Best pubs and bars in Edinburgh: Edinburgh’s social scene is pumping. From cozy pubs nestled in cobblestone alleyways to trendy cocktail bars with dazzling views of the city skyline, there is no shortage of pubs to spend time and warm up to on those (often) cold and damp Scottish days. Whether you’re looking for some good ol’ pub grub and a pint (or two) in Old Town or fancy popping on your happy rags and dancing the night away at a charming bar, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite watering holes. Put together to check out your next trip to Edinburgh.
12 Best pubs and bars in Edinburgh
- The Bow Bar
- The Dagda Bar
- The Cafe Royal Circle Bar
- The World’s End
- The Last Drop
- The Sheep Heid Inn
- The Royal Dick
- Sandy Bell’s
- The Cauldron
- Le Monde
Whiskey lovers rejoice! Bow Bar in Edinburgh’s city center has over 300 whiskeys to sample (maybe not all at once) from Highland Malt to Speyside Malt and everything else in between. They also have a pretty impressive range of cask and keg beers to moisten the whistle. Stick to German and Belgian classics or surprise your taste buds with new flavors like Coffee and Cherry Stout or Peat Smoked Brown Ale. Established in 1987, The Bow Bar has the feeling of a ‘proper’ Scottish pub upon entry. You won’t hear sports or TV shows and glare here, just a glass or two of good conversation. Top-notch whiskey.
Before we go any further, we would like to say that yes, Kilderkin may be very popular among tourists, but it still deserves a spot on this list. Located in the heart of the Old Town, Kilderkin is a classic old-school booster with polished wood floors, stained-glass windows, comfy leather sofas, and rickety bar stools. The place attracts hordes of tourists but has a laid-back atmosphere and serves a good list of thirst-quenching rums, cask beers, and rustic pizzas. Kilderkin also hosts a famous pub quiz every Tuesday which attracts lots of locals and the occasional member of the Scottish Parliament which is a stone’s throw from the pub.
If you’re looking for a casual, simple addition where the staff knows exactly what they’re talking about, Dagda Bar has you covered. The bar exudes character and charm. It was built in an 18th-century tenement terrace and has retained some of its traditional features. There is a solid selection of malt whiskeys, craft beers on tap, and guest ales that change every week. Pull up a chair at a rough table or grab a pew at one of the beer barrel tables to enjoy the pleasant, friendly atmosphere.
Café Royal may be glamorous, but it still has a casual pub atmosphere. Established in 1863, it still has many of the original features including stained glass windows, polished brass taps, and an elegant marble bar serving a fine range of spirits. They also serve delicious food – think pub grub with a sophisticated twist. Sink your teeth into freshly grilled oysters, garlic mussels, steak n chips, aux cheque steak pie, and other favorites. They also serve delicious pub snacks if you are not so hungry including smoked haddock scotch eggs and samphire fritters. one of the Best pubs and bars in Edinburgh.
If you’ve come to Edinburgh to learn about history, you must grab a pint at World’s End. There is an interesting story behind this small pub. After the Battle of Flodden in the 16th century, Edinburgh became a walled city to protect the city and its people. People considered anything outside the walls or gates to be from the other world. This pub is located right inside the walls, hence the name World’s End.
After walking the rocky streets of the Royal Mile, quench your thirst with a beer or get some hearty scans. They do pub classics like steak pie, fish and chips, and macaroni cheese. The menu and atmosphere are as classic as the old Scottish pubs come with wooden beams, gaudy walls, and wall-pinned banknotes from travelers from around the world.
With a name like The Last Drop, you might be thinking of the last drops of wine… not at all. There is a dark story behind the name. The pub is in the heart of the vibrant Grassmarket near the infamous Greyfriars Kirkyard (which has been said to be the world’s most haunted cemetery). And the ‘last drop’ actually refers to the last hanging that took place in the gallows which stood directly in front of the pub.
Some say that the walls of the pub are haunted by the ghost of a little girl, but once you walk inside this cozy pub you will never guess its sad history. This is a classic pub with low ceilings, find a seat on this classic, polished wooden table, and leather-studded bench. They have a good range of traditional and craft beers, wines, and whiskeys. You can even sit outside with a pint in the bustling pedestrian square as you watch the world go by.
Brewhemia was inspired by the life of Robert, a distant royal relative of Elizabeth Stuart. After her disappearance from the English throne, Elizabeth traveled to Bohemia in the Czech Republic, where she became the Winter Queen, Queen of Bohemia. Upon learning of her life, Robert followed in her footsteps and fell in love with Bohemia’s artistic lifestyle and riotous parties. He then traveled to Munich where Oktoberfest was discovered and Venice where he enjoyed Prosecco parties.
In his final days, Robert shared stories of his free-spirited life with his son, who vowed to enjoy his father’s hedonistic lifestyle and pass it on to the next generations. These tales resonated so much with one of Robert’s great-grandsons that he created Brewhemia. With a copper Czech-style beer palace, a French-style boudoir, and a Scottish tartan taproom, Brewhemia is somewhere where you can get a little fancy and enjoy the finer things in life. They also serve up some delicious Scottish scones and German-inspired Haus sausages. one of the Best pubs and bars in Edinburgh
Psst… apparently this is the oldest pub in Edinburgh. Established in 1360, the walls of these pubs have seen it all. Sheep Heed Inn has been a favorite watercourse of emperors and famous poets for centuries. One of its most famous punters was Mary Queen of Scots who enjoyed playing skittle alley here).
Situated in Duddingston Loch (a 10-minute drive from Edinburgh city center), the Sheep Heed Inn is known for having a pint and some scans after climbing into Arthur’s Seat. They serve hearty meals such as sea bass fillet, shrimp linguine, rotisserie chickens, chicken pie, and plant-based dishes. This is a prime place to enjoy a Sunday roast. If you’re here in the summer, head out on the patio for some relatable day drinks.
The Royal Dick is not your average pub. It’s tucked behind the popular Summerhall arts venue, which used to be the small animal hospital of the Dick Vet School. It’s a quirky addition, with old projector slides set up in the bar’s tops and quirky art and veterinary artifacts covering the walls.
There is a good range of beverages including craft beer and gin from Barney’s Beer and Pickerings Gin – both brewed and distilled on-site at Summerhall. You can soak up the alcohol with pub snacks, light meals, or a delicious platter. Take a seat in a sunken room or head outside the Courtyard Bar (supposedly the largest in Edinburgh) to quench your thirst in the occasional sunny beer garden.
If you prefer toe-tapping or a jig to some traditional Scottish and folk music, head to Sandy Bells. Known for its “sessions”, this watering hole is a local legend and local musicians gather here most days to jam. While you’re enjoying a quiet pint, don’t be surprised if you suddenly hear fiddle, guitar, accordion, and wooden flute from Woodworks. The music is different every night and you never really know what to expect. Drinks-wise, they serve all the usual suspects and a solid selection of malt whiskeys and craft beers. One of the Best pubs and bars in Edinburgh
Ever wonder what it’s like to go to the wizard’s afternoon tea or make a narcotic potion using molecular blending? We’re not guessing. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, the immersive cocktail class at The Cauldron will be a dream come true. You will be given your own cloak and magic wand before being taken to the interactive workstation. Here, you’ll make your own drinkable elixirs and potions using a bubbling vat. Weird? just a tad. But hey, sometimes it’s fun to try something different. Mixed experiences are also available for non-drinkers and families with children.
Le Monde is a boutique hotel, bar, and restaurant where you can party early in the morning. Situated in the heart of George Street, the bar-cum-club is infused with cosmopolitan glamour. It features global-inspired decor and drinks from some of the world’s most vibrant cities. Enjoy Prosecco afternoon tea on the terrace, kick back in the booth, or dance the night away at the Shanghai Club. If you’re feeling a little more boogie or are celebrating something special, head to the plush New York-style cocktail bar or book a table at the Champagne Lounge.
With so many cozy and unique pubs to explore, Edinburgh promises to quench your thirst for good wine and a good time.