The best bars in Edinburgh

Alice Rees

Edinburgh’s bar scene is vibrant, bursting with innovative and energetic ideas. If you fancy an experience to remember, from drinking cocktails in a barbershop to tasting fine Scottish whisky, then stop searching and start reading this list of the best bars to visit in Edinburgh.

A Bar with a View

If sipping your drinks with a view of the Edinburgh Castle sounds appealing, then when not visit The Cold Town House (pictured) located in Edinburgh’s Grass Market. With its open roof-top bar, kitted out with electric heaters, blankets and a ski-themed cable car seating area, this bar offers you a unique yet affordable drinking experience and makes you feel as if you’re on the alpine slopes. The house beers are particularly delicious, and the prosecco is considerably cheap for Scottish prices. Simply purchase your drinks from the vintage Nissan van situated on the roof and embrace the beautiful views that Edinburgh has to offer.

A Whisky Wonderland

It would be sinful to visit Edinburgh without going to a whisky bar. Luckily the Whiski Rooms has you covered as you have the opportunity to choose from over 280 whiskies. There are a variety of rooms on offer to suit your needs – all consisting of a warm, candle-lit ambience. Whether this means strolling into the bar for a casual drink of whisky to warm up from the harsh Scottish weather or selecting the (reasonably priced) whisky tasting room for a more premium experience, the Whiski Rooms is guaranteed to give you your whisky fix and a taste of Scotland.

A Glimpse of Paradise

With fake plants, colourful fairy lights, bunting and stuffed teddies scattered around the room, Paradise Palms seems bizarrely confused– yet, somehow it works. This crazed and quirky bar located in Bristo squares is refreshingly and unapologetically unique. Providing an array of drinks, Paradise Palms specialises in its sharing cocktails, serving its Paradise Found in a teapot. With live music at the weekends and an energetic bustle, Paradise Palms may add a little glimpse of paradise to your Edinburgh visit.

A Cocktail-lover’s Dream

Are you a cocktail extraordinaire with a penchant for funky music? Then look no further than Tonic – a hip and energetic bar tucked away just off of George Street. With a variety of innovative cocktails presented on animated menus, from a Donald Trump Fake News cocktail with ingredients such as Orange Bacardi and Velvet Falernum to the Avocado Smash which is one for vegans composed of coconut, avocado, infused Ketel One, lemon, mango, ginger ale and vodka, Tonic offers you every cocktail under the sun; and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, the bar staff will be sure to concoct it for you. With live DJs playing from Thursdays to Saturdays, this is the place to visit if you want to start your night off right.  

A Barber Shop to Remember

If you fancy taking a trip back to prohibition in the 1920s, enter through the doorway into a barbershop situated on Queen’s Street, take the staircase down to a bookcase which opens to reveal the award-winning, quirky Panda & Sons speakeasy. This bar will provide you with an experience like no other, making you feel as though you are in a 1920s movie – from the room’s décor to the waiter’s outfits and the prohibition inspired cocktails, the attention to detail is impeccable and it is a must-see when visiting Edinburgh.