The Best Things to Do at Night in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is as exciting at night as it is during the day
Edinburgh is as exciting at night as it is during the day | © Brian Jannsen / Alamy Stock Photo
Suzy Pope

Ghost tours in underground streets, wizard-themed cocktails and ceilidh dancing into the wee hours – there are plenty of things to do in Edinburgh after dark.

1. Underground ghost tour with Mercat Tours

Historical Landmark

Fran Carney from Mercat tours walks through one of Edinburghs underground vaults
© PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a tour of the gothic Old Town as a cloaked guide reveals Edinburgh’s grizzly history. Tales of witch trials, body snatchers and the ghostly figures that haunt the narrow wynds of the Royal Mile will keep you engrossed on this deep dive into the dark past. The tour ends with a visit to the underground vaults, where the down-and-out once lived in cramped conditions. It is said that the pent up energy has created one of the most paranormally active spots in the country. Not for the faint-hearted.

2. The Cauldron’s cocktail experience

Bar, Cocktails

Fans of the wizarding world should head to this interactive cocktail experience on Frederick Street. At this wizard-themed speakeasy, don a robe and grab a wand at the door before being guided through some witchy brewing by your costumed “potions master”. You’ll be directed on how to concoct sweet and herby cocktails in a (you guessed it) cauldron. There’s plenty of wand-waving, trickery and dry-ice smoke to set the scene, and of course, you’ll get to sample your creations at the end. Alcohol-free experiences are also available.

3. Ghillie-Dhu

Pub, Beer

Ghillie Dhu bar and The Rat Pack - Piano & Cocktail Bar on Rutland Place in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, part of United Kingdom
© Konrad Zelazowski / Alamy Stock Photo

For a proper Scottish knees-up, head to Ghillie-Dhu at the end of Princes Street. In the bones of an old church, this vast, gothic space comes alive at the weekend with country dance music. A live band belting out fast-paced accordion tunes will power you through reels, rigs and jigs. After a few drinks at the dedicated whisky bar, you won’t be able to stop from letting out the whoops and “eeh-oohs” that accompany a proper Scottish ceilidh.

4. Stand-up comedy shows at the Stand

Theatre

Bartender and bar patrons sharing a laugh at the Stand Comedy Club
Courtesy of the Stand Comedy Club

Just remember, if a Scottish person makes fun of you, it means they like you. Get a full taste of Scottish banter in the front row of the Stand. Scotland’s original comedy club has been running for more than 20 years, and the likes of Frankie Boyle and Kevin Bridges have stood in front of the club’s signature cowboy mural on stage. It’s normally an intimate affair, but that makes the laughs feel all the louder.

5. Literary pub tour

Tours

Join your character guides Clart and McBrain as they lead you through the streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town to the drinking holes frequented by some of Scotland’s famous authors. A Unesco City of Literature, Edinburgh isn’t short of literary history to quench the thirst of the biggest bibliophile. Hear stories of Rabbie Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as Scots poetry readings and tales from the 17th-century rumour mill, all while enjoying a dram or two in the Old Town’s atmospheric pubs.

6. Classical concerts at St Giles’ Cathedral

Cathedral

Interior of St Giles Cathedral during a concert
© Iain Masterton / Alamy Stock Photo

In the vaulted interior of St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile, the ethereal lull of choral singing or dancing melody of a string quartet is all the more atmospheric. There’s a programme of late-night concerts throughout the year. Book a ticket, and you’ll be treated to a musical experience, where the flickering candlelight, stained-glass backdrop and blanket of sound in the rafters all combine to create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

7. Whisky tasting at the Devil’s Advocate

Bar, Restaurant, Wine, British

Edinburgh is not short of whisky bars, but for a tasting experience that covers the length and breadth of Scotland’s whisky trade, it’s hard to beat the Devil’s Advocate. Hidden down Advocate’s Close off the Royal Mile, this bar oozes industrial-chic charm. Whisky flights allow you to try a variety of malts from the rows and rows of amber bottles behind the bar. Staff are happy to guide you through your choice of a peaty Speyside classic or a sweet sherry-cask number. Some excellent Scottish fare is on offer as well.

8. Ghost tour onboard the Ghost Bus

Tours

The ghost tours bus, Edinburgh
© Pep Masip / Alamy Stock Photo

A mix of horror and comedy, the Ghost Bus leaving from the Royal Mile is an unmistakable, night-time moving landmark in Edinburgh. The black London bus is decked out with cobwebs and skulls, and the onboard guides tell the creepy history of the city, with all stories laced with a dark sense of humour. Perfect for big groups looking to have a bit of fun.

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