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Gay Edinburgh • City Guide

First time in Edinburgh? Then our Edinburgh city guide page is for you.



Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is one of the most impressive cities in the United Kingdom.

The city offers an astonishing array of historical monuments, stunning museums and art galleries, excellent shopping and an unrivalled programme of festivals and events that kick off every year with Hogmany (Scottish New Year celebrations) and climaxes during the summer with the Fringe Festival and Military Tattoo.


Gay Rights in Scotland

Formal decriminalisation of homosexuality did not occur until 1980. More recently, gay rights have progressed at a faster pace. Civil partnerships became legal in 2005. Laws permitting same sex adoption were passed in in 2009, and 16th December 2014, a new law permitting same-sex marriage came into force.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been illegal since 2005.


Gay Scene

Whilst not on the same scale as London or Manchester, Edinburgh does have a lively and colourful gay scene. Most of the gay venues are located in the New Town area, particularly around the north end of Leith Street, in an area known locally as the “Pink Triangle” Gay Village.



Getting to Edinburgh

Most tourists arrive by airplane or train. The Edinburgh International Airport, located 10 miles from the city centre, has a well-developed network of direct flights to most European capital cities and some US destinations.

The Airlink Express bus service provides transfers to the city centre, costing £4.50 for a single. Taxis are readily available and cost around £20.

Waverley Railway Station (Edinburgh’s main station) is located in the city centre. There are fast and regular train services to London and almost all major cities within the UK. If you are already in the UK, then travelling by train to Edinburgh can be the fastest and easiest option.


Getting around Edinburgh

Edinburgh is relatively compact city, and most of the best sights are within walking distance of each other. The city does have an extensive bus network and taxis are readily available.


Where to Stay in Edinburgh

It’s best to stay within the city centre of Edinburgh. Hotels near New Town and the ‘Pink Triangle’ Gay Village are popular with gay visitors.

For our list of some of the best hotels in Edinburgh for gay travellers, visit our Gay Edinburgh Hotels page.

The Royal Mile


Things to See & Do

A visit to Scotland’s capital is not complete without having a look at Edinburgh Castle, the city’s most famous landmark.

Shopping – Shop til you drop in New Town area and all around the city. There are plenty of boutiques, weird and wonderful stores for the fashionistas, brands and funky one-offs.

Eating & Drinking – Edinburgh is well-known for its huge choice of restaurants, gastro pubs, fine dining eateries and funky, boho cafes. From the traditional haggis and a glass of Glenfiddich to the infamous deep-fried Mars Bars, Edinburgh is a friend of the foodie.

Tours Galore – With plenty of walking tours to explore this compact historical melting pot to tours discovering the wonders of a “wee dram”, separating your blends from your malts. Edinburgh seems to have a ‘tour’ for most things Scottish.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – a collection of modern art.  Enjoy the walk around the Water of Leith Walkway surrounding the gallery which is also filled with sculptures.

Edinburgh Castle – historic fortress which dominates the city of Edinburgh.

The Royal Mile – connects two royal residences of Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. A series of streets with narrow alleyways in what was once the thoroughfare of medieval Edinburgh.

The Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh – the second oldest in the UK, dating back to 1670. Best to visit in spring when the gardens are in full bloom, but a lovely year-round attraction for the green-fingered out there.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the largest art festival in the world and runs every August for around three weeks. Expect avant garde performance, wacky and odd art, comedy galore, exhibitions, live theatre and more as the festival sprawls across the city taking over venues by showcasing the good, the bad and the ugly of art.

The Scott Monument – Sir Walter Scott was one of Scotland’s greatest writers and has been commemorated forever here in this Gothic memorial.  Climb the 287 steps and enjoy panoramic views of the city

The Royal Yacht Britannia – Discover what life was like on the Queen’s floating residence which is permanently docked on the waterfront at Leith.


When to Visit

During summer (June, July and August,) average temperatures are around 18ºC-19°C. During winter, average temperature is around 0°C.  It can rain or be sunny or both almost every day or the year, so be prepared.


Scotland uses the British pound. Some Scottish banks issue their own bank notes. Scottish bank notes are always accepted in Scotland and by all banks throughout the UK. Occasionally, a small trader in other parts of the UK might not accept Scottish bank notes due to unfamiliarity.

Credit and debit cards a very widely accepted. If you don’t have a PIN code for your card, you will be required to provide ID. Cash dispensers are widely available.


Drinking Water

Tap water is drinkable. Most restaurants will provide free tap water with meals as an alternative to bottled water.



Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. In recent years, the UK has tightened its immigration procedures and introduced the use of biometrics.  Full details can be found here.

Most visitors from Europe and countries such as the USA, Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Taiwan do not require a visa – check here to see if this applies to you.

Most other visitors from Asia, Africa and South America need to obtain a visa before travelling to the UK.  You will normally be required to attend an interview at your local UK Embassy.

Entry is normally permitted for a period of 6 months, and you are free to travel anywhere in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK is NOT part of the Schengen visa area. A UK visa will not enable you to travel to other European countries.


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