Against a backdrop of castles and green hills, this historic world capital of art and culture nurtured the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and J.K. Rowling. Scotland's verdant capital is the United Kingdom's second biggest tourist destination after London.
Edinburgh has a lively gay scene. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival — the largest performing arts event in the world — is a magnet for gay travelers. It takes place every August, when the city is crammed with edgy performers and hip audiences. If hairy rather than hippy is your cup of tea, come in October for Bear Scot Fest, when bears and their admirers take over Edinburgh for hair-raising fun.
The main event on the crowded gay calendar is Pride Scotia, the annual pride celebration held on East Market Street in June.
This is a city where you’ll most likely want to stroll whenever possible, but for information on public transportation see Lothian Buses. They have an iPhone app for schedule times. For sightseeing there are a host of open-top bus tours to take you to places like the Palace of the Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, and the Forth Bridge. Edinburghtour is one option, and with an Edinburgh Pass you get around with one discount fare.
Currency and Money
Scotland’s currency is the British pound. ATMs are available in the downtown area.
Media & Resources
For "independent cultural journalism" see The Skinny, with listings and reviews of music, clubs, art, film theater, food, travel, "deviance" and more.
Visit Scotland/Edinburgh website has more mainline general information on nightlife, restaurants and upcoming events.
Edinburgh's LGBT Health and Well-Being Centre (9 Howe St) is the gay community meeting space and ersatz community center.
For what's going on with local bears see the BearScots website, particularly for their BearScotFest each October. MSC Scotland has monthly socials at New Town bar and other events throughout the year for leather/rubber fetish community men. The Order of Perpetual Indulgence, Convent of Dunn Eideann, are part of the world-wide order of queer men and women who aim to end prejudice and intolerance, eradicating guilt and promoting universal joy.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Edinburgh listings pages.
Alva House (45 Alva House; 44-845-257-1475), small guesthouse for gay men, range of modern rooms, TV, adjoining bathrooms, self-service kitchen, book ahead, especially for weekends.
Ardmor House (74 Pilrig St; 44-131-554-4944), gay-owned/straight-friendly luxury boutique b&b, central, varied breakfasts, rooms or self-catered apartments.
Garlands Guest House (48 Pilrig Street; 44-131-554-4205), on quiet street, short walk from center; large, comfy rooms, common lounge and breakfast room.
Village Apartments (5 Broughton Market; 44-131- 556-5094), quiet mews next to Steamworks sauna, bath, TV, CD/DVD, fridge stocked daily with yogurt, cheese, cookies, and juice. Guests get sauna discount, free off-street parking,
Valentine B&B (19 Gilmore Pl), at heart of Edinburgh, near restaurants, bars and theatres, Scottish service, widely acclaimed breakfast.
The Witchery (Castlehill, Royal Mile), nine "gothic and thoroughly theatrical" suites at world-famous restaurant with sensational food, in perfect setting by The Castle, with secret garden.
Bars, clubbing, and dining
Auld Hoose (25 St Leonard's St), relaxed locals' bar, for everybody, real ale, malt whisky, cider, home-style food, open daily.
Cabaret Voltaire (36 Blair St), women, men, all ages/ sexual prefs; electronic to classic dance DJ music, live bands, secluded sunken booths, bar and dancefloor. Daytime coffee and pizza hangout.
Cafe Habana (22 Greenside Pl), friendly laid-back day or night drinking den; WiFi internet, quiz shows, karaoke, lively pre-club dancing, wide mix of ages.
Café Nom de Plume (60 Broughton St), homely-casual LGBT-friendly cafe/bar, comfort foods in big portions, meat or veggie, beer/wine, WiFi access.
C.C. Bloom's (23-24 Greenside Pl), dancing nightly to 3am, packed tight at weekends, Sunday karaoke nights. Monthly, first Fridays, ElectroSexual dance parties. Church of High Kicks
Elbow Bar (133-135 East Claremont St), CLOSED ("reopening soon under new management") - bar and restaurant, lunch and dinner, sandwiches, Saturday/Sunday brunch until 6pm, open mic talent and live music nights.
New Town Bar (26b Dublin St) - CLOSED - upstairs locals' popular pub for food and drinks, Sunday brunch and roast. Weekend men-only basement dance bar, dark area and cruising.
Olive Branch Bistro (91 Broughton St), breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seating inside and out, big windows overlook passers-by, Sunday brunch.
Planet (6 Baxter's Pl), popular, busy gay party bar, men and women, karaoke, weekend DJ music, outside seating.
Regent (2 Montrose Terrace), mainly gay clientele, traditional ales, rustic wooden floors, historical artifacts, Wi-Fi; food from vegetarian to meat, "CAMRA Pub of the Year." In July, the owners will open a second venue on Broughton Street.
Street (2 Picardy Pl), intimate pub, large front window overlooks street, dance floor, glamorous toilets, cozy upstairs lounge with booths. Popular Sunday home-made roast beef at 4pm; Wednesday Pub Quiz games.
Wee Red Bar (ECA, 74 Lauriston Pl) young crowd, small club, live bands, DJ theme nights, Pussy Whipped "gueer and female kick- ass band nights;" small club, cheap drink prices, at Edinburgh College Of Art campus.
The Witchery (Castle Hill, Royal Mile), romantic dining spot at the Castle, private dining suites, world-wide reputation for an exceptional dining experience. Scottish seafood, beef, lamb and game; lunch, breakfast for guests at one of the nine Witchery's suites.
Woodland Creatures (260-262 Leath Walk), gay-friendly music bar/cafe, 40 beers, cask ales, good food including vegan options; secret garden, dog-friendly.
A new late-night club is set to be "opening soon" in Edinburgh - check out their facebook page for updates.
Number 18 (18 Albert Place, Leith Walk), sauna, steamroom, dark area, upstairs relax area. After 8pm entry discounts.
Steamworks (5 Broughton Market), large, modern, fully-equipped sauna, massage, relaxation space, cruising maze, large private cabins. Wet area, communal shower, Jacuzzi, sauna, steamroom, TV lounge, internet access, snacks and drinks.
Bobbie's Bookshop (220 Morrison), wide international selection of gay magazines.
Q-Store (5 Barony Street), "only licensed sex shop in Scotland," international magazines, books, art, lubes, aromas, vibrators, DVDs, clothing, underwear, and party gags. Staff can assist with local information.
Word Power (43-45 W Nicolson), independent radical bookshop.