11 Unmissable Things To Do In Edinburgh At Night

Published by: BouncePosted Updated

Looking for fun nighttime activities in Edinburgh? Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is exactly how you see it in the movies: enchanting, mysterious, fascinating, and picturesque. There are probably more attributes we can attach to this city, but these are more than enough to give you a picture of what your stay in Edinburgh would be like.

And when the sun sets, you get to see a completely different side of the historic city. Listen to eerie tales from the past, visit haunted graveyards, and get a scare in the underground alleyways and chambers like the Edinburgh Vaults, dating from the 18th century.

And for the faint-hearted, there are completely different things to do in Edinburgh at night. Check out the street performers, visit fascinating art exhibitions, take a tour to the Edinburgh gin distillery, or visit the Christmas Market if you are there for the holiday season. There is a wee bit for everyone in Edinburgh, even if you are a Harry Potter fan!

Before you sign up for that long-awaited whisky tasting, make sure to store your luggage at one of our Edinburgh luggage storage locations. That way nothing will be in your way to have a night out in Edinburgh you will never forget.

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Edinburgh Castle

The most famous attraction in Edinburgh is Edinburgh Castle. Located on top of the Royal Mile, you can visit the historic fortress day or night. The castle has seen a lot through the centuries.

What was once home to kings and queens of Scotland, a royal treasury, military garrison, prison of war, and fortress, today is a part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site and Edinburgh's most visited attraction. Admire the breathtaking view of the city from the castle at sunrise or sunset. During the summer season, the last visit is at 5.30 pm and winter time the castle closes at 4. 45 pm.

There is so much to see and do in the castle. You will get to see the Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, Mons Meg, One o’Clock Gun, Scottish National War Museum, and much more! Booking is required beforehand, and a single admission ticket is up to $20.

John Knox House

Dating back to the 15th century, this historic house is one of the oldest in Edinburgh and an important part of Scotland's history. This place used to be the home of John Knox, the leader of the Scottish Reformation and founder of the Scottish Presbyterian Church. But it was also the home of the Queen's goldsmith. Located within short walking distance from Royal Mile in Edinburgh's Old Town, this historical building is a definite must-see on your stay in the city.

Although it is open until 6 pm, you can always stop by at night and admire the lit house from the outside. If you happen to be in the Old Town during the day, go inside and explore medieval exhibitions and the interior, and get an insight into how the Reformation looked like in Scotland. The house is part of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, where you attend live performances and various exhibitions.

For less than $5 this museum house is a must for all history buffs out there.

Location: Scottish Storytelling Centre, High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, United Kingdom

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is the best family-friendly attraction to visit on your stay in Edinburgh. Kids and kids at heart alike will enjoy spending a few hours in this house of illusion, filled with hundreds of interactive exhibits such as optical illusions, magic tricks, mirror maze, vortex, infinity wall, and a lot more spread across five floors. Located within a short distance of the famous Edinburgh Castle, this place attracts visitors from all around the world, and offers a wee bit of fun for everyone!

When you are done testing your brains with mind-bending illusions, head to the Rooftop Terrace for some breathtaking views of Edinburgh. Make use of the free binoculars and telescopes and get a closer look at what is happening in Princes Street Gardens or at Edinburgh's Royal Observatory. Although a must-see, the Camera Obscura show works only with daylight, and visibility is weather-dependent.

The place is open until 7 pm during the week, and Friday - Sunday until 9 pm. The visit is free for children under 5, and for the rest booking in advance is required. Tickets are less than $25 per adult and have in mind that the access to each floor is all via stairs.

Location: Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

While most museums in Edinburgh close in the early evening, the National Museum of Scotland allows after-hours visits. Enjoy pop-up shows with food and drinks as you explore the exhibits. It does get more fun than during the day and it is a completely different experience.

Located just a 2-minute walk from Greyfriars Kirkyard, the museum covers anything from art, design, fashion, science and technology, Scottish history, and more! You will come across so many permanent and temporary exhibitions from ancient to modern times that you will need an entire day to cover it all. Make sure you see the Kingdom of Scots and The Millennium Clock exhibits and head to the roof for spectacular views of Edinburgh, day or night.

There is no need to pre-book a ticket, and entry is free. All you need to do is show up.

Location: Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, UK

Calton Hill

If you want to experience historic Scotland, walk where soldiers and royals walked and see some breathtaking views of the city, no place offers better panoramic views than Calton Hill. Climbing up the hill located in the city center, you will come across large lawns, some intriguing monuments dating back to the Enlightenment like the Nelson Monument and Dugald Stewart Monument, and oddly enough, a Parthenon-style temple at the top which is the central building of the City Observatory.

The views from this UNESCO World Heritage Site are indeed breathtaking and it is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Attractions you can see from the top of the hill include Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park, the Scottish Parliament, National Museum, and beyond!

Note: This hike requires good walking shoes. Pack a picnic, as you'll definitely work up an appetite climbing up the hill.

Princes Street

Located in New Town, Princes Street is one of Edinburgh's most important thoroughfares and the most famous shopping street in the city filled with independent shops and the biggest department stores in Edinburgh, making it ideal for late-night shopping. Take a walk along Princes Street starting from Lothian Road in the west, all the way to Leith Street in the east. 

Strolling along the three-quarters of a mile long street you will come across the famous Gothic Scott Monument, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish novelist and historian, author of Waverley Novels, after which Waverley train station was named.

Edinburgh Ghost Tours

Edinburgh seems like a pretty peaceful city during the day, but when the night falls you get to see its dark and mysterious side. Book some of the best spookiest tours in town such as the Ghost & Vampire tour, Haunted Underground Vaults and Graveyard tour, Fright Night Tour, Ghost Bus Tour, and more! Although they seem like they may be great fun for the entire family, they are not recommended for kids and the faint-hearted.

What to expect? Most eerie tours start at the historic Royal Mile. The guided tour will take you through narrow and shadowy cobblestone streets while telling you haunting stories of Edinburgh's past. Then you make a stop at one of the top attractions in Edinburgh, Greyfriars Kirkyard. The cemetery is known to be one of the most haunted in the world, so be ready for a scare.

These tours take approximately 2 hours and cost no more than $25 per person, but the thrill, scare and adrenaline rush you get out of it is priceless. Getting yourself on one or a few of these dark tours is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night.

Edinburgh Nightlife

Friday and Saturday nights in Edinburgh are reserved for all music lovers and party animals who can choose from a wide range of entertainment starting from a pub crawl, live music, delicious food in the city center, whisky sampling in Bow Bar, Indian restaurants at the top of Leith Walk, or dancing till the early hours in one of the nightclubs on George Street.

For those who like a late evening meal, head down to New Town and have a sit in one of the many top-notch restaurants in the area. A definite must-try of the menu is a Scottish Fayre such as haggis, neeps and tatties, Scottish salmon, bangers and mash, and of course, sticky toffee pudding.

For those who appreciate a good laugh, the best comedy clubs in town are Stand Comedy Club and Monkey Barrel, which is just within a short walk from the Royal Mile. For less than $10, you get to see three to five acts plus the host, who always has something up his sleeve. Whatever you end up doing rest assured you will have a night to remember.

Edinburgh Dungeon Late Show

Edinburgh Dungeon is one of the top attractions in the city. Embark on an hour-long exclusive journey exploring the most terrifying place in Edinburgh after hours. The tours start from 8 pm till late and cost less than $25 for a standard ticket.

If you want to bring your children along, you can visit the dungeons during regular hours, until 4 pm. Children under 5 will not be admitted. Expect to see actors interacting with "the peasants" in a way they did in the dungeons, so if you don't like to be called names, this is not the place for you.

You may get a good scare from the amazing sound effects as you walk through the dark and scary narrow corridors, from one room to another. If you want to end the tour in a scary fun way, you should hop on the Drop Ride.

Note: The spooky night experience after 8 pm is for 18+ only and happens only on certain nights so make sure to check their website for dates.

Whisky Tasting

Whisky tasting is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night. If you are up for a fun night out in Edinburgh, head down to the Scotch Whisky Experience, where you will see the world's largest collection of Scotch whisky made of 3,500 individual bottles and get a ride in a barrel. The Scotch Whisky Experience can be found at the top of The Royal Mile, next to Edinburgh Castle and Camera Obscura.

Whisky is Scotland's national drink and with so many bars and shops dedicated to whisky, it will be hard to miss on sampling a few. The tours offer four or five different special whiskies, along with tips on how to get the ultimate whisky experience. The price varies, but most cost from $20 up which for whisky fans means nothing, plus you get to take the crystal tasting glass home with you.

Important note: You must be 18+ to take part in the whisky tasting tours.

Real Mary King's Close

For those looking to dig deep into Edinburgh's hidden history, take a tour of Real Mary King’s Close. Located under the Royal Mile, these secret alleyways reveal how Edinburgh residents used to live underground four centuries ago. The information you get from the knowledgeable and costumed character guides really sets the scene on what life was like in Edinburgh and under.

The close is named after Mary King, a merchant who used to live here in the 17th century. The displays and guides bring history to life with tales about all the myths and legends, hauntings, and murders that happened in the tenement houses centuries ago.

The final tour starts at 9 pm, so make sure you book your spot well in advance. The tickets go for less than $10 per person, and the tour is about an hour long. This nighttime tour is something you don't want to miss on your stay in Edinburgh.

Nights in Edinburgh are spectacular

Whether you are traveling to Edinburgh for a weekend getaway or a romantic trip, rest assured the city will keep you up all night long. With so many things to do in Edinburgh at night, you may get tired pretty fast, but a night at the Balmoral Hotel will help you get all the rest you need. If you are looking for where to stay in Edinburgh, check out our guide to help you find what you need.

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