Hidden bars, ghoulish ghost tours and late-night snacks – discover the best things to do in Edinburgh after the sun goes down.
When the day comes to an end and Edinburgh’s top attractions close their doors, locals in the know come out of hiding to hit up the city’s best nighttime spots. With a hidden bar disguised as an old barbershop to haunted ghost tours and stand-up comedy shows, Edinburgh is sure to surprise and delight. Read on to uncover Edinburgh’s seven must-do nighttime experiences.
Go on the hunt for the city's hidden bars
There’s something satisfying about a hidden bar: it might be the air of mystery or the fact you’ve really earned your drink by the time you locate it. Either way, Edinburgh is well practised at concealing uber-cool bars in plain sight. Panda & Sons is a stylish cocktail bar disguised as a street-level, vintage-style barbershop. Head inside and down a staircase to a bookshelf that opens into a cosy, low-lit bar. Another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it venue is Bramble Bar & Lounge. Venture beyond the pawnshop façade and you’ll discover a moody bar featuring leather armchairs, award-winning cocktails and over 40 types of gin.
Follow the music to a local live show
Let the bass shake your bones and fresh music ring in your ears at one of Edinburgh’s pumping live music venues. Once the sun goes down, those keen to discover their next favourite sound flock to Sneaky Pete’s. Widely recognised as one of Edinburgh’s most iconic music locations, this tiny venue (there’s a 90-person capacity) packs a punch, delivering a sweaty, bustling vibe brimming with the best DJ sets and late-night eclectic sounds.
Sneaky Pete’s launched the music careers of the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Young Fathers, Mumford & Sons and Tame Impala, so who knows – you might be one of the first people to hear music’s next big sound.
Join a spooky ghost tour
For a dose of history mixed with bone-chilling tales, join an Edinburgh underground ghost tour. Meet your guide in Edinburgh’s Old Town and uncover the sinister side of history woven into its cobblestoned streets, before descending into the darkness of the (allegedly haunted) Blair Street Underground Vaults. Inside the vaults, it’s cold, dark and silent.
The guides are powerful storytellers: hear the spooky details about what went on down here – tales made all the more frightening by the fact they’re true. There’s something extra eerie about emerging from the underground vaults to the quiet, empty streets of Old Town. Our best advice is to dive into the nearest bar and chase away any lingering chills with a drink or two!
Check out the range of ghost and historical tours available here.
Enjoy belly laughs at a comedy show
What could be a better way to spend a night in Edinburgh than attending a comedy show at The Stand? The comedy club has achieved cult-like status among locals and comedians alike: almost every evening for over 25 years, this cosy basement bar has hosted a cabaret, improv or stand-up show. You’ll find new talent performing in the early weekday slots, while up-and-coming and established comedians are featured on evenings and weekends. Get in early to secure a seat, order a beer and some pub grub, and enjoy an evening of endless laughs.
Catch a live show at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre
If you consider yourself a culture vulture, catch a live show at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Scotland’s largest performance area. The 1,915-seater theatre has been entertaining patrons since its opening in 1994 and has gained a reputation as one of the leading dance houses in the world.
Spend a night being wowed by a theatrical show, sing along to a high-energy musical, watch in awe as a ballet performance unfolds or witness a breathtaking opera. Thanks to the theatre’s convenient location in the heart of Edinburgh, you’ll have a plethora of dining options to choose from before or after the show.
Enjoy a beer with a side of ping pong
When the rest of the city has bunkered down for the night, there’s only one place to turn to if you’re keen to keep the party going: 4042. Not only will you find an innovative drinks menu, hopping RnB tunes and a giant screen for sports viewing at this late night, neon-lit bar but there’s also a fun-filled ping pong hall. With bats and balls provided, the only thing you need is your A-game. If you’re not feeling up to a round of ping pong, settle into one of the plush leather couches with your mason-jar cocktail or have a boogie on the dancefloor.
Discover after-dark bites for hungry night owls
No night out on the town is complete without a midnight feast. Whether you’re feeling peckish while roaming the cobblestone streets of Old Town or combing the neat grid of New Town, you’re never too far from your next great meal. To satisfy a late-night pizza craving, grab a piece with your favourite toppings at Civerinos Slice. A boozy night out and late-night kebab go hand in hand – and there’s a whole menu to choose from at Kebab Mahal. Or, get your fried-food fix at Café Piccante, where a steaming bag of hot chips, chicken nuggets, haggis or a cheeseburger will hit the spot.
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