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A Quick Guide to Drinking in Edinburgh ....

Some things you should know when out for a beer in Edinburgh. May or may not be useful! It is pretty basic but is aimed at people new to Edinburgh and Scotland. Feed back welcome.


Pubs in Edinburgh have staggered closing times. Most pubs will close at midnight. It is possible to find pubs open until 1 and 3 am. During the Edinburgh Festival licences are extended and it is virtually possible to get a pint at a bar for 24hrs. Pubs that open late often have live music and dance floors. You may have to queue and pay to get into some late night venues. Many pubs also restrict access late at night to avoid overcrowding.

A last orders bell is sounded 15 minutes before the closing time. Drinkers are required to leave by 15 minutes after closing time. Pubs also open at staggered times, normally around 10 / 11 am. Sunday opening hours are normally a bit more limited.

From 26th April 2006, legislation has been introduced in Scotland that bans smoking in enclosed public places. You and the bar may be fined if you smoke in a pub.


Pubs are normally tied to a particular brewery or pub chain. This dictates the range of beer on supply. It is common to recognise the brewery the pub is linked to just by seeing the brands on offer. Independent pubs that stock a range of rarer and specialised beer are available. The usual multinational brands are available along with offerings from the full range of Scottish breweries. (From the internationally well known to micro brewery) Strength of beer generally ranges from 3.8->5.2 %ABV, and is supplied in pint (568ml) or half pint measures. (Note that UK and US pints are different volumes!)


Food is served in a lot of pubs. This can range from simple snacks to full and varied menus. Price and quality can vary greatly. Generally food is usually available throughout the day up until around 9 in the evening. You may be required to order and pay at the bar so remember to locate your table number and quote this when ordering.

Cost / Service

I believe that Edinburgh is one of the most expensive places to go out in Britain, after London. The cost of a pint can vary wildly and depends on what and where you are drinking. The price of a pint of beer generally ranges from 2 to over 3. (So typically Premium Lager ~2.80, Lager ~2.50 but dont be supprised at pints at ~3.25) The bars that are nearest the city centre tend to charge the most. The latest 'style' bars and some tourist hot spots are also expensive. In general, it is customary to order and pay for drinks at the bar, although table service is sometimes available. It is normal bar etiquette to realise when you arrived at the bar and offer service opportunities to anyone who has been at the bar longer - although this is not always observed, especially in busier bars. Normally, you should not be expected to tip for beer delivery. The possible exceptions would be if you were also having food or using table service but it's pretty discretionary.

Legally a pub must display a list off all the drink prices. In practice this list is tucked away and hard to read.

More bars are increasingly offering payment by debit card (switch) options and also cash-back facilities. You may be required to spend a minimum amount when using a debit card. Just confirm the details before use to avoid any embarrassment. Another recent trend is for cash machines to be located inside pub premises. You will be charged for the privilege. A free to use cash machine is normally in easy reach.