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10 Best Pubs in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s pub scene has as much potential to entertain, cajole and capitvate as a week at the Fringe. From old Victorian icons to saloons that evince a new breed of public house, the pub landscape in the city is as rich and diverse as the ingredients in a Scotch pie.

The problem for tourists who venture out of hotels in Edinburgh in search of a decent pint, however, is where, exactly, to go. You can never judge a pub by its exterior – or interior for that matter – which is why it helps to have a handy little guide. Check out our ten favourite pubs in Edinburgh.

Malt & Hops
45 The Shore

As a primer to Edinburgh pub culture, Malt & Hops is a no-nonsense poster child. The Leith pub is on the water, pours a good ale and has a toasty hearth.

Leith waterfront – Photo credit

The Guildford Arms
1-5 West Register Street

While close proximity to Waverley Station is one obvious plus for the venerable Guildford, the real draw here is the choice selection of cask ales. Good pub fare helps cushion that extra pint and single malt.

Photo credit

The Bow Bar
80 West Bow

The Bow Bar’s comprehensive stash of whisky borders on the ridiculous. Our advice: order up a cask ale, sip slowly and peruse the single malts carefully before you move up to the strong stuff.

West Bow, Edinburgh – Photo credit

The Oxford Bar
8 Young Street

While outsiders may find it prohibitively difficult to penetrate the very soul of the quasi-sectarian haunt of Inspector Rebus, this is a case where it pays to try, try again. With roots in the early 19th century, The Ox is a gem of a pub.

Photo credit

The Cloisters
26 Brougham Street

The emphasis at this Stockbridge hole is less on aesthetics and much more on killer ales on tap. Which is just where we like our pub proprietor priority to be. Now try to say that five times fast.

Brougham Street, Edinburgh – Photo credit

Kay’s Bar
39 Jamaica Street

A first-rate West End pub, Kay’s doles out solid drink and grub in a convivial Victorian milieu with two hundred years of history behind it.

Starbank Inn
60-64 Laverockbank Road

The Starbank is out of the way for most mainstream visitors to Edinburgh but the trip outside the tourist drag is worth it. Throw down a couple of cask ales, have the ploughman’s lunch, stumble out and meander along Newhaven and the Firth of Forth.

Newhaven scenery – Photo credit

Café Royal
19 West Register Street

The Circle Bar at Café Royal may just be the most elegant place to quaff a pint in New Town Edinburgh. From the Royal Doulton tiles to the branché menu (have the shellfish in-season and local cheese plate), the West Register pub has charm galore.

Fish and chips at Café Royal - Photo credit

3 Rose Street

The Abbotsford is a decidedly masculine lair, with a glorious Edwardian island bar that is a bona fide work of art. The pub’s Above restaurant serves a hearty, straightforward supper.

Photo credit

229 Leith Walk

Hip and funky Boda blends traditional beer den ethos with sleek Scandinavian accents (the owners hail from Sweden). Chomp on some moose meat, have a drink, enjoy the free WiFi and bask in the bohemian vibe of this Leith pub.

Photo credit

3 Comments for "10 Best Pubs in Edinburgh"

James says on March 29th, 2011 at 2:55 pm:

Hi Ian,

Abbotsford is my favorite pub. I loved going there.

I liked all of the photos that you used but I would suggest you to use frames with your photos in this post.


wlsnclark says on January 25th, 2013 at 10:29 pm:

Thanks for this great info. Pubs and bars are the best place or venue for any event and also for enjoy with full fun and entertainment. It is the place, where we can get all facilities during the holidays.


  1. Tiago

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