Oldest Pubs in Edinburgh

10 Oldest Pubs in Edinburgh

When it comes to pubs, Edinburgh is a city that takes its history seriously. With a rich cultural heritage and a long-standing love affair with the pub scene, it’s no surprise that the Scottish capital is home to some of the oldest drinking establishments in the world. Edinburgh’s pub scene offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past, from cozy taverns with a rustic charm to grandiose buildings steeped in history.

In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 oldest pubs in Edinburgh, taking you on a journey through time and uncovering the stories that make each pub a cherished part of the city’s heritage. So, grab a pint and join us on this fascinating journey through Edinburgh’s pub history.

10. Cafe Royal

Year Founded: 1861
Current Owner: Belhaven
Address: 19 W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA, United Kingdom
Website: caferoyaledinburgh.com

Cafe Royalphoto source: Time Out

Cafe Royal was founded in 1861 by Daniel Nicols, who had previously worked as a wine and spirit merchant. The cafe quickly became popular with Edinburgh’s upper classes, who would come to socialize, drink, and dine in the elegant surroundings. Over the years, Cafe Royal hosted many famous visitors, including Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In the early 20th century, Cafe Royal underwent a major renovation and expansion, adding a new restaurant, bar, and function rooms. The cafe continued to thrive throughout the 20th century, and in 1997 it was designated a Category A listed building by Historic Scotland.

Today, Cafe Royal is owned by Belhaven, a Scottish brewery and pub company, and continues to operate as a popular destination for food, drink, and socializing in Edinburgh’s city center.

Did You Know?

It was also a popular spot for artists and intellectuals, known for its literary and cultural events.

9. The Oxford Bar

Year Founded: 1811
Current Owner: Willie Ross
Address: 8 Young St, Edinburgh EH2 4JB, United Kingdom
Website: Unspecified

The Oxford Barphoto source: Wikipedia

The Oxford Bar was founded in 1811 and has been a fixture of Edinburgh’s literary and pub scenes ever since. The bar is particularly well-known for its association with the author Ian Rankin and his Inspector Rebus novels.

Rankin is a regular patron and has featured the bar in many of his books. Despite its popularity among writers and other creatives, The Oxford Bar has maintained a reputation as a down-to-earth, unpretentious pub.

The bar is owned by Willie Ross, a regular at The Oxford Bar who took over ownership in the 1990s. Today, The Oxford Bar remains a popular spot for locals and visitors and is a must-visit destination for fans of Scottish literature and pub culture.

Did You Know?

It is known for its selection of real ales and cozy, traditional atmosphere.

8. Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

Year Founded: 1806
Current Owner: Nicholson’s Pubs
Address: 435 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2NT, United Kingdom
Website: nicholsonspubs.co.uk

Deacon Brodie's Tavernphoto source: TripAdvisor

Deacon Brodie’s Tavern was founded in 1806 and is named after William Brodie, a prominent citizen of Edinburgh in the 18th century who was also a notorious burglar.

Brodie was a respected cabinetmaker by day, but at night he led a double life as a thief and gambler. His exploits eventually caught up with him, and he was hanged for his crimes in 1788. Despite Brodie’s dark legacy, Deacon Brodie’s Tavern is a popular and welcoming pub that attracts locals and tourists alike.

The pub is owned by Nicholson’s Pubs, a chain of traditional British pubs that operates throughout the UK. Today, Deacon Brodie’s Tavern remains a popular spot for a pint or a meal. Its association with one of Edinburgh’s most infamous figures only adds to its appeal for history buffs and pub enthusiasts.

Did You Know?

Nicholson’s Pubs is a chain of traditional British pubs founded in 1873 by William Nicholson. The chain originally operated as a wine and spirit merchant but expanded into the pub business in the 1920s.

7. White Horse Bar

Year Founded: 1742
Current Owner: The Compass Group
Address: The Royal Mile, 266 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8AA, United Kingdom
Website: whitehorseoysterbar.co.uk

White Horse Barphoto source: WhatPub

The White Horse Bar was founded in 1742 and is one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh. It is located on the Royal Mile, one of the city’s most historic and iconic streets, and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The pub is particularly well-known for its selection of oysters, which it has served for over 250 years. The oysters are served with traditional accompaniments like lemon, Tabasco, and shallot vinegar and are a popular choice for a snack or light meal.

In addition to its famous oysters, the White Horse Bar is also known for its selection of real ales, Scottish whiskies, and classic pub food. The pub has a cozy and welcoming interior, with wood-paneled walls, a fireplace, and a large bar area. The White Horse Bar is owned by the Compass Group, a multinational food service company based in the UK.

Did You Know?

Despite its corporate ownership, the pub has maintained its historic character and remains a beloved institution in Edinburgh’s pub scene.

6. The King’s Wark

Year Founded: late 17th century
Current Owner: Iain Sim
Address: 36 Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6QU, United Kingdom
Website: kingswark.co.uk

The King's Warkphoto source: Flickr

The King’s Wark is believed to have been established in the late 17th century, making it one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh. The pub is located in the historic port of Leith, which was once a separate town from Edinburgh and has a rich maritime heritage.

Over the centuries, The King’s Wark has served as a gathering place for sailors, merchants, and locals. The pub has undergone many changes but has always maintained its traditional character and commitment to serving great food and drink.

Today, The King’s Wark is owned by Iain Sim, who has run the pub since the 1990s. Under Sim’s leadership, The King’s Wark has become a popular destination for seafood lovers, with a menu that features fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

The pub’s interior is cozy and welcoming, with exposed brick walls, wooden beams, and a large fireplace. The outdoor seating area overlooks the historic Water of Leith, adding to the pub’s charm and atmosphere.

Did You Know?

The pub has over 200 varieties of whisky from Scotland and around the world, making it a must-visit destination for whisky connoisseurs.

5. The Doric

Year Founded: 17th century
Current Owner: AtWill Pubs
Address: 15-16 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE, United Kingdom
Website: the-doric.com

The Doricphoto source: Doric Phrases

The Doric is known for its traditional Scottish food. The pub serves various dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients, including haggis, neeps, and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes), Cullen skink (a creamy smoked haddock soup), and steak pie.

The Doric is also a popular destination for whisky lovers. The pub has a wide selection of Scottish whiskies, including rare and hard-to-find bottles, as well as a selection of international spirits.

Today, The Doric is owned by AtWill Pubs, a family-owned chain of pubs and restaurants based in Scotland. Under the ownership of AtWill Pubs, The Doric has continued to thrive and has earned a reputation for its selection of real ales, Scottish whiskies, and hearty pub food.

Did You Know?

One of the unique features of The Doric is its collection of antique drinking vessels displayed throughout the pub.

4. The White Hart Inn

Year Founded: 1516
Current Owner: Unspecified
Address: 32 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU, United Kingdom
Website: belhavenpubs.co.uk

The White Hart Innphoto source: Belhaven Pubs

The White Hart Inn is one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh, dating back to 1516. The pub is located on Grassmarket, a historic market square in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and has played a prominent role in the city’s cultural and social life for centuries.

Over the centuries, The White Hart Inn has been frequented by many famous figures, including Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and William Wordsworth.

The pub is also said to have played a role in the infamous Edinburgh murders of Burke and Hare in the 1820s. Despite its long history, The White Hart Inn has maintained its traditional character and commitment to serving great food and drink. The pub has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with wood-paneled walls, exposed beams, and a large fireplace.

Did You Know?

The pub’s interior has been carefully preserved to reflect its long history, with antique furnishings, historical artifacts, and a collection of old photographs and memorabilia on display throughout the pub.

3. The Beehive Inn

Year Founded: c. 15th century
Current Owner: Unspecified
Address: 18-20 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU, United Kingdom
Website: belhavenpubs.co.uk

The Beehive Innphoto source: TripAdvisor

The Beehive Inn, situated in Edinburgh’s Old Town on the Grassmarket, has a long-standing heritage dating back to the 15th century, making it one of the city’s oldest pubs. The pub has been a gathering spot for locals, tourists, and notable figures throughout history. The interior of The Beehive Inn features an original fireplace, antique furnishings, and exposed beams, adding to its historic appeal.

Along with its historical significance, the pub is also popular for its vast selection of Scottish ales, whiskies, and traditional Scottish cuisine, including haggis, neeps and tatties, and steak pie. Today, Belhaven Pubs owns The Beehive Inn, which has continued flourishing and is recognized for its hospitable environment and friendly staff.

Did You Know?

The Beehive Inn has become a cherished institution in the Edinburgh pub scene and a destination not to be missed for anyone keen on the city’s history and culture.

2. Ye Olde Golf Tavern

Year Founded: 1456
Current Owner: Stefan King’s G1 Group.
Address: 30 – 31 Wright’s Houses, Edinburgh EH10 4HR, United Kingdom
Website: golftavern.co.uk

Ye Olde Golf Tavernphoto source: DesignMyNight

The Ye Olde Golf Tavern, located at 30-31 Wright’s Houses in Edinburgh, is one of the oldest pubs in the city, established in 1456. The tavern has a rich history and is known for its association with the game of golf, as it is located near the historic Bruntsfield Links golf course. The pub has been a popular spot for golfers and enthusiasts for centuries.

The Ye Olde Golf Tavern is owned by Stefan King’s G1 Group, a hospitality and leisure company in Scotland. The pub’s interior has retained its traditional feel and is adorned with golf memorabilia and artifacts, adding to its unique charm.

The pub has an extensive selection of drinks, including local ales and whiskies, and its food menu features classic Scottish dishes like haggis, neeps, and tatties, as well as other pub fare.

Did You Know?

The pub’s location near the historic Bruntsfield Links golf course has attracted many famous golfers over the years, including the legendary Tom Morris, who is said to have enjoyed a drink at the tavern after a round of golf.

1. The Sheep Heid Inn

Year Founded: 1360
Current Owner: Mitchells & Butlers
Address: 43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh EH15 3QA, United Kingdom
Website: thesheepheidedinburgh.co.uk

The Sheep Heid Innphoto source: Food & Wine

The Sheep Heid Inn is considered the oldest pub in Edinburgh and has operated since 1360. The pub is located in the Duddingston area of the city, near the famous Arthur’s Seat Hill.

Over the centuries, The Sheep Heid Inn has been a popular gathering place for locals, tourists, and even royalty. The pub’s interior features historic and modern elements, with antique furnishings and a cozy fireplace adding to the pub’s warm and welcoming atmosphere.

In addition to its historic ambiance, The Sheep Heid Inn is also known for its selection of Scottish ales, whiskies, and traditional pub fare. The pub’s menu features classic Scottish dishes like haggis, neeps and tatties, and Cullen skink, as well as a variety of hearty pub favorites like burgers, fish and chips, and steak. Today, The Sheep Heid Inn is owned by Mitchells & Butlers, a leading operator of pubs and restaurants in the UK.

Did You Know?

In the early 16th century, Mary Queen of Scots is said to have played skittles at the pub, using wooden balls and skittles made from sheep’s knucklebones.


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