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Student bars in Edinburgh: the best pubs for cheap drinks in Scotland’s capital

There are two essential truths of student life – you have no money and you should really be in the library 

Published: September 25, 2019

While it's counter-intuitive to try and deal with either of these problems by hitting the bar, the freedom to act illogically is basically what your college years are for. 

As important as it is to learn about Adam Smith or post-structuralism, it's great to have a few years before real adult life kicks in, where you can enjoy the privileges of being over 18 without taking on all of the responsibilities. 

To help you from going completely bankrupt in your first semester, here's a list of some of Edinburgh's most popular and best-priced student spots. 

Banshee Labyrinth

(29-35 Niddry St,  EH1 1LG)

Picture: Banshee Labyrinth

While the night for dressing up as sexy cats and murderous clowns comes but once a year, Banshee Labyrinth is brimming with ghouls and gothic vibes all across the calendar.

Scotland's most haunted bar has horror built into it – from the dungeon cells and historical details of its dark past to the urban legends concerning the banshee scream that haunted its construction. 

Aside from the undead activity, with seven rooms, three bars, pool tables and a cinema, it's got more going on than almost any bar in Edinburgh. 

Boozy Cow 

(17 Frederick St, EH2 2EY)

Picture: The Boozy Cow

The Boozy Cow donates all its profits to charity, making it the one place in Edinburgh where you can trade student loans for tequila slammers and know that you're making the world a better place. 

Though, in truth, you would be selling yourself way short by sticking to the student staples of shots and mixers. The Boozy Cow offers a vast array of complex cocktails and boozy (and non-boozy) milkshakes, containing everything from banana rum to pineapple vodka and Irn-Bru. 

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They run regular “flash deals” which can take up to 50 per cent off your bill. 

99 Hanover Street

(99 Hanover St, EH2 1DJ)

Picture: 99 Hanover Street

First off, it's real easy to find since the street name and number are right there in the title. 

Second off, its old-school style will make you feel like you're about to become embroiled in some sort of gothic murder mystery. Heavy drapes, lush leather furnishings and flickering candles put just the right amount of menace in the air. 

Price-wise, it’s definitely one for the week after your student loan comes in, but the range of deluxe cocktails and other fine refreshments makes it worth the cost.

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Bar Salsa

(3 Cowgatehead,  EH1 1JY)

Picture: Bar Salsa

Blasting (mostly non-salsa) music until 1am and serving up a stream of super-cheap drinks, Bar Salsa is the quintessential student party bar – trading in the volume in every way. 

With £1 shots, £1.50 bombs and £2.50 mixers, you would be hard-pressed to find a cheaper place to settle your nerves after a hard day buried amongst the bookshelves.

Describing itself as “Coyote Ugly v From Dusk till Dawn”, it's a down-and-dirty, cheap thrills establishment that packs the place out and turns up the music. 

The Hanover Tap

(112 Hanover St,  EH2 1DR)

Picture: The Hanover Tap

The woody, warmly-lit Hanover Tap has the feel of a mountain cabin, making it the perfect place to hide from the cold and relax with a pint. 

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It has a great range of draught offerings, as well as a beer fridge stocked with all kinds of hoppy nonsense. Best of all, that crafty beer can be yours for just £3 on Monday nights. 

For those not looking to stick to a liquid diet, the Tap has a menu full of enticing deals, with a different bar staple on promo every day of the week. The pick of the bunch might have to be Sunday's five for £14 small plates offer. 

The Pear Tree

(38 W Nicolson St,  EH8 9DD)

Picture: The Pear Tree

Once you've emerged from your winter cocoon and are ready to soak up the sun once more, The Pear Tree's beer garden is the place to be. 

Coming out of your last exam, you really can't do better than grabbing a pint or a pitcher and heading for the Pear Tree's beer garden, especially if there's something playing on its massive outdoor screen.

If all that has you feeling peckish, the menu features a great range of bar bites – why not indulge in a celebratory Haggis Cigar?

Finnegans Wake

(9b Victoria St,  EH1 2HE)

Picture: Finnegans Wake

For students looking for a literary flex, why not head to the pub named after James Joyce's mind-melting doorstop, Finnegan's Wake?

The Victoria Street joint is a quintessential Irish pub. They pour their Guiness right and have a gantry filled with whiskies to accompany it and with live music every night, the place is always buzzing.

It won't necessarily get you any extra marks on your modernism essay, but at least your parents will be proud when you tell them you spent four hours last Saturday lost in Finnegan's Wake. 

The Tron

(9 Hunter Square, Edinburgh EH1 1QW)

Picture: The Tron

A burger and a pint for £8! A pizza and a drink for £8.50! Lunch for nothing but a fiver!

Let's talk plainly – Edinburgh is an expensive place to be. 

So when you see a good thing, you've got to jump on it, and the deals at The Tron are some of the best going. 

A laid-back bar with a great range of drinks, it’s the perfect place for a casual pint, a post-exam bonanza or to take in the big game. 

The Chanter

(30 - 32 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AF)

Picture: The Chanter

With 9 TV screens, The Chanter is another excellent place to watch a game. 

The Lothian Road spot is a traditional sports bar with a wide selection of spirits and a great range of beers. 

For food, they've got all your comfort-eating favourites at comfortable prices. 25p pancakes, chicken wings at the same price and £5 burgers all feature amongst their food deals.  

Open early and shutting late, rounded out with retro video games and pool tables, this just might be your new term-time home. 


(26 George IV Bridge,  EH1 1EN)

Picture: Frankenstein

This broody bar offers something a little darker with vats of bubbling liquids and classic monster movies playing in the background. 

And down below the spooky bar is… a traditional German beer cellar. Don't concern yourself with the logic behind that combo, just grab a stein (that's two pints in one glass, guys) and fill it up with a foamy serving of high quality German beer. 

Whether you're there for the strudel or the scares, Frankenstein always offers something a little different. 

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