Edinburgh is home to many bars and pubs, so whether you’re looking for a stylish bar with cocktails, or a friendly pub with lots of beer, you’ll definitely find what you’re after in this city!
When we visited Edinburgh we had no clue where to start when it came to going out for a drink, so we asked our friends for recommendations, and below I’ve outlined the highlights of our drinking antics…
George Street is located a few minutes walk from the main shopping district in Edinburgh, and is home to a range of swanky bars serving up cocktails into the late hours.
The first bar we went to (on recommendation) was Tigerlily, which is located at the far west end of George Street.
This bar is quite impressive, even from the outside, being placed in a grand building and having amazing decoration throughout. On entrance you’re welcomed by a flower wall, and a big bar in the centre of the first room – which we thought was the only room at this point. But, when you walk further down the back there are more seating areas, another large bar, and a restaurant!
We only had time for one drink here, but drinks prices were fairly standard for cocktails, being around £9 each. We sat in a cozy area in-between the main bar and the restaurant, and we were also given table service which was a nice touch.
This bar is actually also a boutique hotel with 33 rooms on offer and priced at around £100 per night (depending on dates, availability and room type).
What I thought was interesting was that this bar was owned by a larger company, along with a few other bars in the city centre, and they were doing a Christmas special offer… you could buy a wristband for £4 and for the rest of your time out you can get a range of cocktails for £4 each – such a bargain!
This bar is just a few doors down from Tigerlily and is an underground/basement bar. Similar to Tigerlily it has an impressive entrance with a flower wall, and a central bar inside.
Copper Blossom is much smaller than Tigerlily and has a more upbeat vibe. It reminded me of somewhere like All Bar One. For us, we didn’t think it was as nice as Tigerlily, but it’s still worth a visit if you’re on a cocktail bar crawl.
Similar to other bars on George Street, Contini is housed in a grand building with a large bar in the centre of the hall. We didn’t get a change to visit Contini, but from the outside looking in, it looked amazing!
We didn’t visit Tonic on our trip, but since getting back and looking at the pictures online, I didn’t realise where or what Tonic was… on our way to Tigerlily we crossed the road and I spotted (what I thought) was a Christmas style alpine bar… turns out, it was Tonic!
Tonic is a cocktail bar with live resident DJ’s, and an award-winning cocktail menu. Kind of gutted we didn’t go here now…
At the far east side of George Street is The Dome, which is a must visit if you’re in Edinburgh (especially at Christmas time).
This popular restaurant and bar gets booked up super far in advance, and their website recommends bookings for food are to be made 18 months in advance – crazy! Luckily, we were able to get a booking for 9:30pm in the restaurant, but they do have a limited number of walk in requests available too.
The bar in this place was incredible, with a huge Christmas tree positioned on top of the central bar, and decorations throughout.
We stayed at the brand new Malmaison City Centre (opened on 6th December), and we had heard good things about the hotel bar before we went so I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The interior decor is amazing, with subtly colour changing lights under the foliage covered ceiling. The drinks are standard price as the rest of Edinburgh with a Pornstar Martini costing £9.50. Before we visited I’d seen a review of the bar, stating that it was possibly the best Pornstar Martini they’d had in their life… and I have to agree!
Whilst the Malmaison isn’t located directly on George Street, it’s located a 1 minute walk away from the Dome on St Andrew’s Square.
We came across Rose Street on our last day when we were wandering around the City Centre, located a few streets down from George Street and behind Princes Street.
On Rose Street you’ll find a host of friendly local pubs, most of them independent traders too (which I love). This street serves an excellent purpose for anyone looking to do a bar crawl in the centre of Edinburgh.
Some of the best bars down here include Dirty Dick’s, Rose & Crown, The Black Cat, The Kenilworth, Element, Milnes Bar, and Abbotsford.
In the middle of the old town you’ll find a line-up of good bars and pubs on Grassmarket.
On the corner of Grassmarket you’ll find the Cold Townhouse which looks up towards the castle. This bar is made up of smaller rooms/bars over a few floors.
The reason we visited this bar was because there is a rooftop which overlooks the castle, and it’s got a cute alpine theme going on. We headed here first on a little bar crawl of Grassmarket, as the rooftop closes at 10pm.
I thought it would be absolutely rammed when we were there given the time of year and the location, but on a Monday night we turned out to be one of the only two couples on the rooftop!
On the second floor you’ll find a Pizza and Prosecco bar which sounds absolutely amazing, and on the ground floor is another bar with live music, which also serves food.
The Last Drop
A few pubs down you’ll find the Last Drop, which we were recommended to visit. We went there for a drink after the Cold Townhouse, and after seeing the food menu we knew we had to go back for a proper pub lunch.
On a Monday night this place was pretty quiet, and closed at around 11pm, but the signs in the pub showed that it was more lively on the weekends with live music.
We re-visited this pub on our last day for lunch, and it really didn’t disappoint. We shared their classic burger, and mac and cheese, and we shared a chocolate brownie for dessert… it was incredible food and exactly what you want from a pub lunch.
Again, on recommendation we went to Biddy Mulligan’s towards the end of our night, and this place was open the latest out of all the pubs on Grassmarket – being open until 2am on a Monday!
This place is a traditional Irish Bar and had live music when we went in which was such a good vibe. It seemed to be some sort of student night when we went there, with cheap drinks and lots of youngen’s… did make me feel a bit old!
But, this was the perfect place to end our night out, and I’d highly recommend you visit here if you’re heading to Grassmarket.
Also in the old town and close to Grassmarket, you’ll find Cowgate, which during the day looks extremely run down… however, in the evening I would assume becomes a hub for students to party into the early hours of the morning.
We were recommended to visit the Three Sisters and BrewDog when we were here, but we didn’t get round to it, having only 2 nights in the city.
When we walked past the Three Sisters during the day, we didn’t even realise on first look that it was the pub we were recommended, because it seemed to have been taken over by the Festive Cinema Club – an outdoor cinema company located in the grounds of the Three Sisters.
Did I miss one of your favourite bars or pubs? Let me know in the comments where you would recommend I visit if I go back!