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Pub Walk Edinburgh’s Most Historical Pubs

April 18, 2022 5 min read No Comments

If you’ve ever visited the United Kingdom before, you know that there is history literally popping out of street corners! Spending time in a traditional Scottish pub after a day out adventuring is possibly the best way to finish off a day.

While we were visiting the UK I loved being able to stop in at the fun pubs that have these interesting decorations from the outside all the way through the front door back to the loo. The best way to enjoy the welcoming atmospheres, friendly staff, AMAZING food, DELICIOUS local ales and live music are but a few of the things to look forward to – especially when the fiddles come out!

The best combo of history is when you can pair a beer with it! So let me take you on a pub walk through Edinburgh’s most historical pubs!

Royal Mile Pubs

1. The Sheep Heid Inn

Said to be the oldest pub in Scotland, dating all the way back to 1360! In medieval times, sheep were brought to Duddingston for slaughter after fattening in Holyrood Park and it is said that the locals would figure out lots of dishes that could be made with their heads – hence the name! A few big names have visited this pub throughout history, including though not limited to – Bonnie Prince Charlie being one of them.

Though you won’t find any sheep’s heads getting boiled in the kitchen these days – you will be sure to still experience a warm and welcoming pub with lots of cozy corners, traditional furnishings and open fires.

2. White Hart Inn

The next pub on the list is the White Hart Inn! The earliest written records for The White Hart Inn on this site date to 1516. However, only the cellarage survives from this time, whilst the building above ground dates to 1740.

The pub gets its name from a miraculous and holy event that took place in Edinburgh in 1128. The Scottish King David I, against the advice of his priest, set out hunting upon the Feast Day of the Holy Rood, which is Scots for the Holy Cross. He came upon a huge, white stag and gave chase but was suddenly thrown from his horse. The stag immediately turned upon its pursuer and King David began frantically praying to God for his salvation.

Of course, a story like this goes that a fiery cross appeared between the stag’s antlers before it vanished from sight. A grateful King David built a shrine upon the site of the miracle, founding Holyrood Abbey, the ruin of which may be seen today at the rear of Holyrood Palace.

The Witchery Pub

3. Ye Olde Golf Tavern

Located on the edge of the Bruntsfield Links it was founded in 1456. The Tavern was previously known as the Golf Hotel. This is also is known as the OLDEST Golf bar in the world! As purpose built golf clubhouses did not exist at that time, local inns served the same purpose, and ‘Ye Olde Golf Tavern’ was used as Bruntsfield Links Society clubhouse from 1788 until early in the nineteenth century when they moved to Musselburgh. How cool is that? You can visit the world’s oldest golf pub is ‘Ye Olde Golf Tavern’ and it is right by the oldest short course in the world!

4. Deacon Brodies Tavern

Deacon Brodies Tavern is located in the historical heart of Edinburgh, just a short stroll from Edinburgh Castle, Waverley Station and the George IV Bridge. I love the history around the name of this tavern. The pub is named after Deacon Brodie – one of the inspirations behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde. Born in 1741, Brodie was a deacon of the Guild of Wrights — a group of skilled carpenters. By day, he was a respectable citizen and member of the town council. But by night, he was caught up in gambling and drinking, and resorted to burglary to pay off his gambling debts. Brodie was hung for his crimes in 1788…super cheery right? This is what I love about these pubs! You’d never guess that it was named after a man who was a thief and hung!

5. Beehive Inn

This one has a lot of history! It is one of the oldest public houses in Edinburgh. Be sure you look carefully as you walk up the stairs to the restaurant and you will see a substantial door. This one is out of place inside a pub. This is the door of the condemned cell from Calton Jail, which was demolished in 1935. The cell once held men like the notorious William Burke, and Eugene Chantrelle the George Street poisoner.

St Andrew’s House, one of the offices of the Scottish Government, now occupies the site of the jail, but the cell door is not the only relic of its past. The Beehive sits in the shadow of The Castle and boasts a history going back around 400 years. With a drinks license thought to have existed since it was a 16th Century coaching inn, the present building replaced The Beehive Hotel in the 1860’s.

6. Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar

Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar is located in the heart of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh in Candlemaker Row. As one of the most photographed pubs in Scotland. It’s easy to find if you take a walk from Chambers Street, Grassmarket and George IV Bridge.

This pub was inspired by the tale of Edinburgh’s most famous dog, Greyfriars Bobby (I’ll get to that story in a second). But with that it’s no surprise that this pub loves dogs and is very proud to be a dog-friendly pub.

Greyfriars Bobby (4 May 1855 – 14 January 1872) was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died on 14 January 1872.

Greyfriars Bobby Statue

You’ll find a plethora of Edinburgh’s most iconic attractions near you, including The National Museum of Scotland, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh University, and of course the Statue of Greyfriars Bobby.

The Front of Greyfiars Bobbys Bar

Be sure to subscribe to ensure you are notified when I release a new blog post! Lots more to come! Also check out this blog about tips on how to Travel with Toddlers!



The things I love the most...Wine, traveling, and photography! Join me on my adventures as I travel the world and share my experiences as I travel with my daughter, top places to visit and how to travel on a budget!

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The Backpacker Mom

Hey there! I'm Phylicia, but you probably know me as "The Backpacker Mom." As a passionate wine educator and travel blogger, my daughter and I embark on exciting adventures around the world, sipping wine and creating unforgettable memories together. Join us on our wonderful adventures around the globe! Read More Here

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