5 walks around Edinburgh with great pubs along the way

Bob Steel, a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and author of Edinburgh Pub Walks, offers a guide to five of his favourite city walks that are punctuated with top class pubs.

Published 16th Jan 2017
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

Edinburgh is blessed with stunning scenery, outstanding architecture and - last, but certainly not least - excellent pubs.

What better weekend activity going for a stroll, taking in the capital's charms, and enjoying a pint or two on the way?

The Halfway House to The Bow Bar to The Blue Blazer


If you begin at Waverley, go straight up the stairs to Market Street and then take the stairs up to the Halfway House. That’s a great introduction to the city, you come out the station and go straight up this atmospheric close. It’s a great pub as well.

Then carry on up to the Royal Mile before taking a left onto Upper Bow. Take the stairs down and come out by the Bow Bar: a super little place, with a good atmosphere that’s great for beer - it’s a surprisingly new pub despite its authentic interior.

From there you can continue along the Grassmarket to the Blue Blazer - I’ve rarely had a bad beer in there.

Ideal for: Newcomers - this route allows walkers to enjoy just about every view of Edinburgh Castle, making it ideal for a tourist or a local looking to rekindle their love for the city.

Distance: 0.8 miles

The Cafe Royal to The Oxford Bar to Kays Bar

The Cafe Royal. Picture: TSPL

Starting off in the centre at the Cafe Royal, which has a fantastic interior, walk along Rose Street and carry on to Charlotte Square.

From there, turn right and double back on yourself along Young Street to the Oxford Bar, one of my very favourites in Edinburgh.

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Next, head down towards Jamaica Street to Kays Bar: it’s got a tremendous atmosphere and a fabulous selection of whiskys. It’s nice to have a stroll around the surrounding streets and admire the Georgian architecture.

From Kays you can snake down to Stockbridge in five minutes and head to the Stockbridge Tap.

Ideal for: Architecture lovers - this walk takes you from the fine interior of the renowned Cafe Royal through the stunning New Town.

Distance: 1.2 miles

Stockbridge Tap to the Malt and Hops to Teuchters Landing

The Stockbridge Tap. Picture: TSPL

Start at the Stockbridge Tap and take a beautiful stroll along the Water of Leith.

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Once you reach Leith your best two places are the Malt and Hops on the Shore and Teuchters Landing. Malt and Hops is a great, atmospheric place with a good selection of beers.

Ideal for: Beer lovers - The Stockbridge Tap, Malt and Hops and Teuchters Landing are all renowned for their ale selections.

Distance: 2.2 miles

Doctors to Dagda Bar to Leslie’s Bar or the Cask and Barrel

The Dagda Bar. Picture: Flickr

Start on the Royal Mile and head South along the George IV Bridge to Doctors on Forrest Road.

From there head onto the Meadows. Bear left past the tennis courts and come out on Buccleuch Street and head to the Dagda Bar - a lovely place, excellent beers, great atmosphere, it’s quite popular with students.

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From there you can head south towards Newington to Leslie’s Bar, I mainly like this bar because of its architecture. Alternatively you can finish at the Southside Cask and Barrel - it’s got a great variety of beers.

Architecture lovers can finish at Leslie’s and beer aficionados can head to the Cask and Barrel, or do both!

Ideal for: Students - the first two legs of this walk are hugely popular with students, making it a great walk for the intrepid fresher.

Distance: 1.3 to 1.7 miles

Sheep’s Heid Inn to the Auld Hoose

The Sheep Heid Inn
The Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston (Photo: JP)

For those looking for a challenge, head over Arthur’s Seat to the Sheeps Heid Inn in Duddingston.

It’s not a pub where the beer is top notch, but it’s a lovely old place with a fascinating history.

Return along the Innocent Railway path - that’ll bring you out at the foot of the hill and from there you can head to the Auld Hoose or the aforementioned Cask and Barrel.

It’s a bit more strenuous, but a great walk nonetheless.

Ideal for: Fitness fanatics - the walk up and down Arthur’s Seat is well trodden, but still an enjoyable challenge. If you’re all burnt out at the end you can top yourself up with a colossal portion of nachos at the Auld Hoose.

Distance: 3.2 miles

• Read more about the Campaign for Real Ale at camra.org.uk where you can also buy Bob Steel’s Edinburgh Pub Walks guide

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