Quick to grasp new ideas and trends, this ever-evolving city of Edinburgh offers a range of fantastic date options you’re sure to love. It’s a great excuse to get out and sample the many delights on your doorstep.
Quirky dates in Edinburgh
Whether you’re into fancy, low key or quirky nights and days out, we have a suggestion to suit. Escape the ordinary with some of our favourite and most interesting places to serve as the backdrop for your first date.
Best bars in Edinburgh
1. Hoot the Redeemer
Begin, end or spend your whole evening at this vintage hidden bar. Enter via a mysterious, unmarked secret door and descend to discover a colourful underground venue filled with vintage nicknacks and old movie theatre seating. The cocktail menu is lip-smackingly good and there’s a boozy ice cream vending machine (Irn Bru is a favourite).
Have a go at the old-school fairground grabber machine, to pick your spirit and mixer and let the staff weave their magic. Oh, and pay attention to the loo walls when you pay a visit – they’re papered with the pages of antique risque fiction books. That’s if you can work out how to get into Hoot the Redeemer in the first place…
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2. The Cauldron
There’s a good deal of magic-themed spots in the city, thanks to Edinburgh resident JK Rowling’s wizard creation and some distinctly gothic architecture. This has extended to this new fantasy-inspired immersive potion bar. Don a cape and wand and brew your own elixirs at an interactive work station. It’s likely to be the most unique cocktail making and drinking experience you’ll ever have and a definite talking point.
3. Noughts and Coffees
A simple coffee in a cafe can be a low-pressure way to ease into a first date. But why not spice it up by choosing a cafe with a twist? And as it’s right in the business district, a lunch break date is entirely practicable, or stay and play all day. There are tons of classic and unusual board games to play, with coffee refills and snacks available.
It’s an alternative way to get to know each other. And a bit less intense for those who get nervous and struggle to make conversation with a stranger. If you decide you want something even more interactive, there’s an escape room in the back too.
4. Online speed dating in Edinburgh
Instead of a single first date, have lots of first dates in one fell swoop, with speed dating. This virtual take on the classic ‘face to face’ style of speed dating in venues, is just as effective and personal, just carried out via weblink. All you need is a computer or smart device with an internet connection and you can get access to lots of other single professionals in the city.
5. Monkey Barrel Comedy
This independent home-grown venue has gone from strength to strength since its opening four years ago. From rowdy weekend shows with well-known comics, to open spots, alternative acts and musical improv, it hosts more of a varied programme than your average comedy club. You can also get great value deals for two to include tasty hot dogs and a bottle of wine.
Good first date restaurants Edinburgh
6. Restaurant Martin Wishart
Scotland’s capital has more than its fair share of Michelin starred establishments. So if you want upscale gastronomy from celebrity chefs, head to the Leith/shore area of the city. Martin Wishart’s gourmet tasting menu, paired with fine wines is divine.
Also, check out Tom Kitchin’s The Kitchen just up the road. The Honours, Aizle and Purslane also score highly when it comes to sophisticated couple-friendly dining hotspots. None of these are budget options, but they will make your first meal together one to remember for years to come.
This is several venues in one (making it Edinburgh’s largest restaurant bar) with a glamorous art-deco meets lively Brauhaus vibe. There’s a champagne bar that also serves charming teas, several themed rooms for a quieter ambience, a large beer kitchen and an Oktoberfest style opulent grand hall with trestle tables – the scene of daily and nightly live entertainment.
Drink tank beer and dine on wurst, as drag acts, circus performers, cabaret singers, duos and bands do their thing. Grab one of the many side booths complete with ‘press for prosecco button’ (the fizz is on tap here) to cosy up.
Fun evening activities Edinburgh
8. Free ghost tours
If you don’t have the bank balance for luxury dining, don’t worry. There are lots of fun free things to do here. Explore the Old Town’s underground tunnels and atmospheric lanes as a charismatic guide regales you with the terrifying tales of its murderous past.
It’s not for the faint-hearted (you might like to try a history-based, or Harry Potter free walking tour instead), but is otherwise chillingly good. While ‘free’ it’s customary to offer a donation at the end.
9. Scotsman Picture House
Head to one of the oldest and finest hotels for a night of old-world romance. Escape to a bygone era in sumptuous surroundings with classic and blockbuster screenings. You can upgrade your experience with a dinner/afternoon tea/brunch package – or simply add some popcorn and a martini.
10. Bridge 8 Hub
Prefer active pursuits? While there’s no shortage of super walks nearby, you can have some water-based fun instead. Hire kayaks or share a canoe and paddle along the pretty canal down to its basin at Fountainbridge, passing the odd longboat as you go. Bridge 8 also hires bikes to cycle the towpath and offers tuition if you want to learn a new skill together.
Giving these venues (and any others you fancy) a trial run ahead of your date is a great excuse for some fun with your mates. Plus it’ll help you decide which might be the best fit.