41 of Edinburgh's Best Pubs, Bars and Cafes

Edinburgh overflows with bars of all stripes, from cosy pubs to sleek wine bars, and its coffee options are bountiful too. Here are some of our favourite places to imbibe in town

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 25 Jun 2024
  • Athletic Arms

There’s loads to see and do in the capital of Scotland, as evident in the pages of our 2024 Guide to Edinburgh (of which this article is a part). But once you’ve marvelled at its historic landmarks, soaked up its rich art and culture, climbed its many hills and navigated its ancient streets, you'll probably want a pint, or a reviving cup of coffee, or simply somewhere to shelter from the inevitable downpour – preferably with a cosy vibe and a first-rate jukebox. Well you’re in luck, because Edinburgh happens to have some of the best pubs, the hippest cocktail joints and the chicest wine bars in the UK, not to mention an on-point coffee scene and a surprisingly bountiful selection of breweries with taprooms to choose from. 

Here are The Skinny’s picks of the wonderful beverage providers Edinburgh has to offer. Whether your ideal tipple is a flat white or Taro milk tea, a pint of Neck Oil or a heaven-sent negroni, you’ll find some great options in the list below. 

Traditional Pubs

These are the old-school boozers that don’t go in for frills or fad redesigns. No schooners, brioche burgers or fancy cocktails here, just great atmosphere, tasty beers and if there is food, it’s of the hearty variety.

Athletic Arms
1-3 Angle Park Ter
Aka 'the Diggers', this is a smashing, wedge-shaped bar with a cosy lounge in the back. We highly recommend the pies.

Bennets Bar
8 Leven St
One of Edinburgh’s prettiest 'old man pubs', this historic venue features gorgeous original features, maps in the tables (!) and a knockout malt selection.

The Blue Blazer
2 Spittal St
The dark wood decor and cosy nooks of this two-room pub have stayed steadfast for decades. But why change perfection? This place has great beers, and even better vibes.

The Bow Bar
80 West Bow
An Old Town classic, The Bow Bar offers great pints and whisky options (there’s over 300 single malts behind the gleaming bar) in a lovely cosy environment. Their soup and pie game is also exceptional.

Carriers Quarters
42 Bernard St
This Leith favourite dates back to 1785, and it’s barely changed since then. The bar at the front has a friendly atmosphere while the back room hosts everything from live music to bingo. 

George IV Bar
54 George IV Bridge
A great option for a pint in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, this traditional pub is bursting with character. The drink and food options are plentiful – and their chips are out of this world. 

Malt & Hops
45 Shore
Come to this no-frills pub by the Shore for the rotating ales and craft beers on tap, the fireplace you’re encouraged to stoke, and the chatty bar staff. 

Teuchters Bar & Bunker
26 William St
A laidback bar with a ‘make-yourself-feel-at-home’ vibe. The beer selection is good, and there’s tonnes of Scottish scran on the menu. Also check out sister venue Teuchters Landing near the Port of Leith for more nautical vibes.

St Vincent
11 St Vincent St
Just off the Instagram-friendly Circus Lane, this gorgeous, wood-panelled pub in the basement of a Georgian townhouse is a tucked-away New Town gem. Friendly, snug, and with a cocktail menu as good as the beer list. 

Modern Bars

These bars are newer on the block or have changed with the times. They go in for music, DJs and offer more varied drink options. These are ideal spots for lively nights out or places to pre-game with friends before or after a gig. 

The Blackbird
37-39 Leven St
This Bruntsfield pub always seems to be bustling – particularly its cute beer garden out back. The beers are well-curated, and the cocktail list is a mix of classics and more curious concoctions.

The Devil's Advocate
9 Advocate's Cl
Situated halfway up one of Edinburgh’s Escher-esque stairwells, this classy bar boasts excellent food and a 300-strong whisky shelf.

The Dog House
18-24 Clerk St
Funky decor and tasty cocktails with regular DJ sets and live music. And that name isn’t a misnomer: expect lots of doggos!

Photo of the exterior of Leith Depot, with pedestrians passing by.

Leith Depot
138-142 Leith Walk
Live music is just one reason to seek out this Leith gem; others include its welcoming atmosphere and outstanding pub grub. [Pictured above, by Pete Mason]

Paradise Palms
41 Lothian St
With varied DJ and cabaret nights, plus decor that suggests a gay disco on a neon-lit desert island, Palms is a firm favourite.

1 Northumberland Pl
Lovely New York dive bar vibes here. The best jukebox in Edinburgh – no question – and a smart wee beer garden at the back.

Salt Horse
57-61 Blackfriars St
Fans of boundary-pushing beer should head to Salt Horse for schooners from the UK’s best craft and small breweries.

Breweries and Distilleries

There are great breweries and distilleries scattered across Edinburgh, with many of them selling their wares onsite or nearby. Head to the below if you wanna taste these great drinks at their source. 

Bellfield Brewery
46 Stanley Pl
Tucked away in a residential corner of town, this award-winning beer garden and taproom isn’t one you’d just happen across but once you know it’s there you’ll keep returning. The beers are first-rate, and there’s a rotating roster of pop-up food vendors.

Lost in Leith
82 Commercial St
Lost in Leith is both a great pub and a fermentaria. Inside you’ll find an atmospheric bar with a full array of weird and wonderful beers from Campervan, and plenty of seating outside to spill out to on warm days. 

​​13 Jane St
Despite being located within a Leith industrial estate, Newbarns gives local pub vibes. Expect darts, a lively atmosphere and fantastic ales, lagers and stouts fresh from the brewery next door.

Port of Leith Distillery
11 Whisky Quay
On the top floor of this newly built nine-story distillery is a nifty bar with a well-crafted cocktail list, small plates and panoramic views.

Porty Vault
243 Portobello High St, Portobello
A stone’s throw from Portobello Beach, this taproom from Vault City serves up an ever-changing lineup of craft beer, from Vault City’s latest releases to guest beers from around the world. Bao bun specialists Bundits currently have a pop-up in the kitchen.

The Royal Dick
1 Summerhall
Art complex Summerhall is home to Pickering's Gin and Barney's Beer, and you’ll find both in plentiful supply in The Royal Dick (or simply 'The Dick' to locals), Summerhall’s pub and central hub.

Wee Vault
7A W Maitland St
Also from the Vault City crew, this taproom and bottle shop near Haymarket is heaven for craft beer lovers. As the name suggests, it’s small, but with two dozen beers on tap at any one time, the choice is ample

Cocktail and Wine Bars

Edinburgh has one of the liveliest cocktail scenes in the UK, and a great selection of wine bars too. The below are perfect spots for date nights and for those of you who crave something more than beer.

16A Queen St
This low-lit basement cocktail joint serves up inspired concoctions, with terrific DJs bringing the atmosphere.

7 Bernard St
An excellent new agave-focused, Leith-based cocktail bar from the team behind Hey Palu.

Hey Palu
49 Bread St
A fantastic Italian cocktail bar that regularly makes ‘best bars in the country’ lists; expect expert bartenders, amazing nibbles and a lovely vibe.

Lucky Liquor Co.
39A Queen St
Another of Edinburgh’s tucked-away cocktail joints serving up an ever-changing menu of libations pushing the cocktail boundaries.

142 Duke St
This crackerjack cocktail joint in Leith has a neat twist: every one of its tasty concoctions has a link to the area's rich history as a trading hub.

13 Crighton Pl
This chic wine bar in Leith has a deli counter specialising in cheeses, meats and homemade Turkish delights to pair with your tipple.

Photo of rows of wine bottles, each marked with their price.

Smith & Gertrude
26 Hamilton Pl
This cosy neighbourhood wine bar in Stockbridge serves up delicious cheese plates to accompany your wine while vinyl crackles on the record player. [Pictured above, photo by ameliaclaudia]

Smoke & Mirrors
159 Constitution St
Walk through Smoke & Mirrors's fairy-light-rimmed arch entrance and you'll find an intimate bar bursting with character and great cocktails.

1 Haddington Pl
Stripped back, monochrome and minimalist, Spry offers an extensive menu of natural wines and delicious small plate options. 

Coffee, Tea and Juice

Maybe it’s a caffeine hit or a vitamin boost you're after. Below are our favourite coffee shops and juice joints in town.

Artisan Roast
72-74 Leith Walk
An Edinburgh institution, you’ll find several Artisan Roasts across the city, and it goes without saying, the coffee is ace at all of them. The Leith shop is particularly good: with plenty of space, it hosts regular spoken-word and comedy events. 

Bing Tea
37 W Nicolson St
This tea shop is cute as a button. It serves up the classic milk tea flavours – Thai, Taro, Matcha – alongside fruity numbers and original concoctions like the popular Flaming Tiger and White Rabbit.

Cairngorm Coffee
1 Melville Pl
A bright corner cafe serving killer toasties and knockout coffee with their own roasted beans.

Cult Espresso
104 Buccleuch St
In a converted alleyway, Cult showcases an evolving range of speciality coffee from their own roastery and beyond.

66 Hamilton Pl
Your best place for a caffeine hit in Stocky. Expect superb single-origin coffees and tasty baked goods.

Hula Juice Bar
103-105 West Bow & 94A Fountainbridge
If juices and smoothies are more your bag, get yourself to Hula. Even on the gloomiest Edinburgh day, its vibrant beverages like Sunshine in a Cup or the Blue Hawaiian will put a spring in your step.

155 West Port
Gorgeous cafe with great homemade cakes and pastries and adorably quirky decor.

The Source
4 Spittal St
This tiny cafe and roaster with exciting, funky, small-batch espresso is a favourite of The Skinny team.

Williams & Johnson
1 Customs Wharf
It’s all sleek concrete and streamlined furnishings, but there’s nothing simple about the rich and delicious coffee.

Photo of a Black woman holding a cup of coffee on a wooden table. A croissant sits next to the cup.