The best bars in Edinburgh

In search of a drinking den with a tad more edge than your traditional boozer? You'll find what you're looking for in our list of the best bars in Edinburgh

Edinburgh pubs and bars are closely linked but unidentical twins: the former are cosy retreats with an emphasis on chairs and chatter, while the latter favour a more stylish hang-out vibe you won't mind standing and mingling in. We'd hope you have room in your life for both - and a restaurant or two, too - but for nights when only a bar will do, the following options will see you right.

Edinburgh bars


Obviously favouring their own brand, the range of Brewdog beers on offer at their Edinburgh branch includes a handful of IPAs, a dangerously dark porter and – whisper it – a lager (unequivocally called ‘This. Is. Lager.’ for those in doubt). Home brews aside, there’s also a selection of top quality guest draughts, with Mikeller’s gluten-free ales, Weihenstephan and Brooklyn Lager all getting a look in.

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Old Town

The Southern

Set up in Edinburgh’s studenty southside, The Southern is as keen on its beer as Scotland is on its castles. There's a heap of options from local brewers such as Williams and Harviestoun, as well as a range of beers from around the globe.

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Holyrood 9A

Friendly bar staff help steer you as you ponder the 20-plus beer taps and the swell of bottled choices. There’s a none-too-surprising nod to local Scottish brewers, including Brewdog, Williams, Harviestoun and Stewart, along with a solid variety of rotating guest ales from Thornbridge, The Kernel and Magic Rock. Wine and cocktail seekers won’t be left wanting, and the half-litre carafe of house wine for £8 is particularly good value.

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The Blackbird attracts a hip-young-thing clientele who create a not-unpleasantly-busy atmosphere most nights of the week. Beers are typically either continental or craft, and the cocktail list is well curated too, with edgier titles like Shotgun Shoes and Unorthodox Behaviour backing up the more traditional mojito, daiquiri and cobbler crowd.

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Blackfriars appeals squarely and exclusively to the middle-class drinker, and is in no way ashamed of it. If you need evidence, just witness the bare brick walls, wooden floors and exposed girders, not to mention the small but carefully curated selection of tastefully pricey craft beers sold by the schooner and the just-this-side-of-pretentious snack menu (olives, churros, chips with béarnaise sauce).

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Old Town

The Cafe Royal

This elegant Victorian boozer is something of an Edinburgh institution. There's a decent clutch of ales on tap, from faithfuls such as Deuchars to rotating ales from the islands and highlands of Scotland. Whisky lovers have plenty to warm their cockles too, with a 30-heavy malt whisky list dedicated to the cause, featuring, among others, a cheeky 18 year-old Macallan.

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City centre

The City Cafe

A kitschy American diner by day, The City Caff becomes a pre-club party joint by night: cocktail and beer pitchers are the main event, and on the weekends guest and resident DJs will spin funk, hip hop and house tracks to get you in the mood for the dancefloor.

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Old Town


An extended home-away-from-home for the local Leithers, young professionals and hipsters, this little(ish) space is littered with quirky vintage-style armchairs and comfy lived-in sofas. A small bar with big ideas, Boda offers a drinks menu for all seasons, with decent beers, local gins and a good selection of wines and cocktails, although snacks are limited to the odd cheeseboard.

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Opened in early 2014, Usher’s of Edinburgh is the latest craft beer bar to hit Edinburgh’s burgeoning scene. There are some great ales on tap here from brewers such as Alechemy, Stewart, Drygate, West and Tempest, and super-friendly bar staff man the pumps. Those in exclusively for a pint can grab a seat on the benches by the front, which have the added bonus of being near the big sports screen.

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The Hanging Bat

The Hanging Bat is a peculiarity on the Edinburgh bar scene, in that it seems to have jettisoned most bar-like elements in case they get in the way of appreciating a good (read: craft) beer. Foregoing cocktail lists, dimly lit corners and even full-size pint glasses, it's an altar to the creation and appreciation of the not-so-humble brewski.

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West End