Edinburgh Nightlife

Nightlife in Edinburgh consists of the student-packed Cowgate, upmarket George Street, and the more raffish Lothian Road. Pubs, however, are everywhere and range from traditional historical taverns to stylish modern bars.

Edinburgh is right at the heart of world culture during the annual Edinburgh International Festival and the flurry of festivals that surround it. Tickets to these and many other cultural events throughout the year are available from The Hub, Castlehill (0131 473 2000, www.hubtickets.co.uk). The Fringe box office is at 180 High Street (tel: 0131 226 0015, www.edfringe.com), while the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has its own ticket office at 1-3 Cockburn St (0131 225 1188, www.edintattoo.co.uk). A good general online source of information (www.edinburghfestivalcity.com) also lists cultural events in the city.

For arts and entertainment listings throughout the year, pick up a copy of The List magazine (www.list.co.uk).

Bars in Edinburgh

Bennets Bar

The interior of this classic boozer has remained unchanged since the start of the 20th century - but Bennets Bar is no old mans pub. It’s a favourite with actors both in and out of festival season, thanks to its immense whisky selection, no-nonsense Scottish fare, and upbeat atmosphere.

8 Leven Street, Tollcross, Edinburgh, EH3 9LG, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 229 5143
The Doric

Named after northeast Scotland’s local dialect (head to Aberdeen for a near-incomprehensible example), The Doric is a handy stopping-off point by the station. The 17th-century gastro pub boasts an impressive selection of single malts, including the wallet-busting yet velvety 30-year-old Isle of Jura and Balvenie whiskies.

15/16 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DE, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 225 1084
Theatre Royal Bar

The dramatic frontage of this pub reflects its location next to Edinburgh’s Playhouse theatre at the top of Leith Walk. In summer you can sit outside and watch the world go by, while in winter two cosy fires offer a welcome respite from the cold. The pub serves a fine range of Scottish ales and malt whiskies.

25/27 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 557 2142

Clubs in Edinburgh


Within staggering distance of the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket, Espionage offers five fun-filled floors of clubbing action. The club is a veritable maze of bars, hidden nooks and dance floors decked out in a multitude of funky designs. Each night has a theme, with different music on every level.

India Buildings, 4 Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2EX, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 477 7007
Opal Lounge

Opal Lounge is a George Street hipster haunt, whose clientele included Prince William during his student days at St Andrews. If you like the idea of booking a spot on the guest list, splashing out on a VIP table, and quaffing Moët, this is the place for you.

51A George Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2HT, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 226 2275
The Hive

If you find yourself in Edinburgh on a rainy Tuesday and fancy a big night out, this is the place to come. The Hive is set just off the Royal Mile and prides itself on being open seven nights a week. Nights cover everything from electro and hip-hop to rock, indie, and retro music.

15-17 Niddry Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LG, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 556 0444

Live Music in Edinburgh

Cabaret Voltaire

Appealing to a student crowd, Cabaret Voltaire is located in the ancient subterranean caverns in Edinburgh's Cowgate district and buzzes to dance music seven nights a week. Expect to hear everything from drum ‘n’ bass and disco to reggae and rap. This is a popular live music venue with around 30 gigs each month.

36-38 Blair Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QR, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 247 4704
The Jazz Bar

Presenting many live shows a week, with daily after-work, mid-evening, and late-night gigs, plus an afternoon session on Saturdays, The Jazz Bar must be the hardest working gig venue in showbiz. While it’s the jazz greats that keep the crowds coming, it also hosts other acts across the musical spectrum in this intimate space.

1A Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1 HR, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 220 4298

This is a well-established live music bar staging up to four bands during the week and as many as six on the weekends. Monday it hosts Edinburgh’s longest-running open mic night, which has been going for over a decade. On Tuesdays, you’ll see four fresh acts hoping to land themselves a regular gig at the bar.

4-6 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1LL, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)131 557 5114
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