Best Bars To Visit In Edinburgh During The Fringe
You only have to take a walk through Edinburgh’s timeless Old Town or along bustling Princes Street in August to realise that festival season is in full swing! The breath-taking sights, smells, colours and sounds of the festival ripple through Edinburgh at this time of year, and despite being a little busier than usual (okay maybe a lot busier!) August is an incredible time to visit Edinburgh.
People from all around the world flock to Edinburgh in the summer to experience events such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Royal Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Film Festival to name a few, and we know that soaking up all that culture is thirsty work.
So it makes sense that you’re looking for the best bars in Edinburgh to visit during the Fringe Festival - and they definitely need to be large enough so you’re not getting turned away, or waiting an impossibly long time for drinks!
Yes it can be difficult to find a bar/place to get a bite to eat in Edinburgh that isn’t already full, as naturally at this time of year bars and pubs in Edinburgh will be busier than usual. But there are those that have plenty of space and so offer a greater chance of getting a table faster, and we’re about to share them with you.
We’ve compiled a list of incredible, spacious bars and pubs in Edinburgh that are well worth visiting during the Edinburgh Festivals. Each offer a great selection of drinks, including Scottish drinks and spirits, and some even offer light bites and street food. Best of all, they all serve Smugglers Spirits, so you can sip our range of Scottish gins and vodka made locally and sustainably in the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh whilst enjoying everything else the Scottish capital has to offer in the summer months.
Check out our spirits range here.
This list includes some of the best rooftop bars in Edinburgh, as well as an award-winning Edinburgh pub, so read on to discover the bars and pubs to make sure you include in your visit.
Malones Edinburgh is an energetic sports pub and live music venue located a short stroll from Haymarket Station. The pub is laid out over 2 spacious floors and has two bars, meaning plenty of room to enjoy drinks during Edinburgh festival season. Despite being close by to some Fringe venues, Malones is on the outskirts of the city centre, so you’ll find the vibe is lively yet less crowded. It has also been named best pub in the City of Edinburgh and Southeast Scotland at the National Pub and Bar Awards this year, so all the more reason to pay them a visit when you’re in Edinburgh!
With friendly staff and live music over the weekend, Malones is the perfect pit stop when you need to recharge from the festival action. It is also the only pub in Edinburgh which serves Tennent’s Tank Lager - the freshest pint around, and if you like beer it’s an essential try when visiting Scotland. If spirits are more your thing, Malones serves Smugglers Spirits as the house gin and vodka.
The pub is just down the road from Fringe venue the Pleasance Theatre at EICC, where some of the best shows at the Edinburgh Fringe are performed. Not only do Malones serve up the best pints of Tennent’s and Guinness in the city, they also offer competitions to win tickets to popular shows at the Pleasance including frequent sell-out Shit-faced Shakespeare. All you need to do is buy a pint - sounds simple enough!
Festival Village: Waverley
Festival Village: Waverley is an Edinburgh rooftop bar directly above Waverley Station. Though the front of the festival style beer garden leads out onto busy Princes Street, the back of the bar offers idyllic panoramic views of famous Edinburgh landmarks, including Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument. As one of (if not the largest) beer gardens in Edinburgh, Festival Village is extremely roomy – with plenty of seating so you can take a load off when you’re suffering from Edinburgh Feet (a term we’ve just come up with to describe tired feet caused by a day walking up and down Edinburgh’s many hills!)
Festival Village offers refreshing beer, local spirits (you’ll note our Smugglers Spirits bars) and even delicious boozy slushies that are perfect for summer. There is also a fantastic selection of street food on offer from local vendors, including juicy burgers and fresh stone-baked pizza. Not only can you satisfy your food and drink cravings at Festival Village, you can do it while listening to incredible live music from 12pm and watching Free Fringe performances on the Smugglers Stage.
Side-note: make sure to try Smugglers Spirits’ new Orange, Raspberry and Strawberry flavoured gins while at Festival Village, and keep an eye out for our shop where you can buy a bottle!
The Secret Garden Restaurant
Okay we know a restaurant and a bar aren’t technically the same thing, but the Secret Garden Restaurant is unique and just had to be included on this list. Part of the ensemble of al fresco bars and eateries on the Waverley Mall rooftop on Princes Street, the restaurant offers light bites and small plates made with locally sourced ingredients. The flavours are inspired by and based around delicate herbs that are grown just a few miles away in the Pentland Hills that surround the city.
This Edinburgh restaurant is also a great place to enjoy a refreshing Scottish beverage, as both the Secret Garden Gin range and Smugglers Spirits are available at the bar.
Cask is a bright, welcoming cocktail bar with spacious booths and a plentiful mix of low and high seating. Have you ever tried a cocktail garnished with a Sherbet Dipdab? Their incredibly creative and nostalgic cocktail menu makes this Edinburgh bar an essential pit-stop this festival season.
The rooftop bar is partnered with Edinburgh food brand Lichen, who serve up creative and colourful small plates, bringing an international twist to local Scottish produce. If you like to share, socialise and savour, then this is the Edinburgh bar for you!
Outside, Cask’s Mezzanine Wine Bar is a secret suntrap serving high quality wines from around the world, and making the most of spectacular views of the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle.
The Secret Domes
We may have saved the best ‘til last – The Secret Domes at Cask are an absolutely unmissable experience for anyone visiting Edinburgh. The clear domes seat groups of up to 12 people and provide breath-taking views and a taste of luxury from the Waverley Mall rooftop. The Secret Domes work with local suppliers to supply produce for their afternoon tea and packages, so this is the ideal place to experience an ensemble of Edinburgh food and drink.
It's not just about the refreshments at the Secret Domes, it’s about the experience. The entrance is a secret archway of flowers, carefully curated by a local boutique florist, and once seated in your dome you can press a service bell and a friendly waiter will appear to cater to all your needs.
The Secret Domes are open until midnight during the Edinburgh Fringe, so they make the perfect vantage point to watch the famous Royal Military Tattoo fireworks with drinks in hand.
These luxurious private bubbles are understandably busy at this time of year, so we advise booking in advance of your visit!