12+ Birthday Ideas in Edinburgh (You’ll Actually Want to Do)

CityDays’ guide to finding Edinburgh birthday ideas that you might not have thought of…

Looking to find a way to celebrate your birthday in Edinburgh and haven’t found the ideal solution yet? You’ve come to the right place!

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The gorgeous and vibrant city of Edinburgh is one of the best places to celebrate another trip around the sun. Packed with fascinating stories, immersive activities and enjoyable experiences, Edinburgh really knows how to throw a party - for all kinds of people.

Whether you’re a party animal or looking to steer your friends and family towards activities you’ll actually find fun, we’ve compiled a list of 12 birthday ideas in Edinburgh you can use to celebrate your day exactly how you want to. 

Ready to find out how you’ll be celebrating your next birthday? Read on!

And just so you know, nobody pays us to be featured on this list. They’re just our recommendations to you, so you can find the best things to do in Edinburgh. 

Go on an Edinburgh Treasure Hunt

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Your days of playing pass the parcel might be behind you, but nobody is ever too old for party games - and this particular birthday idea in Edinburgh is suitable for all the family!

Turn your birthday activity into a quest to find the hidden gems of Edinburgh with an urban treasure hunt! Follow clues that lead you down winding streets you thought you knew to discover secret spots in the city, picking up tidbits of history, culture and unusual facts along the way.

Since the clues are sent to your phones, there’s no need to book ages in advance - and as they’re self-guided, you can commence play (and pause it) whenever you’re ready! Solve puzzles and riddles, untangle centuries’ old mysteries and immerse yourself in the beauty of Edinburgh with an unforgettable treasure hunt, you’ll start your new age with a little extra wisdom!

PSST: Optional recommended break stops at top-recommended pubs, bars, and cafes are included in the ticket price so no need to think ahead about where to quench your thirst! 

Spend The Day Visiting Edinburgh’s Many Quirky Museums

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One of my favourite things about Edinburgh is the sheer volume of incredible museums and places to visit in the city - and no, we’re not just talking about the Castle and Royal Mile. 

If you’re looking for Edinburgh birthday ideas that will appeal to someone who’s into their history, travel or looking for uniquely “Edinburgh” activities, take a look at some of these.

If whoever’s birthday it is enjoys reading, check out The Writers’ Museum; a small but packed to the rafters house dedicated to the lives of Scotland’s literary Giants Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. 

If your birthday person is having a significant birthday that makes them feel their youth is long behind them, take them to the Childhood Museum; it’s full of toys and cool memorabilia that spans generations (and it’s super interesting as well). 

And if neither of those options appeal to you, I’d recommend taking a look at Edinburgh Museums where you can find out what’s on, where and when!

Get Acquainted with Edinburgh’s Myths and Monsters

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There’s no denying that there’s something *magical* about Edinburgh, which goes a little way in explaining why the city’s become synonymous with Harry Potter. But even if you’re not an HP fan, there’s plenty to discover about the Scottish capital’s mystical past.

Whether you’re a fan of the Wizarding World or just fancy delving further into Edinburgh’s supernatural past, the Myths and Monsters outdoor exploration game takes you on an enchanting journey through the city’s rich tapestry of folklore. 

Uncover Edinburgh’s legendary creatures, tales, and lingering mystical figures by following clues and unravelling puzzles that lead you to their whereabouts and wisdom. A captivating way to dive into Scotland's mythical past and celebrate a birthday filled with wonder and intrigue, this outdoor exploration game does more than just provide you with dates and the odd bit of trivia…

Climb Arthur’s Seat and Have a “One Day” Style Picnic

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Decided to celebrate your birthday in Edinburgh after watching the One Day series? You’re not alone, the whole internet seems to have become obsessed with Edinburgh after the TV series exposed the city’s charm and beauty to the masses.

If you’ve somehow not seen it, the series (and the novel it’s based on, don’t worry, we also read!) begins at the tail end of the main characters’ stint at Edinburgh University. Cut to the epic shots of a young couple racing to the top of Arthur’s Seat for legendary views and a bite to eat, and you’ve got yourself a scenic, gorgeous Edinburgh birthday idea. Or have you?

Personally, I’ve only ever experienced Arthur’s Seat during displays of what felt like gale force winds (it is high up, after all), so the top might not be the ideal place to have a picnic unless you want your food to blow away.

But don’t worry. For a romantic or platonic, peaceful birthday treat away from the urban bustle, give Arthur’s Seat a climb, take in the views and then head back down in search of a less blustery venue for a picnic - or go along to nearby Sheep Heid Inn for a drier, cosier pub lunch.  

Get a Taste of Japan at Lauriston Castle

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If your imagination is telling you “far-flung” but you only have the budget for “on my doorstep”, don’t worry. 

Granted, this idea only really works if your birthday happens to be during the early spring months, but rest assured, there’s always masses to do around Lauriston Castle all times of the year (more info about that at the end of this point).

If your birthday happens to be during the early spring, pop along to Lauriston Castle and experience the serene beauty of Japan without leaving Edinburgh at the Sakura Festival at Lauriston Castle. This beautiful event celebrates Japanese culture with traditional tea ceremonies, calligraphy workshops, and the stunning cherry blossom trees in bloom and is definitely not one to miss! 

If your birthday isn’t during cherry blossom season, you might want to go to Lauriston Castle anyway. The Japanese garden looks gorgeous during all seasons, and plenty of events are hosted in the vicinity throughout the year - keep an eye out for announcements

Have a Big Scottish Birthday Brekkie

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What’s a birthday without a treat? If you’re looking for Edinburgh birthday ideas that’ll start your special day off right, this one’s for you. 

Edinburgh truly is a foodie paradise and to be honest, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to tracking down places to eat or drink. That said, I do have a few special favourites that I’m willing to share with you.

If a traditional fry-up featuring haggis, black pudding, and tattie scones are your kind of thing, (or Scottish fry-ups generally), head to SNAX, Teuchters, or Quick and Plenty

Don’t worry vegans, I haven’t forgotten about you! My favourite plant-based cafe in Edinburgh is without a shadow of a doubt Sly Fox Cafe, where you can get the most unbelievably good pancake stacks. 

Go For a Dip at Cramond or Portobello Beach

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Summer babies, this one’s probably best aimed at you but hey, freshwater swimming is all the rage now so don’t let me hem you in.  

Spend your birthday embracing the “refreshing” feel of the North Sea by going for a birthday dip at Cramond or Portobello Beach. Whether you're braving the chill for a quick swim or simply enjoying the seaside atmosphere, both of these beaches offer a splendid backdrop for a birthday celebration, combining natural beauty with a sense of adventure.

See a Film at Scotland’s Oldest Cinema, The Cameo

When the weather’s foul and you’re looking for Edinburgh birthday ideas that still require a little bit of effort, opt for a trip to the cinema. 

Edinburgh is home to plenty of great cinemas including IMAX, mainstream and independent cinemas, so if you’re a movie buff, you’ll feel right at home. One of my favourites has to be The Cameo, Scotland’s oldest cinema, owned by Picturehouse.

Not only is it historic (it first opened in 1914), but the general Art Deco vibe of the place is lovely and they show an eclectic range of films including blockbuster hits and Indie gems.

If you’ve already visited The Cameo, or you’re looking for a dash of cinematic luxury, I recommend visiting my other favourite, The Scotsman Picturehouse. This is where you get to sit back in one of only 48 leather armchair seats with your own USB charging point, immerse yourself in a great movie and enjoy a tiny slice of luxury. It’s your birthday, you’ve earned it! 

Head to Bramble for Birthday Cocktails or Salt Horse for Beers

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Sometimes all you want from your birthday is a lowkey, laidback plan that involves nothing more than great people and a beverage of choice. If that’s you, read on.

Say “cheers” to another year and start sipping on a delectable drink that suits you. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic, obviously - not everyone’s keen on a tipple and luckily, there are plenty of incredible cafes dotted around Edinburgh.

However, if you fancy a birthday bevvy in Edinburgh, there are a few spots I can recommend. Bramble offers exquisite cocktails in an intimate setting (c’mon, it’s even named after a cocktail!). It’s a little bit tucked away (look for the sign on the black railed fencing) and each visit feels like a real treat. 

If you’re into your beer, get over to Salt Horse. A blend of a bottle shop and pub, Salt Horse serves up an incredible range of craft beers (and, between you and me, some great burgers as well). 

Get Some Birthday Laughs in at The Stand or Monkey Barrel


If you’re looking to inject some humour into your birthday celebrations, head over to The Stand or Monkey Barrel.

Both of these top-notch Edinburgh comedy clubs are ideal birthday venues for anybody who likes a laugh (so, pretty much everyone, then!) so you can’t really go wrong. Both venues have a lineup of local and international comedians, but there are a few things to bear in mind about each.

With The Stand, the clue is in the name: a bulk of the tickets available here are standing, so if mobility is an issue for you or someone in your group I’d give them a ring in advance. Otherwise, this place has great vibes, varied line ups and fairly priced pints (which can be tricky to find in Edinburgh sometimes!). 

Alternatively, Monkey Barrel is a fan favourite with locals and tourists alike - it’s a great, professionally-run venue with accompanying MC and great acts that will leave you with sore cheeks and abs from all the laughter. It’s a lovely little place that’s surprisingly affordable! 

Down (Or Sip) a Birthday Pint at a Pub That was Once a Parsonage at Cloisters Bar

If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a bit of a soft spot for cool architecture and interesting pubs - but if you do too, keep reading. 

For a unique birthday idea in Edinburgh, pay Cloisters Bar a visit. This pub has a rich history and is housed in what was once a parsonage to the adjacent church. I love the iconically red window panes, door and lettering outside, but as with all good pubs, it’s what inside that counts (and luckily, it doesn’t disappoint). 

Cloisters Bar combines architectural beauty with a cosy, traditional pub atmosphere, offering a wide selection of beers and ales. If you’re a burger fan, then you’ll also be pleased to hear they serve up a mean one here. 

See an Indie Show at Scotland’s New Writing Theatre, The Traverse

From the stage to the screen, there’s no better way to celebrate your birthday than surrounded by some dramatics and an enthusiastic audience - and if you’re looking for somewhere a little different to your classic plays, check out The Traverse. 

For theatre enthusiasts, a birthday spent watching an indie show at The Traverse, Scotland's new writing theatre, could be the highlight of the year. Renowned for its commitment to new talent and contemporary works, The Traverse provides a platform for stories that provoke, entertain, and inspire. You can check the current programme at The Traverse to see if there’s anything that takes your fancy!

Find More Things to Do in Edinburgh

Things to do in Edinburgh

So there you have it, 12+ Edinburgh birthday ideas for everyone from beer aficionados to theatre lovers! 

Want to find more things to do in Edinburgh? Of course you do! 

Discover Edinburgh’s secret sights and noteworthy nooks by playing one of our Edinburgh treasure and scavenger hunts, walking tours or outdoor escape room games!

We also provide team building activities in Edinburgh that can be made bespoke to include your office, wherever in the capital you are - just drop us a message.

All you have to do is team up with your partner, friends, family or whoever to solve riddles, complete challenges and answer trivia to lead you on an unforgettable journey around Edinburgh’s most intriguing streets. 

The best part? We’ll recommend top-rated pubs, cafés and restaurants and give your team the chance to earn rewards by competing on our leaderboard. 

Book your next adventure today