Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Are you looking for a nice Pub to rest your feet after a busy day of sightseeing along Edinburgh’s busy Royal Mile? Lucky for you, Edinburgh boasts more Pubs per square mile than any other city in the entire UK. Which obviously makes it quite hard to choose one, so here are my top 5 traditional Pubs to visit in the city centre.
The Last Drop
74-78 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JR
A historical Pub along the Grassmarket, with great food options – a lovely place to stop for lunch and a Pint or two. The pub name is actually meant to be a wordplay – the Grassmarket used to be the place for public hangings, and so obviously the name refers to the last drop from the gallows. However, the Last Drop was also the pub that convicts were led into to have their last drop, or last drink, before being hanged. The pub interior has enthusiastically taken up this theme and decorated their lamps with hangman’s nooses. It’s cosier than it sounds!
If you want to learn more about the history of the Grassmarket and Edinburgh’s Old Town, why not join our self-guided tour of Edinburgh: https://www.pandemictoursapp.com/edinburgh-old-town
White Hart Inn
32 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
There are many great Pubs along the Grassmarket, and the White Hart Inn is another one of my favourites, especially for its history. It is Edinburgh’s oldest Pub, and rumour has it that this is the Pub where Edinburgh’s famous serial killers Burke and Hare picked up their victims, before killing them and selling their bodies to the School of Anatomy in the 19th century.
Apparently, the pub is still haunted, although I haven’t seen the resident ghost yet.
80 W Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH
Even though this Pub is situated on busy Victoria Street, it is surprising how many people walk past it without noticing it.
This Pub has an excellent selection of whisky and a rotating selection of beers. A must-visit!
7 James Court, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2PB
This is a lovely little Pub hidden down a set of stairs just behind the Writer’s museum. It is small and cosy, with a fire on winter days. It tends to get full quickly, but if you are lucky enough to get a seat, try one of their beers or whiskies, they have a great selection!
The Writer’s museum just outside features some famous Scottish writers, and arguably the most famous one to write in Edinburgh these days is JK Rowling. She wrote all seven Harry Potter novels in this city, and Edinburgh is also known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. So, once you’ve warmed up, why not explore the inspirations for the Harry Potter novels on our self-guided Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh: https://www.pandemictoursapp.com/edinburgh-harry-potter-walking-tour
The Royal Mile Tavern
127 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SG
As the name suggests, this Pub is right on the Royal Mile, but surprisingly, you will always find a place to sit, or at the very least, to stand. This lovely Pub has live music every night, starting from 10pm.
Did you know that the expression ‘to be shitfaced’ actually dates back to medieval Edinburgh? Back in the day, people in Edinburgh would collect their waste in chamberpots, which they would then empty out onto the streets below. To warn passers-by, they would shout a warning: “Gardy loo” (which is supposed to be French, “Gardez l’eau” for “Watch out, water”)
Now imagine you’re drunk in medieval Edinburgh, and you are stumbling through the city in the middle of the night, trying to find your way back home. Suddenly, from somewhere up above, you would hear “Gardy loo” and bewildered, you would look up and get hit by the contents of a chamber pot straight in the face. This happened so often that it became a common expression to describe drunk people as ‘shitfaced’ – a popular expression to this day!
For more great Pub recommendations and history of Edinburgh’s Old Town, join our self-guided tour around the city centre, complete with an exclusive list of recommendations.