Weekday activities in Edinburgh

Leisure activities in Edinburgh
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Updated on 15 October, 2019

Edinburgh, the Scottish capital city, has a captivating history and much to offer to expats. You can enjoy a range of leisure activities, including visits to the dozens of historical buildings and museums, exploring lush green nature, and joining in the fun of the many festivals taking place both in summer and in winter. 

Culture in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is home to more than a dozen cultural spots. These cover everything from the history of the city at The People's Story Museum, to toys and games at The Museum of Childhood, and the story of the Pound Sterling currency at Museum on the Mound. The National Museum of Scotland on Lauriston Place is home to thousands of national treasures, and definitely a must-visit. Most museums are free to visit, and many are open seven days a week. You will also find more than 50 art galleries where you can not only admire but also purchase artworks for your new home. 

If movies are more your thing, then you're in luck: Edinburgh has historical cinemas like the renowned Edinburgh Filmhouse and the 100-year-old Cameo Cinema. These show a selection of current box office hits, indie films, and cult cinema classics. The Dominion Cinema in Morningside offers a luxurious viewing experience, with comfy sofa-like chairs and in-theatre dining options. Edinburgh's theatre offerings are also very sophisticated, with locals frequenting The King's Theatre, Edinburgh Playhouse, The Festival Theatre, and The Royal Lyceum Theatre among others.

During your stay in Edinburgh, you will also enjoy several major festivals such as:

  • the Edinburgh International Film Festival (world's longest continuously running film festival)
  • the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
  • the Edinburgh Art Festival, dedicated to visual arts
  • the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, if you enjoy the sound of pipes and drums
  • the Edinburgh International Book Festival (as the world's first UNESCO Literature City)
  • the Edinburgh International Festival, combining music, dance, opera and theatre
  • the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, combining comedy and music
  • the Edinburgh Science Festival
  • the Edinburgh International Storytelling Festival

Shopping in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is not without its share of shopping malls, the Ocean Terminal and the Gyle being the most prominent among them. But the true shopping experience can be found by walking up and down places like Princess Street, George Street and Multrees Walk. Many big chain and department stores are open until 7 pm or 8 pm.

If independent shopping is more your thing, you must visit William Street in the West End, Victoria Street in the Grassmarket, and St. Stephen's Street in Stockbridge. All these streets offer an eclectic mix of local boutiques, stocking items both on the luxury and the most affordable scale.

For fans of Harry Potter, there are several stores in Edinburgh themed around the boy wizard. You will also stumble upon stores selling Scottish textiles, food produce, and alcohol. Avoid tourist shops in the city centre as much of their stock is not produced in Scotland, despite their claims!

Nightlife in Edinburgh

As a busy city, many of Edinburgh's pubs, bars, and nightclubs are open seven days a week. The pub quiz is an integral part of Scottish culture, and you will find weekly offerings in all neighbourhoods. Your local bars should advertise whether they host pub quizzes or similar events. 

Due to the city's large student population, club nights and bars with drinks promotions can be found both through the week and weekends. For working professionals, nights out are popular from Thursday to Saturday. 

If you are after a more cultured evening's entertainment, local bookstores including Blackwells host regular book clubs and meet the author events. Open mic nights are another cultural weeknight activity, where local musicians entertain in the informal environment of pubs. 

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