Edinburgh Castle.
The tour itself is an immersive one, taking you back to when the brand first started, through a workshop to learn about how whisky is made, and then to the bar to try the drinks science decides meets your preferences!
8. Organised Pub Crawl
Visit a variety of pubs during this group pub crawl, seven bars in total.
This tour is a great option for those travelling solo or in small groups who want to experience the nightlife of Edinburgh but don’t know where to start.
Note: drinks are not included. To get the “free” shots you need to buy a drink so they are more like a free chaser.
9. Climb To The Top of Arthur’s Seat and Watch The Sunrise
If you’re interested in free things to do in Edinburgh at night then this might be for you.
Climb up to the top of Arthur’s Seat just in time for sunrise or sunset and get spectacular and stunning panoramic views of Edinburgh, Fife, the Forth Bridges and the River Forth.
This is a must-do for any Edinburgh student at least once in their university career!
You won’t forget the amazing views you see on a short hike up Arthur’s Seat.
10. Enjoy a Stroll Along the Beach
You read that right!
Edinburgh has a handful of beaches in the city and quite a few more close by in East Lothian and Fife.
Take a sunset stroll along the promenade at Costa del Porty, Portobello, or a cycle along to Cramond Beach to catch the falls.
Find out more in our beaches in Edinburgh guide.
9. Pizza in Porty
Feeling peckish after the walk in the fresh sea breeze?
Fill up on doughy goodness at the popular Portobello Civerinos Slice window and relax in the vintage beach chairs.
Remember to keep Porty clean by disposing on your plates and napkins after dining.
Check out our best pizza in Edinburgh guide for a full review.
11. Win a Prize at Nobles
Attached to Civerinos Slice is Noble Leisure.
At this throwback amusements entertainment arcade you can play games and try to win prizes until 10pm!
12. Edinburgh’s Excellent Eateries
Edinburgh is well known for hosting some excellent restaurants.
If you are looking for romantic things to do in Edinburgh, a quiet meal for two on George Street or the Royal Mile might be your choice.
And there are a host of independent and chain restaurants to choose from.
Taking a short bus journey to the Leith area will also offer you with a plethora of restaurant choices.
Many Leith restaurants draw upon the nautical heritage of the area and serve delectable seafood dishes.
You may also like our guides on what to eat in Edinburgh
13. Take a Picture of Edinburgh Castle At Night
Edinburgh by night is equally magical and spooky.
One sight that is worth a snap is Edinburgh Castle, which is lit each evening and can be seen from many parts of the city.
Edinburgh at night offers you three main locations to get a great shot of the castle: Calton Hill, from Princes Street (at the foot of Castle Street) and from the Grassmarket.
14. Go On a Night Tour
As the light fades, you could explore the city’s darker side by embarking on one of Edinburgh’s night tours.
This walking tour will take you on a journey through the city centre to uncover the secrets of graveyards and alleyways.
This one starts at 9pm and is for adults only…
15. Have a BBQ in the Meadows
In the summer months, you might be lucky enough to experience some glorious Scottish sunshine!
On these (rare) days, students and locals flock to the Meadows to hang out, eat, play music and games.
A couple of tips, however: it will start to feel chilly, especially if you’ve been sat in the sun all day, so make sure to take a top with you.
As well, there are clearly marked areas for barbequing, so make sure to read the signs and BBQ responsibly. Don’t burn the grass!
16. Join a Ceilidh
Get the heart pumping a tradition Scottish dance.
A ceilidh pronounced kay-lay (see our guide to Scottish lingo for help), is a communal dance lead by a band.
Every Friday, the gorgeous Ghillie Dhu puts on a night of live music, drinks and flinging your partner round and round.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before.
Dances are guided.
You don’t have to wear a kilt by the way, just make sure you have on comfortable shoes!
Alternatively, if you want to listen to Scottish music without dancing, consider The Black Cat or Thistle Street Bar.
17. Post-Pub Munchies
If you’re wondering about things to do in Edinburgh tonight, and don’t have anything planned, don’t sweat!
Although tours tend to sell out fast, especially during the Festivals season, there may be some last-minute availability.
Most pubs will have space for you to squeeze in, so go explore and try out a few places until you find your favourite.
And of course, there is always a takeaway open for an after drinks snack of fish and chips, cheesy chips or a deep-fried haggis!
18. See a Movie
Before you think this is a lame recommendation, a night time activity that can be done in any city, let me tell you that we have four pretty unique cinemas in town.
The Dominion is a throwback art deco film house in the area of Morningside.
The Cameo is a century old and can be found close to the city centre. It has a cool bar too.
The Filmhouse hosts documentary and offbeat films.
The Scotsman Picturehouse is pretty lavish.
19. Go to a Magical Cocktail Class
If you fancy donning a cloak and a wand and brewing up some adult potions, head on over to the Cauldron where you’ll be guided through a magical cocktail experience.
20. Score at Lane 7
St James Quarter has a new bowling alley but it’s not for dusty shoes!
Lane 7 offers food, booze and bowling under neon lights and graffiti artwork.
21. Don’t Decide Dinner
At the top of St James Quarter and over the road by the Omni Centre, you’ll find two unique eating ares that feature a huge host of vendors, so no one in the group feels forced to eat food they don’t want!
Bonnie & Wild’s Scottish Marketplace and Edinburgh Street Food are both open late and have licensing laws for those looking to have a beer or wine with their meal.
22. Eat Pasta After Midnight
There are very few restaurants that serve food after midnight.
However, there is one saving grace for those who don’t want the night to end yet, Bar Napoli (75 Hanover Street) is notoriously open until 3am on a Friday and Saturday.
And guess what? Food reviews are positive!
23. Play Streetfighter While Sipping Cocktails
NQ64 is a dream for the big kids in town.
Play Pacman, Mariokart and Street Fighter while drinking pints at this arcade bar on Lothian Road.
24. Classic Games in a Pub
The Dog House on Leith Walk is a popular bar with eclectic decor and heaps of boards games to play for free.
There’s booths and tables with chairs beside the bar and through to the back of the pub.
25. Play Ball Games at Meadowbank
Play American or British pool, snooker, ping pong and darts at this modern games hall in North Edinburgh.
Dine on burgers and hit the bar between games at The Ball Room (25 Jocks Lodge, Edinburgh EH8 7A).
The Ball Room also displays live sport on big TVs.
26. Jump in a Ball Pit
Dive into a giant ball pit with over a million balls at Ballie Ballerson (14 Forrest Rd).
While you’re there you can drink cocktails and eat pizza while listening to the DJ play tunes.
Dress code is smart/casual.
27. Watch the Sunset at South Queensferry
Just before you reach the Forth Bridges there’s a cute town with colourful buildings, cake shops, chippies and stunning views of all three bridges.
Catch it at sunset with a bag of chips. Bliss.
If you’d prefer to dine there’s lots of choice in South Queensferry but it is best to book ahead.
Orocco Pier and Scotts are contemporary restaurants with views of the bridges.
The Hawes Inn and The Railbridge Bristro menus include Scottish fayre.
You can drive to South Queensferry and park for free along the waterfront close to The Railbridge Bistro and The Hawes Inn.
There is a train that goes from Edinburgh to Dalmeny which takes around 20 minutes then a 10 minute walk downhill to South Queensferry.
Finally, a bus from Edinburgh Bus Station that takes around 1 hour.
28. Night Skilling at Hillend
Just outside of Edinburgh but connected by public bus is Midlothian Snowsports Centre in Hillend.
Visitors can enjoy the UK’s biggest artificial slope in the evening as night falls over Edinburgh and the Pentlands Regional Park.
Check out The Loop if you are feeling a little dare devilish!
Don’t have any ski gear? No problem.
Boots, skis and helmets can be hired on site.
Public buses run from Waverley and Haymarket Stations in the city centre.
How Safe is Edinburgh at Night?
Some visitors ask ‘is Edinburgh safe at night?’ Edinburgh is a very safe city, and you should take the usual precautions whilst visiting here.
Edinburgh has a huge student population, as well as tourists and locals who all live together in the city.
Generally, walking through the streets or using public transport in the evening will be safe.
However, common sense should prevail, and it’s best to stick together as a group if you’re leaving pubs and clubs after a few whiskies!
Edinburgh does have an excellent black taxi service which you can book through phone or app to help you get back to your place.
The one thing that Edinburgh students will tell you, however, is that you should not walk through the Meadows (located in Edinburgh’s Southside) alone at night.