From specialist cider spots to the whole of King Street, there are few places better for pubs than Bristol. Whether you’re looking for a traditional boozer or something more akin to a trendy bar, there’s no end to the brilliant drinking holes. Somewhere you can sink a few pints while catching up with old (and new) friends. You can hardly put a pint wrong in the South West city, but these are the very best pubs in Bristol.
1. The Christmas Steps
No, we’re not talking about the street, but the pub at the bottom it lends its name to. Previously called Three Sugar Loaves and Gaiety, The Christmas Steps dates back in some form or another to the 16th century. But today it balances somewhere between a traditional boozer and a trendy weekend hotspot. Serving craft beer and real ale, small plates and pub classics.
The cosy split-level pub is surprisingly spacious, with loads of places to sit or stand either inside or out. Meanwhile, the free Crack Magazine jukebox provides a cutting-edge soundtrack for visitors, as do the local DJs playing at the weekend. Make sure to check out the amazing Sunday roast too.
2 Christmas Steps, Bristol BS1 5BS
2. The Full Moon and Attic Bar
We haven’t just chosen The Full Moon because it’s the prettiest pub in Bristol. But, taking inspiration from Hubble Telescope photographs, Cheba’s abstract galaxy graffiti is pretty eye-catching. No, we’ve chosen the Stokes Croft because it does so many things in one while doing them all so well. It’s a pub, a nightclub, a hostel, a restaurant and also boasts a large courtyard for sinking pints in the sunshine. Thanks to regular events, from DJs to comedy shows, The Full Moon is always a good vibe too.
1 North St, St Paul’s, Bristol BS1 3PR
3. The Green Man
If you want a proper traditional boozer, look no further than The Green Man in Kingsdown. Best described as cosy, snug and quiet, the pub is quirkily adorned with trinkets, paintings and more. It serves a number of local ales, and other Bristol drinks producers, in an unpretentious manner, while on Sundays you can stop by some acoustic sets too.
21 Alfred Pl, Bristol BS2 8HD
4. The Llandoger Trow
The oldest pub on this list, and one of the eldest in Bristol still going. Sitting on King Street (which is chock full of some of the best pubs in Bristol), The Llandoger Trow dates all the way back to 1664. Back in those days, the clientele was said to include the infamous Bristol pirate, Blackbeard. As well as, Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, and Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe.
These days, The Llandoger Trow’s timber framing stands out on this busy pub strip and still feels like a ye olde pub of yore. With 26 kegs, four casks and five ciders on offer most days, there are plenty of drinking options too. Head down on Friday and Saturday nights, for Techno at the Trow, the German techno night hosted every weekend at the pub.
The Llandoger Trow, King Street, Bristol BS1 4ER
5. The Coronation Tap
We can’t talk about the best pubs in Bristol, without mentioning cider. The city is synonymous with scrumpy, with one of the best and oldest cider pubs in Bristol. The Coronation Tap is older than the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and knows a thing or two about strong scrumpy. The exclusively brewed Exhibition is the highlight of this trip, but at 8.2%, will knock your socks off. It also doubles as a regular live music venue in Clifton, if you like a sing-song with your cider.
8 Sion Pl, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4AX
6. The Old Bookshop
North Street has quickly become the coolest street in Bristol, full of bars, shops and restaurants to keep you busy until the end of time. The Old Bookshop is easily its best pub though (though the others are still worth checking out). Specialising in traditional German, Belgian and European-style beers, as well as plenty of local brews, you’ll find a unique selection of drinks available.
The pub itself is pretty interesting too. A (unplayable) piano at the bar keeps your fingers busy while you wait to order, while some of the seating out back seems to be built from an old rowing boat. Hungry? Then order from the vegan German-inspired kitchen for burgers, fries and bratwurst.
65 North St, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 1ES
7. The Plough
The Plough sits at the heart of a community in Easton, often getting involved with local projects in the area. (There’s also very leftwing ethos running through the pub too.) It’s rarely never busy either, especially with weekly music nights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, often reflecting the diverse clientele – from reggae to bhangra to punk and everything in between. The eclectic pub also screens live sports screenings and has a pool table. If you’re out east, there’s no other pub you want to be at.
223 Easton Rd, Easton, Bristol BS5 0EG
8. The Gallimaufry
Gallimaufry means a ‘confused jumble or medley of things’ and we couldn’t think of a better word to describe it. This vibrant and colourful establishment is everyone’s fave place to start or end your journey along Gloucester Road with its quirky décor, fantastic food and drink, and eclectic nightly music – be it jazz, prog, hip hop and beyond. The Gallimaufty’s cosy atmosphere makes it one of the finest pubs Bristol has to offer.
26-28 Gloucester Rd, Bishopston, Bristol BS7 8AL
9. Grain Barge
You can’t have a drink in Bristol without enjoying a pint by Harbourside. We almost went with The Ostritch, due to its massive beer garden, but you can’t beat Bristol’s boat pub, The Grain Barge. It once carried barley and wheat from Bristol to Cardiff, but is now moored up in Hotwells where you can enjoy a few pints on the top deck.
It’s great soaking up the surrounding sights of the harbour, spotting the likes of the SS Great Britain, Spike Island and Underfall Yard. A dream in summer, enjoy a selection of cask and keg ales, from local breweries, as well as top-notch grub. You may even catch the odd performance of live music and comedy, or exhibitions by a local artist.
Hotwell Rd, Bristol BS8 4RU
10. The Volunteer Tavern
Why do we love The Volunteer Tavern (or the Volly as some like to call it)? Well, it’s not just that it’s one of the few good pubs to find near the shopping district. Or that the decor is a strange mix of disco meets traditional boozer. And that it had a lively yet very friendly atmosphere. It’s probably a mix of all three. On top of regular music nights, a variety of worldly kitchens serving up grub, and everything from quizzes to bingo to theatre. The Volunteer Tavern was also the first pub in the city to become a Living Wage employer, so you know it’s got to be one of the best pubs in Bristol just for that.
9 New St, Bristol BS2 9DX