How to make friends in Edinburgh Header

How to Make Friends in Edinburgh

Three people sitting inside of a boat made of iron on land.
My friends and I on an adventure in Pitlochry Scotland

Just moved to a new city and want to meet people and make friends? Making friends in a new city can be difficult and intimidating for almost everyone. Luckily, Scottish people are very friendly which makes it very easy to make friends in Edinburgh.

As an adult, you’re definitely not alone if you find yourself wondering how to make friends in a new place. It’s easy for kids to make new friends, but it’s not as if you can meet someone in the park, discover you both love popsicles and turn into super best friends like you did when you were little.

Making friends in a new place is a challenge — but it’s not impossible. If you’ve just moved to Edinburgh and you’re asking yourself, “How can I make new friends in Edinburgh?” let me show you the way.

How to make friends in Edinburgh

Be Yourself

It might seem obvious to some, but there are many people who feel they need to be a different person or be more exciting to make new friends in Edinburgh or any other city. You don’t.

You don’t need to put on an act or reinvent yourself to make friends in Edinburgh. When you finally grow comfortable around the people you meet and act your true self, you’ll be truly accepted and the locals will want to learn more about you. Remember to be you and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Don’t worry about your “boring” accent or feel like you have nothing cool to offer because you aren’t from somewhere unique and exciting. I might think someone with a Finnish accent sounds amazing, but they probably don’t think it sounds as great as you do.

It doesn’t matter where your accent is from, the Scots will still think you’re cool as hell. Think you’ve got a boring Canadian accent? It’s really no big deal. What you see as an everyday mundane accent is something new and interesting to people from other parts of the world.

Be Touristy with Edinburgh Locals

Sometimes it’s easier to make new friends when you’re outside your comfort zone and away from your country. When you’re somewhere new and exploring the city, you may be forced to speak to locals to ask for help navigating around the city.

A lot of the locals I met in Edinburgh didn’t really do touristy things because they were born and raised in the city. Or the last time they visited a place was when they were in primary school.

I made sure to invite them out to various tourist sites or activities around Edinburgh to show them just how cool their city was by showing it to them through the eyes of a tourist.

Get out of your comfort zone, open yourself up and meet new friends in a new city!

Why not invite them out with one of these cool Edinburgh attractions?

Two people posing near a statue of a bagpiper at Edinburgh Scotland
My friend Christina and I having a blast at Edinburgh Castle

Make new friends at work

Chatting with people at work is one of the best ways to make friends in Edinburgh, especially if you have a fun job where you can chat and have fun with your co-workers. Work was how I made about 90% of my friend group!

I had such a great job and was able to easily connect with my co-workers. They would often reach out and ask me to hang out with them, which was absolutely fantastic as I’m pretty shy.

Go out of your way to say yes when they ask you to hang out – even if you’re tired or if the activity on offer isn’t really your thing. The invitation shows they’re interested in getting to know you and accepting it shows you want to know them, too.

When I worked at Edinburgh Zoo, everyone was so nice and welcoming. They’d ask me to go to the pub after work and it really helped us grow strong as a team.

I know making friends at work can be a bit iffy for some. Many people prefer to keep their work and their private lives separate. But I think if you really bond with one or more of your coworkers, why not hang out outside of work?

If this just isn’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to make friends and connect with people in a new place.

Volunteer

Volunteering is another great way to meet new friends in Edinburgh and help out people in need at the same time. When I was working at Edinburgh Zoo, there were tons of people volunteering there.

They got to help out in an awesome place and got to attend several fun volunteer meetups. They also got to spend time with people who worked at the zoo. Volunteering gave them so many ways to make new friends!

Apply to be a volunteer at Edinburgh Zoo here: Become an RZSS Volunteer

I also recommend volunteering at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Edinburgh Festival Fringe Volunteer Application

Stay in a hostel

Meeting new friends abroad is easy when you’re staying with other people in a hostel. There are plenty of solo travelers from all over the world looking to make friends as an expat in Edinburgh.

Many have just moved to the city and are in exactly the same situation as you — looking for work, a place to live and new friends. Reach out and go sightseeing with someone from your hostel or group accommodation and make some new friends in a new city!

Here is a list of cool hostels in Edinburgh you can stay at

Take a Class or Join a Group

I had a friend visiting me in Scotland from the US who was really into ultimate frisbee. I searched for local ultimate frisbee groups, found one which was having a game nearby and we both went down to join in.

My friend was super charismatic and immediately made friends. That’s how easy it can be to make friends in Scotland! I was so impressed watching him getting to know a group of strangers he’d never met before and would never meet again.

It can be hard to make new friends in a new city as an introvert. But sometimes having a hobby or goal in common with others really helps when it comes to making friends in a new place.

Another example is that I spontaneously went to a swing dancing class with my friend in Edinburgh. It was so fun to dance with strangers and chat with them while trying to learn a new dance. I had a blast and was so grateful I got to interact with loads of new people.

Here is a list of activities around Edinburgh you can try:

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Join Expat Get-Togethers

As much as I push getting to know the locals in whichever city you’ve moved to, sometimes you might suffer from a sense of homesickness and loneliness that only people from your home country can cure.

You can make new friends from your home country and have a fantastic time exploring the city together, learning all about its quirks and discovering its secret hidden places.

Some companies that help you arrange your visa, like SWAP, have forums that you can use to connect with other people from your home country who are moving to the same city that you are.

This type of forum is a great way to make friends in Edinburgh before you even land. You get the best of both worlds — you can reminisce over memories from back home and make new memories as you explore Scotland together.

Already in Edinburgh? connect with other expats in Edinburgh with InterNations

Head to the Local Pub

You might think it a challenge to just start chatting with someone in a pub, but Scots are super friendly and welcoming. If you visit your local pub, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet friends in Edinburgh.

Why not strike up a conversation by buying the group a round of pints? Or join in with a group and enter as a team on pub quiz night for the chance to answer questions and win prizes! Either is a great way to make friends in Edinburgh.

Introduce Yourself to Your Neighbours and Flatmates

One of the easiest ways to quickly meet new friends in Edinburgh if you live in a shared house is to get to know your new flatmates. If you live alone, try saying hello to your neighbours when you see them out and about around your neighbourhood.

Scots are really friendly, so you should never be scared to say hello! Be open to impromptu conversations — you never know what will come out of them.

Two people standing in front of a wacky mirror on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh
My friend Angela and I in the wacky mirror at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Connect on Social Media

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve made a stellar group of friends on Twitter and Instagram. There are so many people around the world I share interests with and I can’t wait to meet them someday.

If you connect with bloggers or other people from Edinburgh (or whichever city you move to) you can make some great friends and connections on social media.

Make New Friends in Edinburgh with Online Friend Groups

Similar to what you find in the world of online dating, there are websites and apps that help adults looking to meet new friends in Edinburgh, too.

These sites provide you with a way to make new friends in Edinburgh and all across Scotland in a way unlike any other. The people who run the sites put on events at public locations you can attend to mingle with new people in a safe environment.

I can’t personally vouch for these websites — please use them at your own risk. They are all group social settings, so should offer an amount of safety verse meeting a person one on one.

If you have any experience using any of the sites below, please leave me a comment and let me know how it worked out.

Two people on a Ferris Wheel at the Edinburgh Christmas Market. How to make friends in Edinburgh.
My friend Heather and I freezing on the Ferris Wheel at the Edinburgh Christmas Market

Get Out There and Go Make Some Friends in Edinburgh

As much as I love how friendly, open and welcoming the Scots are, don’t stand back and wait for them to talk to you. Step out of your comfort zone and ask them to do something with you instead.

Even if it’s something as simple as going to a tourist site. Just because they live in the city doesn’t mean they’ve seen it all. Not everyone explores their own city as a tourist and taking you up on your invitation could be a fantastic way for them to see their own city from a new perspective.

One of the best ways to make friends in Edinburgh is to show interest in other people. Learn about where they grew up, their favourite places to visit and the off-the-beaten-track locations they know that no tourists ever get to see.

Learn everything you can about their culture, country and language. Not only does this help you build a close friendship with a great new person, but it shows your friend that you care about them and want to know about their lives.

Making friends in a new city can be scary, regardless of whether you’re an outgoing extrovert or a shy introvert. But the friendship you gain in return from stepping outside your comfort zone and the memories you’ll make together make it one of the most rewarding things you can do in your home away from home.

Best Books for Making Friends

If you need more help in learning how to make friends, start conversations, gain confidence, be more charismatic and get out of your comfort zone please be sure to check out one of the books below!


How to Win Friends & Influence People

Here to Make Friends: How to Make Friends as an Adult: Advice to Help You Expand Your Social Circle, Nurture Meaningful Relationships, and Build a Healthier, Happier Social Life

How to Make Friends as an Introvert: Discover Introvert-Friendly Ways to Meet New People, Improve Your Social Skills, and Make New Friends

The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are

More Information about Moving to Scotland

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Comments 8

  1. Such great tips! Now you’re making me want to move to Scotland.😉 I feel like I should know this but are you currently living in Scotland? How long have you been there? What made you decide to move there?
    You’ve got great tips!
    I love your tips for meeting the locals but also your tips for finding expats. I think that’s a great idea to connect with expats while living abroad. Definitely no reason not to make friends with both.
    I’ve used meetup before here in NYC. I joined a bookclub for awhile, which was fun. I only stopped because I got a new job where I had to work evenings. It’s funny because I joined the book club before my blogging days and now the person who used to lead the group, randomly found me on Twitter so now we’ve reconnected.
    This blogging stuff has been a cool way to virtually meet people and then it’s so fun to meet in real life.
    Anyways, great post! I really enjoyed it.

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      Author

      I am not currently in Scotland but I did live in Edinburgh for two years. I decided to move there because I wanted to experience living in another country and living like a local rather than just a visitor. It was a great experience with both ups and downs but I really want to help inspire people to make the move! OR help those who have just moved there and need help with things I could have used help with.

      Some things aren’t really worth a blog post such as I could NOT for the life of me figuring out where to buy work pants. Like you, meeting other people from your own country or from other countries really made a difference! I think it’s important to meet Scottish people but meeting other people who have moved to Scotland from another country offers a different insight into life in Scotland and they know exactly what you are going through, too!

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      Author
  2. Very true about people from Edinburgh not doing tourist things here. I had never been on a ghost tour before we did. Also yes lots of things I did when I was younger but not for many years.

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      Author

      Yes, you are the person that inspired me to write that bit! I remember you had mentioned so many times that you only really started to explore certain touristy things once we became friends.

  3. I love these tips!! I’ve never moved to a new place where I had to make friends (aside from school, which has sort of built-in friend making tools!). I’m impressed how you were able to pull it off! I can’t help but think I’d be the “head to the pub” type heheeh xx

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      Author

      Thanks, Julianne! Everyone seems to become friends at the pub, so it’s a perfect place to find new pals to hang out with. If you ever do move to a new place (wouldn’t you and your husband look so good living in England?) I know where you will be hanging out making new friends!

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