7 of the Best Old Edinburgh Pubs to Have a Drink In - Made Scotland

7 of the Best Old Edinburgh Pubs to Have a Drink In

Looking for somewhere to have a drink? Whether you’ve visited Edinburgh or it’s on the list, you’ll know it is a city steeped in history and oozing with charm. From castles and palaces to cobblestone streets, craggy hilltops and views out to sea, there is a LOT to experience.

But the thing I really love is to leave the swanky wine bars and fancy restaurants to seek out Edinburgh’s old pubs. They’re brimming with character and history, and are the best way to immerse yourself in the city.

This is where you’ll find locals chilling and the more adventurous visitors to the city enjoying a drink in surroundings that haven’t changed for years. I love that I can sit in these places and they feel unchanged from when I sat there fresh-faced with friends 30 years ago. Here are the 7 best old pubs in Edinburgh to visit – you could do your own pub crawl and visit them all!

Tucked away down a narrow close off the Royal Mile, The Jolly Judge is a hidden gem loved by locals and those tourists who veer from the crowded Royal Mile. Dating back to the 19th century, this charming pub boasts low ceilings, exposed stone walls, and a cosy atmosphere that's perfect for enjoying a cold pint and a bag of crisps, a classic Scottish drinks combo.
 
Situated in Marchmont, 10 minute’s walk from Edinburgh’s city centre, the Argyll Bar oozes old-world charm with its ornate Victorian decor and welcoming buzzy vibe. It’s not fancy but it feels as though it’s been frozen in time, back to when people met without cell phones, carrying a folded newspaper under their arm. A warm retreat just a stone’s throw from the Meadows, here you’ll find young, old, dogs, locals, students, a real neighbourhood mish mash and it’s good.
 
Nestled in the cool, vibrant neighbourhood of Stockbridge, Hectors is a much-loved local institution known for its friendly staff, lively atmosphere, and impressive selection of craft beers. It’s a favourite haunt among beer enthusiasts but really this place is so cosy and cheery I’d struggle to find anyone who didn’t want to spend an hour or two here.  
 
Located in the elegant Georgian New Town, The Cumberland Bar is another traditional pub steeped in history and character. With its cosy interior, roaring fireplaces, and extensive range of real ales, it’s a charming step back in time. The quintessential Scottish pub experience and just enough off the beaten track to save it from the crowds.
 
Rick Stein called this pub the best pub in the world. Do I need to say more? A true Edinburgh institution, The Canny Man has been serving patrons for years and years. Located in the leafy suburb of Morningside, it’s a quirky pub, renowned for its eclectic decor, extensive whisky collection, and warm hospitality. The vintage paraphernalia covering every inch of wall space is a thing to marvel at. The food is really good here and the atmosphere is always warm and buzzing.
 
Sitting loud and proud on the corner of West Register Street, Café Royal is a historic landmark with a beautiful exterior, adding a touch of glamour to this Edinburgh street. Inside you’ll find ornate high ceilings, elegant furnishings and very good seafood. It’s almost too grand to be a pub but too late, she’s in! A truly luxurious drinking experience in the heart of Edinburgh.
 
Tucked away in a basement on Northumberland Street, one of Edinburgh New Town’s grandest streets, The Wally Dug has been going in some shape or form for over 200 years. It’s a tiny, cosy place (more than 30 people in there and it’s packed) and can be like an old man’s boozer or a raucous student bar, depending on when you go. Old world charm, traditional décor and a friendly welcome. They have live music on Thursdays and poke nights on Sundays.
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