10 traditional Edinburgh pubs that should never change

If you're looking for a pint in timeless, welcoming surroundings, Edinburgh is full of traditional pubs that tick both boxes.

The Bow Bar is a favourite haunt in the Old Town
The Bow Bar is a favourite haunt in the Old Town

Here are 10 that should never change, from Leith to the city centre to Gorgie.

Bennets Bar

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Located next door to the King’s Theatre in Tollcross, a colourful clientele of theatre-goers, thespians and seasoned locals make up the average evening in Bennet’s Bar. The decor speaks for itself and the listed interior dates back to 1906. (8 Leven St, Edinburgh, EH3 9LG)

The Oxford Bar

It might be best known these days as the favourite haunt of a certain Inspector Rebus, but the Oxford Bar has more to commend it. Its real attraction is the fact that it’s an unchanging place to escape the city centre clamour outside, usually with a free table to sit down with a pint and a paper. (8 Young Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4JB)

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Bailie Bar

The Bailie Bar in Stockbridge prides itself on a warm atmosphere and bar staff who are more than willing to offer you beverage suggestions if you need them. The interior is traditional and snug, but that doesn’t mean that the atmosphere is stuffy. (2-4 St Stephen St, Edinburgh, EH3 5AL)

The Barony Bar

Broughton Street may have plenty of options when it comes to public houses, but The Barony is certainly worth a visit. It has some of the friendliest staff in Edinburgh and a real fireplace, and even played a cameo role in the animated film The Illusionist. (81-85 Broughton St, Edinburgh, EH1 3RJ)

The Cafe Royal

With its Parisian-style saloon bar interior, this city centre institution also boasts an oyster bar – offering fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices. It’s packed out most weekends, it was voted the best pub in Britain in 2009, and it’s been left largely unchanged for more than 140 years. (19 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AA)

Nobles Bar

When it comes to picking your new local, the decor can be a real selling point. Nobles Bar in Leith would never have to worry about not winning people over with its looks. The renovated Victorian building has some of the most stunning, original stained glass windows in the city. Add to that a fine selection of food and ales, as well as live music, and it’s no surprise it’s not just Leithers who flock there. (44a Constitution St, Leith, EH6 6RS)

The Athletic Arms

Initially named the Gravediggers Arms due to its location between two graveyards, this Dalry public house has a genuine old school feel, with an authentic decor and a welcoming atmosphere. If you’re looking for an Edinburgh institution steeped in history, then look no further. (1-3 Angle Park Terrace, Edinburgh, EH11 2JX)

Sandy Bell’s

A contender, along with The Royal Oak, for the crown of the best folk pub in the city, Sandy Bell’s has plenty of character (and characters). Such is the reputation of its often impromptu gigs that it’s a point of pilgrimage for fans of traditional music from all over the globe. Best frequented in the evenings, when the place really comes to life. (25 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh, EH1 2QH)

The Bow Bar

Nestled on the winding slope of Victoria Street is the delightful Bow Bar, a favourite haunt of locals and any tourists lucky enough to stumble upon it. There’s good reason why this place is so popular: clued-up staff, a friendly atmosphere, an almost unrivalled choice of ales, and a gantry that boasts more than 250 malts. So good it was voted Scotland’s Pub of the Year by the AA’s annual independent Hospitality Awards in 2017. (80 West Bow, Edinburgh, EH1 2HH)

Blue Blazer

The Blue Blazer’s two-room interior feels like it’s hardly changed in a century (because it hasn’t), unlike the more quasi-authentic bars further down towards the Grassmarket. Friday nights are always spirited and worth popping in if you want to a pub with a jovial atmosphere, and knowledgeable staff. (2 Spittal St, Edinburgh, EH3 9DX)