If you know anything about Edinburgh you’ll have heard about the castle steeped in ancient history and the romantic jaunts along heavily cobbled streets. But here’s the thing – anyone can go to Edinburgh and do those things. I want you to see a different side to the famed Scottish city. That’s why I’m sharing my top 10 unusual things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland.
So grab my hand, let’s go on a walk of our own.
1. Dean Village
Just five minutes walk from Princes Street you can find Dean Village – a picturesque hideaway once home to local mills. Though there are no restaurants or cafes it’s a great spot just to walk around and marvel at. Keep in mind that people do still live here so be respectful with those #instashots.
2. The Old Curiosity Gin Tour
Though it’s a little bit outside of Edinburgh The Old Curiosity Gin Tour is the UK’s first and (at the time of writing August 2019) only working gin garden. For just £15 you get the chance to learn more about the gin botanicals in the gardens and taste six different variations of gin in the distillery.
3. Edinburgh Fudge Kitchen
Without a doubt, the Fudge Kitchen is one of the most fun places to eat in Edinburgh. If you’re looking for Edinburgh food experiences you won’t forget you’d be crazy to miss this spot.
As a kid, I used to race up the mile with my school friends and go in for free samples. It was our most coveted ritual and made our pocket money stretch all the little further.
Each day fresh fudge is made on the premises right in front of you. Begin your adventure by watching as the molten sugar is crafted into neat fudge slabs. They’re perfectly crispy on the outside and buttery smooth as they dissolve in your mouth. Then eat all the free samples you can manage until you hit peak sugar coma. My personal favourites are the Chocolate and Chilli and the Sea Salted Caramel flavour.
A trip to the Edinburgh Fudge Kitchen is equal parts delicious and dangerous. That’s probably why I love it so much.
4. The Real Mary Kings Close
Nothing says unusual things to do in Edinburgh quite like a good dose of history and terror. The Real Mary Kings Close is an immersive history experience complete with actors who shed some light on the history of Edinburgh in the 17th century.
Throughout the hour-long tour, you’re taken below the streets of the Royal Mile to learn about who once lived there.
Just be aware If you have a fear of small dark spaces maybe isn’t be the tour for you.
5. Department of Magic
Muggles avert your eyes.
Set in a relatively unassuming location the Department of Magic is home to some exciting secrets that is sure to excite wizards and muggles alike. After wandering down the stairs and entering the bar you’re transported into what can only be described as Edinburgh’s own little piece of the wizarding world.
As a Harry Potter fan, I might be biased but I’m convinced the Department of Magic is one of the best Edinburgh bars in town. I was lucky enough to recently spend an afternoon in the Department of Magic (umm how cool does that sound?) for my friend’s Hen Party. Among the bride-to-be’s delighted tears were excited squeals of the bridal party as they watched their potions (cocktails) transform.
The drinks are a little on the expensive side at £13 for a cocktail and shooter, but what you’re really paying for is the experience which is more than worth it. I don’t want to give too much away as the not knowing really adds to the experience – but yup there may or may not be cloaks for you to wear.
As an added bonus if you have time you should also book in to try their Harry Potter-themed escape room. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time as we were on a super tight schedule, but I’ve only heard great things.
6. Camera Obscura
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Edinburgh on a rainy day you can easily spend some time hiding from the downpour in Camera Obscura.
Prepare to spend a few hours puzzling over some incredible optical illusions and mazes in the heart of the city. Though it doesn’t sound like much you’ll quickly find yourself getting lost in all things otherworldly.
On top of all the illusions and trickery don’t forget to head upstairs to the viewing platform, which provides one of the best lookouts in the city! This attraction gets pretty busy so it’s best to go early in the morning or just before closing to avoid the crowds.
7. Silent Adventures
I’m 99% sure dancing around the streets and belting out 80s classics fits the mould of unusual things to do in Edinburgh.
After stumbling across Silent Adventures on AirBnB and thinking it sounded equal parts ridiculous and hilarious I knew we had to try it. Silent Adventures are a flash mob/silent disco/walking tour smorgasburg of all that is fun and weird. For an hour you dance/jump/pose/sing to your heart’s content and it is EVERYTHING.
As an adult, you’re thrust into the world of responsibilities with a suitcase full of dreams and a knowing that wherever you go in life surely you’ll find a use for the Pythagoras theorem. So anything that can help you get in touch with your inner child and just LET LOOSE you have to throw your bra to the wind and go for it.
You get a huge endorphin hit off being given permission to publicly act a fool (I’m so here for it). And you make others around you WHO AREN’T EVEN TAKING PART feel good too just by being around your energy. Way to up those karma points.
This was another mysterious hen party find and heavily sobbing (again) the bride-to-be wailed I thought this was going to be so lame but that was AWESOME.
You can book the tour directly through their website. Or for bonus savings if you haven’t yet signed up to Airbnb sign up using this link to get £25 off of your first stay and £12 off of your first experience!
8. Six by Nico
Six by Nico is a concept restaurant that changes story (menu) every six weeks. Some past themes include ‘childhood’, ‘70s’ and ‘chippie’ proving you never quite know what you’re going to be in for. One thing’s for sure though and that’s whenever you go it will be an experience to remember. As to be expected this one gets booked pretty quickly so to avoid disappointment make sure you reserve in advance.
9. Invisible Cities Edinburgh Walking Tour
Having taken part in my first Invisible Cities walking tour in Glasgow I’m dying to do another. Invisible Cities are a social enterprise that employs people who have previously experienced homelessness. The tours are a combination of the city’s history and of the tour guide’s past as well. I’ve never experienced a walking tour quite like it and even if you’re only in Edinburgh for a short stay, I highly recommend it.
In Edinburgh, you can find an array of Invisible Cities tours from the ‘History of The Trainspotting Generation’ to ‘ The Paths of Inspirational Women.’ Be prepared to go in with an open mind and leave with a complete change in perspective.
10. Hoot the Redeemer
No mention of unusual things to do in Edinburgh at night would be complete without mentioning Hoot The Redeemer. After entering through a fortune-telling machine (yes you read right!) you’ll be transported into a speakeasy circus-themed bar. You can expect to be served up a variety of inventive cocktails with a twist. And on hot days make sure to try the boozy ice cream!
Cheap Hotels in Edinburgh
Looking for somewhere to stay while you’re navigating all the unusual things to do in Edinburgh? I recommend booking your stay through Airbnb using this link to get £25 off of your first stay and £12 off of your first experience! Airbnb is great for flat bookings and longer-term stays.
Or use Booking.com for shorter stays and local hotels. Use this link to get £15 off of your first stay.
I also always use the free browser plugin Honey, which automatically adds any working discount codes to your basket AND gives you cashback across thousands of online retailers including Booking.com, which you can cash out for store gift cards. YES, you literally get paid to live your best life and I’m obsessed with it.
Unusual Things To Do In Edinburgh Interactive Map
Need some help getting around? I’ve made a map of all the experiences I’ve included on this list!
What’s your favourite unusual thing to do in your city? Let me know in the comments!
Pin it for later: