Whisky, Gin, Wine, or Beer? Find the best bars and pubs in Edinburgh here.
Ah, yes – if you’re here, it’s likely you’re looking to engage in an age-old tradition in Scotland: Drinking. That’s great – you’re in the right place. Whether you’re seeking a smooth scotch whisky, looking for authentic pub suds, or want to try the fanciest and coolest cocktails, this guide has you covered.
If you’re looking for the others posts in the Ultimate Travel Guide to Edinburgh Series, we’ll link to them as they are available!
Part 1: Best Places to Eat in Edinburgh
Part 2: Our 10 Best Photo Spots in Edinburgh
Part 4: Things to Do in Edinburgh, Scotland: Free & Paid Activities
Part 5: Edinburgh in One Day: Your Complete Guide to Edinburgh
Part 6: Best Places to Stay in Edinburgh
Part 7: Awesome Day Trips from Edinburgh!
Part 8: Here are 7 Coffee Shops To Try!
For simplicity, we’ve decided to divide this post into the various geographical areas of Edinburgh. That way, if you’re out in Old Town or New Town, etc. you’ll know what to look for. Ultimately, this is a guide to a few of our favourite places to go.
If you’re looking for a place, and you walk by a classic pub with lots of taps and a nice crop of people – it’ll probably do you just fine! Embracing Edinburgh’s many places to grab a drink is half the fun of the city. Cheers!
Bars and Pubs in Old Town, Edinburgh
If you find yourself in Old Town, congratulations. We are currently jealous of you! Anything on the Royal Mile or in Grassmarket is going to be touristy but fine all the same. For the Royal Mile, there are a few notable places like The Tron at the corner of the Royal Mile and North/South Bridge.
Pubs and Bars in Grassmarket
If you go to Grassmarket at night, be sure not to go too late. Most bars close at 1. Head to Black Bull for music, The Last Drop or The White Hart for an authentic British pub, or Biddy Mulligans for live music in a larger Irish bar. Yes, an Irish bar in Scotland – it’s totally fine.
Bars on Cowgate in Edinburgh
There’s an absolute TON of clubs and bars down on Cowgate. If you’re interested in seeing a few different bars but not sure where to start, head out on a pub crawl while you’re in Edinburgh. There are lots of highly recommended ones that you can join if you’re walking the Royal Mile in the evening. You can buy tickets for a top-ranked Edinburgh Pub Crawl here!
It’s one of the original bars (Aberdeen was first, FYI) so it’s very cool to see where the brand started. They do award-winning craft beer with a whole lifestyle built behind it. As a “local”, BrewDog was a local watering hole for Eric and his crew of international hooligans.
Address: 143 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JS or 50 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9BY
Located on Robertson’s Close, just off of Cowgate heading towards Arthur’s Seat, you can’t miss Pilgrim because of the neon sign on the corner reading: “Not all those who wander are lost..”
Serving up their own Pilgrim Brew – a house beer that’s cheap and does the trick, you’ll enjoy the seats, walls, and bar made from recycled materials. They wanted to reduce their carbon footprint – true story!
Address: 3 Robertson’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1LY
Other Favourite Places in Old Town for Drinks
Head down the stairs into Ushers – a craft beer haven with whiskys on tap and a great microbrewery to go with. Since it’s so close to the University of Edinburgh, you can often find a student crowd there – but more of the Master’s and Ph.D. kind! Don’t be intimidated – just find a comfy chair and relax with a pint.
Address: 32b W Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DD
This place can easily be missed if you’re not looking for it. Close to the University of Edinburgh, this candle-lit, plant lovers “garden paradise” is a great hangout if you’re looking for craft beer. St. Andrew’s makes a point of showcasing local beers, local gins, and they do really good chunky chips if you need a snack.
Address: 32-34 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT
You can’t miss it if you’re close to the Elephant Cafe on George IV Bridge. Frankensteins is an absolutely hilarious time. If you want to dance, sing karaoke, or generally have a very, very silly time – go here. You’ve been warned.
Address: 26 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN
If dancing isn’t your style, you can head to Bier Keller! Little known – it’s a traditional Bavarian beer market directly below Frankensteins – but you go in the same door. We’re talking large beer steins, live brass band music, the works. Get ready to stand on benches and sing your heart out like you’re at Oktoberfest.
Address: 26 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN
Places for Drinks in The West End, Edinburgh
Heading to Lothian Road in the West end of the Old Town/City Centre provides you with a few great options for a drink.
If you’re coming from Grassmarket, you’ll pass a smaller place called Dragonfly. Go here if you’re looking to engage with a few locals and have a good cocktail. Many head back for the bar staff, others for the great vibes. Check it out for yourself!
Address: 52 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LD
Located on the busy traffic artery that is Lothian Road, it’s known for their extensive rotating beer list and their variety of gins. It’s three-levels of comfy and mismatched furniture and the taps are all shaped as large wooden bats. Hanging Bat is really trendy, so be sure to check the busy hours to avoid disappointment!
Address: 133 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9AB
Like the classic movie, it’s known for its White Russians. While they aren’t everyone’s favourite drink of choice, Lebowskis does this classic cocktail justice. There’s plenty of seating and their burgers are very tasty. The Dude would want you to go!
Address: 18 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8BJ
Places for Drinks in New Town, Edinburgh
If you are staying close to the New Town and don’t want to walk all the way to the Old Town for a drink, don’t fear. There are lots of great places in New Town as well!
Located off of George Street – although you can enter from Rose Street – Standing Order is inspired by its roots as an old bank building. The tall ceilings and numerous tables make for more of a beer hall feel, but you’ll definitely find a place to enjoy a beverage or two.
Likely to be a tad more touristy just given its proximity to Waverley Station in New Town, it’s a classic spot to take an “out-of-towner” since there’s something for everyone.
Address: 62-66 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
Upscale beverages await you at The Dome. Off of George Street, you’ll be blown away by the elegance of the open space and grandiose dome architecture. We’ve heard the overall service isn’t that great – but since we’ve only popped in for a drink and to see what all the fuss was about – we didn’t notice!
Address: 14 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2PF
Calling itself a cocktail bar and lounge, Grand Cru is exactly that. The edgy and modern feel is somewhat industrial, but you can usually find a table or booth for a smaller pack of friends.
Edinburgh Drinks Pro Tip: on Friday and Saturday, Grand Cru is open until 3 am – later than most sit-down drink places/bars that aren’t a club. So, it’s open later for beverages without the dancing if you’re in a pinch.
Address: 79/83 Hanover St, New Town, Edinburgh EH2 1EE
At the corner of Queen and Frederick, Lucky Liquor makes a point of doing creative and classic cocktails right. It’s a little smaller, but definitely a cool place to take a mate or a date! The staff are super knowledgeable – so don’t let cocktails intimidate you. They will help you choose the one that is right for you based on what you like.
Address: 39A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 3NH
Heading down Rose Street you’ll find a variety of pubs to check out. Eric recommends The Amber Rose. If the weather is nice, you’ll be able to sit in the alleyway that is Rose Street or sit inside for a very authentic Scottish pub feel.
Address: 22-26 Castle St, Edinburgh EH2 4LS
This very authentic pub is a Penguin and Pia favourite. It’s in New Town on Frederick Street walking up and with the Castle at your rear.
They pride themselves on cask ales, good scotch, pub food, and wooden booth seating to make you feel right at home. If you’re lucky, they’ll have sports on – likely footy or rugby. Just grab a pint and enjoy!
Address: 49 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 1EP
This place comes highly recommended for the experience. While you might find a classic barbershop on the outside, inside you’ll find a Prohibition Era speakeasy that makes cocktails a way of life. Super fancy, very well done. The challenge? Finding the entrance. Maybe if you grab a book you’ll find a way?
Address: 79 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 4NF
That’s all, folks! A brief overview of the bars and pubs in Edinburgh. What do you think? Did we miss the hidden gem you call your local watering hole? Let us know in the comments below. We will try out any suggestions the next time we are in town.
As always, enjoy responsibly – and Happy Waddlin’!
– L & E