10 Best Pubs in Edinburgh for a Wild Night or a Quiet Drink

A wee dram is just the thing to warm your heart on a cold day and you’re spoilt for choice in Edinburgh. There are many, many traditional pubs in Scotland’s capital, each with their own unique flavor, ambiance, clientele and selection of tipples. You’ll find some excellent fine ales, the best malt whisky in the world, and a wide range of imported drinks to satisfy any thirst.

One of the most beautiful traditional pubs in the capital is the Café Royal. This classic Victorian pub has a spectacular island bar, six large pictures composed of painted tiles on the wall depicting six famous Scottish inventors, wonderfully ornate cornices and woodwork, and an impressive selection of ales, wines and spirits.

If you want to enjoy a drink in atmospheric surroundings without having to shout then make for Cloisters. Real ale, great staff, dark wood, and a satisfying lack of music, make it a great choice for the mature drinker. You’ll find an interesting interior at the crowded, but cozy, Grassmarket pub The Last Drop. The name relates to the gallows and you’ll get a taste of Edinburgh’s macabre past in this pub.

The city center is very compact, so it’s the perfect place for pub crawls. Stop for one drink in each pub and see how far you can get, exploring the city and sampling different atmospheres as you go. It’s a great way to get to know the city and discover your favorite pub for the next time you visit.



Reverie is a relative newcomer but already has the feel of an Edinburgh institution. Although they are rightly proud of their selection of around eighty single malts, their inventive and imaginative cocktails and reasonably priced real ales also...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Simon Hill


Over the years Mathers pub has retained its ornate Victorian look - the hallmark of a traditional pub. The massive bar is made of heavy, beautifully carved wood, just beckoning you to pull up a stool and have a hand-pumped ale or bitter. Or...  Read More



Dating back to the 15th century, The King's Wark is everything a good pub should be. You'll find dark wood tables and floors inside, Scottish ales on tap, plenty of malt whisky, and a stunning menu. It's a friendly place in a great location on...  Read More



Joseph Pearce's is a lively and welcoming bar occupying an enviable position at the top of Elm Row. There has been a pub at the spot for over a century, but in more recent years it has been operated by the Independent Swedish publicans...  Read More



If you find yourself up in Morningside then you should certainly make time for a visit to The Waiting Room. This popular bar does a decent range of great value food and offers a fine selection of beer and lager on tap, and there's plenty of malt...  Read More



This busy Grassmarket pub is at the heart of Edinburgh's nightlife. It's a cozy pub that's always packed to bursting. It's popular with locals and visitors alike. The name derives from the gallows which once stood nearby, where there were public...  Read More

Halfway House


The Halfway House is a cozy, traditional pub located halfway up Fleshmarket Close, a winding cobbled lane in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. It is described by the proprietors as "Edinburgh's smallest and friendliest pub", and you won't find...  Read More



Renowned for its magnificent Victorian decor and tantalizing seafood dishes. This trendy restaurant is famous among all, including several well-known celebrities. Most popular selections from the menu include the oyster platter and the lobster...  Read More



This classic, dark wood-lined pub has a laid-back appearance and a laid-back staff to match. It used to be a church, hence the name and the ecclesiastical tone of many of the fixtures and fittings. Now it is the backdrop to the worship of real...  Read More



In the summer there's no better pub to head for in Edinburgh because the Pear Tree features a large suntrap beer garden and it is always busy with an eclectic range of people. It's especially busy during the festival thanks to its proximity to a...  Read More


Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

After...  More About Simon