Yes, Edinburgh has historical attractions, lively nightlife, flea markets, and trendy bars – but sometimes, you just can’t beat a chilled afternoon in a cosy pub. Seemingly every street in Edinburgh leads to a pub, the heartbeat of the city’s nightlife, so we’ve made it a mission to pick out some of the best. With everything from local folk music to luxurious drinks on tap here, we’ve catered to every taste, so without further ado, here are some of the best pubs in Edinburgh you should visit.
1. The Dagda Bar
If your definition of a great bar is welcoming locals, a lovely ambience, and amazing drinks served by friendly staff, The Dagda Bar is the place for you. A traditional pub with a great variety of booze topped off with some good music, Dagda is not a place only for student hangouts but attracts plenty of locals too. Choose it as the site of a Saturday catch-up with friends, and you’ll be very content. The bright blue exterior makes it hard to miss, too!
93-95 Buccleuch Street, EH8 9NG.
2. The King’s Wark
Established early in the 15th century, historic bar The King’s Wark has charm aplenty, and is famous for freshly served seafood and local produce. With a prime waterside spot in Leith, it’s ideal to enjoy your date with cosy ambience and comfortable food, served by a truly hospitable team.
36 The Shore, EH6 6QU.
3. Sandy Bell’s
Famous for its live jamming sessions, and situated close to the Royal Mile, Sandy Bell’s was established in the early 20th century. Folk music topped with a retro pub atmosphere – what more do you need to enjoy your drink? Regulars visit just to participate in the live jamming session, so if you’ve got a taste for traditional music, then this place comes highly recommended.
25 Forrest Road, EH1 2QH.
4. The Last Word Saloon
With a lounge-themed interior, The Last Word Saloon is ideal to kick back with a whisky by the roaring open fire, snuggling into the comfortable armchair. Honestly, what more is there to say?
44 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, EH3 5AL.
5. The Sheep Heid Inn
The Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston is a wonderfully renovated village bar and restaurant. Established in the 1360s, this pub is said to be one of the oldest pubs in the UK, although that doesn’t stop it serving delicious contemporary cocktails. There’s a skittles alley on site too, which might explain the number of royal visitors its had over the years!
43-45 The Causeway, EH15 3QA.
6. Bennets Bar
Serving people since 1839, Bennet’s Bar was renovated in the year 1906, but still preserves its historical features, including a wooden bar and gorgeous tiles depicting cherubs. Found next to King’s Theatre, the bar stays quite busy – though a delectable, considerately-priced food menu might contribute to that…
8 Leven Street, EH3 9LG.
7. The Last Drop
The Last Drop is known for its unique traditional character and hospitality. The folk pub is admired for an extensive variety of alcohol and cocktails, solid dining options, and outdoor seating.
74-78 Grassmarket, EH1 2JR.
8. The Guildford Arms
The Guildford Arms is the perfect place to spend quality time with family and friends. Established in 1898, the Victorian style pub is decorated with smartly-polished wood fixtures and boasts a popular menu of vegan and vegetarian dishes. The twin highlights of the pub are the gallery restaurant and real ale options, which explains why it draws punters like a magnet.
1 West Register Street, EH2 2AA.
Taking a novel approach (literally) to the classic pub, Frankenstein sets standards for themed pubs in Edinburgh. At dusk, the spooky Frankenstein theme comes into its own, with the lights, sound effects, and horror music aiming to bring Mary Shelley’s tale to life. The fact it’s found in a Gothic church doesn’t hurt either…
The pub offers German food cuisine served alongside premium beer, and amongst the entertainment highlights of Frankenstein are the Sunday karaoke nights, which are amongst the biggest in Edinburgh.
26 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EN.
10. Athletic Arms
A specialist whisky pub that offers customers over 450 whiskies to choose from, Athletic Arms has one of the biggest collections of liquor in Edinburgh. Nicknamed ‘Diggers’ – owing to the fact it’s wedged between two graveyards, and the gravediggers used to drink here after burying the dead – this is one of the perfect pubs in Edinburgh for a relaxing drink. Throw in their variety of bar games, and you’ve got the afternoon sorted.
1-3 Angle Park Terrace, EH11 2JX.