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Edinburgh is positively brimming with bars of all calibers, so it’s no surprise that the Scottish capital has some world-class nightlife, much of which can be found right in the historic Old Town.

But in a city with so much selection, it can be tough to know which places are worth a visit.

That’s why I’ve put together my list of some of the best places to stop in during a night out in Edinburgh’s Old Town. From traditional pubs to live music and even a themed dive bar, try out these hidden gems and classics alike for a fun and memorable night out exploring the best bars in Edinburgh Old Town.


The Best Bars in Edinburgh Old Town


The Ensign Ewart

If you want to experience an authentic Scottish pub, you’ve got to start at the top – the top of the Royal Mile, that is. It’s here you’ll find the highest pub in Edinburgh: The Ensign Ewart. Named for Charles Ewart to commemorate the Scottish soldier’s role in the Battle of Waterloo, the pub originally opened in 1690, and feels like it hasn’t changed much since!

The place is a cozy reprieve from the hubbub of the high street, with low wooden ceilings and decommissioned whisky barrels to rest your drink on when it gets crowded, which can happen fast in this small space. Ensign Ewart has a great selection of Scottish libations, including a rotating selection of local cask ales. Behind the bar, they have around 250 whiskies from distilleries all over the country, and bartenders with the knowledge to back up such an extensive collection.

The space may be small, but it’s never dull, with local folk musicians playing every night of the week. It feels more like a house party than a concert when the band is set up at a table and swapping jokes and stories between sets. From the ambiance to the menu, this historic pub is a perfect place to sample what Edinburgh has to offer.

Visit their website at


Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

Just a stone’s throw down the Royal Mile is another quintessential Edinburgh pub that shouldn’t be missed and is my go-to when Ensign Ewart fills up. Deacon William Brodie, the pub’s namesake, was a city councillor in the late 1700s who lived a second life as a cat burglar. The legend of Deacon Brodie inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the pub’s décor is filled with references to the book, so keep an eye out. 

The pub itself is owned by Nicholson’s, who’ve been running pubs in the United Kingdom for over 150 years and have gotten pretty good at it by now. Brodie’s upstairs dining room serves classic pub fair, while downstairs tables are kept for those who just want to sample some of their great selection of beers and gins. Grab a seat by the window for some great people-watching on the Royal Mile.

Find out more at Deacon Brodies Tavern.


The Jazz Bar 

When I’m looking to class up my evening, The Jazz Bar is my first stop. Located right on Chamber Street, they have multiple live band sets playing every night of the week, which makes this groovy basement lounge a perfect stop at any point in your night. There are no table reservations, just pay cover at the door and settle in for a great performance. You’re even welcome to stay on for the next show.

The Jazz Bar’s demographic ranges from Zoomers to Boomers, and they cater to all with a broad range of drinks from chilled pints to hand-crafted cocktails, all of which are excellent. And if live jazz isn’t your thing, don’t worry, they also program a range of funk and blues bands. As Scotland’s longest-running independent jazz venue, The Jazz Bar can always be counted on to curate a memorable evening of live music.

For further details, check out



When it comes to live music in Edinburgh, Stramash is unparalleled in variety and experience. The venue is housed in a renovated church, originally built in 1859, which has been re-fitted as a state-of-the-art music hall while retaining the building’s charm. With a ground-level dance floor and a mezzanine balcony, there’s not a bad seat in the house, whatever your vibes are. Plus, both levels have bar service and plenty of tables, eliminating a lot of the hassle of a 900-person venue.

But what really sets Stramash apart is their stellar lineups, with multiple bands playing every night of the week, encompassing everything from traditional folk music to 80s bangers and pop-punk covers – and that’s all on the same night! There’s truly something for everyone at this iconic venue, especially with free entry every night of the week.

Find out more at


The Banshee Labyrinth

Once you’ve had a few pints at a traditional Scottish pub and taken in some amazing live music and are searching for a place to round the night off, The Banshees Labyrinth is that place. This legendary dive bar took its title as the most haunted bar in Edinburgh and ran with it, creating a maze of themed rooms out of the cellars underneath the city.

The place is decked out with spooky décor and is always blasting punk music, creating a charmingly tacky haunted vibe. And it truly is a labyrinth, with three different bars, a pool-table room and a dance floor to explore. As a film lover, I’ve got a soft spot for a movie playing on the TV above a bar, but The Banshee goes one step further with a miniature cinema hidden in its depths, always running back-to-back pictures to wander into. With so much variety, it’s the perfect place for a nightcap. Just remember to meet up with your friends above ground, as there’s no service in the depths of the dungeon.

Check out for further info.




Contributor Charlie Wagner-Chazalon is a travel enthusiast who splits his time between Muskoka and Toronto, Ontario.

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