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Edinburgh’s Nightlife: The Best Places to Hang Out


Edinburgh, a city of winding streets and imposing architecture, has somewhat of a spellbinding allure after dark. From ancient pubs whispering tales of centuries past to sleek cocktail lounges and pulsing nightclubs, there’s something for every nocturnal spirit in Edinburgh’s nightlife. Whether you live in the city or are visiting for a wild weekend, you have so many different options available for having a great night. Let’s dive into the city’s vibrant after-hours scene.

Unveiling Edinburgh’s Nocturnal Landscape

Each neighborhood in Edinburgh possesses a distinct nocturnal personality:

  • The Old Town: At the heart of Edinburgh, history seeps from every cobblestone in the Old Town. Time-worn pubs echo with boisterous laughter and the warmth of whisky, while lively folk music invites you in.
  • Grassmarket: This historic square offers a livelier spin on the traditional pub scene. Expect rowdy crowds, lively ceilidhs (traditional Scottish dances), and a convivial atmosphere.
  • George Street: Swanky and sophisticated, George Street showcases Edinburgh’s trendier side. Dress your best, slip into a sleek cocktail bar, and soak in the stylish ambiance.
  • The Royal Mile: Connecting the imposing Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile offers a classic pub crawl experience. It’s tourist-heavy, but even seasoned locals fall for its enduring charm.

Edinburgh’s Legendary Pubs

A proper Edinburgh nightlife experience begins in its legendary pubs. Here are a few worth seeking out:

  • The White Hart Inn: Steeped in history, this establishment claims to be Edinburgh’s oldest pub. Whether true or not, its cozy nooks and warm atmosphere transport you to another time.
  • The Bow Bar: A delightful little pub boasting an astounding whisky collection. Settle into a corner and toast with a rare dram or two.
  • The Last Drop: Occupying a spot near the site of the final public hanging in Edinburgh, this Grassmarket pub offers a dose of history with your pint.
  • Sandy Bell’s: Renowned for its live traditional music, squeeze into this always-lively joint and find yourself swept up in the joyful melodies.

Beyond the Pub Crawl

For those seeking something beyond a traditional pint, fear not! Edinburgh has you covered:

  • The Liquid Room: This beloved venue effortlessly blends live music and club nights. Check their listings for everything from indie bands to DJs spinning dancefloor anthems.
  • The Bongo Club: Adventurous souls will love The Bongo Club’s eclectic atmosphere. This vibrant nightspot promises everything from funk and soul nights to quirky indie discos.
  • Panda and Sons: Cleverly disguised as a vintage barbershop (look for the panda), this speakeasy-style bar serves up exceptional cocktails with a touch of intrigue.
  • Teviot Row House: A student favorite, Teviot offers multiple bars and spaces within its sprawling multi-level complex. Whether you’re in the mood for quiet conversation or a lively dance floor, it has it all.

Navigating Edinburgh’s Nightlife with Ease

Edinburgh’s central areas are compact and easily explored on foot. However, sometimes a taxi or transfer is the sensible choice. Keep these options in mind:

  • Taxis and Ride-hailing: Plentiful and convenient, providing door-to-door service. Keep in mind surge pricing can be an issue during peak hours. For airport runs, consider pre-booking an Edinburgh airport taxi.
  • Public Buses: Affordable with extensive routes, yet late-night services can be limited.
  • Trams: A reliable and modern service with a direct line to the airport, however, the network isn’t as expensive as buses.

Top Tips for a Night to Remember

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    Embrace the unexpected: Follow your curiosity and wander a little. The best discoveries often happen by chance.

  • Plan: Consider reservations for popular spots, especially during peak weekends and festival periods.
  • Dress with style and comfort: Edinburghers are generally well-dressed, but keep in mind you’ll be navigating those cobbled streets – so, ladies, heels might not be the best idea.
  • Know your limits: Whether it’s a whisky tasting or a pub crawl, adjust your pace for a night of lasting memories – there’s no need to get plastered and spoil the rest of your trip.

So, whether you want to sip rare whiskies by a crackling fire, lose yourself in the music at a shindig, or stumble upon a lively ceilidh at a hidden-away pub,  Edinburgh promises to weave unforgettable memories into the tapestry of your travels. So, raise a glass, dance until the first rays of dawn paint the sky, and savor those unique moments that can only be found when the city lights begin to shimmer.  Embrace the magic, but keep safety in mind, and you’ll return home with stories to last a lifetime.

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