A trip to Edinburgh includes 3 things: Whisky, Guinness, and drinking enough of the two to gleefully take part in a ceilidh. Read on to get a heads up on the best places to order that pint, or dram, and make the most out of your time in Scotland’s capital city.
1. The Dog House
We’re all familiar with the concept of animal cafés by now, but people come to The Dog House for just one reason: Hero, a bulldog, and the best boy in town. This dog friendly pub is in Edinburgh’s Southside near Holyrood Park, so after a few pints feel free to stroll over to the green – just don’t get lost in the looming shadow of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s famous extinct volcano resting just outside the city and a favorite hike of locals and tourists alike. The second best reason to make a visit to The Dog House part of your Edinburgh pub crawl is the Butterbeer. Harry Potter fans everywhere will revel in the opportunity to savor the iconic drink in the very city that lays claim to the official Harry Potter store.
2. The Wee Pub
You haven’t experienced Celtic culture until you’ve been to a pub so small you considered sitting on that stranger’s lap. Maybe after a few more pints. The Wee Pub is Scotland’s smallest pub, with room for only 20 people! So get there early and check this place off the old bucket list. Everything about The Wee Pub exudes coziness, from the wood fireplace to the perch seats. The drinks menu is even written on a postcard, which you may or may not need the provided magnifying glass to read. This wee place also takes on quiz nights, open mic sessions, and whisky tastings. Don’t let the size fool you, there really is something for everyone here, just get there early if you want a place to sit – or stand, for that matter.
3. The Banshee Labyrinth
By far the most alternative (and spooky) bar on this list, The Banshee Labyrinth is not for the faint of heart. Descend into Edinburgh’s ancient “vaults” and imagine yourself as one of the unsavory individuals who frequented this seedy underbelly. No longer crawling with thieves and criminals, though still delightfully seedy, those who come to The Banshee Labyrinth can expect a 7 room club with 3 bars, pool room, a stage, and a cinema. That’s right, you can even enjoy a wholesome movie night in Scotland’s most haunted pub. Okay, maybe less wholesome and more B-horror films and zombie themed double features. No matter what you’re watching, you can sit back and enjoy a wide selection of cocktails and classic brews. Just be sure to keep an ear out for the Banshee’s infamous scream.
4. The Black Cat
The Black Cat is the place to be if you’re on the hunt for Scottish traditional music, or a fine dram or two. Traditional folk sessions happen every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday in this cozy pub just across the street from Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh’s New Town. Don’t be deceived by the name, New Town was actually built in stages starting in the 1700’s and boasts streets of gorgeous neo-classical and Georgian architecture. Construction of New Town was spurred by the wealthy class, who quickly grew tired of Old Town’s lack of more, ahem, modern conveniences. Particularly in the plumbing department. So it’s safe to say this side of the city was pretty swanky back in the day, and The Black Cat’s sophisticated atmosphere and its staff’s impressive knowledge of whisky is all the proof you need.
5. The Dome
Last, but most certainly not least, is The Dome, by far the grandest and most spectacular bar you’ll set foot in during your visit to the Scottish capital. Corinthian columns, glittering chandeliers, and of course, breathtaking domed ceilings all come together to form the perfect place to do a little day drinking, aristocrat-style. Book an afternoon tea, vegan option available, and enjoy a bottle of bubbly with your dainty finger sandwiches and scones. When you’re done, pop over to the main bar for a few artfully crafted cocktails or a classic gin and tonic. Soak in the rich wood paneling and sparkling Swarovski crystal, and don’t forget to don your nicest duds for a delightfully opulent start to your evening.