Steeped in history, progressive, quirky and knows how to throw one hell of a party, Gay Edinburgh is a rising star on gay travelers radars.
Easily one of the beautiful cities in the world and host to some of the world’s biggest arts festival, Edinburgh is a city that tempts you in and begs you to stay longer.
Edinburgh truly has something for everyone, and if queer travelers can draw themselves away from the all-night parties of the infamous ‘Pink Triangle’, they will find internationally renown art galleries, picturesque nature, creative design stores, hipster coffee shops (frequented by even cuter Scottish guys and girls). And, of course, plenty of historic streets, panoramic views, and architectural gems!
Plus – if you ever get bored the bigger but less known Gay Glasgow scene is not too far away!
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014, and in this peaceful and open-minded country, queer travelers are welcomed everywhere with small rainbow flags on almost every store, club and restaurant window.
We found Scotts in Edinburgh warm, open and sincere…once you can figure out their accent, though thankfully the local ‘posh’ Edinburgh dialect is easier to get the hang of. While during the brief, beautiful summer days it is easy to meet gay locals in the parks and around town, in the bitterly cold winters you might want to turn to hookups app to meet a friendly local in Edinburgh to show you around (or perhaps invite you to a pint in a warm pub!).
No matter where your interests lie, Gay Edinburgh offers an adventure like no other with history, nightlife, food, festivals and more…
Gay Edinburgh Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Edinburgh Scotland
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Edinburgh Scotland
Obviously being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Edinburgh during the day!
Edinburgh is a very safe city band gay travelers in Edinburgh do not need to take any extra precautions regarding public displays of affection in this very tolerant and progressive city. Rest assured gay travelers will have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city!
Things To Do in Gay Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Castle – No trip to Edinburgh would be possible without gazing upon the 12th-century icon of the city. Utterly mesmerizing – this beautiful location has actually been the site of some of Scotland’s bloodiest conflicts.
- Summerhall – The former Royal School of Veterinary Studies now transformed into a creative hub with studios, workspaces, hipster cafe + bar. Keep an eye out for hipster events here.
- Explore Royal Mile – The historic thoroughfare, running through Edinburgh’s Old Town from the Castle to Holyrood. Filled with many of the cities most spectacular buildings you could wander for hours!
- Stockbridge Market – A sublime street market taking place every Sunday featuring plenty of food, art, and creative crafts. We loved especially the passion from these independent small traders.
- Jupiter Artland – If the weather is nice this is a relaxing contemporary art park and gallery with outdoor work by some of the world’s leading sculpture and land artists.
- SugarDaddys Bakery – 100% gluten-free delightful treats including brownies, blondies, cupcakes & cookies are available daily. Delicious and beautiful, now everybody can have the sugar daddy of their dreams
- Holyrood Palace – The famous 16th-century palace now the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. Sign up for tours of royal reception rooms and see plenty of antiques and relics.
- Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – Art or trash? High fashion or poncy bullshit? It’s up to you to decide with this extensive modern art collection and outdoor sculpture park.
- Hike Arthurs Seat – A escape from the city, conquering this extinct volcano is a great way to get some fresh air and see the city from a completely different angle.
- Scotch Whisky Experience – Have you even been to Scotland if you don’t know the difference between scotch and whisky and single malts? This museum tells the tale of the Scot’s national drink including a fantastic – if somewhat – bizarre barrel ride. Or why not get a guided tour of the best Scottish whisky bars from a fellow whisky lover?
- Museum of Scotland – A modern museum showcasing the best of Scotland with historical relics, intriguing exhibits, and a nice cafe.
- Stirling Castle – Ok, not in Edinburgh but an easy trip if you have hired a car. You really shouldn’t miss one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally.
- Artisan Roast Broughton Street – One of the original sparks to ignite the explosion of Artisan coffee in Scotland, Broughton street was the first specialty coffee shop and roastery in Scotland. Cute, quiet and cozy, this was our go-to place for fabulous coffee in Edinburgh – and perfect for recovering after a long night out!
- Golden Hare Books – an independent bookshop in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh, known for passionate, knowledgeable booksellers, a vibrant events programme and a curated selection of beautiful, brilliant books. With a nice LGBT+ selection of literature, fabulous design and eclectic finds the Golden Hare is a must visit in our books!
- Scottish National Gallery – Art lovers can’t go past this national collection which includes both European and Scottish masterpieces and intriguing seasonal exhibitions from all over the world.
- The Pantry – The most talked about Brunch spot in town. Beautifully designed, attentive service and an offering that aims to keep things simple. The Pantry use only the best ingredients they can, boasts wonderful seasonal menus and offers the best eggs benedict in town. Because calories don’t count on sunny days!
Day Trips From Gay Edinburgh
- Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Highlands – No trip to Scotland is complete without a is it to the mysterious Glencoe, Scottish moors – and a quick hunting trip to find Nessie.
- Harry Potter Steam Train – It’s not cheap, but the best things often aren’t! Board the Hogwarts Express steam train and see for yourself where J.K. Rowling found inspiration for on a day trip to the Scottish Highlands. We still don’t understand why Dumbledore had to die though…
- St Andrews & Fife’s Fishing Villages – The medieval kingdom of Fife is one of the most photographed spots in Scotland as is the picturesque Falkland landscape with its former royal palace. A trip over the Forth Road Bridge is pretty spectacular too!
- 3-Day Isle of Skye, Inverness, and Highlands – See and do everything all at once on this iconic tour of Scotland’s best nature. There is a reason why everything from James Bond and Game of Thrones to Harry Potter and Outlander is filmed here. And the mysterious Island of Skye will just take your breath away!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Edinburgh Scotland
As a world leader in LGBT tourism, pretty much every hotel and hostel in Edinburgh can be considered gay-friendly – after all, being a gay-friendly it not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms!
On the other hand, everyone likes to be surrounded by people with common interests, and as such there a few well-known hotels in Edinburgh that are known hot spots for gay travelers to stay! The best locations for gay travelers is in the city center and the Edinburgh Pink Triangle which is close to all the top tourist sites and attractions of the Edinburgh gay scene – by day or by night!
If you are planning to hire a car in Scotland however, then it’s best to stay a bit out of the city where free parking is available.
The following gay-friendly and gay hotels in Edinburgh are only the most popular with gay travelers but there are hundreds of other hotels in Edinburgh if you don’t find quite what you are looking for.
Boutique B&B’s are very popular here and a great way to stay local in beautiful gay owned properties. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Edinburgh as something for everyone!
- Tigerlily ☆☆☆☆ – Step in and discover Edinburgh’s most talked-about boutique hotel, bar, and restaurant. Stylish? Absolutely. But let’s be honest, we have all been around enough long enough to know that good looks will only get you so far in life. And no-one knows this better than the team behind Tigerlily. Amidst pink hues, mirrored walls and chandeliers lie 33 bedrooms that effortlessly blend contemporary design with original features of our Georgian building. This sickening spot is also home to a buzzing bar and restaurant, open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks – and it very gay-popular with over 150 mouth-watering concoctions. This is a hotel that know it’s the little things that matter, that’s why all of their rooms have the most luxurious King sized beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, White Company toiletries, GHD straighteners and hairdryers, plasma screen televisions, Bluetooth speakers, fully stocked minibars and an extensive DVD library, not to mention complimentary room service come breakfast. With a fabulous range of events hosted frequently, there is never a boring moment here, which is why the Tigerlily is our go-to hotel for any gay stay in Edinburgh!
- The Witchery by the Castle ☆☆☆☆☆ – Frequently sold out, this is our favorite hotel in Edinburgh, and it’s easy to see why. Opulent suites like nothing you have ever seen featuring gothic touches, large four-post beds and gold detailing. Oh so sexy, feels like a Scottish King and make everyone you know hella jealous. Just take a look, and you will see exactly what we mean.
- Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa ☆☆☆☆☆ – One of the top-rated hotels in Edinburgh, there is elegant modern rooms, Edinburgh castle views, vibrant interiors, and a delicious cocktail bar. Guests also enjoy complimentary use of a large indoor swimming pool, gym and fitness studios.
- The Glasshouse ☆☆☆☆☆ – An contemporary luxury hotel built into the 150-year-old façade of Lady Glenorchy Church. It has an enviable location in the heart of Edinburgh Gay Village, floor-to-ceiling windows, award-winning design and fabulous views of the city.
- Garlands Guest House ☆☆☆☆☆ – A gay-owned B&B in Edinburgh, Bill and Ian’s Georgian residence is just fabulous. A relaxed guesthouse with a full Scottish breakfast, this is one gay stay in Scotland you will never forget with ornate detailing, spacious interiors, and lovely hosts.
- The Balmoral Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A upscale Victorian landmark hotel with contemporary design elements. They feature a Michelin-starred restaurant, a pool, and a gym.
- Hotel Indigo Edinburgh ☆☆☆☆ – A beautiful boutique property o the edge of the Edinburgh Pink triangle. Bold colors, contemporary design, and a 17th-century heritage building give this hotel a unique Scottish feel.
- The Knight Residence ☆☆☆☆ – A stunningly elegant serviced apartment in Edinburgh. For those who value privacy, like to host drinks – or more – and want more space to relax in.
- Dakota Edinburgh ☆☆☆☆ – A 25-minute drive out of Edinburgh close to Queensferry and the Forth Bridge this hotel is ultra-modern and has Scottish farm meets industrial design. The location is convenient if you are hiring a car for a Scottish road trip as its only a 10 minute trip to Edinburgh center with a train from here – and the price is much lower than staying in town (especially during big events). We loved it and if the circumstances are right you will too!
- Kew House and Apartments ☆☆☆☆ – Gay owned by Ian and Alan, this is one of the top gay accommodation options in Edinburgh, just check out the stellar reviews. We loved the high-quality fixtures and focus on organic and sustainable living.
- 23 Mayfield ☆☆☆☆ – A very gay-friendly B&B in Edinburgh, you couldn’t ask for a better place to stay. Beautifully appointed rooms, garden hot tub, and original Victorian features – this is a true Scottish stay!
- Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh ☆☆☆ – The closest hotel to all the Edinburgh gay bars! Less than a 1 min stumble home with cheap room rates, clean rooms and a free daily buffet breakfast to recover from a rough night out. Walking distance to all tourist attractions during the day if you’re up for it!
- The Baxter ☆☆☆ – A beautiful boutique hostel that has gathered a loyal following for its hotel-level design. If you don’t mind sharing a dorm room, want to meet other liberally minded travelers to go out and explore the Edinburgh gay scene or are really on a budget you should look here. The hostel for those who don’t want to compromise.
- CODE – POD ☆☆☆ – Ultra-modern, this hostel borrows the POD / Capsule Hostel design seen in Taipei and other Asian cities and bring it to Europe. Privacy at the lowest possible cost – and the common area great way to make friends if you’re traveling alone
- ibis budget Hotel Edinburgh Park ☆☆ – The cheapest hotel in Edinburgh of decent quality and with good reviews. Free parking, with a tram stop opposite, with the ibis you know what you’re getting.
- Alva House ☆☆ – The only gay hotel in Edinburgh run exclusively for men. If you’re on a budget then this is a great option but they really have not put any investment into the beautiful property, and expectations fall short for most of our gay travelers.
Gay Events in Edinburgh
Gay Edinburgh is a city that hosts hundreds of events on across the year, and queer travelers to Scotland should not restrict themselves to exclusively gay events.
While June is the main month of LGBT celebrations and events for Edinburgh’s gay community revolving around a huge Pride Festival there are plenty of other gay events in Edinburgh to look out for during the rest of the year – and every night of the week you can find live music and plenty of club events.
People in Scotland are incredibly welcoming, so if you can start a conversation on any of the popular hookup apps or in person, you are almost guaranteed to hear about something somewhere and get invited. Here are the most significant events currently on in Gay Edinburgh (just be sure to book your Edinburgh hotels far in advance as the best places sell out months beforehand!).
- Pride Edinburgh – The biggest gay event held annually in Edinburgh in June. The entire pride week is fuelled with parties, picnics, workshops and plenty of art and culture. Everything culminates in March and fabulous festival that goes into the night. This is one gay event in Edinburgh worth planning your trip around – but if you just miss it, why not try Glasgow Pride?
- BearScotFest – No one does furry fun like the bears, and this is the biggest bear event in Britain held annually in October. For all you bears, cubs, chasers, otters and admirers, there are plenty of parties, club nights, fab brunches and a Mr. BearScot competition – topped all off by a raunchy pool party!
- Edinburgh International Film Festival – The oldest continually running film festival in the world welcoming actors, directors and film fans from around the world. Held annually in June this, of course, it’s not a gay event in Edinburgh, but very queer popular and increasingly showing films of an LGBT nature. One of our favorite film festivals around the world!
- The Edinburgh Art Festival – A visual delight held annually in August. See the best of contemporary and modern artwork when may special – and often free – events are held by Edinburgh’s leading galleries, museums, and artist-run spaces during the festival.
- Edinburgh Fringe – The World-famous festival of wonder in which thousands of performers take over the city and bring their talents to the city-wide extravaganza. The largest arts festival in the world featuring everything from theatre, comedy, and dance to cabaret, musicals, operas, and spoken word. There truly is something for everyone.
- Hogmanay – While many gay travelers might be inclined to celebrate New Years on the beaches of Hawaii or surrounded by thousands of hunky men in Gay Bangkok’s White Party, if you can bare the cold then Edinburgh offer’s one of the world’s best New Year celebrations. Three days of spectacular events culminating in an all-out New Years street party – Hogmanay is crazy wild and unforgettable!
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is well-known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe, and of course, it has plenty of gay nightlife to cater for any kind of mood.
Being such a tolerant society, you are unlikely to experience any issues with displays of affection in public and as such will be welcomed in pretty much every club and bar in Edinburgh – but with such a vibrant and fun gay scene in Edinburgh you really shouldn’t miss a night out here.
Lesbians and gay men frequently mix in all these bars which makes for an interesting and inclusive night out. If you just want to explore and see where the night takes you then the vibrant gay scene of the Edinburgh Gay Village aka ‘the Pink Triangle,’ found on located in the center of Edinburgh at the north end of Leith Street and Broughton Street. Been to them all? Want something dirtier and more post-industrial?
Check out nearby Gay Glasgow, with some of Europe’s best clubbing if you don’t find what you are looking for here!
- CC Blooms – The biggest gay club in Edinburgh and a long-standing part of the Edinburgh gay scene. During the day CC Blooms is a voguish restaurant and bar, which transforms into a hot, sweaty and raging gay club late at night hosting many fabulous events (check their Facebook page for details). If you don’t want the weekend to end their Church of High Kicks on Sunday night is drag meets disco meets avant-garde fun and is extremely popular.
- The Regent Bar – Outside the Edinburgh gay triangle – a 5-minute walk and you’re rewarded with a relaxed gay/gay-friendly pub setting with quirky decor, pub food and an excellent range of ales. Guaranteed to be club kid free!
- Planet Bar – The closest thing to a lesbian bar in Edinburgh. A small but quirky atmosphere with prideful DJ sets and drink specials. A young crowd and extremely lesbian popular.
- Victoria Bar – A cute little bar catering to everyone on the edge of the Pink Triangle. A fashionable place to meet before moving on to the gay clubs of Edinburgh. Their G&T is fantastic, as is sitting on their outside tables on a rare sunny day watching the world go by.
- Cafe Nom de Plume – Good food and friendly staff, this cute little gay bar and restaurant in Edinburgh is perfect for an evening meal and to get the gossip on the latest going on’s in the Edinburgh gay scene. Its above Edinburgh’s LGBT Centre and has plenty of pride inside and out.
- Habana Edinburgh – An upscale gay bar known as a popular pre-club or gay meet-up spot in Edinburgh. They have Dj’s every night of the week and a nice lounge style area. Very local popular and occasionally hosts themed parties.
- The Street – A cornerstone of Edinburgh’s Pink Triangle, this eatery, and gay club combo has a hectic schedule of entertainment throughout the week including game shows of Wednesday nights of house disco on Friday’s. Complete with plenty of drinks specials, a cute black & white Photo Booth & Scotland’s first “Street-Art” Gallery make this a gay venue in Edinburgh you really can’t miss.
- Tiger Lily – A bar like no other in Edinburgh with wonderful cocktail specials, attentive service, and inspired design. Seriously – don’t leave your phone at home as we guarantee you will be Instagramming up a storm here, with different spaces and rooms offering everything from quiet conversation to lite dancing and meeting new friends. Not gay, but very gay-popular, and with a fabulous hotel just upstairs for when you are tired and ready to head home…
- Boda Bar – A chilled bar and social venue complete with comfy sofas, fun floral wallpaper, and lamps from your grandma’s house. Labels are cool in the hipster world, but if they were this would probably be a gay bar.
- Bryant & Mack Private Detectives – OK, not a gay bar but we are suckers for trends and this hidden bar/speakeasy in Edinburgh for us was a must visit. Themed like a private detective agency, its a blink-and-you-will-miss-it kind of black, but the quirky interior and delicious cocktails make a visit here well worth it!
- Paradise Palms – Not technically a gay bar but a super alternative and quirky venue famous for its fabulous drag cabaret, delicious vegetarian food, and eclectic teapot cocktails. Confused? Wait till you see the palm trees or bump into the crochet club meetups. We love this venue – and they love anyone and everyone!
- Bramble – A short walk from the Edinburgh gay village, Bramble is one of the best cocktail bars in the UK. If you want to escape the world – or just the gay anthems and horny twinks – here you can sip classic and signature cocktails in a rustic setting with chilled music and great company.
- St Andrews Brewing Co. Outhouse – Tucked down Broughton Street Lane, The Outhouse is a renowned venue in Edinburgh, known for brilliant themed parties and a focus on live music and supporting and promoting local artists. Incredibly social without being ‘over-the-top’, this was a firm favorite for casual dates/meet ups.
- Skybar @ Doubletree by Hilton – Head here for the best view of Edinburgh and upscale ambiance to get your night started. Enjoy a romantic cocktail with your lover overlooking the Edinburgh castle.
Spa Day & Male Massage in Edinburgh
While at night Melbourne’s gay scene might come alive, for those who can’t wait, don’t care about the sights and simply want to take to relax while getting a male to male massage in Edinburgh – there are plenty of options for you.
Here are some of the top recommended spas or spots for a male to male massages in Edinburgh!
- Massage For Men Edinburgh – Affordable full body Relaxing / Therapeutic massages or Holistic / Tantric massages are available from Jim. A skilled, Registered Massage and Relaxation Therapist with more than 20 years of experience, Jim is also an active key promoter of LGBT Rights in Scotland.
- The Edinburgh Massage – A specialized sports injury clinic run by Matthew and Grant who not only offer advanced sports massages but also professional deep tissue, hot stone, relaxation, and acupuncture treatments. The team here has taken extra care to ensure LGBT people feel comfortable here – trust us; there is no macho locker-room rubbish or hetero-centric behavior here!
- Find Bliss – Reliable out-call male massages in Edinburgh offers by Kris – a trained and professional Massage Therapist.
- The Massage Guy – Scott offer a professional male massage from a quite premise in Edinburgh, including a heated table, hot oil, and relaxing fragrances.
- PURE Spa & Beauty – Offering a variety of spa packages, with everything from full body therapies to anti-aging facials designed to rejuvenate and refresh. They offer a specific massage package for males, offering an upscale contemporary premise and an indulgence retreat from the modern world.
- Bannatyne Spa – A total sensory retreat in the heart of Edinburgh. Popular with couples who book the fabulous dual treatment room, why not complete the best spa day in Edinburgh with a luxurious manicure and pedicure then relax on their heated loungers ready for a big night!
Cruising and Gay Sauna in Edinburgh
One place where Grindr and other gay hookup apps have really made a difference worldwide the closing of saunas and bathhouses. While continental Europe cities such as Berlin, Barcelona, and Paris have reversed the trend, the UK gay sauna scene is pretty dire as we also found out in Manchester and Brighton
In Scotland, the bathhouse / gay sauna scene has been particularly hard hit and today if you want to explore the naughtier side of Edinburgh you should know there are only two gay saunas in Edinburgh – and both are pretty run-down! Cruising on Carlton Hill or the Old Carlton Burial Ground was previous popular but is really not recommended now with police patrols and wide-spread CCTV surveillance.
- Steamworks Sauna – Our first choice for gay sauna’s in Edinburgh – although sadly the facilities are pretty filthy Found right in the heart of Edinburgh’s gay village this modern facility spread over 2 levels is full of beautiful Scotsman – and travelers who are curious what is under their kilts. Kinky! You will find a large pool, dry sauna, maze, XXX video lounge, large steam room, private cabins, and a power shower. They also one of the best male massage in Edinburgh.
- Number 18 – The longest running gay sauna in Edinburgh, Number 18 is a popular option for gay or bisexual men in Scotland just wanting a no-frills thrill. Steam room, sauna, shower and private cabins – everything here could do with a refresh, especially now they have up’d the price to £14. Busiest on weekend afternoons if you really want to get your money’s worth.