There’s nothing worse than meeting someone new for a first date, only to discover the bar you've chosen is too bright, has a huge queue for drinks, or worse - it’s completely dead.

Finding a venue with the perfect combination of nice lighting, music at an appropriate volume and a good atmosphere without being crowded can be a minefield.

Here are 15 bars in Scotland’s capital that are first-date safe.

Empress of Broughton Street

25 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3JU

Picture: Empress of Broughton Street

Picture: Empress of Broughton Street

A brick wall and bare bulb style venue, Empress of Broughton Street has a laid-back playlist and friendly bar staff. It’s an easy going place for a first-date, but be warned, the quiz takes place on Wednesdays from 8pm and the pub gets crowded and noisy.

Salt Horse 

57-61, Blackfriars St, Edinburgh EH1 1NB

Picture: Salt Horse

Picture: Salt Horse

Just off the Royal Mile, this cool, cosy pub is perfect for beer lovers, with 12 keg lines of beer and 350 bottled and canned varieties. The knowledgeable, friendly staff can advise on different brews to taste, and there’s also a great selection of wine and gin if you’re not a beer geek.

Nauticus

142 Duke St, Edinburgh EH6 8HR

Picture: Nauticus

Picture: Nauticus

This sophisticated yet casual teal-coloured pub pays homage to Leith’s maritime history with seafaring antiques and quirky features hanging on the wall. It does great cocktails and there’s a simple menu of local pies and charcuterie if you fancy a snack.

The Blackbird

37-39 Leven St, Edinburgh EH3 9LH

Picture: Blackbird

Picture: The Blackbird

This Tollcross haunt has a great beer garden at the back of the pub. With colourful, quirky decor, great cocktails and a menu of hearty pub classics, it’s a safe choice for a first date. There are usually some decent drinks offers to boot.

Finn & Bear

58 The Shore, Edinburgh EH6 6RB

Picture: Finn & Bear

Picture: Finn & Bear

Located on the trendy Shore area of Leith, this bar has a laid-back vibe with a great selection of drinks and creative pub food. With lovely views over the Water of Leith, the terrace is perfect on a sunny afternoon and on cold days you can get cosy by the open fire. The quiz takes places on a Tuesday from 8.30pm.

The Last Word Saloon

44 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AL

Picture: The Last Word

Picture: The Last Word

Candle-lit and cosy, The Last Word is a lovely place to while away a couple of hours. There are good seating options, with bar stools, regular tables and comfy chairs. Friendly bar staff are on hand to provide table service and there’s a good selection of whiskies, wines, beers and cocktails.

Hoot the Redeemer

7 Hanover St, Edinburgh EH2 1DJ

Picture: Hoot the Redeemer

Picture: Hoot the Redeemer

Surprise your date by taking them to this dive bar right in the centre of town, with quirky touch points reminiscent of the 80s Tom Hanks film, Big. A vintage (and quite terrifying) tarot reader welcomes you at the front door, then inside you’ll find a retro claw crane machine, ice cream dispenser and eccentric drinks menu. It’s a good venue if you’re looking for something different.

The Devil’s Advocate

9 Advocate’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1ND

Picture: The Devil's Advocate

Picture: The Devil’s Advocate

This cool, two-level candle-lit bar is tucked away behind the Royal Mile and serves an eclectic collection of whiskies, inventive seasonal cocktails and a good selection of craft beers. A great place to take someone you want to impress.

The Basement

10a-12a Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3RH

Picture: The Basement

Picture: The Basement

If you’re looking for a lively date venue, this Mexican-themed bar is a fun place to enjoy unusual Mexican beers, Margaritas and nibbles (the guacamole is really good). It gets more raucous on weekend nights when the DJ hits the decks, but that can make for a good night.

Leith Depot

140 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 5DT

Picture: Leith Depot

Picture: Leith Depot

With regular live music upstairs in the small gig area, as well as groups of musicians doing turns on weeknights, this beloved Leith hangout is a cool place to take someone who’s into their music. It has quirky touch points such as old bus seats as chairs and the menu is geared towards veggies and pescatarians.

Indigo Yard

7 Charlotte Ln, Edinburgh EH2 4QZ

Picture: Indigo Yard

Picture: Indigo Yard

This spacious, laid-back venue has a good sized beer garden for sunny days. With high ceilings and rustic decor, it’s bright and airy during the day and trendy at night and does a good selection of pub food. It’s also well-located in the West End, not far from Haymarket station.

Teuchters 

26 William St, Edinburgh EH7 3NH

Picture: Teuchters

Picture: Teuchters

This traditional Scottish pub has an old-worldly feel with cosy fireplaces for chilly nights. The bar queue can get quite busy but it’s worth the wait for a great selection of craft beers and menu of Scottish pub food classics. Try the (ultimate) mac & cheese on the Teuchters mug menu if you get peckish. The Leith venue, Teuchters Landing, has a nice terrace area on the Water of Leith for sunny days.

Brass Monkey

14 Drummond St, Edinburgh EH8 9TU

Picture: Brass Monkey

Picture: Brass Monkey

 

Located near South Bridge, Brass Monkey is an easy-going bar for a date. There are daily cinema screenings at 3pm if you’re looking for a quirky day-time activity, or just go for a drink and help yourself to the selection of board games. The quiz is on a Wednesday at 9pm. There’s also a Leith Walk Brass Monkey.

Red Squirrel

21 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH1 2DJ

Picture: Red Squirrel

Picture: Red Squirrel

Conveniently located near Princes Street at the end of Lothian Road, this bar usually has a buzzy atmosphere. With ambient lighting, great beers and casual bites, Red Squirrel also has hidden booths at the back of the pub if you want some privacy for chatting.

Under the Stairs

3A Merchant St, Edinburgh EH1 2QD

Picture: Under the stairs

Picture: Under the stairs

A candle-lit basement bar, Under the Stairs has a living room feel, so make yourself at home. With a great selection of cocktails, it provides a welcome respite from the Cowgate and Grassmarket crowds. Classy and understated, it’s a cool choice for a first date, without being too try-hard.

About The Author

Crystal Chesters

Crystal is Digital Content Editor at JPI Media and writes for Scotsman Food & Drink on the latest restaurant openings, and best places to eat and drink around the country.

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