10 Edinburgh… Literary Pubs

Edinburgh has more licensed premises than any other part of Scotland. Now, we’re in no way suggesting that there might be a correlation between creating and carousing, but if you fancy raising a glass to your favourite literary personality or want to just soak up the atmosphere here are some suggestions around the city.

The Blind Poet image

The Blind Poet

In the wood panelled entrance hall to the Blind Poet, you’ll find poems inscribed on the wall in homage to the pub’s namesake and former owner, eighteenth century poet, Thomas Blacklock. The pub’s literary tradition lives on with a series of open mic and spoken word nights. We feel sure he would approve.

Greyfriars Bobby's bar image

Greyfriars Bobby's bar

Located on Candlemaker Row, Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar sits cheek by furry jowl with the statue of the famous canine and the Kirkyard where he kept guard on his master’s grave. Say hello to Bobby on your past but PLEASE don’t touch his nose. It’s more likely to bring you a dirty hand than luck!

White Hart Inn image

White Hart Inn

Founded in 1516, the White Hart Inn is one of Edinburgh’s oldest public houses so it’s no surprise its seen some notable literary happenings over the years. Robert Burns lodged there on his last visit to Edinburgh in 1791, as did William and Dorothy Wordsworth in 1803. They didn’t review on TripAdvisor.

Captain's Bar image

Captain's Bar

Although most associated with Dundee, William Topaz McGonagall – the world’s best worst poet – was actually from Edinburgh. He moved back to the city living out his last years above the Captain’s Bar in South College Street. The bar continues his lyrical work, although of a much higher quality, with spoken word events and live music.

The Cumberland Bar image

The Cumberland Bar

The Cumberland Bar is a firm favourite with locals including a number of characters in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street novels. Bruce, Pat, Stuart, Matthew and Angus Lordie all frequent it and Cyril (Angus’ gold-toothed dog) celebrated his exoneration from scurrilous accusations of biting with a dish of beer there.

Jekyll & Hyde image

Jekyll & Hyde

Inspired by the classic tale by Edinburgh’s own Robert Louis Stevenson, the Jekyll & Hyde is a bar with a few surprises up its sleeve. Take your drink down into the crypt or see if you can find the secrets behind the bookcases. Maybe steer clear of anything green and bubbling, though.

The Abbotsford image

The Abbotsford

Named after Sir Walter Scott‘s baronial mansion in the Scottish Borders, The Abbotsford is just as beautiful and has been popular with performers and writers for many years, including Scottish Renaissance poets like Hugh MacDiarmid, Sorley MacLean and Sydney Goodsir Smith. It is also the ‘howff’ for The Scottish Review of Books.

The Oxford Bar image

The Oxford Bar

The Oxford Bar has long been popular with writers and artists – from Renaissance Poets to today’s Edinburgh International Book Festival speakers – but it is now most famous as a favoured drinking hole of Ian Rankin and his fictional detective, Rebus. A serious pub.

Deacon Brodies Tavern image

Deacon Brodies Tavern

This large, welcoming bar on the corner of Lawnmarket pays homage to Deacon Brodie, a man whose fascinating double life is said to have inspired Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and Jean Brodie amongst others. The Tavern is a tourist favourite so bag a table by the window when you can.

The Conan Doyle image

The Conan Doyle

Just across the road from Picardy Place, the birthplace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and an impressive statue of Sherlock Holmes, the pub is a veritable shrine to the author and his most famous creation. A place to ponder your two packet of crisps problem.