The pub is a British institution: a place for conversation, camaraderie and good food and drink. Scotland has a surplus of traditional pubs and inns, usually open from late morning until late at night. For tourists, experiencing the atmosphere of an authentic Scottish pub – or indeed several of them – can be a memorable part of a trip to the country. You’ll find great pubs all over Scotland, but here’s a rundown of some of the very best places to settle down over an autumn pint.
One of the oldest inns in Scotland – it first opened its doors in the 14th century – The Sheep Heid Inn is a classic traditional city pub, complete with wood panelling, a fireplace and ornate interiors. Last year it received a visit from none other than Queen Elizabeth II, who popped in unannounced for an evening meal.
A gem of a pub with low ceilings, snug lighting and a long, well-stocked bar, The Prince of Wales has an upbeat atmosphere and a good location in central Aberdeen. Try their Blaggis Fritters, which blend black pudding with haggis, or opt for a beer-marinated beef pie. There’s live music on Sundays.
The oldest inn on Skye also enjoys one of the most picturesque locations in the country, overlooking a sea loch on the island’s Waternish Peninsula (western Skye). Eating and drinking are both taken seriously here – the dining menu includes Skye scallops, Scottish salmon and wild venison, while the bar has more than 130 single malts to choose from.
Ensconced among the brightly painted houses of Tobermory (northern Mull), the quirkily named Mishnish is the very definition of a cosy Scottish pub, with tartan carpets, multiple fireplaces and regular live music. It’s also a fine place to eat, with locally caught fish and shellfish on the menu.
Described as “the best pub in the world” by British celebrity chef Rick Stein, Canny Man’s is positively brimming with character, its walls covered in clocks, framed artworks and antique trinkets. Established back in 1871, it’s still family-run and is particularly renowned for its Bloody Mary cocktails (made using vodka, tomato juice and spices). The main bar also holds more than 250 whiskies.
Glasgow’s oldest bar and restaurant, Sloans is set over three floors, all of them decadent in their own way. Expect stained glass, marble fireplaces and a goodtime atmosphere throughout the year. If you’re in the city over a weekend, meanwhile, don’t miss the chance to join their famous Friday ceilidhs (energetic gatherings with traditional music and dancing).
A legendary pub among climbers and hikers, the award-winning Clachaig Inn sits in the heart of gorgeous Glencoe, 35 minutes’ drive south of Fort William. The fire-warmed mountain inn has three separate bars, each with its own personality. Don’t miss the Boots Bar, serviced by a huge choice of ales and single malt whiskies. The pubs runs a regular programme of events, from live music to whisky-tasting masterclasses.
With more than 300 years of hospitality already under its belt, the Drovers Inn knows a thing or two about keeping customers happy – and it shows. Sitting at the northern end of the loch, it’s a hugely atmospheric pub serving quality local fare and good drink. It’s said that Scottish folk hero Rob Roy was among the inn’s earlier guests, and some visitors may be interested to hear it’s also known as one of Britain’s most haunted pubs.