Summer in Scotland is the perfect time for finding a rustic pub where you can relax with a chilled G&T or frigid lager. And ideally, you'll probably want to enjoy your tipple in a pub with its own beer garden or al fresco seating (that's if the weather is behaving itself, of course — but let's be optimistic).
Luckily, the beautiful Scottish Borders has its fair share of classic pubs and cosy inns tucked away across the region. We've picked out five of the best, all offering their own unique character and outdoor areas. Most on this list serve tasty food as well, from Scottish pub classics to gastro pub cuisine.
And so that you can make a full day out of it, we've also included tips on sightseeing spots that you can visit nearby...
The Bridge Inn, Peebles
When a drinking spot twice bags the title of 'Best Pub in Scotland and Northern Ireland' from CAMRA (in both 2017 and 2019), you know that you're in for a half decent pint. And from its charming mock Tudor exterior to its beer garden overlooking the River Tweed, The Bridge Inn is an ideal spot for unwinding in on a sunny afternoon.
Based in heart of Peebles at the end of the High Street (and in the shadow of the famous Old Parish Church), this reassuringly old-school pub prides itself on its authenticity. Once you've bagged that all-important garden table, you can try out a range of craft gins and real cask ales from the likes of Tempest Brewing in the Borders and Stewart Brewery in Lothian.
You can also head here for regular entertainment like the Sunday music sessions or legendary domino tournaments, or just to sip a cool evening beer after a day of exploring pretty Peebles.
Nearby sightseeing: Tweed Bridge, Old Parish Church Peebles, Neidpath Castle.
Black Bull Hotel, Lauder
Winner of a TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award, the Black Bull is an atmospheric family-run inn with a history stretching all the way back to the 1700s.
Based on a peaceful shop-lined street, this Georgian-style hotel has kept many of its original features. The freshly refurbished bar area offers comfy leather seats and hand-carved tables, plus there is outdoor seating for finer days. Vibrant décor, splashes of tartan and walls decorated with classic Scottish characters like Oor Wullie all add up to a cheerful feel.
Visitors can tuck into traditional Scottish and international fare washed down by popular cask ales, spirits, whiskies, cocktails and wines. The kitchen is run by a chef who selects only the best quality local beef, lamb, fish and seasonal game, all prepared to order. Choice menu picks include the the 8oz Angus beef or venison burger with chunky chips, the Black Bull lasagne, or the chef's special chicken curry. A succulent roast is served on Sundays.
And if you want to bring along your furry friend then good news — dogs are welcome too.
Nearby sightseeing: Thirlestane Castle, Whitslaid Tower, Bow Castle Broch.
Burt's Hotel, Melrose
Named 'Scotland's Best Bar for Dining' an incredible seven times in a row by the Good Pub Guide, you will find few better spots for a summery pub lunch than Burt's Hotel in historic Melrose.
Set in the town's busy Market Square, this 18th-century hotel is family run and offers both an AA Rosette restaurant and a bistro. The lovely beer garden includes a terrace area with an almost European feel, ideal for sipping a Pimm's or Prosecco.
The Bistro Bar's menu has been crafted to showcase quality local ingredients, from light lunchtime bites like the twice baked cheese soufflé or spiced tiger prawns, to heartier evening mains like Highland Venison or pan-fried fillet of salmon.
You can wash down your meal with a fine wine from the extensive cellar range, then browse the special menu of over 90 malts whiskies for an after-dinner dram.
Nearby sightseeing: Melrose Abbey, Eildon Hills, Abbotsford (former home of Sir Walter Scott).
Buccleuch Arms, St Boswells
Based in the village of St Boswells, this four-star coaching inn actually dates back to 1836 and once served as a hunting lodge for the 5th Duke of Buccleuch. These days it is an award-winning drinking and dining spot with a spacious bar area and bistro dining. On warmer evenings, head out to the picturesque beer garden surrounded by shady trees and ornamental conifers.
The Blue Coo Bistro at the inn is committed to a 'field to fork ethos' of sourcing from first class local suppliers. Plus as it still has many of its original 19th century features, it offers an atmospheric spot for enjoying dishes like the pint of Isle of Lewis mussels; cider-battered Atlantic haddock with chips, and 8oz Hardiesmill Aberdeen Angus beef burger.
The 'Lazy Sunday' roast menu serves up slow-cooked blade of Scotch beef followed by the Buccleuch's classic sticky toffee pudding with Doddington Dairy ice cream. The inn even has its own range of condiments, including smoked spicy ketchup.
Nearby attractions: St Boswells Golf Club, burial place of Sir Walter Scott at Dryburgh Abbey, William Wallace Statue.
The Traquair Arms, Innerleithen
Another TripAdvisor award winner, this family-run hotel and gastro pub is housed in an 200-year-old coach house in the peaceful Tweed Valley town of Innerleithen.
Visitors can make the most of the scenic surrounding countryside and peaceful walks along the Tweed. The hotel is also handy for the Southern Upland Way walking route, while the 12th century Traquair House is just a mile away.
Inside, you can dine on bistro-style dishes crafted from locally sourced seasonal ingredients, accompanied by specially selected wines and local ales. You will also have a choice of areas to dine in, including the restaurant, cosy bar or beer garden with its shady parasols.
Depending on your mood, you can choose to tuck into a hearty pub favourite or sample a swanky gourmet dish instead. Choices from the former include the Traquair Arms steak & ale pie or traditional beer-battered fish & chips. Choices from the latter include venison haunch with fondant potato, or a corn-fed chicken coq au vin with dauphinoise potatoes. Veggies can tuck into dishes like the chef's own gnocchi with roasted butternut squash & goats' cheese.
A range of hot lunchtime sandwiches are also served, as well as Sunday roasts.
Nearby sightseeing: Traquair House & Brewery, Robert Smail's Printing Works, St. Ronan's Wells.
We hope you've enjoyed our guide to the very best Scottish Borders pubs to visit in the summertime. And while you're visiting them, don't forget to try out some local Borders drinks from independent producers.
If you're planning a holiday in our stunning region, then why not book a stay in a five-star Airhouses lodge with a hot tub?
You might also like:
Six of the Best Restaurants in the Scottish Borders.
Where Can You Eat Out in the Scottish Borders this Summer?
Anyone for G&T? Your Guide to Six of the Best Scottish Borders Gins.
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