TOP 20 best things to do in Edinburgh at night

Scotland's capital is particularly charming in the evenings when its winding cobbled streets look like they belong in a fairytale, and there's a ghost or a mystery awaiting around every corner. Feel like going out tonight? Check out our list of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night that we've compiled to help you plan your evening activities in this majestic city.

The National Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh's museums, however exciting they might be, usually close around 5:00 PM. However, there are a few options for those wishing to engage in evening cultural activities.

The National Museum of Scotland — one of the most popular places to go in Edinburgh — houses a vast collection covering the natural world, world cultures, science, art, design and fashion, and Scottish history. Dating back to the 19th century, this establishment is stepping away from a traditional museum role and moving towards engaging new audiences.

Check their program to see their After Hours events: from film screenings to science talks with food and drinks and special evenings when the exhibitions are tailored for autistic audiences. But if you want to visit during the day, we've got you covered with our audio tour.

Natural history, science, and history of Scotland

Princes Street

While the Royal Mile is the main medieval artery of the old town, Princes Street was built from the late 18th century onwards and is Edinburgh's major shopping street. Here, you can come across well-known high-street brands, including Primark, Marks & Spencer, H&M, River Island, and Dr. Martens, as well as Sports Direct and the bookshop Waterstones.

Usually, Thursday is the day when shops are open till late, so in case you were up for some shopping after a whole day of history and culture, Princes Street is where we recommend going. There are a few historic landmarks here, too: even at night, you'll definitely notice the grand building of the Balmoral Hotel, the huge spire of the Scott monument, and, of course, the gorgeous Edinburgh Castle sitting above the lush Princes Street Gardens.

High street


Grassmarket, Edinburgh's historic marketplace where they used to sell cattle and horses, and that was surrounded by taverns since the 15th century, is a vibrant neighborhood with a gruesome past. It was here that public executions took place, riots occurred, notorious serial killers Burke and Hare murdered their victims, and poverty and homelessness were omnipresent for a long time — until the late 20th century when the area started to gentrify.

Currently, it's a perfectly safe neighborhood and a popular tourist space. It is home to numerous pubs and bars, some of which date back a few centuries and have curious histories of their own. If you're heading out for a drink, check out The White Hart Inn (possibly the oldest pub in town), The Last Drop (next to the gallows' location), or Fiddler's Arms (traditional Scottish music and whisky).

Want to learn more about the area? It's part of our tours of the city's crime and ghost history.

Historic neighborhood, perfect for a pub crawl

Related tours:

Edinburgh Ghost Walk

What's one of the most fun things to do in Edinburgh at night if you're into scary stories? Obviously, explore the intricacies of its dark and mysterious history with one of our bestselling tours.

Walk around the old town at your own pace and imagine all of the city's grim stories unfolding in front of your eyes. Picture the infamous serial killers William Burke and William Hare, who committed 16 murders in 1828 right here where you're standing. Hear about grave robbers and how cemeteries tried to prevent the graves from desecration. Visit the old graveyards, Canongate Kirkyard and Greyfriars Kirkyard, and learn about their macabre background.

We can't really guarantee a ghost sighting, to be honest. But we promise that investigating the dark history will be fun (maybe just a tiny bit scary)!

Spooky walking tour

The Scotch Whisky Experience

Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular, is revered for its iconic whiskies. But obviously, you're not here just to get plastered (right?) One particular local evening experience best suited for adults is whisky tasting — which can be both exciting and educational.

The Scotch Whisky Experience is a serious project: it endeavors to tell its visitors about the joys of Scottish whisky by introducing them to a number of different kinds of the signature spirit and an informative guided tour by the end of which you'll know more about how whisky is produced. One of the highlights of the attraction is the priceless Collection that comprises 3,384 bottles of Scotch: just basking in its amber glow is bound to make you all warm and cozy!

Whisky tasting and educational tour

The Real Mary King's Close

Mary King's Close is a historic passage in the Old Town located literally under the Royal Mile. The reason? Back in the mid-18th century, due to the building of the Royal Exchange, the street's residents were evicted, the upper floors of the buildings were demolished, and the lower stories were sealed up — staying buried for about two and a half centuries.

The close's history is saturated with grim tales that involve murder, plague, and severed limbs — no wonder the place has a reputation for being haunted. If you're not spooked too easily and are looking for things to do in Edinburgh at night, check out a local tour where you'll wander through the maze of dark passages led by guides dressed up as one-time residents of the close. The last tour starts at 7:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Spooky tour


Greyfriars Kirkyard

What could be one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh at night? Some cemetery tourism, no doubt! Greyfriars Kirkyard, the city's most famous burial ground that surrounds Greyfriars Kirk, was established in the 16th century and is open 24 hours. You can explore it with two of our tours: learn more about ghosts and horrors of the cemetery or find the graves of famous Harry Potter characters.

Spend some time studying the sepulchral architecture, monuments, and tombstones. You've likely already heard of Greyfriars Bobby, the famously loyal Skye Terrier, and the grave of the poor old chap Thomas Riddell who never knew he would inspire one of the most sinister villains of contemporary children's literature. A few other headstones are reportedly connected with Rowling's characters, such as Scrymgeour (Rufus Scrimgeour), Cruikshanks (Hermione's cat), and the guy known as Scotland's worst poet, William McGonagall (Head of Gryffindor).


Edinburgh: a Tour Through History of Crime

You've already figured that Edinburgh's squares, streets, and passages have witnessed centuries of rather dark human history, and quite unsavory characters have trod its alleyways. In case you're yearning to learn more about the local history of crime (and punishment), our walking tour has been designed to create a bridge between the macabre tales of the past and the present.

Wouldn't it be curious to know why the locals developed a tradition of spitting on that lovely heart-shaped mosaic in front of St Giles' Cathedral? Fancy learning about the actual prototype of Sherlock Holmes? Need some historical background on Edinburgh's jails and their dark secrets? Perhaps, a few reading tips for fans of Victorian crime stories?

Crime history

The Banshee Labyrinth

For those wondering what to do in Edinburgh at night, we'd like to point out that the local evening activities are not limited to exploring its murky past. Cheer up, Edinburgh has a bustling nightlife and hundreds of boozers, from the cheap ones to fairly chic and classy establishments.

The Banshee Labyrinth, the one we'd like to suggest, brands itself as Scotland's 'most haunted pub.' Of course, it's steeped in history (come on, everything in the old town is). Part of the venue used to belong to Edinburgh's infamous underground vaults, once frequented by criminals, where many poor souls met their grisly end. They say the place is haunted by a screaming banshee, among a few other specters.

But otherwise, actually, it's a welcoming and atmospheric pub with gigs, a pool table, and a cinema. The best part? It's open till 3:00 AM daily.

Historic pub


Gottlieb Native Garden

While not exactly a late-night attraction, Camera Obscura is open until 9:00 PM on Fridays and Sundays and until 9:30 PM on Saturdays, making it one of the great family things to do in Edinburgh at night. The first purpose-built visitor attraction in town dates back to the 19th century and occupies the imposing Outlook Tower. Inside, you'll come across five floors of various optical illusions, mazes, and interactive exhibits — as well as an actual working camera obscura.

Our tip: visit this attraction a couple of hours before its closing time. Not only is the place less crowded, but there's also a rooftop terrace that offers magnificent views of the city. Watching the sun go down from the top floor is an unforgettable experience.

Family attraction + great views


Related tours:

Harry Potter Sites Self-Guided Walking Tour

Exploring the Harry Potter legacy of Edinburgh might sound just a tad less unique and rather obvious to do — but hey, aren't we all allowed to have some silly fun every now and then? Our bestselling tour of the sites in town that are connected with the famous book series and their author is actually an exciting way of finding out more about the magical world you (or your kids) know and love — as well as about the process of its creation.

You will be guided from the first novel creation to the lavish hotel where the final book was written. Of course, all the key sites that inspired the magical locations and characters are featured in the program: from Victoria Street, that has inspired Diagon Alley, to Thomas Riddell's grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Historic sites, ghost stories, contemporary children's literature

The Royal Observatory

Home to a university astronomy research group, an institution of a UK Research Council, and a Visitor Centre, the Royal Observatory opened in 1896. It is located on the steep Blackford Hill, to the south of the city. The Observatory hosts astronomy talks (both for complete novices and those who have some knowledge of astronomy), virtual sky tours, as well as school and community events. At public astronomy evenings, you can hear the story of the establishment, explore the iconic Victorian telescope dome, and learn about the state-of-the-art technology that is being used these days.

It's a perfect spot for stargazing (naturally, weather permitting). So, if you're seeking some truly unique things to do in Edinburgh at night and not some run-of-the-mill accessible attractions, we think this might be just it!

Space science

Café Royal Circle Bar

So you've seen some landmarks, trudged the cobbled passages, and been to a pub (or four). Time for something fancy for a change? We have a place in mind that would work particularly well for couples.

Café Royal Circle Bar is one of the finest local bars: this elegant venue opened in its current location in 1863. Its interior features beautiful stained glass, late Victorian plasterwork, and six unique Doulton ceramic murals (portraying Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, and James Watt, among others). Step on the marble floor, look at the ornate ceiling and touch the original red marble bar counter.

The establishment is not cheap, but it wouldn't cost you an arm and a leg either. There's a nice selection of ales and whiskies, but the highlight of the place is the food: the seafood-dominated menu is excellent. The Scottish oysters are to die for.

Seafood bar


Arthur's Seat

The Farmers' Market is the perfect option for those who are tired of tourist hotspots and want to taste a real slice of authentic Beverly Hills life. This market is a signature event, occurring every Sunday, rain or shine, in a festive outdoor setting. It offers super fresh California-grown fruits and vegetables, as well as bread, drinks, and local handicrafts.

It is also a great place to visit with kids because it houses a petting zoo and provides fun activities, such as pony rides, to keep your little ones entertained.

Hiking trail, views, and ruins

Edinburgh Castle

Now, the Castle itself — the iconic 11th-century stronghold that used to be a former royal residence, military barracks, and prison — usually closes to visitors around 5:00 PM and is an absolute must-see in the daytime (you can check out those Crown Jewels and medieval artifacts with our self-guided tour).

But it's also a gorgeous sight at night when the whole massive structure that sits atop the hill above Edinburgh is illuminated. Considering that it can be seen from many parts of the city, just find the angle that suits you most, and snap a few pictures. If you're lucky, you'll get to see the castle lit up for special events — such as the Castle of Light Christmas show or the Edinburgh Military Tattoo festival.

Medieval castle by night

Portobello Beach

For a change of scenery, consider a day trip to Portobello, a residential suburb of Edinburgh with a promenade and a sandy beach. It's only about half an hour from central Edinburgh by bus, which makes it quite easy to switch into seaside holiday mode (that's right, Scotland is not always cold, gloomy, and mysterious).

We suggest going in the evening, and, obviously, during the warmer season: sunsets at the beach are always amazing. Grab a slice of yummy pizza at Civerinos Slice overlooking the seafront (bear in mind they close around 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM), and when you're full and aesthetically pleased, head over to The Esplanade (open until 1:00 AM) to have a couple of pints in a traditional pub with a view of the sea. Dogs are very welcome, too!
No trip to Beverly Hills is complete without visiting some great eateries. Lawry's on La Cienega Boulevard, opened in 1938, is the one you definitely shouldn't miss. This upscale gourmet restaurant specializes in world-famous roasted prime ribs.

For many years, ribs were the only option on the menu. Today, you can also choose vegetarian specials or lobster tails, but the main focus is still on carved-to-order roast beef. Go there for a unique dining experience that starts with the chef rolling a large silver cart to your table and asking which cut you want.



NQ64 Northern Quarter

Are you tired of medieval walks, Victorian ghosts, and traditional pubs? These are not the only things that can entertain you after dark in Edinburgh. Let us suggest that you try a different kind of retro bar: NQ64 Northern Quarter, a chain with venues all over the UK.

This neon-lit space is full of vintage arcade games and classic consoles and would be particularly appreciated by old-school game aficionados. Open until 3:00 AM and serving craft beers and cocktails, this place will definitely bring back those childhood memories. Play Guitar Hero, TMNT, Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, or pinball in this vibrant and nostalgic space. And when you get out, you'll get another chance to embrace the views of Edinburgh's iconic castle.

Vintage gaming bar


Monkey Barrel Comedy

This venue is an award-winning comedy club located right between the Royal Mile and Cowgate. Ranked Edinburgh's number one comedy club by Tripadvisor, it is open until midnight every day of the week, so if you're up for some quality stand-up comedy, look no further. It's a snug and quirky place with friendly staff, reasonably priced drinks at the bar, and, of course, some hilarious comedy acts.

Named the 'Beating Heart' of the Fringe by The Telegraph, the Monkey Barrel is also one of the venues of Edinburgh's famed festival that turns the whole city into a huge performance space for three weeks in August each year. So just in case you're around at the end of summer, drop by to see some of the top acts and laugh your head off.

Comedy club


Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party

Edinburgh sure loves its festivals and parties — speaking of which, here's one that can't be missed. Hogmanay, the Scottish celebration of the New Year, is one of the largest street feasts in the world that covers four days of street acts, processions, concerts, and fireworks. Officially organized since 1993 around Princes Street, it's a ticketed event that attracts thousands of revelers. Live music, DJs, giant screens, funfair attractions, street food, and drinks create a festive mood throughout the old town. At midnight, a cannon is fired at Edinburgh Castle, and an epic fireworks display ensues.

Just remember to get your tickets early (the event gets sold out fast), dress properly, and bear in mind it's about to get really crowded — but also really fun!

Massive street party


Burns Night

Burns Night is a traditional event to celebrate the life and poetry of the 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns, usually held on his birthday, January 25th. The so-called 'Burns supper' is the staple of the night, including a traditional meal of haggis, neeps and tatties. Historically, the first such supper was held by Burns' friends on the fifth anniversary of his death and has become a regular thing since then. Bagpipe music, Scotch, and poetry recitals, including the 'Address to a Haggis' and 'Auld Lang Syne', are also part of the celebration.

Edinburgh offers numerous opportunities to mark the occasion, be it a traditional feast or a night of music, singing, and dancing during the cèilidh. Brush up on your Burns to prepare, and remember to stand for the haggis!

Traditional celebration

  • 1
    What are the best things to do in Edinburgh at Night?
    • Edinburgh Festival Fringe
    • Burns Night
    • Edinburgh Castle
    • The Royal Observatory
    • Grassmarket
  • 2
    What are the best things to do in Edinburgh at Night with kids?
    • The National Museum of Scotland
    • Harry Potter Sites Self-Guided Walking Tour
    • Monkey Barrel Comedy
    • Camera Obscura
    • Edinburgh Ghost Walk
  • 3
    What are the best things to do in Edinburgh at Night for couples?
    • The Royal Observatory
    • Café Royal Circle Bar
    • Camera Obscura
    • The Real Mary King's Close
    • Edinburgh: a Tour Through History of Crime
    • Edinburgh Gin Distillery tour
    • The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • 4
    What are the best night outdoor activities in Edinburgh?
    • Edinburgh Festival Fringe
    • The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
    • Portobello Beach
    • Edinburgh Castle
    • The Royal Mile
    • Grassmarket
    • Princes Street

Related tours: