The Exeter Hotel, Rundle Street
Photograph: South Australian Tourism Commission | The Exeter Hotel

The 22 greatest pubs in Australia

Beer gardens, schooners and steaks, oh my!

Melissa WoodleyCaitlyn Todoroski
Written by: Caitlyn Todoroski
Advertising

Look, it really isn’t a secret that we Aussies love a good pub. Whether you're tearing it up on the local dance floor on a Saturday night or downing pints with a hearty Sunday roast, pub culture has something for everyone, every day of the week.

These venues see it all: post-work bevvies, celebration dinners, darts competitions and even Hollywood movie crews. Whether it’s a schooner or a glass of wine you’re after, in the city or the outback, we’ve got a list of the country’s grooviest pubs that are a welcome sight to tourists and locals alike.

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out Australia newsletter for more news, travel inspo and activity ideas, straight to your inbox. 

Hungry? These are the best pies in Australia worth travelling for.

The best pubs in Australia

  • Carlton

They slipped in an excellent wine list, an exciting collection of craft brews and a bistro menu that wouldn’t look out of place on white linen with candlelight at the Lincoln, all while not diminishing the heart and soul of this pub - something often easier said than done. Punters have loved this pub since seemingly the beginning of time (having been established in 1854), and it doesn't look like they're going anywhere else, anytime soon. Hot tip: every Sunday, The Lincoln dishes up what could be considered the best roast in Melbourne for $34.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106033404/image.jpg
Lauren Dinse
Food & Drink Writer

This old girl had a majestic makeover after being destroyed by a fire in 2008, and while she’s a pretty sight, she still retains that historical charm from her glory days. You’ll find a sense of familiarity with the pub’s original fireplaces, original exposed brick walls and other recovered decor. However, we suggest making new friends at the upstairs bar with a retractable roof for all-season silliness. Top tip: Win the day with The Guildford’s Whole Damn Lot platter, including one kilo of meat goodness (smoked in the on-site smoker, named Thomas) and seasonal sides.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106089369/image.jpg
Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
Advertising
  • Pubs
  • Woolloomooloo
  • price 2 of 4

The three-storey brick and butter building looks well-worn yet strong – which makes sense when you consider the Old Fitz is around 150 years old. The pub is surrounded by leafy green trees and punters sit out the front to knock back cold ones. Just from the exterior, you can tell the old boozer has more character and charm than a new opening could dream of (and that's why they won Time Out Sydney's Best Casual Drinking Venue Award 2023). Fun fact: The Old Fitzroy Hotel is the only remaining theatre pub in Australia (it’s found out the back and down the stairs). Plus, you can get a cracking feed there. Here’s hoping the show goes on for another 150 years.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106082023/image.jpg
Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Pubs
  • New Farm

A visit to Brisbane must include experiencing the singular beer garden at The Bruns’. For a beer garden that’s been open for less than ten years, it has the energy and the buzz of a venue that has established itself in the community over decades. Just five years after opening the garden, it won the 2019 Altos Tequila Sustainability Bar for its investment in native stingless bee hives and native bee-friendly plants. The crew at The Brunswick even grow their own produce for cocktails. If that’s not enough to love already, then you will fall head over heels with the wide selection of local Brisbane gins. Not only do they hero local products, but they also champion the local community and have a street pantry and a book exchange at the entrance to the beer garden. Bring the family for a fun round of Giant Jenga or Connect 4. You can even bring the pooch.

Advertising

We’re going outback, baby, where the Silverton Hotel is your gateway to legendary Aussie rocker hospitality at its roots. And by roots, we mean a long history of being featured on the big screen. The Silverton has been seen in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Mission Impossible II, to name a few, and a pimped-out car from the set of Mad Max II is casually parked out front. Expect the food to be just as old school with their famous hotdogs and grub including wedges, burgers, and bangers and mash. Wash it all down with a nice cold brew on tap.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
  • Fitzroy

Winner of both Time Out Melbourne's Best Casual Drinking Venue and People's Choice awards, Marquis of Lorne is right up there – not just in our books, but in the hearts and minds of pubgoers all over Melbourne. You can sit upstairs with a dart if that’s your fancy or you can bring your four-legged friend outside for a catch-up with mates; everyone’s welcome (kids included) and looked after well. The noble Marquis has been thrumming away happily for years now and we trust it will continue to do so through all seasons.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106033404/image.jpg
Lauren Dinse
Food & Drink Writer
Advertising

The Birdsville Hotel extends a very warm welcome to those seeking refuge from their great Simpson Desert expedition. The pub is somewhat of an outback Queensland celebrity with its hat wall for the locals of Birdsville (if you commit to at least one year of unbroken service, you too could be featured on the great wall). The pub is a no-frills collection of pure Aussie memorabilia and the joint goes off at various points throughout the year, like during the massive Big Red Bash music festival. 

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor

Forget about the impersonal arena tours – if you want good old-fashioned, rock ‘n’ roll, intimacy-at-its-core live music, this is the place to be. Tame Impala, Bernard Fanning and Oh Wonder! are just some of the artists to grace this pub’s long list of hosted acts. The Rosemount has drink specials every single day of the week and a newly renovated beer garden to cool off after your rockin’ time at “WA’s go-to stage”. Think classic pub grub meets modern faves, like poke bowls, quesadillas and jerk chicken.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
Advertising
  • Craft beer

Walking into North Hobart’s The Winston is like stepping into an American dive bar: US licence plates lining the walls, beer ads hanging above the bar, a pool table at the back and an old-school pinball machine in the corner. This corner pub boasts a huge selection of beers on tap and a burger menu featuring experimental specials, like the Mozza-hella: a quarter-pounder-style burger topped with mozzarella sticks and spicy bacon jam. A favourite with locals, you’ll find the Winston buzzing with drinkers and dogs, which are not only welcome but celebrated with a Dogs of the Winston photo wall.

  • Surry Hills
  • price 1 of 4

Respecting your elders is very, very easy when the lessons they’re doling out are ‘how to have a good time without being a twat’ – and when the teacher is one of the best old boozers in Sydney. The Crix deserves a medal for its diplomatic skills that mean a truly confusing cross section of drinkers are all happy to pal it up around this ancient, ancient bar. Hungry? Head upstairs for excellent food at the not-French bistro, Chez Crix.

Advertising

Assembly’s beer garden extends a warm welcome all year round, whether to soak up the rays in summer or escape Canberra’s chill in winter with an abundance of heaters. Dubbed as ‘the people’s pub’, it’s situated quite conveniently by the light rail line making for a great ‘Plan B’ when the $15 Margies on Sunday keep flowing. Come in the AM for barista coffee and a scrumptious brekkie, and then return in the PM for live gigs and a whole heap of dancing.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
  • Fitzroy

Part of Andrew McConnell’s Trader House group, the Builders Arms is one of the more low-key venues in the Melbourne-only collection. The front bar still feels like the neighbourhood boozer it has been since 1853. You can order counter meals to eat at the high bar tables, but the real action is in the attached bistro, which has been through a few changes of its own over the years. The bistro menu is ‘just’ pub food in the same way that truffles are ‘just’ fungus. Start with some snacks that will ruin you for any future bar munchies. Whipped cod roe is silky smooth, scooped with toasty flatbread soldiers, while anchovy, tomato and aioli on toast provide a perfect creamy-salty bite.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106033404/image.jpg
Lauren Dinse
Food & Drink Writer
Advertising
  • Pubs
  • Millers Point

Being the oldest continuously licensed pub in the city, The Lord Nelson has had a lot of practice at being awesome. They brew their own beer here and a fresher pint in Sydney is a tall ask. There are six mainstay brews: the summery beginners’ Quayle ale, the bright Three Sheets, the British-inflected Trafalgar pale ale, the full-flavoured, spicy Victory Ale, Nelson’s Blood for the Guinness/porter fans, and the complex, full o’ flavour Old Admiral. 

  • Pubs
  • Fortitude Valley

The Wickham Hotel’s beer garden is bringing a high-pressure system of hot phat vibes with a hundred per cent chance of slay. It's known as Brisbane’s oldest and most iconic gay pub, but the renos will have you thinking otherwise. The beer garden is eclectic and vibing with all sorts of buzz. Catch a sesh of live music, burlesque performances and drag shows on the stage or enjoy the vibrant art including a massive mural by artist Kaffeine and a bespoke piece by Banjo Bonfire. Don’t visit the valley without experiencing chilled pizzas and beers by day and epic DJs and dance parties by night.     

Advertising

The Exeter’s menu changes daily, but you can always count on their offerings to include a nice juicy scotch fillet, fish and chips, one of their signature curries, and some vegan and vego options. Their menu has a bit of an Asian influence so look forward to specials, including fresh Vietnamese beef salads and warm bowls of laksa. The drink options include a fabulous list of SA drops at even more fabulous prices, and they’re known to serve up a mean glass of Krug Champagne. They’re a proud no-pokies venue with plenty of live tunes on the weekends and have a prime possie smack bang in the middle of Adelaide’s artsy East End precinct.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor

Originally built as a hangout for the Margaret River’s emerging surf culture in the ’70s, ’The Tav’ welcomes a wide mix of world-class winemakers, sports stars, local legends and travellers from every continent. Settlers support the local music scene through regular gigs and open mic nights. It also backs WA’s local producers by featuring only 100 per cent Australian seafood on its menu and spotlighting many Aussie wineries in its 600-list wine bible. 

https://media.timeout.com/images/106089369/image.jpg
Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
Advertising

You may know this cracker pub by its former name, the Federal Mckinlay Hotel, as it was called in the film Crocodile Dundee. There may not be any crocodile poachers on site, but they’re known to host a pretty epic pool competition on the regular. Pull up a stool at the bar or head out to the verandah and sip away while you admire the Crocodile Dundee memorabilia. If you’re visiting from interstate, you wouldn’t be the first traveller from afar – many people have been known to travel all the way across Oz to check out this famed watering hole.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
  • Erskineville
  • price 1 of 4

The Imperial was first ordained a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community when Dawn O’Donnell, the mother of gay Sydney, bought it in the '80s. In the years since then, it has opened and shut with many different faces – and famously appeared in the cult classic movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – but, at its heart, it has always been a place for queer identities to thrive on the sticky carpet of the much-loved pub.

Advertising

Opened in the 1800’s, this almost 200-year-old pub is king at serving premium Tasmanian seafood harbourside. Recent renovations mean that the place still houses its old-world charm, but now with the addition of gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the pub’s greenery. Affectionately referred to as Shippies, the pub is only a short stroll from the Salamanca Markets. After shopping til you drop, it’s a great spot to kick back, order a glass of vino and soak in all the history of Battery Point.

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor

If hats on a wall weren’t quite quirky enough for you, dangling bras might just do the trick. Daly Waters is no five-star establishment and that’s the whole appeal. You can’t help but be charmed by the funky interiors that feature a display of hundreds of expired licenses and a curated junkyard that’s reminiscent of the pub’s long outback history. The Northern Territory’s rivers and billabongs are a hot spot for barramundi fishing, and what better place to sample the catch of the day than fresh off the grill from Daly Waters? Tip: order the beef ‘n’ barra for the perfect mix of classic pub grub and fresh regional produce).

https://media.timeout.com/images/106041634/image.jpg
Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
Advertising
  • Pubs
  • Paddington - Milton

There are not many hotels in Brisbane that have a beer garden as legendary as The Normanby Hotel's. It’s been a long-cherished spot for uni students, sports fans and funsters keen on a cracking night out. Recently the beer garden has been showered with love and a makeover, and its cheerful, sunny vibe is now complemented with an Aperol theme. Regulars and newcomers will go nuts at the major drawcard, the largest outdoor LED screen in Brisbane, to watch all of your live sporting favourites. 

  • Petersham

This pub has it all: great beer gardens (yes, plural – they're out front and back), great grub, strong community vibes, family-friendly dining rooms, a sports bar, a pool room and even pinball machines. Plus the dining room walls are decked out with pics of cockatoos. And it's right behind Petersham Train Station. What's not to love?

https://media.timeout.com/images/105999677/image.jpg
Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising