An alternative Edinburgh pub crawl

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Forget the tourist trap pub crawls that only take in one street. Sam Shedden serves up a selection of some of Edinburgh’s finest ale houses that will make for a perfect circuit of the Scottish capital for beer-loving visitors.

Take a look at the map at the bottom of the page to plan your route.

edinburgh grassmarket - alternative pub crawl

A/ Ensign Ewart

Perched at the top of the Royal Mile, the Ensign Ewart is the closest pub to Edinburgh Castle and a perfect starting point for any pub crawl. This no-frills building has been the site of a pub since 1690.

B/ Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

As you amble down the Royal Mile after tucking away your first drink, stop in at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. The pub has a great selection of real ales and you won’t be able to drink here without learning of the story behind its namesake: an 18th century local character who lived a respectable life by day but was a thief by night, who was eventually caught and hanged.

C/ The Wash Bar

As you leave Edinburgh’s Old Town (don’t worry, we’ll be returning later) and head towards the stately New Town, why not stop off at The Wash Bar, an unpretentious little pub that overlooks Princes Street Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery?

D/ Le Monde

Swanky Le Monde has a wide range of excellent cocktails and spirits if beer is starting to slow you down. This chic bar on upmarket George Street is guaranteed to have a tipple to everyone’s tastes, and is a popular destination for visitors.

E/ Element

Tucked away behind the bustling Princes Street is Element on the pedestrian thoroughfare, Rose Street.  A well-priced food menu means this modern and cosy bar could be the perfect pit stop for any drinkers.

F/ The Kenilworth

the kenilworth

Continuing down Rose Street, hopefully with a full party still intact, the next stop is The Kenilworth.  The lovely bar was converted in 1904 and the whole building is listed. Named after a Walter Scott novel, this is about as close to traditional Edinburgh drinking as it gets.

G/ Scott’s of Rose Street

Scott’s marks the halfway point of our capital pub crawl. Something of an Edinburgh institution in the West End, Scott’s is named after ‘Ma Scott’, the fiery publican who owned the bar in the 19th century. Its recent claim to fame? Dan Brown reportedly penned the last chapter of The Da Vinci Code in this pub. Which might explain something.

H/ Angel’s Share

The most westerly point of our crawl, the Angel’s Share is nestled on a side street just off Princes Street. The lively atmosphere of this spacious bar is a great place to reinvigorate anyone who is starting to lag.

I/ Red Squirrel

red squirrel

A glorious set menu and delicious locally-sourced grub means this could be a good stop for those in need of nourishment for the final push. It’s got a wide selection of beers on tap, so grab a seat and sample a pint of Schiehallion or Innis & Gunn.

J/ Blue Blazer

A no-nonsense traditional pub with scratched tables, worn walls and welcoming staff, the Blue Blazer has seven cask ales and around 50 whiskys that may tempt the connoisseur to have a dram or two.

K/ The Beehive Inn

As the crawl swings back round the castle the next stop is the Grassmarket, the site of public hangings in times of yore. The Beehive sits in the shadow of the castle and boasts a history going back around 400 years.

L/ The Last Drop

the last drop - edinburgh pub crawl

Steel yourself for the penultimate pub on our crawl.  The Last Drop Tavern is located immediately next to the scene of the aforementioned hangings, which took place back in the 18th century. It’s reputedly haunted by the spirit of a small girl in medieval clothing, but that might just be the double vision of drinkers nearing the end of a long night.

M/ N/ Three Sisters OR Brewdog

Depending how your weary pack of booze hounds are feeling should determine which of these two bars you decide to finish on.

For those in the mood to party The Three Sisters is a large bar which is always full of energetic drinkers. A large dance floor provides your merry band of pub crawlers the perfect opportunity to cut loose and celebrate completing of this monumental challenge.

Alternatively, for those wanting a (slightly) quieter finish and some fine beer, head along the Cowgate to BrewDog.

That’s just a small taste of Edinburgh’s city centre pubs of course. Where would you recommend?

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Sam is a Scottish freelance writer covering entertainment, news and culture

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