Bars in Scotland: 9 Excellent Pubs to Visit

Bars in Scotland 4

Updated On: November 09, 2023 by   Courtney AugelloCourtney Augello

Scotland, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, is also home to a vibrant and diverse bar scene that captivates locals and tourists alike. From the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to the charming villages scattered across the country, Scotland’s best bars offer an enticing blend of tradition and innovation.

Bars in Scotland 4
Many traditional bars in Scotland have a cosy atmosphere.

The enchanting world of the best bars in Scotland is full of historic pubs that stand as a testament to the country’s whisky heritage, trendy and imaginative cocktail bars that push the boundaries of mixology, and welcoming establishments that embrace both tradition and contemporary influences.

To help you get the most out of Scotland’s famous pub scene and culture, we’ve explored 9 of the best bars in Scotland for tourists and locals.

Bars in Scotland 7
Many bars serve food and light bites.

History of Bars in Scotland

Bars and pubs have a long and rich history in Scotland, dating back centuries. The tradition of communal gathering places can be traced to the medieval period when alehouses and taverns were popular establishments for locals and travellers alike.

These early drinking establishments were typically small and often family-run, serving ale and other beverages made on-site. Over time, these places evolved into more formalised pubs and bars, becoming an integral part of Scottish social life.

One significant aspect of bars in Scotland is their association with whisky. Scotland’s whisky heritage is unparalleled, and pubs have played a crucial role in nurturing this tradition. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Scottish distilleries faced financial challenges due to economic downturns and wars.

Pubs became essential outlets for whisky sales and helped keep the industry afloat during challenging times. Today, bars in Scotland remain an essential platform for whisky appreciation, with a wide range of single malts and blended whiskies available for enthusiasts and curious tourists alike.

Besides their connection to whisky, bars and pubs are pivotal in preserving Scottish culture and fostering a sense of community. The pub culture is deeply ingrained in Scottish society, with pubs serving as meeting places where people gather to share stories and enjoy live music or traditional performances.

Historically, many Scottish pubs were situated along major travel routes and inns, serving as crucial rest stops for travellers. Some of these historic bars in Scotland still stand today, having survived the test of time and offering a glimpse into Scotland’s past.

Bars in Scotland 6
Some bars in Scotland are pet friendly.

9 Awesome Bars in Scotland

Applecross Inn – Applecross

The Applecross Inn, located in the charming village of Applecross, is one of the most beloved bars in Scotland. It has become a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists.

Situated on the rugged and picturesque Applecross Peninsula, the inn offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the stunning Inner Sound of Raasay. Its idyllic location alone makes it a popular stop for tourists exploring the Scottish Highlands.

Steeped in history, the Applecross Inn dates back to the 18th century, and its rustic charm and traditional architecture evoke a sense of nostalgia and authenticity. Originally a humble dwelling for tourists and locals, it has evolved over the years into a thriving hub for hospitality, dining, and community gatherings.

One of the main highlights of the Applecross Inn is its exceptional seafood cuisine. The inn prides itself on serving the freshest catch from the nearby waters of the North Atlantic, including delectable treats like locally caught langoustines, scallops, and prawns.

Besides the sumptuous food, the inn also boasts a friendly and inviting atmosphere. The cosy interior provides a welcoming ambience that encourages visitors to unwind. It’s not uncommon to find live music sessions or other local events taking place, adding to the inn’s vibrant and convivial atmosphere.

Bars in Scotland 1
Many bars use lighting for ambiance.

The Bow Bar – Edinburgh

The Bow Bar, nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, is one of the most iconic bars in Scotland. It has a rich history that spans back to the mid-19th century. Its name, “The Bow Bar,” derives from the distinctive bow-shaped window that adorns the front of the building, making it a recognisable landmark in the area.

The Bow Bar is a haven for whisky enthusiasts and ale connoisseurs alike. It is particularly renowned for its extensive selection of single-malt whiskies. The shelves behind the bar proudly display an impressive array of whisky bottles, offering a diverse range of flavours from different regions of Scotland.

Beyond its exceptional whisky selection, The Bow Bar serves an ever-changing selection of cask ales, making it a paradise for beer lovers as well. The bar takes great pride in sourcing a variety of real ales from local breweries and further afield, ensuring patrons are treated to a rotating menu of unique and flavorful brews.

The Pot Still – Glasgow

The Pot Still, nestled in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland, is a haven for whisky enthusiasts and one of the best bars in Scotland for tourists and locals. Located on Hope Street, this traditional Scottish pub has a history that dates back to the late 19th century.

The Pot Still is a mecca for whisky lovers, boasting an unparalleled selection of over 700 whiskies from Scotland and around the world. Connoisseurs and curious newcomers can embark on a journey of discovery through the vast range of single malts, blends, and rare expressions available at the bar.

Bars in Scotland 3
The bars have great selections of spirits and beers.

Inside The Pot Still, visitors are greeted with a warm and inviting atmosphere. The decor exudes a timeless charm, with dark wood panelling, vintage mirrors, and traditional furnishings that evoke a sense of nostalgia for days gone by.

Guildford Arms – Edinburgh

The Guildford Arms, an elegant pub in the heart of Edinburgh, is one of the most historic bars in Scotland. Situated on West Register Street, just a stone’s throw away from Princes Street and Waverley Station, the pub’s prime location makes it a popular stop for those exploring the city.

Originally built in the late 19th century, the Guildford Arms is a testament to Victorian architecture and craftsmanship. The pub’s striking exterior features beautiful stained glass windows and intricate stonework, creating a visually captivating facade that stands out amidst the surrounding buildings.

Inside the Guildford Arms, patrons are treated to an atmosphere of classic sophistication. The ornate, high-ceilinged interior is adorned with dark wood panelling, decorative tiling, and period fixtures, evoking a sense of nostalgia and old-world charm.

The Black Cat – Edinburgh

The Black Cat is a hidden gem that delights locals and tourists with its unique ambience and creative libations. Its uniqueness makes it one of the most whimsical bars in Scotland. Tucked away on Rose Street, this quirky bar stands out with its distinctive exterior adorned with cat motifs, setting the stage for a magical experience.

Bars in Scotland 8
Scotland has a great pub culture.

Upon entering The Black Cat, visitors are transported to a bygone era, as the bar’s interior is meticulously designed to evoke the charm of a vintage speakeasy. With dimly lit corners, antique furniture, and nostalgic decor, the bar exudes a sense of mystery and allure, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a more intimate and romantic setting.

One of the main draws of The Black Cat is its creative cocktail menu. The talented mixologists craft imaginative concoctions that incorporate classic and innovative flavours. Guests can indulge in signature cocktails inspired by feline themes, with whimsical names that add to the bar’s playful charm.

The Black Cat’s allure extends beyond its delightful libations, as the bar often hosts live music performances, adding to the already enchanting atmosphere. Patrons can enjoy a diverse array of musical genres, from soulful jazz to lively acoustic sessions.

The Steam Packet – Isle of Whithorn

The Steam Packet, one of the most scenic bars in Scotland, is located in the charming fishing village of Isle of Whithorn. Overlooking the picturesque harbour and the scenic coastline of the Solway Firth, the pub’s idyllic setting adds to the allure of this delightful establishment.

The Steam Packet has earned a reputation as a warm and welcoming spot for locals and tourists. Its traditional and unassuming exterior belies the inviting and cosy interior that awaits inside. With its nautical-themed decor and relaxed ambience, the pub exudes a quaint charm that reflects the area’s maritime heritage.

Bars in Scotland 9
Some bars offer beer from local breweries.

The pub’s bar is well-stocked with a selection of beers, wines, and spirits, including a variety of Scottish whiskies. Additionally, The Steam Packet is known for its freshly caught seafood, which takes centre stage on the menu. Diners can try mouthwatering dishes prepared with local ingredients, such as lobster, crab, and classic fish and chips.

The Malt Room – Inverness

The Malt Room, situated in the heart of Inverness, is a true haven for whisky enthusiasts and one of the best bars in Scotland for tourists. Located on Church Street, this charming bar and whisky shop is dedicated to celebrating Scotland’s most iconic spirit.

Stepping into The Malt Room, visitors are greeted with an atmosphere that exudes elegance and sophistication. The bar’s stylish decor features warm wood accents, comfortable seating, and soft lighting, creating a welcoming ambience that encourages guests to unwind and immerse themselves in the world of whisky.

The main attraction at The Malt Room is, of course, its impressive whisky collection. The bar boasts an extensive selection of over 200 malt whiskies from various regions of Scotland, as well as a curated range of premium blends and rare expressions.

Whisky enthusiasts can explore a diverse range of flavours and profiles, guided by the knowledgeable staff, who are passionate about sharing their expertise and recommending drams to suit each guest’s palate.

Bars in Scotland 10
Bars in Scotland are great places to socialise.

For those looking to deepen their knowledge of whisky, The Malt Room offers tasting experiences and masterclasses. These sessions provide an opportunity to learn about the production process, the unique characteristics of different whiskies, and the art of whisky appreciation.

Hoot The Redeemer – Edinburgh

Hoot The Redeemer, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, is a unique and whimsical cocktail bar that offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. Situated on Hanover Street, it is one of the most eye-catching bars in Scotland. It draws passersby to step inside and discover the magic that lies within.

The bar’s concept revolves around a playful and nostalgic theme, evoking memories of vintage fairgrounds and old-timey amusement arcades. The interior is a quirky mix of carnival-inspired decor, including carousel horses, vintage posters, and colourful neon lights, creating an atmosphere of wonder and delight.

One of the main draws of Hoot The Redeemer is its imaginative and inventive cocktails. The skilled mixologists craft an array of creative concoctions that take inspiration from nostalgic treats and fairground delights.

Guests can enjoy drinks like candy floss martinis, popcorn-infused bourbon, and alcoholic slushies, adding an element of fun and surprise to the drinking experience.

Bars in Scotland 2
Many bars have outdoor seating areas.

Beyond its whimsical libations, Hoot The Redeemer also offers a unique cocktail vending machine, where visitors can try their luck at a mystery drink in exchange for tokens. This interactive element adds an extra layer of enjoyment and a sense of adventure to the bar experience.

Gin 71 – Glasgow

Gin 71, situated in the vibrant city of Glasgow, Scotland, is a haven for gin aficionados and cocktail enthusiasts. Located on Renfield Street, this stylish and contemporary bar is dedicated to celebrating the diverse and ever-growing world of gin.

Gin 71 is one of the most renowned bars in Scotland for locals and tourists alike. The name “Gin 71” pays homage to the city’s history, as Glasgow was granted its city charter in 1171, adding a touch of local significance to the bar’s identity.

The star of the show at Gin 71 is undoubtedly its impressive collection of gins. With over 70 varieties of gin sourced from Scotland and beyond, the bar takes pride in showcasing a diverse selection that caters to a wide range of palates. From London Dry gins to more artisanal options, there’s something to please every gin enthusiast.

One of the highlights of Gin 71 is its delightful gin cocktails. The skilled mixologists craft creative and flavorful concoctions that celebrate the versatility of gin. Guests can enjoy a variety of gin-based drinks, from classic gin and tonics to inventive gin fizzes and martinis, all expertly prepared with botanicals and garnishes to enhance the flavour.

Bars in Scotland 5
The bars in Scotland are great places to unwind.

There are Tons of Exceptional Bars in Scotland to Visit

The bars in Scotland offer a diverse and captivating experience for both locals and tourists alike. From the traditional whisky havens to the trendy and inventive cocktail bars, Scotland’s best bars cater to a wide range of preferences and interests.

The country’s rich history and cultural heritage are intertwined with the pub culture. Each visit to the bars in Scotland is an opportunity to indulge in the finest spirits and take in the heartwarming hospitality that defines Scottish social life.

Whether sipping on a fine whisky in the cosy atmosphere of a traditional pub or savouring an inventive cocktail in a trendy and modern setting, the bars in Scotland offer an unforgettable journey into the heart of this fascinating and spirited nation.

If you’re interested in touring the greatest bars across the UK, check out The Best Bars in Northern Ireland.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *