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Drinking in Edinburgh


Edinburgh provides plenty of opportunities to raise a glass and shout ‘slàinte’! Whatever your cup of (Long Island Iced) tea, the Scottish capital offers some of the best drinking experiences in all of Britain.

Real Ale Pubs in Edinburgh

  • Cloisters Bar – Tollcross

8162366668_77e2d1a427_oSituated on a quiet street between Tollcross and the Meadows, Cloisters Bar is a nice oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city. The converted church is also an impressive location for a pint of real ale. Although Cloisters serve food, their primary focus is definitely on the beer, and they have a particularly strong selection of local ales in stock.

The Sheep’s Heid has the distinction of being Scotland’s oldest pub – but it doesn’t rely on its history alone to draw in customers. A healthy walk through Holyrood Park will build up an appetite for something frothy, and the Sheep’s Heid does not disappoint. If you’re also looking for entertainment, the Sheep’s Heid also has a fully working skittle alley in the back room to keep you amused.

Although it’s strange to talk of hidden gems on Edinburgh’s busiest street, the Guildford Arms is exactly that. The opulent Victorian decor and the quirky triangular layout make this a pub you will never forget. For those in the know about real ale, the Guildford Arms is head and shoulders above the rest.

Other real ale pubs in Edinburgh: Teuchters, Brew Dog, Canny Mans

Cocktail Bars in Edinburgh

It’s easy to walk past Bramble Bar without knowing it’s there. Tucked away down a narrow staircase,  the trendy cocktail bar is one of the city’s hippest hidden watering holes. Bramble Bar pride themselves on their unique cocktails, as well as old classics that have been long-forgotten.

Bon Vivant takes cocktails seriously – with delicious results. They also serve delicious Scottish tapas to perfectly accompany their alcoholic concoctions. The Bon Vivant certainly lives up to its French name: someone with a taste for the finer things in life.

Just past the boisterous end of the Grassmarket, Dragonfly is an intimate and secluded venue, famed for its independent and laid-back attitude. Open to group bookings and even cocktail classes, its a great option to kick off a hen weekend.

Other cocktail bars in Edinburgh: Under the Stairs, The West Room, The Last Word Saloon

Beer Gardens in Edinburgh

The Beehive is the proud owner of one of the best beer gardens in the UK. How many beer gardens give you a view of a castle, precariously placed on a rock? The Beehive beer garden has a multi-tiered layout, meaning there’s plenty of space and sun for everyone.

  • Cargo – Fountainbridge

Cargo’s beer garden is more of a canal than a garden. When the sun shines, the tables surrounding the canal fill up fast, as everyone wants a piece of the waterside action. There’s simply nothing better than enjoying your pint and watching the boats go by at their leisurely pace.

At the first drop of sunshine, the Meadows fill with sun worshippers and barbecues. The Links on the Bruntsfield side of the Meadows has beer garden aplenty, as well as a quality drink and food menu to keep everyone happy.

Other beer gardens in Edinburgh: The Peartree, The Three Sisters, Indigo Yard

Whisky in Edinburgh

Of course, no run down of drinking in Edinburgh would be complete without a mention of the ‘water of life’ – whisky. Edinburgh is the capital city of the home of whisky, and any visitor is spoilt for choice when it comes to Scotch.

For more on distillery tours, tastings and whisky shops, read our guide to whisky in Edinburgh.