Planning a celebratory trip to the Scottish capital? We’ve scoured the city after sunset and found there are plenty of weird and wonderful things to do in Edinburgh at night.
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Best Things To Do In Edinburgh At Night
Looking to enjoy a romantic stroll along Princess Street so you can stare up at Edinburgh Castle after dusk? Or are you keen to plan a nighthawk-friendly itinerary featuring all of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night?
Edinburgh offers a surprising number of nighttime activities for visitors keen to have fun after 5pm.
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We suggest starting by finding an elegant suite to sleep, fit for a Scottish King or Queen. Why not relax your tired toes at a luxury spa, eat at a raucous restaurant, slowly sip at a gin distillery and a clutch of craft breweries, stroll through marvellous museums, LOL at hilarious stand up comedy and join the gays for a disco dance party?
1 Princess Street, 44-131-556-2414
One of the most important things to do in Edinburgh at night is plan for a suite sleep. The Scottish capital offers a diverse range of accommodation options but our favourite is the historic Balmoral Hotel on Princess Street.
Originally built as the North British Station Hotel in 1902, The Balmoral in Edinburgh is a luxury five-star property. It’s one of Scotland’s landmark luxury hotels, located beneath the iconic Edinburgh Castle.
In 1991 celebrated Scottish actor Sean Connery officially reopened the hotel as The Balmoral, Gaelic for “majestic dwelling,” following £23-million refurbishment. In 2010, Oprah Winfrey filmed a one-hour episode of her show at The Balmoral’s Scone & Crombie Royal Suite with author J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter author explained that she finished writing the book in the series here.
The Balmoral Hotel’s architect, William Hamilton Beattie, crafted a Victorian design, influenced by the traditional Scottish baronial style. Step inside and you’ll encounter a sumptuous lobby, well-appointed suites, cozy cocktail bar, and pretty Palm Court serving Edinburgh’s best afternoon tea.
8 Conference Square, 44-131-221-7777
After spending a long day marching across the city, we suggest enjoying a slice of rest and relaxation at Edinburgh’s best spa. One Spa at Sheraton Hotel Edinburgh offers a slew of evening treatments that will have you feeling restored and refreshed.
Considered one of Scotland’s most renowned thermal spas, Sheraton Hotel Edinburgh’s truly is an urban oasis. One Spa guests can swim in a rooftop Hydropool and find quiet calm in a Thermal Suite featuring a range of water, salt and heat therapies.
If you’re a fan of self care, treating yourself to a restorative massage or body wrap is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night. After scouring the city’s best museums, treat your achy body to a night of sublime relaxation.
One Spa Edinburgh offers comprehensive day packages as well as an a la carte menu featuring sweetly scented oils and creams from Made For Life by Spiezia Organics.
One Spa is open on Monday to Friday until 10pm and on Saturday and Sunday until 9pm.
2 Warriston’s Close, 44-131-225-0672
One of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night is a tour of Real Mary King’s Close. The final tour of the day is at 9pm, offering a fun activity before a night out on the town with friends.
Real Mary King’s Close offers visitors an entertaining tour of a historic close (alleyway) located under buildings on the Royal Mile. It takes its name from Mary King, a merchant who resided here in the 17th century.
The close was partially demolished during the building of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century, and later was closed to the public for many years. Real Mary King’s Close is shrouded in local myths and urban legends, the centre of many of Edinburgh’s hauntings and murders.
Recent research and archaeological evidence has gone to show that Mary King’s Close actually consists of a number of alleyways. It’s believed that they were originally narrow streets, flanked by tenement houses that stretched as high as eight stories.
Today, Real Mary King’s Close offers one of Edinburgh’s most fascinating history lessons. The popular tourist attraction features a guided tour led by historical reenactors. If you’re a fan of spooky tourist attractions featuring haunted tales and gruesome ghosts, Real Mary King’s Close is going to be one of your favourite things to do in Edinburgh at night.
23-24 Greenside Place, 44-131-556-9331
CC Blooms was founded in 1994 and named after Bette Midler’s character in the gay camp classic Beaches. Edinburgh’s oldest and best gay bar has been modelled around Bette Midler herself (the Hollywood star even follows CC Blooms on Twitter!)
Owners Mitch and Tim offer the local LGBT community and visiting gay disco divas a contemporary restaurant, which transforms into Edinburgh’s most popular gay club later in the evening. Situated next to The Playhouse Theatre at the southern tip of Edinburgh’s gay quarter, CC Blooms’ is the perfect place to enjoy a pre-theatre dinner or tear up the dance floor late into the night.
CC Blooms menu offers standard pub favourites such as nachos, chicken wings, British pies and burgers. Those looking to quench their thirst will also find local craft beer and a full wine and champagne list.
If you’re a Drag Queen loving gay dance fan a weekend bacchanal spent at CC Blooms is likely to be one of your favourite things to do in Edinburgh at night. The popular Scottish gay bar features two dance floors, which gets crowded starting at 11pm on weekends.
2 Rutland Place, 44-131-222-9930
Are you a culture vulture keen to experience traditional Scottish music and dance while enjoying a fine feast? The dinner and show at Ghillie Dhu may just be one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night.
Ranked as one of Edinburgh’s best bars and pubs, its name comes from Scottish folklore, the Ghillie Dhu was a solitary male fairy.
Open until 3am every day of the week, Ghillie Dhu is an award winning restaurant and event space in Edinburgh. Originally St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Ghillie Dhu is a fine dining Scottish pub offering hearty food, ales, drams and music.
Be sure to organize your visit so you can experience Ghillie Dhu’s Burly Ceilidh Club. Experiencing a ceilidh is a must for any first time visitor to Scotland. The special social event typically features Scottish folk music, singing, traditional Highland dancing and storytelling.
Experience the joys of a real Scottish ceildih every Friday and Saturday night from 7pm. Guests enjoy a 3 course dinner, Scottish ceildh lesson and live band that performs traditional folk music until the wee hours of the morning.
9-11 Blair Street, 44-131-225-5149
If you’re a LOL fan Monkey Barrel Comedy is one of the most entertaining things to do in Edinburgh at night. Located in the heart of the city’s Old Town, Monkey Barrel Comedy is Edinburgh’s premiere comedy club.
Offering laughs every night of the week, it’s a three times winner of Best Venue at the Scottish Comedy Awards. If you’re looking to enjoy a funny night in the Scottish capital, research the comedy clubs calendar in advance.
Monkey Barrel boasts a diverse variety of comedy shows throughout the week. Big Weekend shows present Edinburgh’s best comedians, while midweek events offer everything from stand-up to sketch and cabaret.
If you’re looking to enjoy an affordable dinner and show in Edinburgh, Monkey Barrel Comedy offers packages that include a nightly comedy act, bubbly/beer/cider buckets, cocktail pitchers and gourmet hot dog menu.
1a Rutland Place, 44-131-656-2810
If you’re a cocktail fan head to Edinburgh Gin Distillery to learn all about the United Kingdom’s favourite spirit. Since 2010, Edinburgh Gin Distillery has been committed to the art and science of distilling, creating a selection of award-winning gins.
Edinburgh Gin is a small-batch distiller, producing a range of gin bottles at their West End and Leith distilleries. Head Distiller, David Wilkinson was awarded Silver in the 2016 International Wine & Spirit Competition for its innovative and contemporary take.
We suggest booking one of the last tours of the day. Depending on the time of year, the last tours of Edinburgh Gin Distillery take place between 6-7pm. Edinburgh Gin Distillery offers a variety of different tours depending on your time and budget. Visitors can enjoy a guided history of gin, tutored tasting, and a unique gin making experience where you can craft your own bespoke recipe.
After your gin distillery tour ends at 5pm the space transforms into Heads and Tables Bar, serving craft cocktails until late. Located beneath the Rutland Hotel, Heads and Tables is ranked as one of Edinburgh’s best bars. The vintage distillery vibes offer a chance to sample gin muddled tipples while admiring two copper stills, Caledonia and Flora.
Chambers Street, 44-300-123-6789
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Scottish history and culture is housed in the spectacular National Museum of Scotland. The best museum in Edinburgh is located within two contrasting buildings that stand across from each other. The grandiose 19th-century gallery is joined by a contemporary new wing that is considered one of Edinburgh’s most iconic modern buildings.
Curious visitors to the National Museum of Scotland have an opportunity to discover Scottish ingenuity and history from past to present. Stroll through the museum and you’ll learn about Scottish inventors, gawk at elaborate costumes and masks and raise your eyebrow at Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned animal.
The new wing is ironically focussed on exploring Scotland’s ancient history. It’s here you’ll find prehistoric relics, Pictish symbol stones, Viking carved walrus-ivory Lewis Chessmen and Highland silver and weapons.
The National Museum of Scotland is typically open from 10am-5pm. Several times a year the institution opens its doors after hours to host Museum Lates, a playful evening affair perfect for people watching.
Edinburgh’s architectural icon sits perched over the city’s skyline for every visitor to see. Edinburgh Castle is a 12th century masterpiece, which unsurprisingly is Scotland’s most popular attraction.
Sitting on the top of an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is made up of buildings that date back from the 12th century to the 20th century. Stroll through Edinburgh’s famous castle and you’ll have an opportunity to reflect on its evolutionary role from fortress, to royal palace, military garrison and state prison.
Edinburgh Castle typically closes at 6pm but during the Edinburgh Festival in August, it hosts a spectacular fireworks display to mark the end of the Military Tattoo.
Perhaps one of the most unforgettable things you can do in Edinburgh at night is to enjoy a spellbinding display of Scottish cultural heritage at the annual Military Tattoo. The world-renowned theatrical event features an army of bagpipers, drummers and trumpeters, who march on Edinburgh Castle’s esplanade into the wee hours of the night.
Known as Queen Elizabeth II’s official Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse was originally built by James IV in the ground of an abbey in 1498. Today, The Royal Apartments are used for banquets whenever Queen E visits the palace.
Guided tours of the Palace of Holyroodhouse are typically offered until 6pm from April to October. If you’re keen to enjoy a unique late night experience inquire about their exclusive evening tours. Late night tours of the Palace of Holyroodhouse are typically offered a few days in August and before Christmas in December.
Evening tours of Holyroodhouse typically run from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Dedicated fans of the British Royal Family will love the “behind the ropes” tour which includes the West Drawing Room, used by members of the Royal Family as a private sitting room.
An expert guide tours the group through elegant State Apartments once the Palace doors have closed to visitors for the day. VIP evening tours of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh also include a sparkling glass of champagne and a copy of the official guidebook.
The most visited city in Scotland offers more than just its cute castle and pretty Princess Street. Craft beer lovers staying in downtown Edinburgh can enjoy fresh pints poured at a handful of local craft breweries and beer bars.
We visited all of the best Edinburgh Breweries, which you can easily enjoy on your own self guided beer bacchanal by skipping across town between sud-sloshed pints.
If you’d like to keep the bar hopping distance to a minimum we’d suggest spending a night out on Lothian Road. Three of Edinburgh’s best beer bars are located on a short stretch of the street and offer a fun night out without having to worry about cabbing around town.
We suggest starting the evening by sipping sours at The Hanging Bat. Then stroll down the street to Innis & Gunn Brewery Taproom for a whisky barrel-aged flight sampler. Finish your Edinburgh beer night at BrewDog by clinking glasses over a late night fried chicken feast.
If you’re a member of the die hard craft beer tribe be sure to book your visit to Scotland around the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival in May, or the Craft Beer Experience in November.
Waverley Bridge, 44-844-567-8666
Lauded as the United Kingdom’s best haunted tour company, Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tours offer the city’s only comedy-horror theatre on wheels.
Haunted happening fans visiting Edinburgh enjoy a spooky Scottish history tour on the Necrobus, a classic 1960’s Routemaster. The double-decker bus has been lovingly restored in midnight-black livery and finished with antique lamps and plush red velvet curtains.
Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tours are hosted by classically-trained actors who have entertained a number of celebrities over the years including Johnny Depp, Whoopi Goldberg and The Prodigy.
Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tours covers all of the city’s top attractions including: Edinburgh Castle, The New Town, Grassmarket, Greyfriar’s Kirk, The Old Town, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile. During the tour, your friendly guide will pepper the conversation with tales of royal executions and trapped Scottish spirits.
The Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are no seat reservations so arrive early if you’re in a large group as people are seated on a first-come first-served basis.
Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tours run daily at 6pm, 7:30pm and 9pm. The bus departs at Waverley Bridge, opposite the Princess Mall exit of Waverley Station.
If you’re looking to find the perfect perch to photograph Edinburgh at sunset take a stroll to the top of Calton Hill. Situated on the east end of Princess Street and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill offers the best panorama of the city.
Once at the top of Calton Hill, tip toe across its grassy slopes and you’ll enjoy a 360 degree view featuring the hustle and bustle of Princess Street, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park.
Calton Hill is more than just a viewpoint, it’s most famously home to the unfinished National Monument, which sits on the skyline appearing like an Athenian acropolis.
Star gazers can get their night sky fix at two observatories on Calton Hill: the Old Observatory House built in 1792; and the City Observatory, built in 1818.
In August, Calton Hill is a hub for Edinburgh Festival shows, offering excellent views of fireworks displays from the castle during Hogmanay and the grand finale fireworks display. On the last day of April, Calton Hill is the scene of Beltane Fire Festival and the Samhuinn Fire Festival during Halloween.
125 George St, 44-131-225-5005
Tigerlily is Edinburgh’s best boutique hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Edinburgh a short hop from the Royal Mile, Tigerlily Hotel offers a feminine fantasy, decked out in splashes of pink with mirrored walls and sparkling chandeliers.
The luxury boutique hotel’s 33 bedrooms offer a blend of contemporary design that marry seamlessly with the building’s historic Georgian architectural heritage.
Visiting foodies take note, Tigerlily Edinburgh is perhaps most famous for playing home to one of the city’s best bars and restaurants. Skip inside the pretty pink interior from George Street and you’ll find a posh bar offering one of Edinburgh’s most creative and comprehensive craft cocktails menus (featuring over 150 drinks).
Stroll through the modern meets chic dining room and you’ll find the city’s best dressed feasting on Aberdeen Angus beef and lime spritzed coconut curry.
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354 Castlehill, 44-131-220-0441
Located at the top of the Royal Mile, The Scotch Whisky Experience is the best place to start an evening out in Edinburgh. The popular interactive whisky museum closes each day at 6pm so we suggest booking the last tour of the day around 5pm.
The guided tour begins with a fun and informative Disneyland-inspired ride, taking guests on a whisky making adventure: from barley to barrel and bottle.
Each tour is hosted by a friendly guide who walks the group through a 90 minute whisky adventure across Scotland. Highlights include a panoramic video flying over Scotland’s distinct whisky regions, scratch and sniff whisky card, dram tasting and jaw-dropping finale through the Diageo Claive Vidiz Collection. The awe-inspiring whisky collection comprises 3,384 bottles of Scotch, a priceless record of Scotland’s whisky history held inside a marble and glass vault.
If you’re already a Scotch aficionado we suggest booking The Gold Tour, an upgrade that offers you an opportunity to compare and contrast four regional single malts.
St Giles’ Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is the principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in the capital.
Marked by a distinctive crown steeple, St Giles Cathedral is an icon of the city’s skyline, located a third of the way down the Royal Mile between the castle and Holyrood Palace.
The church has been a religious focal point in Edinburgh for over 900 years. The present structure dates from the late 14th century, though it was given an extensive face lift in the 19th century.
Edinburgh’s Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles, the patron saint of the city, as well as of cripples and lepers, a very popular saint in the Middle Ages.
Step inside and you’ll find gorgeous stained glass windows highlighting various biblical narratives. Notable monuments include those to Robert Louis Stevenson and Protestant Reformer John Knox.
Those looking to experience the cathedral at night should check online to review the current concert series schedule. St Giles’ Cathedral regularly offers evening concerts for music lovers. The festive performances offered during Christmas and Easter allow visitors a unique opportunity to experience the ancient cathedral’s awesome acoustics.
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