The best things to do after dinner in Edinburgh often highlight the city's rich cultural heritage and vibrant seasonal festivals. Though many of its museums shut their doors at night, the picturesque streets of Scotland's capital offer up a dizzying array of post-dinner entertainments and activities for visitors to enjoy.

    From sampling the finest single-malt Scotch whisky to spine-tingling ghost walks, laugh-out-loud comedy to family-friendly exhilaration, there's much to savour in the spirited city as the day draws to a close. In this varied list, we'll look at some of the best options for couples, groups, and families to while away the hours on the cobbled streets of Auld Reekie (Old Smoky).

    What are the best things to do after dinner in Edinburgh?


    Famous Underground Ghost Tour

    Uncover ghoulish tales of Edinburgh's history on this spooky ghost walk

    On the Famous Underground Ghost Tour, the informed and enthusiastic guides usher guests through the Royal Mile's mysterious back streets before heading deep into secret underground caverns. The tour lasts around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

    Along the way, you'll hear terrifying yarns of crime, punishment, and murder most horrid. Here you'll get to know the darker side of Edinburgh's historic landmarks including St. Giles Cathedral and Greyfriars Kirkyard – reputed to be one of the most haunted graveyards in the world. Taking in 18th-century archways, hidden doorways, and underground vaults, this is a fun and informative way to explore the city's historic streets.

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    Location: 9 Hunter Square, Edinburgh EH1 1QW, UK

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 10.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)131 220 6868


    Monkey Barrel Comedy

    Laugh yourself silly in one of the city's best-loved comedy clubs

    The cosy, stone-lined Monkey Barrel Comedy plays host to a wide variety of comedians while serving modestly priced drinks and comforting bar snacks. The venue's compact seating ensures an intimate atmosphere and allows the entire audience to feel a part of the show – and sometimes the subject of the jokes themselves!

    The city is renowned for its top-quality comedy, thanks in part to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Comedy Awards, so this is a great place to get up close and personal with some of the funniest acts operating on the circuit.

    Location: 9-11 Blair St, Edinburgh EH1 1QR, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 7 pm to 11 pm, Saturday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Sunday from 4.30 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)131 460 8421


    Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

    Nothing is quite as it seems in this interactive optical fun house

    Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a dazzling museum on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh. Allow yourself to be dazzled by optical illusions, plasma tubes, holograms, light shows, 3D visuals, and all manner of visual trickery. Expanded from the original Camera Obscura exhibit, which opened in the 1830s, this purpose-built attraction covers over 5 floors with around 100 interactive and hands-on exhibits. 

    Here, you can walk into a light vortex, fool your eyes with maddening magic eye pictures, scramble your senses in the Bewilderworld, discover 3D cityscapes, and even swap noses with a friend!

    Location: Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm, Friday–Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)131 226 3709


    photo by Wendy (CC BY 2.0) modified


    SCOTCH Whisky Bar at the Balmoral Hotel

    Enjoy a dram of premium whisky

    SCOTCH Whisky Bar at the Balmoral Hotel has passionate whiskey ambassadors who can help you to choose your perfect tipple. Seasoned experts or whisky beginners alike, all are welcome to savour “the water of life” over the brass and black granite bar in this warm and friendly environment. You can find over 500 unique varieties from distilleries in the Highlands, Lowlands, islands, and Speyside. 

    Tasting sessions can also be organised, where you can sample a selection from the ever-changing stock list of more than 500 whiskeys while sharing stories and tasting notes. No trip to Scotland would be complete without tasting one of the country's most famous exports, and SCOTCH Whisky Bar is a great place to do it.

    Location: 1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)131 524 7142


    Stramash Live Music Bar

    Get down to some choice live music

    Stramash Live Music Bar regularly hosts the finest local acts as well as international bands and artists. It occupies a beautifully converted church in Edinburgh's Old Town. The stage is huge, and the capacity allows for up to 900 revellers to shake their tails until late into the Edinburgh night.

    Stramash Live Music Bar also has large HD TVs showcasing the latest sports fixtures when the stage is clear. This a great place to enjoy live music every night of the week and late-night dining in Scotland's capital. 

    Location: 207 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JQ, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 6 pm to 3 am, Friday–Sunday from 12.30 pm to 3 am

    Phone: +44 (0)131 623 4353


    Royal Mile

    Take a long evening stroll along the city's historic streets

    The Royal Mile stretches from the magnificent Edinburgh Castle all the way to grandeur of Holyrood Palace. The thoroughfare between these 2 famous landmarks makes up almost exactly 1 mile, hence its neatly descriptive name. Comprising of Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand, the Royal Mile overflows with atmospheric charm character.

    Overlooked by high tenements, the cobbled streets below offer a wonderful opportunity for visitors to truly soak up the city's distinctive charm. Along with views of St Giles' Cathedral and the Scottish Parliament, the walk takes you to some of Edinburgh's most popular eating and drinking spots that are popular throughout the evening.

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    Location: High St, Edinburgh EH1 1PT, UK


    Festival Theatre

    Immerse yourself in culture at the city's refined home of the arts

    Festival Theatre stands proudly on Nicolson Street, Edinburgh's longest-running theatre site. This grand performing arts venue regularly hosts world-class performances across a multitude of art forms. Considered the home for Scottish ballet and opera, it has gained an international reputation as one of the world's leading dance houses.

    Festival Theatre accommodates up to 1,915 spectators. Alongside its more traditional line-up, it also hosts a seasonal contemporary dance series. The ultra-modern exterior of the venue is a striking contrast to the classic interior of the auditorium, making this a fantastic place for lovers of both architecture and the arts to indulge their passions.

    Location: 13-29 Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9FT, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm (until curtain-up during show days)

    Phone: +44 (0)131 529 6000


    photo by Mike Pennington (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    The Pipers Rest

    Sip on craft ales in the warm surroundings of a traditional Scottish pub

    Pipers Rest has a deserved reputation as a buzzing hive of local heritage and famed Scottish hospitality. It serves an abundant selection of malt whiskeys, local gins and beers. The lively pub swings to the sounds of Celtic folk music, making it an excellent choice for those searching for an authentic local experience to close the day.

    Their food options may make you wish you hadn't eaten yet, so if you happen to have enough room for dessert, be sure to sample the kitchen’s signature Highland Mess!

    Location: The, 3 Hunter Square, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1QW, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 1 am

    Phone: +44 (0)131 285 5240


    Royal Observatory Edinburgh

    Stargaze from high above the city

    The Royal Observatory offers spectacular celestial views as well as a breathtaking panorama of the city itself. There can be few better ways to leave behind the stresses of the day than by marvelling at the sparkling stars and constellations of the night sky.

    The site is unique in that it houses a university astronomy research group, a UK Research Council building, and a visitor centre. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh presents regular talks and workshops, and the staff are experts in their fields, so this is a great place to enrich your knowledge of the solar system while peering into space. 

    Location: Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)131 668 8100


    Dominion Cinema

    Enjoy the silver screen as it's intended to be seen

    Dominion Cinema is an iconic art deco cinema in Edinburgh.  Built in 1938, it retains much of its original charm today, allowing audiences the opportunity to experience the magic of cinema in all its glory.

    But don't be fooled by the antique exterior. Inside, you'll find a fully equipped modern movie theatre, showing a varied mix of films from various genres. The independent cinema includes the option of first-class, super-comfy seating along with table service from smartly dressed staff and is well worth a visit for the film buffs in Edinburgh. 

    Location: Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4RT, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)131 447 4771


    photo by Kim Traynor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Patrizio Cavaliere | Contributing Writer

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