17 best pubs and bars in Scotland according to The Good Pub Guide 2021

How many of these fantastic spots have you tried?

Published 16th Dec 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

The Good Pub Guide has released its highly-anticipated list of the top 5,000 pubs for food and drink in the UK.

Included are the 17 best pubs in the whole of Scotland, from traditional haunts in cities to quaint watering holes in seaside villages. 

After a devastating year for establishments across the country, pub-goers will be hopeful that 2021 is more normal, so they can enjoy the very best quality food and drink that Scotland has to offer.

You can purchase the book, currently priced at £12.65, on Amazon.

So without further ado, here are the best pubs in Scotland, according to the Good Pub Guide.


Applecross Inn

(Shore St, Applecross, Strathcarron IV54 8LR)

best pubs Scotland
Applecross Inn (Picture: Facebook)

This friendly pub is perfect for those travelling on the scenic North Coast 500, especially if you’re a seafood lover.

But be warned, it’s a popular spot and the pub is always busy with tourists - so book your meal or stay well in advance.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Isolated pub on famously scenic route on west coast, with particularly friendly welcome, real ales and good seafood.”

Open 11am-11.30pm; 11am-midnight Sat; 12.30-11 Sun, two-course evening meal £25.00, www.applecrossinn.co.uk

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The Abbotsford

(3-5 Rose St, Edinburgh EH2 2PR)

best pubs Scotland
The Abbotsford (Picture: Facebook)

If a period-style pub is your thing, look no further than Abbotsford in Edinburgh. 

Popular with locals as well as tourists, the lavish Edwardian interior provides an inviting atmosphere, and there’s a great choice of real ales.

The Good Pub Guide says: “The atmosphere of this handsome bar in the centre of Edinburgh is invitingly lively. Little changes here, which is just how the wide mix of local customers like it.”

Open 11-11; 11am-midnight Fri, Sat, two-course evening meal £21.00, www.theabbotsford.com

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The Bow Bar

(80 W Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH)

best pubs Scotland
Bow Bar (Picture: Facebook)

This cosy wee pub does what all good watering holes are supposed to, keeping you warm while offering a variety of tasty beers, real ales and malts.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Cosy, enjoyably unpretentious pub with an excellent choice

of well kept beers. Strong on traditional values, this is an honest pub and a bastion of simple stand-up drinking.”

Open 12-midnight, www.thebowbar.co.uk

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Guildford Arms

(1 W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA)

best pubs Scotland
Guildford Arms (Picture: Facebook)

You can’t go wrong with a visit to this Victorian-style haunt, with its friendly, casual atmosphere and comforting pub grub.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Busy and friendly with spectacular Victorian décor, a marvellous range of real ales and good food. This is an easy-going, much loved bar with splendid Victorian décor.”

Open 11-11; 11am-midnight Thurs-Sat, two-course evening meal £20.00, www.guildfordarms.com


Kays Bar

(39 Jamaica St, Edinburgh EH3 6HF)

best pubs Scotland
Kay's Bar (Picture: Facebook)

Another Victorian pub, this welcoming spot is slightly off the beaten track and is as cosy as it is good value.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Cosy, enjoyably chatty backstreet pub with good value lunchtime food and an excellent choice of well kept beers. A friendly little backstreet pub, it’s surprisingly untouristy.”

Open 11am-midnight; 11am-1am Fri, Sat; 12.30-11 Sun, www.kaysbar.co.uk


The Ship Inn

(The Toft, Elie, Leven KY9 1DT)

The Ship Inn (Picture: Facebook)

Ask any local in the quaint coastal town of Elie, and they’ll recommend a trip to The Ship which is famous for its spectacular sea views, good food and attractive boat-themed bar.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Busy seaside inn with stunning outlook, bustling bar, two-level dining rooms, tasty food and seats on the terrace. The position of this pub is really special.”

Open 10.30am-11pm, Mon-Thurs, Sun; 10.30am-midnight Fri, Sat, two-course evening meal £25.00, www.shipinn.scot


Bon Accord

(153 North St, Glasgow G3 7DA)

Bon Accord (Picture: Facebook)

A traditional pub, Bon Accord is usually packed with locals and tourists alike. As well as great value, tasty grub there’s a huge choice of drinks, with hundreds of malt whiskies alone. 

The Good Pub Guide says: “Remarkable choice of drinks, a good welcome and bargain food. This traditional, often bustling bar has several linked rooms.”

Open 11-11 Mon; 11-midnight; 12.30-11, two-course evening meal £14.00, www.bonaccordpub.com


The Bonnie Badger

(Main St, Gullane EH31 2AB)

best pubs Scotland
The Bonnie Badger (Picture: Facebook)

This famously good inn is owned by Michelin chef Tom Kitchin, so you can expect the food to be of another level. The welcoming spot also has an attractive terraced garden area.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Renovated inn with stylish décor, good choice of drinks, exceptional food and seats in terraced garden. While food is obviously king here, there’s always a warm welcome for those who just want a drink and a chat.”

Open 8am-11pm Mon-Thurs, Sun; 8am-1am, two-course evening meal £27.00, www.bonniebadger.com


The Steam Packet

(Harbour Row, Isle of Whithorn, Newton Stewart DG8 8LL)

The Steam Packet (Picture: Facebook)

Nestled in the quayside of a picturesque fishing village, this no-nonsense, family-run inn is a popular place for delicious food and stunning waterside views.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Waterside views from friendly inn with up to eight real ales and tasty food. This family-run inn sits right on the quayside in a pretty fishing village.”

Open 11-11; 12-11 Sun, two-course evening meal £20.00, www.thesteampacketinn.biz


Kilchrenan Inn

(Taynuilt, Kilchrenan PA35 1HD)

best pubs Scotland
Kilchrenan Inn (Picture: Facebook)

A stunning, converted 18th-century trading post, Kilchrenan Inn is near the spectacular Loch Awe and offers great food and tasty ales, wines, gins and malts, as well as three comfortable bedrooms. 

The Good Pub Guide says: “Close to the banks of Loch Awe with good food, Scottish drinks,

friendly owners and seats outside.  It’s a beautiful drive to reach the inn along Loch Awe.”

Open 5-10 Mon, Tues; 12-11 Weds, Thurs; 12-midnight Fri, Sat; 1-10 Sun, two-course evening meal £23.00, www.kilchrenaninn.co.uk


Meikleour Arms

(Meikleour, Blairgowrie PH2 6EB)

Meikleour Arms (Picture: Facebook)

Look no further than this warm, welcoming 19th-century pub if you’re seeking quality food and drinks. It’s award-winning for a reason. 

The Good Pub Guide says: “Beautifully furnished inn with genuinely welcoming, helpful staff

and interesting food. It’s part of the Meikleour Estate, and there’s a lot to see and do nearby, including one of the best salmon beats in Scotland.”

Open 10am-11pm, two-course evening meal £22.00, www.meikleourarms.co.uk


Burts Hotel

(Market Square, Melrose TD6 9PL)

Burts Hotel (Picture: Facebook)

Situated in the charming borders town of Melrose, this 18th-century hotel is family run and is well-known for its good food and comfortable lodgings. It’s only a short walk from the burial site of Robert The Bruce.

The Good Pub Guide has voted this pub as Scotland Dining Pub of the Year.

It says: “Comfortable town-centre hotel with imaginative food and a fine array of malt whiskies. This delightful, family-run hotel has a welcoming bar as well as an elegant restaurant.”

Open 12-2; 6-9, two-course evening meal £26.00, www.burtshotel.co.uk


Plockton Hotel

(41 Harbour St, Plockton IV52 8TN)

best pubs Scotland
Plockton Hotel (Picture: Facebook)

If you’re lucky enough to visit the Highland village of Plockton, you’ll fall in love with its seaside scenery and palm trees - and the fantastic seafood at the Plockton Hotel.

The Good Food Guide says: “Well run small hotel with wonderful views, very good food with

emphasis on local seafood and real ales. If you can, grab a table in the sea-front garden of this welcoming little hotel for a view out past Plockton’s trademark palm trees.”

Open 11am-midnight, two-course evening meal £21.00, www.plocktonhotel.co.uk


Bridge Inn

(27 Baird Rd, Ratho, Newbridge EH28 8RA)

best pubs Scotland
Bridge Inn (Picture: Facebook)

This popular canal-side 18th-century pub is traditional and warm, with a cosy bar area and plenty of good food on offer. 

The Good Pub Guide says: “Canalside inn with cosy bar and airy restaurant, a thoughtful choice of drinks and enjoyable food. The pub is very much the heart of the village, attracting a good mix of customers and offering a warm welcome to all.”

Open 9am-11pm; 9am-midnight Fri, Sat, two-course evening meal £23.00, www.bridgeinn.com


Shieldaig Bar

(Shieldaig, Strathcarron IV54 8XN)

Shieldaig Bar (Picture: Facebook)

Seafood lovers will be well-satisfied at this modern-but-casual bar-restaurant, just at the edge of Loch Shieldaig where you may be treated to an otter or sea-eagle sighting. 

The Good Pub Guide says: “Wonderfully set contemporary bar with real ales and fresh seafood. The view over forested Shieldaig Island to Loch Torridon and then out to the sea beyond is stunning.”

Open 11-11, two-course evening meal £25.00, www.shieldaigbarcoastalkitchen.co.uk


Sligachan Hotel

(Sligachan, Isle of Skye IV47 8SW)

best pubs Scotland
Sligachan Hotel (Picture: Facebook)

Found on the captivating Isle of Skye, Sligachan hotel is a renowned gathering place for mountaineers, climbers and hikers alike. Perfect for some impressive food after a hard day’s walking.

The Good Pub Guide says: “Spectacularly set mountain hotel with walkers’ bar and plusher side, all-day food and impressive range of whiskies. Unsurprisingly, this historic climbers’ hotel on the Isle of Skye sits close to some of the most testing walks in Britain, with stunning scenery in every direction.”

Open 9am-12.30am, two-course evening meal £21.00, www.sligachan.co.uk


Wheatsheaf Hotel

(Main St, Swinton, Duns TD11 3JJ)

Wheatsheaf Hotel (Picture: Facebook)

This rustic-yet-civilised hotel in the Scottish Borders is home to a small bar and great-quality food, making it a popular haunt for locals and those passing through. 

The Good Pub Guide says: “Civilised place with small bar for drinkers, comfortable lounges,

top quality food and drinks and professional service. This is a pretty village just a few miles from the River Tweed.”

Open 11-11; 11-midnight Fri, Sat, two-course evening meal £20.00, www.eatdrinkstaywheatsheaf.com

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