Edinburgh pubs and bars are one of the city’s real strengths, once you get beyond all those festivals and major cultural institutions of course. Important research by Edinburgh University in 2015 revealed there to be nearly double the booze outlets per square kilometre in the capital compared to Glasgow. That’s an average of 22 pubs per square kilometre across the city, with one Old Town area achieving a spectacular 198.5 pubs and bars in a single square km.
With such a vast selection there’s something here for everyone. Craft beer, fine wines, cosy pubs, sophisticated cocktail bars, not-so-sophisticated cocktail bars, rock bars, hipster bars, folkie pubs, sticky-floored student dives filled with lurid shots and the distinct aroma of vomit… Edinburgh’s pubs have it all, and then some.
Stag dos love to try their hand at the Rose Street Challenge, featuring a drink in each of the pubs and bars lined up in a convenient straight line parallel to the shiny style bars of George St and Princes St’s shopping thoroughfare. Tourists gravitate towards the Grassmarket, to sample some fine ales in traditional pubs from the Beehive to the hanging-themed The Last Drop.
A trio of cocktail bars regularly grace the best bar lists of the country and sometimes the world – Queen St’s Bramble and Lucky Liquor Co. and The Last Word down in Stockbridge all offer sophisticated drinks for the discerning booze hound. Near Edinburgh University, Paradise Palms offers live music and cocktails in a steampunk voodoo environment, while round the corner folk enthusiasts can enjoy live Scottish music and a wee dram in either Sandy Bell’s or the Royal Oak.
Leith Walk has undergone a speedy gentrification over the past decade, transformed in large part by the carefully designed bars that have popped up along its length in a series of old man pub renovations. The Swedish pubs – Sofi’s, Boda, Victoria and Joseph Pearce’s – kicked it all off by filling former dives with bright Scandinavian design and lovely cushions. They’ve since been joined by an ever-expanding roster of new openings, from Woodland Creatures to The Black Fox.
The craft beer revolution has come to Edinburgh in the form of the ever-popular Hanging Bat on Lothian Road, plus its sister bar Spit/Fire in the New Town. Scottish brewers are well represented in pubs across the city – look out for favourites including Pilot, Williams Brothers and Black Isle Brewery. The favoured local cider is Thistly Cross, available in 7%+ strength.
Here you’ll find the best guide to Edinburgh pubs and bars. Our annual Food and Drink Survey will tell you our readers’ favourite pubs, bars and drinks each year. If you’re organising an event or spot any information which needs listing or updating, let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org with the event and venue details.