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

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

The Bow Bar

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.

Visit: 80 West Bow, EH1 2HH –

Cloisters Bar

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.

Visit: 26 Brougham Street, EH3 9JH –


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.

Visit: 44A Constitution Street, EH6 6RS –

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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.

Visit: 159-161 Bruntsfield Place, EH10 4DG –

Sandy Bell’s

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.

Visit: 25 Forrest Road, EH1 2QH –

The Stockbridge Tap

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

Visit: 2-6 Raeburn Place, EH4 1HN –

The Cambridge Bar

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.

Visit: 20 Young Street, EH2 4JB –

Salt Horse

It has only been open for around two 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.

Visit: 57-61 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB –

The Blue Blazer

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.

Visit: 2 Spittal Street, EH3 9DX –

Thistle Street Bar

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.

Visit: 39 Thistle Street, EH2 1DY –

The Guildford Arms

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.

Visit: 1 West Register Street, EH2 2AA –

Paradise Palms

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.

Visit: 41 Lothian Street, EH1 1HB –

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Jeremiah’s Taproom

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.

Visit: 7-8 Elm Row, EH7 4AA –

The Jolly Judge

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.

Visit: 7 James Court, 493 Lawnmarket, EH1 2PB –

The Cumberland

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.

Visit: 1-3 Cumberland Street, EH3 6RT –

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