15 Edinburgh pubs and bars with an incredible atmosphere

There are pubs and bars galore in Edinburgh, but your mood can often dictate the drinking destination you choose.

Published 30th Mar 2018
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

If you're looking for somewhere with a buzzing atmosphere, here are the best places to go in Scotland's capital.

The Bow Bar

(80 West Bow, EH1 2HH)

The inviting Bow Bar is a popular venue for weekend revellers (Photo: Contributed)

The inviting Bow Bar is a popular venue for weekend revellers. Picture: Contributed

Traditional and with few frills, The Bow Bar fills up at weekends, but always has a party atmosphere and some fantastic whiskies and beers on offer.

Cloisters Bar

(26 Brougham Street, EH3 9JH)


Cloisters Picture: TSPL

Housed in a former church house, Cloisters is an inviting space where you can cosy up at long tables and enjoy cask ales, malt whiskies and great conversation with friends.


(44A Constitution Street, EH6 6RS)

Nobles Cafe Bar

Picture: TSPL

Nestled in the heart of Leith not too far from the Shore, Nobles is a friendly neighbourhood bar serving creative cocktails and craft beers, as well as old favourites.


(159-161 Bruntsfield Place, EH10 4DG )

Montpeliers Edinburgh

Montpeliers, Bruntsfield Picture : Ian Georgeson

Popular with the after-work crowd, Montpeliers gets lively in the evenings and weekends, but has plenty of space for everyone, including tables outside for summer nights.

Sandy Bell's

(25 Forrest Road, EH1 2QH )

17 things you (probably) didn't know about Irn-Bru


Regularly hosting live traditional Scottish music, there's always a party happening at folk bar Sandy Bell's - and they've got some great beer, too.

The Stockbridge Tap

(2-6 Raeburn Place, EH4 1HN)

Relaxed but with an impressive selection of drinks, The Stockbridge Tap is always bustling with locals and visitors alike.

Gleneagles Townhouse to open a martini lounge

The Cambridge Bar

(20 Young Street, EH2 4JB)

Picture: TripAdvisor

Known locally for their tasty burgers, The Cambridge Bar is a bit of a hidden gem (tucked away behind George Street) and often screens sports games live, making the pub a lively but comfortable spot to spend a few hours.

Salt Horse

(57-61 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB)

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: Salt Horse

It has only been open for around three years, but relative newcomer Salt Horse has already cultivated a consistently welcoming atmosphere for craft beer lovers, who can enjoy a few brews in the intimate bar before visiting the attached bottle shop.

The Blue Blazer

(2 Spittal Street, EH3 9DX) 

Son of Runrig legend brings hit Highland coffee brand Birch to summer festival The Reeling

Built in 1867, The Blue Blazer isn't looking too bad for 151 years old, and this traditional pub is still a brilliant place to spend a night out.

Thistle Street Bar

(39 Thistle Street, EH2 1DY)

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: TripAdvisor

Parallel to George Street on the quieter Thistle Street, this pub has a wide selection of whisky and gin, a real fire and affordable prices (by Edinburgh standards, at least), which might be why it always has a fun and vibrant atmosphere.

The Guildford Arms

(1 West Register Street, EH2 2AA)

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: Trip Advisor

Owned and operated by the Stewart family since 1896, the Victorian Guildford Arms is a stunning space, with plenty of room for revellers.

Slightly off the beaten track on West Register Street, tourists are unlikely to stumble upon this bar by accident, but there will be plenty of locals to chat to.

Paradise Palms

(41 Lothian Street, EH1 1HB)

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: PP

With regular live music performances and DJ sets, Paradise Palms is a cool one-stop shop where you can eat, drink and dance, and it's always bustling without being crushed.

Jeremiah's Taproom

(7-8 Elm Row, EH7 4AA)

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: TripAdvisor

The family and dog-friendly Jeremiah's Taproom on Elm Row has a traditional set up with contemporary decor, and has plenty of space for customers to sit down or gather around the horseshoe bar.

The Jolly Judge

(7 James Court, 493 Lawnmarket, EH1 2PB )

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: TripAdvisor

Small but perfectly formed, The Jolly Judge in the Old Town is known for its friendly staff and regulars, and its cosy, intimate atmosphere will win you over in an instant.

The Cumberland

(1-3 Cumberland Street, EH3 6RT)

Edinburgh pubs and bars

Picture: Facebook Cumberland Bar

The place to go on a summer's day, The Cumberland's beer garden is always a great place to be when the sun is out.

Even if you have to move things indoors, the spacious pub is a great place for a fun night out.

7 of the best traditional pubs to check out in Edinburgh during the festival

Copyright ©2024 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram