Top Traditional Pubs in Scotland

By: Clarissa Vanner
Glazed tile, three-dimensional lettering of the word 'Bar', in antique Art Nouveau style on the exterior fascia of a British Pub Getty Images / stocknshares

Scotland is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes that boast rolling green hills, rocky cliff edges, and historic castles. That is enough to draw in travelers from all over the world. But that isn’t all Scotland is known for. This beautiful place is also known for its delicious food and vibrant pub scene. Scotland is home to many traditional pubs some of which date back hundreds of years! Go for the delicious food and drink but stay for the scenery. Here is our list of the top traditional pubs in Scotland that you need to visit. 


The Sheeps Heid Inn – Duddingston, Edinburgh

The Sheeps Heid Inn, in Duddingston, Edinburgh was first established in the 1360s making it the oldest pub in Scotland. Legend has it a regular patron was Queen Mary of Scots along with her son James VI. They gifted the owner with a snuff box made of a ram’s head, the catalyst for the pub’s name, and it’s interior. 

This premium pub, bar, and restaurant is located in central east Edinburgh in Duddingston village. Their menu features a fantastic selection of spirits and beer and delicious Scottish pub fare. The pub includes a nice beer garden, a conservatory, and most interesting of all, a historic skittle alley dating back to the 19th century. Skittles is a type of bowling game that five and ten pin, duck, and candlepin bowling derive from. 

The Admiral, Glasgow

Glasgow’s Admiral pub is an iconic traditional bar that draws in quite the impressive crowd. The comfortable bar stools upstairs are the perfect place to grab a pint while downstairs features the pub’s bustling music venue called “The Hold”. Here you can enjoy live music from some of Glasgow’s best promoters. The pub serves delicious food Monday through Friday starting midday until 8 pm. Previous patrons have raved about their famous Mac and Cheese and stonebaked Pizzas. Check out their full menu, hours of operation, and upcoming events on their website

The Drovers Inn – Inverarnan, North Loch Lomond

Founded in 1705, The Drovers Inn is one of Scotland’s oldest standing pubs, and a fine one indeed. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful architecture but once you head inside, it’ll feel like you stepped back in time. This historic place has welcomed visitors for over 300 years including some famous faces like Gerard Butler! 

Drovers’ serves delicious food daily and every weekend you can enjoy live music. The diverse menu offers traditional fare like Haggis, Neeps, And Tatties as well as gluten-free and vegan-friendly options. Enjoy your dish with a tasty beverage such as whiskey, beer, or wine! You can even spend a day or two here as there are accommodations in the inn itself as well as the new lodge located across the road. Better yet both the bar and the hotel are dog-friendly! 

The Pear Tree, Edinburgh

There is no lack of great pubs in Edinburgh but not many feature a huge, bustling beer garden, outdoor barbeque, and stage for live music. Add just those three elements and you’ve got a great combo for an afternoon or night out. The Pear Tree’s history is extensive. The beautiful stone building dates back to 1749 when it was constructed as a residential abode and called Nicholson House. Today, the 18th-century architecture has been maintained and is a sight to see in itself.  There is plenty of comfortable seating located inside while the outdoor patio features a tall stone wall that will protect you from the cold winds. The menu features delicious offerings from Fish and Chips to Veggie Haggis Cigars. 


The Old Forge – Inverie, Knoydart

The Old Forge is remote — so remote in fact that it holds the title as the most secluded pub on the mainland of the United Kingdom (Guinness Book of World Records). Surprisingly, even though the pub is remote, it still flourishes, and most days are filled up and lively. 

If you’re craving a fresh seafood meal paired with a traditional Scottish pub backdrop, this is the place to be. Be sure to order one of the huge seafood platters that feature scallops pulled straight from the water! You should also try out other renowned dishes including their venison. In addition to good food, the hospitality is outstanding and you’ll always get a smile and a friendly chat from the pub’s staff.

The Clachaig Inn – Glencoe, Argyll

The rural mountain backdrop surrounding the historic Clachaig Inn is spectacular and worth every minute it takes to arrive there. It’s located near The Ice Factor National Climbing Center,  Loch Leven’s Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum. The hotel boasts 23 modernized en-suite bedrooms that boast spectacular views of the Glencoe Mountains. 

The Clachaig Inn is also renowned for its three bars that each have their own distinctive and lively character so you can choose which one suits you best. Particularly appealing throughout each of the pubs are the old stone floors and fiery open hearths along with hearty meals and live music. All three bars offer real ales, malt whiskey, Scottish gins, fresh coffee, and great food! Whether you’re looking to grab a pint with a friend, looking to dance the night away, or indulge in a deliciously prepared meal, this is definitely the place for you! 

Sloans, Glasgow

Sloans has been operating in Glasgow since 1797 and claims it’s the oldest restaurant and bar in the city. It occupies three floors of a historic building in the heart of the city and features a Grand Ballroom where Friday night ceilidhs are popular. The outdoor courtyard, called The Lane, is a famous hangout and great place to enjoy Sloans BBQ. 

Further, the main floor is a bistro and bar where food and drink are available. You can then climb the beautiful central staircase where you’ll reach another bar, The Snug. This bar features wide, antique wood trim and stunning glass details with cozy tables. The round bar inside is also a standout feature and lively place to drink with the local Glasgow crowd. The weekend market happening outside of Sloans, paired with the building’s authentic look, creates an almost-authentic 1900s atmosphere.

Applecross Inn – Strathcarron, Wester Ross

The journey to Applecross Inn will be an adventure in itself. First, you need to make sure you’re a confident driver and are comfortable driving your car through any road conditions. This is because the journey up the narrow single track road that rises from sea level up 2, 053 ft is no easy feat. Along the way, you’ll be able to take in the breathtaking views of the Bealach na Bà. Applecross is quite remote but once you arrive you’ll see why people love coming here. T

The Inn features a tranquil landscape of the Inner Sound of Raasay to the isles of Raasay and Sky. You’ll have your choice of seven relaxing en-suite bedrooms that run on a bed and breakfast basis. It costs about $70 Euros (about $80 USD) per adult per night to stay here. Whether you’re staying or only passing through make sure you check out their award-winning dining and bar. Their dishes are always made with fresh local produce, seafood, and highland game and meats. They also offer daily seafood specials, as well as a vegetarian-friendly menu and a menu for children. When you’re ready to grab a drink check out their extensive selection of top-notch malt whiskeys, wine, spirits, bottled beer, and several hoppy drafts from Isle of Skye Brewery.

The Pot Still, Glasgow

The Pot Still located in Glasgow is the place to go if you love malt whiskey. The pub takes pride in its vast menu that features over 700 whiskeys, and delicious ales. But don’t feel intimidated, the friendly staff are experts and will help you navigate through the list to find the perfect drink for you. Be sure to order your drink with their famous pot pies! 

The atmosphere is excellent, and with a mix of heavy history, this is definitely one of the best traditional pubs in Glasgow. John Hill was the pub’s initial owner in 1867. He was a well-known spirit and wine merchant who ran the venue until its sale to William McCall in 1870. Today, traditional Scottish home cooking and a fine array of drinks keep business thriving.