Tours of Edinburgh

Articles about Edinburgh and Scotland by David Wheater

My Edinburgh

Articles about Edinburgh and Scotland by David Wheater, founder of Tours of Edinburgh.

Popular Pubs and Bars in Edinburgh

Tours of Edinburgh The Beehive Inn, Edinburgh, Scotland.jpg

Popular Pubs and Bars in Edinburgh
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh

Edinburgh has an amazing number of good pubs and bars, some of which date back hundreds of years. The Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston ( is thought to date back to 1360!

Edinburgh offers a diverse range of bars and pubs, from pubs of ornate Victorian splendour to cosy hidden drinking dens off the Royal Mile and fashionable city centre cocktail bars. There really is something to suit all tastes and preferences.

Edinburgh has had a long history of brewing beer and in the 19th century there were around 50 different breweries in and around the city, ensuring the cityʼs pub culture thrived. Sadly, today, there is only one major brewery left, the Caledonian Brewery at Slateford, which brews the locals' favourite, Deucharʼs IPA, and offers tours to visitors (recommended). A couple of new brewery ventures, Innis & Gunn and Stewart Brewing, are to be welcomed.

If you really love your ales, Edinburgh will not disappoint, with lots of pubs catering for the real ale/beer drinker. If the older traditional Victorian pub isnʼt your thing and youʼre looking for something a little more trendy and sophisticated, then thereʼs plenty of modern designer bars in the city centre and Leith which offer a good array of cocktails, wines and spirits.

Licensing laws in Edinburgh are fairly liberal, with most pubs and bars opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. or midnight, and sometimes later, especially during the Edinburgh Festival and at Hogmanay.

Below are some of the most popular bars and pubs in Edinburgh. I've tried to include a variety of hostelries to suit different tastes, budgets and preferences. I know that not everyone will agree with my suggestions – pubs are a very personal, subjective choice – but I hope itʼll at least give people new to Edinburgh a good place to start.

The Last Drop
74-78 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JR
A traditional Scottish pub serving an eclectic variety of real ales and good pub grub. Famous for being haunted by the spirit of a girl in medieval clothing. Named in reference to the last public hanging in the Grassmarket.

The Beehive Inn
18-20 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
A former coaching inn going back over 400 years, serving excellent cask ales and good traditional pub food. Nice restaurant and split-level terrace with views of the Castle, which is great in the summer.

The World's End
4 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TB
A good, old-fashioned Scottish pub on the Royal Mile, serving good cask ales and great Scottish food. Try the Fraoch Heather Ale and donʼt forget to leave a note above the bar if youʼre from overseas.

The White Hart Inn
34 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
Rumoured to be Edinburghʼs oldest and most haunted pub, with some very famous patrons, including Rabbie Burns and Burke and Hare, amongst many others. Parts date back to 1516! Good choice of beers, whiskies and spirits. Food available and live traditional music most nights from 9 p.m.

The Voodoo Rooms
19a West Register Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AA
A hugely popular bar and restaurant opened in 2007, located close to Princes Street at the east end. A vast selection of cocktails, rums and tequilas. Great live music, cabarets and events make this one of the coolest and most exciting venues in Edinburgh. 

The Black Bull Bar
12 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
A very traditional Scottish pub in Edinburghʼs Grassmarket, offering a good choice of beers, real ales and malt whiskies. Thereʼs also classic pub grub with a kids' menu available. Live music through the week. Can be busy with stag and hen parties.

The Bon Vivant
55 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DY
An excellent bar and restaurant in the city centre, thatʼs great for cocktails, a pint or a wee dram with friends. A relaxing, cosy, candlelit atmosphere. A great place to head for lunch before sightseeing.

Thistle Street Bar
39 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DY
A great, traditional Scottish pub tucked away in the city centre. Small and cosy with lots of little corners to sit in and a lovely open fire in the winter. Serves good bar food and has a small beer garden to the rear.

Pear Tree House
38 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DD
Dating back to 1749, the Pear Tree is a popular pub with students, being close to the University. Itʼs a great place to head for in the summer for its big walled beer garden, live music and barbecues.

The Royal Mile Tavern
127 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SG
A great traditional Scottish pub on the Royal Mile, with lots of character. Ample offering of great whiskies and a good selection of craft ales. A very friendly and sociable pub with lots of daily live music and entertainment.

The Bow Bar
80 West Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH
A no-frills, traditional Scottish pub in picturesque Victoria Street, known for its superb selection of whiskies and cask ales. A great place for a pie and a pint at lunchtime. Very popular and deservedly so. Check them out on Twitter.

Biddy Mulligan's
94 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JR
An Irish-themed pub known for its extensive collection of Irish whiskies. They serve pub food and have live music most nights of the week. A very lively, friendly pub and extremely busy in the summer months.

The Mitre Bar
131-133 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1SG
Located on the Royal Mile just a short walk from North Bridge. A cosy and friendly, traditional pub with a great selection of cask ales and malt whiskies. Try their steak and ale pie with a pint of Sharpʼs ʻDoom Barʼ (can be pricey).

The Roseleaf Bar Cafe
23/24 Sandport Place, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6EW
A very popular family-run bar and cafe in the Shore area of Leith thatʼs really friendly and rather quirky. Have you ever had a cocktail served in a teapot? Great for food, coffee and drinks at any time of the day. Good for families too.

The Guildford Arms
1 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AA
A traditional Victorian pub located just off the east end of Princes Street. If you love really good Scottish ales, this is the place to go. The Gallery restaurant serves Scottish beef and seafood. Live music in the evenings.

The Café Royal
19 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AA
An Edinburgh institution, located just off Princes Street in the east end. This is an elegant Victorian pub (1826) with lots of style and a huge oval bar. A fine selection of Scottish cask ales, wine and whisky in the bar and an oyster bar next door serving fresh Scottish seafood (check out the stunning ceramic murals depicting great inventors). This is an Edinburgh pub you simply must visit.

The Canny Man’s
237 Morningside Road, Edinburgh EH10 4QU
Located in popular Morningside, The Canny Man's is a firm local favourite. A traditional, independent Victorian pub (1871) passed down through the Kerr family. Famous for its Bloody Marys, seafood and smørrebrød sandwiches. Great character, buckets of history and definitely worth a visit when youʼre in Morningside.

125 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JN
Located centrally in George Street, Tigerlily is a very popular ʻluxury boutiqueʼ hotel, bar and restaurant thatʼs just the place for a cocktail or two, or a sip of champagne. A funky, modern and opulent interior, with two bars offering a good selection of wines, spirits and great cocktails.

Ghillie Dhu
2 Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD
Situated centrally at the west end of Princes Street, Ghillie's is a bar and events venue. Thereʼs a big ground-floor bar with lots of cosy booths and a lovely auditorium upstairs which regularly hosts live music and ceilidhs at the weekends. A selection of set menus is available.

Heads & Tales Bar
1A Rutland Place EH1 2AD
The Heads & Tales Bar is part of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. It's discreetly located under the Rutland Hotel in Edinburgh's West End. It's the perfect place to sample some of the delicious gin from their on-site gin stills, Flora and Caledonia. They also do a great selection of cocktails and wine. Combine a visit with a distillery tour.

If you'd like to join me on a Tour of Edinburgh please Email or telephone me on 07400 705 357.