Scotland’s capital city certainly isn’t short of activities during the day.
But what about at night?
Well, this ancient city is anything but sleepy when the sun goes down.
From bowling lanes and comedy clubs to rooftop bars and historic cinemas, here are the 27 best things to do in Edinburgh at night!
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Catherine Taylor.
1. Visit Edinburgh Castle
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
Phone number: 0131 225 9846
The last entry inside the gates of Edinburgh Castle may be 4 pm.
But this historic landmark somehow looks even more impressive at night with its golden lights shining over the rest of the city.
Take a stroll up the Royal Mile towards the castle and you’ll see how it truly lights up the sky.
By the time you reach the outer grounds, you’ll be able to look out over the shining city below, including the Royal Mile, Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens.
Or, to marvel at the grandeur of the castle from afar, why not pull up a pew in the Grassmarket or Princes Street Gardens?
You’ll find plenty of bars with outdoor seating areas that will keep the refreshments flowing late into the evening.
And I think an ancient castle and a nice glass of wine make a nice pairing, don’t you?
2. Go on a Grassmarket pub crawl
On that note… one drink with a view of the castle might turn into several if you fancy conducting your own Grassmarket pub crawl.
By day, the Grassmarket (very aptly named, as it was once Edinburgh’s main marketplace) is a buzzing little destination with independent shops and cafes.
By night, it comes to life with pubs, restaurants and live music events bringing in people from all over the city.
Locals, students and tourists all unite for a cracking evening under the castle!
Try Cold Town House, home of craft beer and famous for its rooftop terrace.
Or how about Biddy Mulligans, an Irish bar that will have you drinking and dancing right through to the wee hours of the morning?
3. Join a ghost tour
Did you know that Edinburgh has a reputation for being one of the most haunted cities in the world?
From spooky tales of witchcraft and the supernatural to gruesome stories of historic murder, this city has a chilling past just waiting to be uncovered.
Of course, there are plenty of organised indoor tours that will tell you infamous tales of ghosts and ghouls that roam the city.
But there’s nothing quite like exploring the dark underbelly of Edinburgh on foot (if you’re able to).
Roam through Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, dark alleyways and underground vaults with a knowledgeable guide.
If you want a tried and tested tour, take a look at the Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour or Mary Kings Close.
Otherwise, the Comedy Horror Show Ghost Bus Tour is an absolute cracker.
Let’s just hope you’re not too afraid of the dark…
4. Explore Edinburgh Zoo after hours
Address: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 6TS
Phone number: 0131 334 9171
Have you ever visited a zoo at night?
Well, in Edinburgh – you can!
Throughout the year, Edinburgh Zoo hosts various After Hours events.
At these events, you get the chance to spend an evening strolling between penguins, pandas, tigers and flamingos and see what they get up to after gates normally close.
(Be warned, though – some of them just sleep!)
As well as the animal exhibits, the zoo also hosts several on-site caterers serving delicious local food and drink, and there are outdoor live music sets on the main lawn of the park.
If you’re looking for a unique, and completely wholesome, night out in Edinburgh, you might have just found it.
This is one of the more unique things to do in Edinburgh at night, that’s for sure.
5. Watch a show at The Stand Comedy Club
Address: 5 York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB
Phone number: 0131 558 7272
You might already know that each year Edinburgh is home to the Fringe Festival.
It’s the world’s greatest arts festival, famous for comedy, theatre and other live exhibitions from all over the world.
But Edinburgh has some fantastic home-grown comedy, and The Stand Comedy Club is proof of that.
The venue features local comedians and up-and-coming performers just dying to put a smile on your face.
And to be honest, whether you’re laughing at the jokes or laughing at how awkwardly bad the jokes are, you’re guaranteed to leave with sore cheeks.
Chuck in some food and drinks to the experience and there you have it: a night of top-class entertainment.
Oh, and if you don’t want to get picked on by the comedians, I’d recommend a seat near the back.
Speaking from personal experience…
6. Go bowling at Lane7
Address: 1 Leith Street, Edinburgh EH1 3DX
Phone number: 0131 373 0003
No matter what city you’re visiting, you really can’t go wrong with spending a few hours at a bowling alley.
And conveniently, Lane7 is easily one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night.
Picture a bowling alley, cocktail bar, ping-pong hall and games room all rolled into one, with funky graffiti walls and colourful furnishings to top it all off.
Just one look at their Instagram is enough to entice you into this retro world of fun and games.
So grab a drink, move from one activity to the next and let your competitive side take over!
Loser buys the next round…
7. Play board games at The Mousetrap
Address: 180 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 5EA
Phone number: 0131 553 0220
However, if that didn’t quite satisfy your love for games night, then get yourself down to The Mousetrap.
This self-professed ‘dive bar’ is heaps of fun – and one of my favourite things to do in Edinburgh at night.
Not only does the bar have some of the best-priced cocktails in the city as well as a wide variety of beers and spirits.
But the unique draw of The Mousetrap is the plethora of board games scattered around the bar area just waiting to be played, as well as retro arcade machines and some aggressively quirky décor.
The Mousetrap also prides itself on being LGBTQ+ friendly, and it undoubtedly has some of the best vibes in the area because of it.
Everyone is welcome (as long as you like board games, that is).
8. Dance at a Scottish ceilidh
Address: 2, Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD
Phone number: 0131 222 9930
Have you heard of The Gay Gordons?
The Dashing White Sargeant?
Strip The Willow?
Well, they might sound like complete and utter gibberish for now, but they’re famous ceilidh dances!
Ones that every single Scot is guaranteed to know.
Traditionally, a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee, FYI) is usually saved for special occasions such as weddings, parties, formal dinners and Burns Suppers.
However, the Burly Ceilidh Club at Ghillie Dhu hosts a weekly informal ceilidh where everyone is welcome – no matter how bad you are at dancing!
You’ll be greeted with a welcome drink, followed by a three-course meal, ceilidh dance and a DJ to finish.
The caller will talk you through each of the moves before the ceilidh dance starts.
But honestly, they’re super easy to pick up.
Just make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes, clothes, and don’t mind leaving with a couple of enthusiastic bruises on your arms!
9. Go ‘out out’ at Fingers Piano Bar
Address: 61A Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 1LH
Phone number: 0131 225 3026
Now, if you’re looking for somewhere to go ‘out out’ in Edinburgh – and maybe even looking for somewhere that’s a wee bit different from your usual club – then look no further than Fingers Piano Bar.
With a live pianist, light-up dance floor and sickly sweet cocktails, this place has truly immaculate vibes that are ridiculous and yet somehow not at all tacky?
Fingers is the kind of night out that’s so bad that it’s good.
One minute you’ll be listening to Clair De Lune by Debussy, then Dignity by Deacon Blue, then the piano version of Mr Brightside.
Honestly – bizarre.
10. Watch the sunset from Arthur’s Seat
Address: Edinburgh EH16 5HX
Hiking Arthur’s Seat has got to be on everyone’s to-do list while visiting Edinburgh.
But you’re not restricted to climbing this extinct volcano in the morning and afternoon as it’s also a beautiful spot to watch the sunset!
Arthur’s Seat is the highest of the seven hills in Edinburgh and looks like quite a daunting climb from the bottom.
However, in reality, it only takes your average Joe around 20-30 minutes to climb to the peak.
From there you get magical, panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh; the Old and New Towns, Hollyrood Palace and Park, the Salisbury Crags and beyond.
Just beware, it can get pretty blustery and cold at the top (it is Scotland, after all) so make sure you wrap up warm!
Take a flask of tea, hot chocolate or a hot toddy to enjoy at the top and watch the gorgeous city change colours on the way to nightfall.
This is easily one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night.
11. Catch a movie at Dominion Cinema
Address: Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4RT
Phone number: 0131 447 4771
I know it might seem like a bit of a waste to visit a new city and spend your evening in the cinema.
However, Edinburgh has some really beautiful picture houses including Dominion Cinema, an independent cinema located in Morningside.
Not only is the building a masterpiece in itself – originally built in the 1930s with grand Art Deco characteristics – but the whole experience of visiting this film house will leave you with a newfound admiration of the cinema.
The Dominion has truly first-class service with ushers leading you to your seats, luxurious reclining sofas and even table service for snacks and drinks.
Film buffs: The Dominion is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night for you.
12. Take a cocktail masterclass at The Voodoo Rooms
Address: 19a W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA
Phone number: 0131 556 7060
Everyone and their mum loves a good cocktail, but do you know how to make a good one yourself?
Well, luckily for you, Edinburgh is home to a handful of excellent cocktail masterclasses.
One of the best has got to be in the ornate American bar of The Voodoo Rooms.
This stylish, walnut panelled lounge is a pretty classy setting for the event.
It includes a welcome drink and brief introduction to the history, methods and making of cocktails, before demonstrations by expert mixologists and then plenty of time to try it out for yourself.
There’s something uniquely satisfying about tasting a delicious, fancy cocktail and knowing you whipped it up all by yourself.
(As long as you make a good job of it, that is…)
13. Go whiskey tasting at Whiski Rooms
Address: 4-7 N Bank St, Edinburgh EH1 2LP
Phone number: 0131 225 7224
And for those of you who’d prefer the hearty warmth of a nice dram of whiskey, head down to the multi-award-winning Whiski Rooms and try some of their 100s of whiskies in a fun and informative tasting.
No experience necessary!
The most popular tasting (and the best one for beginners) is the Introduction to Whisky Tasting.
However, the Whiski Rooms also offer more specialised and fun tastings such as Whisky and Cheese or Whisky and Chocolate tastings.
You’ll learn how scotch whisky is made, what flavours are used and how to enjoy a dram properly.
And to top it off, this venue has beautiful views over Edinburgh and Princes Street.
There’s no better way to people watch in the evening than with a glass of scotch in hand!
14. Go late night shopping on Princes Street
This one sort of depends on what day of the week you’re visiting Edinburgh,
But if you happen to be in the city on a Thursday night (famously known as the only ‘late night’ shopping night in Scotland) then you’re in for a treat on Princes Street.
On Thursdays, most stores are open a good few hours past their usual closing time – usually until around 8-9 pm.
Perfect if you’ve had a busy day of Scottish sightseeing but still wanted a nosy in the shops afterwards!
On Princes Street, you’ll find a whole host of high street stores as well as tourist shops.
Or you can head round to the newly opened St James Quarter for four stories filled with over 40 retailers, including brands like Stradivarius and Bershka that have landed in Scotland for the first time.
Late night shopping in Edinburgh is much more relaxed than the hustle and bustle of Princes Street during the day, so it’s a perfect time to browse without as many crowds.
15. Stargaze at the Royal Observatory
Address: The UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ
Phone number: 0131 668 8100
There are plenty of spots in Edinburgh where you can stargaze.
But by far the best is inside the telescopic dome of the Royal Observatory.
Located on Blackford Hill, the Royal Observatory is one of the UK’s major centres of astronomical research and is accessible to the public during regular open evenings.
Book on to a late-night event where you’ll be taken on a tour of the beautiful building, attend a talk and Q + As by on-site experts, and spend some time spotting stars for yourself.
Educational, exciting, romantic – this event can be anything you want it to be.
But if you get a clear sky night, it’s guaranteed to be a part of your Edinburgh trip that you’ll remember for a lifetime!
16. Catch a show at Edinburgh Playhouse
Address: 18-22 Greenside Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3AA
Phone number: 0333 009 6690
If singing, dancing and performing is your cup of tea, you’ll be spoiled for choice at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Originally built as a ‘super cinema’ in the 1920s, this venue is the largest theatre in Scotland.
It comprises three levels seating over 3,000 people, five bars, and beautiful period characteristics that maintain the theatre’s impressive heritage and original form.
The Playhouse has played host to some of the most famous West End musicals such as Les Miserables and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as more contemporary comedy shows, live music performances and prestigious dance productions.
So take a look before your visit and see what’s on – you’re guaranteed to find something for you.
The Edinburgh Playhouse is also famously haunted, with stories as far back as the 1950s depicting a phantom man wearing grey lingering on level 6.
Perfect setting if you’ve always wanted to visit one of the UK’s haunted theatres.
(Bit niche, I know, but still fun!)
17. Dine Michelin star at Restaurant Martin Wishart
Address: 54 Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6RA
Phone number: 0131 553 3557
We already know that Edinburgh has a seriously impressive food game.
So why not sample some of the best of the best at Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart?
Located in Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith, Martin Wishart opened this flagship venue back in 1999 and gained his Michelin star just two years later.
Now one of the city’s finest restaurants, the menu boasts European cuisine using fresh, local ingredients with a classic French twist.
Excellent food with service to match – this restaurant is a real treat.
And to top it off, the shore of Leith is a gorgeous little spot for the evening.
Post-dinner, take a stroll by the port and you’ll see the lights glisten on the water.
Very wholesome indeed.
18. Go for rooftop drinks at The Lookout
Address: Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5AA
Phone number: 0131 378 7990
Is there anything better than drinks with a view?
I didn’t think so!
There are plenty of great rooftop bars in Edinburgh but one of the very best has to be The Lookout.
Located right on top of Calton Hill within the Observatory buildings, the name itself gives a little clue that this spot is a spectacular lookout point, with views stretching right across the city.
Brought to you by the team behind The Gardener’s Cottage (their sister restaurant in the city), The Lookout is a fusion of modern and traditional architecture with floor to ceiling glass walls, polished concrete flooring and an open kitchen.
The food is just as impressive, too, with a menu crafted using the finest, seasonal ingredients from local producers that aim to show off the tastiest flavours of nature.
Book a table and watch the sun go down in style!
19. Visit Camera Obscura and World Of Illusions
Address: Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND
Phone number: 0131 226 3709
If you’ve heard of the weird and wonderful world of Camera Obscura before, you might have thought it was more of a daytime attraction.
But this mesmerising place is open until as late as 9.30 pm on the weekends.
Perfect timing if you’re looking for a bit of hands-on entertainment in the evening!
With five floors of mind-bending illusions, astonishing tricks of light and hysterical photo opportunities, it’s easy to spend hours wandering the galleries in search of your next jaw-dropping sight or fit of laughter.
It may be one of the best indoor activities in Edinburgh but make sure you also visit the Rooftop Terrace before you leave for a full 360-degree view over the city.
20. Sing and dance at Stramash Live Music Bar
Address: 207 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JQ
Phone number: 0131 623 4353
Edinburgh is renowned for its live music scene, with venues that cater to absolutely every act and audience.
And that much is true for every single night at Stramash.
Stramash is a gigantic bar located in Cowgate, putting on live music or showing sports events right up until 3 am, and even serving freshly prepared food until midnight.
It’s the kind of place that truly radiates good vibes.
The dance floor is always busy, the music is always loud and the people are always incredibly friendly.
The venue proudly showcases local talent, as well as some bigger names, too.
It’s a total pic n mix depending on what night you visit, but if you’re guaranteed one thing, it’s a good time!
This is one of the most fun things to do in Edinburgh at night, that’s for sure.
21. Fill your belly at The Pitt Street Food Market
Address: 125, 137 Pitt St, Edinburgh EH6 4DE
Phone number: 07469 771654
For all you foodies out there, The Pitt Street Food Market is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night for you!
Established in 2015 and based in an industrial yard in Leith, this quirky venue has grown in popularity and admiration over the years to the point of winning multiple awards and drawing in visitors from across Scotland.
Here you’ll find some of the city’s most inventive, fresh and flavourful foods.
And they’re all served in an independent street vendor style with a huge seating area, plenty of drinks available and live music/sports on show.
The atmosphere in this place is never a let-down – particularly at the weekend when the venue is open until 11 pm.
22. Join a craft beer tour with ScotBeer Tours
If you’re into beer and Scottish history then you’re in luck as this will be one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night for you.
ScotBeer Tours run a whole host of private, bespoke and large group tours.
They can include anything from a walking tour of the city to tours inside a brewery to tutored beer tastings with specialist knowledge from your guides.
From start to finish, they’ll entertain you by teaching you about the history of beer in Scotland.
And to top it all off, you’ll also get to taste some of Edinburgh’s best local beers and have the chance to explore the city as you walk.
Scot Beers also offer dog-friendly tours on request, so if you happen to be travelling with a furry friend they can join in the fun, too!
23. Eat at The Witchery by the Castle
Address: 352 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NF
Phone number: 0131 225 5613
One of the most well-known and well-loved institutions in the city of Edinburgh has to be James Thomson’s The Witchery by the Castle, proudly known as ‘Scotland’s most famous restaurant’.
This rich, baroque venue has a plethora of magical areas to explore.
From the original oak-panelled walls of the Witchery itself, through to the charming candle-lit Secret Garden and even the nine dramatic suites just waiting to be slept in, there’s plenty to see.
(If you get the chance to stay in one of the suites, be warned: they book up for months ahead!)
This is undoubtedly one of the most atmospheric locations in the city, really tapping into its gothic heritage and inviting you in to join the magic.
Pair your exceptional surroundings with equally impressive food and drink, and you have quite the night ahead of you!
One of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night? I think so.
24. Walk the Old Town and Royal Mile
Wandering is surely everyone’s favourite thing to do when visiting a new place for the first time.
It’s a fantastic way to get your bearings and stumble across hidden gems that you might not have thought to visit.
But there’s something even more magical about wandering Edinburgh at night.
The Old Town and the Royal Mile come alive when the sun goes down.
You’ll find tourists, locals, students and everyone in between enjoying all the fun that Edinburgh has to offer.
The cobbled streets always feel safe to explore and you can also stop in somewhere for a bite to eat or a couple of drinks.
A good wander is also the perfect way to round off a trip to Scotland’s capital city.
You can put your newfound knowledge of Edinburgh’s history, ghosts and culture to good use as you take in the city lights.
Just don’t forget to take a picture of the castle before you leave!
25. Watch the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
Phone number: 0131 225 4783
Set against the impressive backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a world-famous annual event that brings together people from across the world for an evening of unforgettable entertainment.
Always held in early autumn, the event is a complete sellout year after year, with a whole host of musicians, dancers, pipers and precision displays to celebrate the skills and talents of military bands and display teams.
Words really can’t do this incredible performance justice.
With over 220,000 attendees each year (and a further 100 million watching it on television!), this is the kind of event you’ll be talking about for months or even years afterwards.
So of course this particular event will depend on the time of year you’re visiting Edinburgh.
But if your trip happens to coincide with the Military Tattoo then it’s a no brainer.
You have to go!
26. Laugh your head off at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Chances are, you’ve heard of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Held in August every single year, the festival is a world-famous showcase of talent from across the world, even known as ‘the single greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet’.
Comedians, musicians and artists take to the stage across hundreds of venues scattered over the city, performing something that suits everyone.
There are plenty of ways to experience the Fringe.
Some people like to book tickets to specially-picked acts in advance and have a set plan in place, while others prefer to wander down the Royal Mile, have dozens of show advertising leaflets thrust in their hand and just go with the flow.
I prefer the latter.
You can stumble across some truly moving, interesting, bizarre or hilarious performance that you might never have picked out for yourself.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh when the Fringe Festival is on, you can’t miss it.
(Just be warned, the number of visitors in the city grows exponentially during this time, so book your accommodation well in advance!)
26. Get festive at Edinburgh Christmas Market
When it comes to Christmas markets in Scotland, you really can’t do much better than Edinburgh’s Christmas Market.
For six weeks every year, East Princes Street Gardens transforms itself into a winter wonderland that’s not a stones’ throw away from an authentic German market.
You can wander between wooden stalls selling personalised gifts and fresh food.
And it’s even better in the evening when the sky is dark but the twinkling Christmas lights shine on through!
The market becomes a bit more of a party in the evening, with plenty of tourists milling in and out of spots like the Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar and Christmas Festival Village, enjoying mulled wine and festive music!
Wrap up warm and grab a glass of gluhwein – you’ll fit right in!
So there you have it: the 27 best things to do in Edinburgh at night.
No matter what kind of night you’re looking for – whether it’s a classy night of theatre and music, an excuse to sample some of Scotland’s finest food and drinks, or a rowdy night in a pub or club – this list has got you covered.
So which of these things to do in Edinburgh at night are you adding to your itinerary?
Let me know in the comments below!