Edinburgh Pub Crawl, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Pub Crawl (Self Guided), Edinburgh

Edinburgh is rich in pubs, both old and new, spoiling their patrons with the best in town drinks and food. Although most traditional pubs in the city are laid back, with a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, some have dance floors and double as nightclubs. This self-guided adventure takes you to several such spots, each with its own story to tell.

Our journey begins at the World's End Pub, a charming establishment whose exterior walls form part of the Flodden Wall, a 16th-century fort that once protected Edinburgh's old town. Back then, the locals thought the world outside this wall was no longer theirs, so they named this place “the world's end” to reflect that.

Next up is the Scotsman's Lounge. This one-room bar has live music every night and therefore gets quite crowded and boisterous at times. Its interior is adorned with pictures of pipe bands, and you can also see a framed copy of the Declaration of Calton Hill displayed on the eastern wall.

As we continue to walk, we arrive at Whistle Binkies Pub. This lively venue entertains its energetic crowd every night with the atmospheric music played by various bands, plus the abundance of cask ales and a wide variety of whiskies – an ideal place to gather for a taste of Scotland's finest beverages.

The Royal Oak Pub is next on our list, offering a traditional Scottish pub experience. This 200-year-old real ale tavern and folk music venue features a compact basement lounge and traditional pub grub worth a try.

Sandy Bells Pub is a small, friendly joint awaiting us with its real ales, plentiful malts, and live Scottish folk music most nights.

Nearby, you'll find Greyfriars Bobby Bar, named after the famous loyal dog, offering a charming setting to relax and enjoy a drink while surrounded by Edinburgh's history.

Finally, last but not least, The Last Drop Pub is an intriguing stop nestled in the historic Grassmarket area. The pub's name is a nod to the nearby site of public hanging – a somber reminder of this bar's macabre past, which is also part of its draw.

A pub crawl in Edinburgh is like a spirited adventure through which you can let loose and immerse yourself in the vibrant Edinburgh nightlife. So, gather your friends and embark on it now to discover Edinburgh's historical and cultural treasures, one pub at a time. Cheers to a memorable experience!
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Edinburgh Pub Crawl Map

Guide Name: Edinburgh Pub Crawl
Guide Location: Scotland » Edinburgh (See other walking tours in Edinburgh)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: Helen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • World's End Pub
  • Scotsman's Lounge
  • Whistle Binkies Pub
  • The Royal Oak Pub
  • Sandy Bells Pub
  • Greyfriars Bobby Bar
  • The Last Drop Pub
1
World's End Pub

1) World's End Pub

A thirsty history buff in Edinburgh, looking for a pub steeped in history, should look nor further than The World’s End on the Royal Mile.

This old watering hole takes its name from the 16th century when the City Walls surrounded Edinburgh. Following the Battle of Flodden which saw Scotland’s defeat by the English, Edinburgh had to wall itself for protection. The gates in that wall were situated right outside the pub, reminding of which today are the brass cobbles in the road, marking their exact location. In the opinion of the Edinburgh folk, the world outside the gates was no longer theirs, so they called it The World’s End.

The “old style” character of the pub proves to be its main lure for tourists walking the cobbled streets and anxious to quench their thirst. Venturing inside the tavern, above the bar, you can see scores of foreign banknotes vividly illustrating the broad, international clientele who have drunk here over the years. True to its “old-fashioned feel”, the place keeps television to the minimal, so as to allow the patrons – up to 140 men at a time – to drink in peace. The hospitality of this kind makes the whole world of difference!
2
Scotsman's Lounge

2) Scotsman's Lounge

The Scotsman's Lounge, located in Edinburgh, strikes a harmonious balance between traditional charm and dynamic entertainment. This makes it a favored venue for both residents and tourists. Positioned near the bustling Royal Mile, this pub delivers an authentic Scottish ambiance right in Edinburgh's center.

Upon entering the Scotsman's Lounge on Cockburn Street, guests are welcomed by its cozy and friendly vibe. The pub is celebrated for its live music, notably the captivating bagpipe performances each evening, offering a distinctly Scottish experience.

The drink and food options at the Scotsman's Lounge are diverse and appealing. It serves a variety of beverages, both local and international, ensuring there's something for every taste. The food menu provides a mix of Scottish specialties and popular pub dishes.

Visually, the pub's interior is both appealing and informative. The walls are decorated with historical items and images that narrate Scotland's rich cultural story. These include pictures of pipers and old snapshots of Edinburgh, adding to the pub's historical allure.

The bar area, designed with a U-shaped counter, is compact yet comfortable. The layout is a single room but feels spacious and welcoming. A unique feature is the ceiling beams adorned with foreign banknotes, signed by visitors, reflecting the pub's global appeal and the fond memories of its guests.

Interestingly, live music is not limited to evenings. The Scotsman's Lounge also hosts afternoon performances on Fridays, drawing a lively crowd. The presence of customers with luggage hints at its popularity with travelers, likely due to its proximity to Waverley Station. The pub also has screens for sports or other entertainment, ensuring patrons have a variety of ways to enjoy their visit.
3
Whistle Binkies Pub

3) Whistle Binkies Pub

Many a local resident know Whistle Binkies mainly for its diverse live music – ranging from indie to traditional styles – and incredibly atmospheric setting. A word around campfire, still, is that Whistle Binkies is also the most haunted pub in Edinburgh! Young as it may be, open since only the mid 1990s, the place beats its centuries-old counterparts hands down when it comes to some seriously creepy things going on here.

Perhaps this is due to the location – built into the converted chambers below the "haunted" South Bridge. Over the years, the place has been plagued by two ghosts, namely: The Imp and The Watcher. The latter is a 17th century gentleman with long hair, responsible for various weird and wonderful deeds – from chopping up fruit and changing clocks to locking up staff in the cellar, and more.

However, if ghost sightings are not a deterrent, you and your friends will surely enjoy this pub as a great place for a drink, chill-out and a bit of laugh, all to the eclectic tunes played here regularly.
4
The Royal Oak Pub

4) The Royal Oak Pub

The Royal Oak in Edinburgh is a pub and folk music venue that has been around for 200 years. It's famous for its live music performances, and it has hosted some well-known Scottish musicians like Kris Drever, Bobby Eaglesham, Danny Kyle, and Karine Polwart in the past.

Back in the 1960s, the pub was owned by Alan Anderson, a former Heart of Midlothian footballer, but it went by a different name at that time, "The Pivot." It became known as a place for folk music when Dorothy Taylor took over the pub in 1978. She ran it alongside her sister Sandra, who was a former star of The White Heather Club TV Show, until 2003. After that, Heather Mckenzie became the current licensee.

In 2008, an album called "The Royal Oak: Best of Folk" was recorded and released by Magic Park Records, featuring musicians from The Royal Oak. The pub's resident folk club, known as The Wee Folk Club, received the "Club of the Year" award at the annual Scots Trad Music Awards.

The Royal Oak is even mentioned in Ian Rankin's novel "Set in Darkness," which is part of the Inspector Rebus series. According to Rankin, it's his favorite among all the pub scenes in the Rebus series.
5
Sandy Bells Pub

5) Sandy Bells Pub

Sandy Bell's Pub in Edinburgh, is a distinguished spot with a rich history and a vibrant atmosphere, especially cherished by musicians and traditional music aficionados. Since its inception in 1942, Sandy Bell's has become a seminal folk music venue in Edinburgh, deeply embedded in the local cultural fabric. The pub is famous for its regular sessions featuring an impressive array of influential musicians from diverse styles and backgrounds. These gatherings are not just performances but lively interactions, where folk tunes are played, often improvised, and the air is filled with the sound of music and the clinking of glasses.

The interior of Sandy Bell's pulsates with the rhythm of Scottish tunes, creating an ambiance that is both lively and welcoming. The staff are known for their friendliness, adding to the warmth of the place. What sets this pub apart is its exceptional selection of real ales and a wide variety of malts, catering to the tastes of both casual drinkers and connoisseurs.

Although small in size, Sandy Bell's is mighty in spirit. On weekends, the place buzzes with energy, often getting crowded, but this only adds to its charm. It's an ideal destination for a night out in Edinburgh, offering a stylish and authentically Scottish drinking experience. Whether you're there to enjoy the music, savor the drinks, or soak in the lively atmosphere, Sandy Bell's Pub is a place that promises a brilliant and unforgettable experience.
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Greyfriars Bobby Bar

6) Greyfriars Bobby Bar

Greyfriars Bobby Bar in Edinburgh, is a heartwarming destination for dog lovers and those with an appreciation for history and ale. Nestled on the ground floor of a Georgian building, this old establishment shares its walls with the historic Candlemakers Hall, dating back to 1722. The bar's name honors Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier known for his extraordinary loyalty. After his owner's death in 1858, Bobby famously spent every day watching over his master's grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard until his own death in 1872, when he was laid to rest beside his beloved owner.

The Greyfriars Bobby statue, a tribute to this symbol of devotion, stands proudly outside the bar, offering visitors a chance to toast to his memory with one of the bar's award-winning ales. For those unsure of which ale to choose, the bar's in-house cask master is available to share expert advice, ensuring every patron can fully enjoy their experience. This unique bar not only offers a rich taste of Edinburgh's history but also a warm, inviting atmosphere where the legend of Greyfriars Bobby continues to inspire.
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The Last Drop Pub

7) The Last Drop Pub

On Grassmarket, you can find a pub called "The Last Drop," which might pique your curiosity about its name. The explanation becomes clear when you see the sign at the entrance, which includes a gallows alongside the pub's name, and a similar reference on one of the beams inside. In the past, this establishment was where individuals on death row had their final drink, presumably downing it to the very last drop, before they met their fate on the gallows.

The hangings happened “conveniently” close, in Grassmarket square, a small rectangular just a few steps from the pub, which saw a great many public executions in the olden times. Throughout 1661-1668, no less than a hundred Presbyterian opponents to the entry of the Anglican church into Scotland, plus rebels and thieves of various sorts met their end here. The Last Drop pub, in essence, commemorates the last hanging that took place in Grassmarket in 1864, and is the only building in the area to have conserved its bare style and the exterior from that period.

Venturing inside you will find a traditional pub of unique character, famed for its eclectic range of real ales, dully served with a generous measure of proper British hospitality.

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