Beyond the Castle and the hordes of tourists clogging up Princes Street, Edinburgh has much to offer the discerning culture vulture or curious visitor. From quirky independent cinemas to legendary live comedy venues via ceilidh clubs and subterranean nightlife hotspots, this is our guide to the other side of the Scottish capital.
The Stand Comedy Club’s outpost in Edinburgh (there are sister venues in Glasgow and Newcastle) is the home of live comedy in the capital. In front of the iconic suicidal cowboy mural, the tiny shower-sized stage has been the proving ground for some of the UK’s most legendary comedians, either playing host to big-names dropping by to preview new material, or limelight-seeking joke-slingers hoping to win over the discerning crowds. Recent years have seen John Bishop, Frankie Boyle, Josie Long and Mark Watson pop in, whilst Stewart Lee, Bridget Christie and Simon Munnery have become regular annual fixtures. Every August, the Stand goes into maximum overdrive, hosting over 200 acts across 6 rooms, a yurt and Spiegeltent in St Andrews Square, and within the Assembly Rooms on George Street. The best bar staff in Edinburgh will keep you watered with the extensive selection of bourbons, gins and spirits on the shelves as well as their own Cowboy Face lager brewed exclusively for The Stand by Edinburgh’s Belhaven Brewery.
5 York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB, +44 131 558 7272
Residing in Edinburgh’s clubbing nexus of Cowgate, Sneaky Pete’s has earned a reputation as one of the most thoughtfully and crowd-pleasingly programmed venues in the city. During the week, resident club nights Juice (Thursdays), In Deep, #notsosilent (alternating Fridays) and Teesh (second Saturdays) will get the student set out of halls and onto the floor. Seasoned ravers will drop their jaws at the likes of Erol Alkan, The Juan Maclean and Bill Brewster walking through Sneaky’s doors from time to time. Beyond the DJ lineups, raucous live shows are plentiful here with the likes of Future Islands, Frightened Rabbit, Eagulls and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip rocking up to tear the roof up.
73 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JW, +44 131 225 1757
Fifteen minutes on the bus from Princes Street is Cramond Island, a quaint walking opportunity beside the Firth of Forth. At low tides, a path is exposed to walk across over to the titular island – check ahead to find out the tide times, as you would not be surprised at how many people have gotten themselves stuck on the island once the water rises. The path is a mile wide and feels like a vivid historical touchstone – the Dragon’s Teeth row of concrete stumps adjoining part of the walkway were used as a marine barrier in WWII and several other gun-post relics can be found along the rest of the beach and island. Once you’ve walked over and climbed the island’s ruins, you’ll be greeted with stunning vistas of the Forth Bridges and Islands as well as the neighbouring Kingdom of Fife. Reward yourself for your travails with a pint in the Cramond Inn upon your return.
The Cramond Inn, 30 Cramond Glebe Rd, Edinburgh EH4 6NU
Don’t worry if you have two left feet; the national pastime of ceilidh dancing has never been about rigorous application of technique. Instead, it’s more of a communal jig that rewards the enthusiastic and uninhibited (and let’s face it, the inebriated). But for visitors looking for an authentic Scottish activity to write home about, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more memorable evening out than the weekly Edinburgh Ceilidh Club, every Tuesday night at the Summerhall in Newington. Tickets can be bought on the door and the evening runs from 8pm – 11pm.
(Summerhall), Summerhall Pl, Edinburgh EH9 1PL,+44 131 621 4709