I often get asked what are the best pubs in Scotland to visit, and luckily, I know plenty! Scotland has lots of great pubs spanning the length of the country and you can guarantee that every village and town in Scotland will have a bustling local.
I love traditional Scottish pubs. When I go to a pub I want to really feel like I’m in Scotland. Modern and fancy? Nah- that’s not my style. I like a pub with a bit of history and character packed with locals full of interesting stories- and whisky!
Some of the pubs in this list are renowned in Scotland, while others are hidden gems I’ve stumbled across on my travels. I hope you enjoy a dram in as many of these as possible!
Pubs and restaurants in Scotland officially reopen on April 26. Be sure to read my Covid-19 in Scotland guide for an update of the current restrictions
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The best pubs in Scotland
1. The Clachan Inn, Drymen
The Clachan Inn is the oldest registered pub in Scotland. It’s hugely popular with walkers of the West Highland Way, as the first day of the hike finishes in the village of Drymen [pronounced ‘drimmin’]. I first visited this pub while I was hiking week two of the Scottish National Trail. They also serve food, made with local ingredients and they have an extensive selection of Scottish gins and whiskies, beer and wine. It’s the perfect pub to relax in after a day in the hills!
2. The Clachaig Inn, Glencoe
Not to be confused with the above [note the slight difference in spelling] The Clachaig Inn has got to be one of the best pubs in Scotland with a view. Surrounded by the towering mountains of the Scottish Highlands, The Clachaig Inn is one of the nicest spots in Scotland I’ve had a dram. The Clachaig Inn also serves food, so it makes a great spot for a romantic lunch or dinner. A trip to Glencoe isn’t complete unless you make a trip to this pub!
3. The Black Cat, Edinburgh
It was hard choosing my favourite pub in Edinburgh, however I’ve got to hand it to The Black Cat. Not only is it located on one of Edinburgh’s prettiest streets [Rose Street] it has a fantastic range of whiskies [one of the largest collections in New Town] and has all the fixtures of a classy, traditional Scottish pub. They also have live traditional Scottish folk music some nights.
Are you visiting Edinburgh on a budget? These are my favourite cheap pubs in Edinburgh.
4. Black Bull Inn, Mid Calder
You won’t find this pub on many best pubs in Scotland lists as it’s not in a touristy location. Introducing my trusty ol’ local pub, the Black Bull Inn in Mid Calder! I love this pub because you’ll find it filled with drunk Scots having a good time on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s also a short walk from where I live, meaning I can find my way home easily [wink]. The Black Bull Inn is the kind of pub that every visitor to Scotland wants to visit. It has the traditional and cosy decor of a relaxed Scottish pub, and established in 1747, it has seen a lot of patrons pass through its doors. It has also won several awards including the 2018 Best Independent Pub in Scotland.
5. The Venue, Perth
I was first enchanted by The Venue in Perth when myself and the Haggis stumbled across it by chance. It is a live music pub with an excellent selection of whisky and gin. When we went there on a Friday night they had a wonderful band playing covers [including an amazing rendition of ‘Daddy Issues’ by Beyonce]. The atmosphere is moody, cosy and romantic; the decor consisting of mismatched chairs, candles in wax-dripped holders made from recycled wine bottles and an impressive display of whisky and gin bottles. The Venue also has a good selection of craft beers, ales and lagers from around the world. It’s definitely a unique pub worth a visit!
+ Read more: Things to do in Perth, Scotland
6. Black Isle Bar, Inverness
I actually went to the Black Isle Bar for dinner, however the pub is known is a unique craft beer bar in Inverness. They sell organic beers that come from their brewery that is located on the Black Isle [it’s worth a visit there too]. They also have a range of organic wines and whiskies. The Black Isle Bar is the perfect spot in Inverness to enjoy a beer with a wood fire pizza. In warm weather head up to their rooftop bar. They’re also dog friendly and have great vegan options, and food is locally sourced and organic where possible.
+ Read more: How to spend 2 days in Inverness
7. The Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm
The Border Hotel has one of Scotland’s most southern pubs in the Scottish Borders, located just 2 kilometres from the border of Scotland and England. I went for a walk to the border, and then treated myself to a meal and a dram at their charming onsite pub and restaurant. The pub and beer garden is popular with visitors and locals from the Kirk Yetholm and Town Yetholm villages, and you’ll be sure to meet some friendly and colourful characters. It’s also very popular with walkers of St Cuthbert’s Way, the Pennine Way and the Scottish National Trail. The Border Hotel has also won awards for its pub at the Scottish Hotel Awards.
8. The Gordon Arms Hotel, West Linton
The Gordon Arms Hotel is another traditional Scottish hotel with a fantastic pub. It’s a 17th century coaching inn that has everything you need in a pub: live music, Sky sport, pool tables, darts, a restaurant and plenty of beer on tap. The brick wall interior combined with fireplaces give this pub a cosy and inviting feel. It’s also one of the bigger country pubs I’ve been to in Scotland. You’ll find plenty of locals here as well!
9. The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan
The Drovers Inn is the closest thing you’ll get to a traditional pub from the 18th century- most of the decor remains unchanged! Founded in 1705, this pub is one of my favourite stops on the drive from Edinburgh to Fort William; it’s a pub I like surprising people with. It’s seriously like stepping back in time to auld Scotland; it was originally used as a stopping point for Highland cattle drovers herding their cattle to markets further south. Today this pub is popular with hikers on the West Highland Way and tourists who take delight in the traditional and quirky furnishings, such as the large collection of stuffed animals [including a bear]. This pub is also rumoured to be haunted by several ghosts!
+ Read more: The ultimate 10 day Scotland itinerary
10. The Cluanie Inn, Inverness-Shire
The Cluanie Inn is located in Glen Shiel, one of the prettiest parts of Scotland. You’ll pass it as you’re driving to the Isle of Skye, on the A87. I discovered this pub when I was hiking the Cape Wrath Trail. It’s a popular spot for a bite to eat and a drink with hikers and passing tourists. Surrounded by mountains, The Cluanie Inn looks particularly dramatic in the cooler months when the mountains are snow-capped. Located next to the pub is Loch Cluanie, and if you’re quiet you may spot the herd of wild deer that call this area home.
Other nice pubs in Scotland
Not every pub could make my list of the best pubs in Scotland. Here are some of my other favourite pubs in Scotland I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
- The Hanging Bat, Edinburgh
- Bow Bar, Edinburgh
- Brewdog Lothian Road, Edinburgh
- The World’s End, Edinburgh
- The Bridge Inn, Peebles
- The Four Marys, Linlithgow
- Hootananny, Inverness
- Bridge Inn, Ratho
- The Scotia Bar, Glasgow
- Sango Sands Oasis Restaurant and Bar, Durness
I’ll continue to add and update this list as I discover more pubs in Scotland- so make sure you bookmark it and keep coming back!
What are your favourite pubs in Scotland?
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