An Edinburgh alumni’s guide to the ultimate pub crawl

Sick of the Marchmont pub scene? We’ve got you covered for all your pub crawl needs


In Edinburgh, it may feel easy to keep going back to your favourite pubs again and again, without exploring what the city truly has to offer. As an Edinburgh Alumni, here are my favourite (and often less talked about) stops for the ultimate pub crawl, along with some of my favourite stories, across the city. This crawl makes this a perfect date night or a true punishment for your liver.

Starting point: Frederick Douglass Mural

Let’s start off with a quick history lesson for our starting point – The mural of Frederick Douglass sits on Gilmore Place and commemorates one of the most prominent abolitionists in American history, as well as “Scotland’s Antislavery agent”. Fun fact: When Joe Biden came to visit Cornwall back in 2021, Boris Johnson gave a picture of the Edinburgh mural to him in exchange for a bike.

The longer you look at it the more distorted the face becomes <3

First stop: Golf Tavern

The first stop on our crawl is the Golf Tavern on the opposite side of the Meadows from the university. Despite its name, you don’t need to be a golf alumnus to visit this pub, which also offers screenings of Sports events if you’re into that sort of thing, as well as golf club hire during the summer months.

Second stop: The Blackbird

A fundamentally lovely pub and easy to see with the bike on top. This pub has amazing vibes and sits on Leven street, just by the Gold Tavern, and features a beer garden around the back for when it gets a bit warmer in Edinburgh (but then again, when does it ever).

At least we now know where they buy their food from

Third Stop: The Ventoux

A hidden gem, The Ventoux on Tolcross doesn’t actually feature its name on the side of it but is easily seen by its bright green facade and Moretti awning. This pub encapsulates Edinburgh’s rich cycling heritage and is named after a leg of the Tour de France.

OMG the paint matches the moss

Third stop: Blue Blazer

Now off to the blue blazer, I don’t have a good story for this one, it just makes linking getting to the Old Town a bit easier. When you’re inside, look for a portrait of Gregor McGregor who faked being in charge of a country that didn’t exist and made a killing selling land grants. Another fun fact: The prosecutor hired to jail him was found guilty of slander and imprisoned instead (poor guy.)

True old man pub vibes

Fourth stop: The Jolly Judge

You’re now gonna go through Grassmarket, I can’t say that the touristy pubs are worth visiting, but if you continue up the the Royal Mile, you have a lot of pubs to choose from. My personal favourite is the Jolly Judge, which describes itself as a “Traditional Pub in the Heart of Edinburgh”. This pub is hidden away, so you might need to bring up Google Maps to find it.

Alternative stops: Ensign Ewart or Wetherspoons

Another choice here is you can go to the Standing order (favourite of David Horn residents) or the Booking office, both Wetherspoons branches. Standing order is cheaper and probably less busy but if it’s biblically raining like it was when I did this. Alternatively, try Ensign Ewart if you’re not into the Spoons scene, which is similar to the vibes of The Jolly Judge.

Wouldn’t be an Edinburgh Pub Crawl without a trip to one of the city’s nice Wetherspoons

Final stop: The Conan Doyle

The final push now to The Conan Doyle, named after Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes. This pub is said to be a favourite of writers and is seeped in the history of the Sherlock writer. Who knew that in between writing he managed to take part in seven different sports, and refereed the first-ever bodybuilding contest on record?

Caught it on a bad day but we swear it looks nice

By now you will most likely be ready for bed (or some cheesy chips) having trekked through the Capital’s hidden gems. If you’re still itching for more, however, feel free to explore one of the city’s hundreds of pubs – after all, we are blessed enough to have  34.29 pubs per 100,000 people, topping London’s statistics.

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