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The 14 best pubs in Manchester

Indie brews, excellent food and tip-top live entertainment… the best pubs in Manchester pretty much have it all

The Marble Arch, Manchester
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It’s true that pubs across the UK are closing at a frightening rate, but what that really means is that the best pubs in Manchester are anchors of the country’s drinking culture and have climbed atop lists of must-visit destinations across town. Their success is not only due to the fact they get the basics of any self-respecting public house. These destinations are knocking out quality food, working with the finest indie brewers and craft beer bars, serving top-notch entertainment and comedy and, well, they’re purveyors of the very best half-pints out there.

If you haven’t deduced it yet, spending an entire idle afternoon with a book and a beer in hand at these local venues is one of the very best things to do in Manchester and our list is here to guide you through them all.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Manchester

Best pubs in Manchester

1
The King's Arms, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Pubs

The King's Arms

icon-location-pin Salford

Owned by former Beautiful South and Housemartins lead singer Paul Heaton, this Salford institution has tapped into the gentrification of Chapel Street with a lovable mix of old and new styles. Some features date back to Victorian times with lovely woodworks and tiled floors as well as a carved wood, cathedral- esque performance space on the top floor.

2
The Marble Arch, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Breweries

The Marble Arch

icon-location-pin Greater Manchester

If you were putting together a dream pub in your booze-fuelled mind you’d be hard pushed to come up with a more perfect construction than the Marble Arch. Enjoy beautiful tiled walls and floors dating back to the heyday of pub architecture whilst you explore one of the city’s leading selections of ales, lagers and liquors, and food that goes far beyond regular pub grub.

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3
Grey Horse, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Breweries

Grey Horse

icon-location-pin City Centre

Manchester’s Portland Street is often seen as a bit of a no-man’s-land, a forgotten road between the Village and Chinatown characterised by a heavy bus route and dangerous crossings. It’s not a destination, more a path to the next place on the map. But that’s what makes the pubs that reside here so much more special, including the awesome Grey Horse.

4
Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Manchester, Exterior
Bars and pubs, Pubs

Sinclair’s Oyster Bar

icon-location-pin City Centre

Housed in a beautiful tudor building inexplicably located in the centre of town, Sinclair’s is home to the biggest beer garden in the city. Unfortunately, the secret is well and truly out, so as soon as the sun starts shining you’ll find it awash with drinkers enjoying a lager that’s almost half the price of that you might find just a few streets away in the Northern Quarter.

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5
Star Inn
Rob Martin
Bars and pubs, Pubs

Star Inn on the Cliff

icon-location-pin Salford

In October 2009, the Star Inn became the very first in the country to be taken over and run by its regular customers. Going out for a pint never felt so supportive!

6
The Angel, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Gastropubs

The Angel

icon-location-pin Northern Quarter

The Angel is a local pub on the outskirts of the Northern Quarter serving a fine range of well-priced, locally brewed bitters. Liverpool Organic Brewery and White Lion can usually be found on the pumps, and on-tap lagers go beyond the usual mass-produced swill.

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7
The Beagle, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

The Beagle

icon-location-pin Greater Manchester

Taking a brave step outside the Northern Quarter, The Beagle has found its feet after shaky beginnings. Dressed head-to-toe in wood and 1970s-inspired fabrics, the bar doesn’t lack class. Nor does it lack drinks, which focus on real ales and craft beer.

8
The Briton's Protection, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Pubs

The Briton's Protection

icon-location-pin Central Manchester

Located just a hop, skip and a jump from the neon and fake tan of Deansgate Locks, The Briton’s Protection could not be further away in style. A proper old-fashioned boozer with a well-stocked bar that even has a serving hatch at the back, this is the kind of pub that wears its nicotine-stained curtains as a source of pride.

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9
The Castle Hotel, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Pubs

The Castle Hotel

icon-location-pin Northern Quarter

One of Manchester’s most popular pubs, The Castle on Oldham Street has proven to be one of the Northern Quarter’s big success stories since its refurbishment in 2009. Originally founded in 1776, it’s well known in indie rock circles as the site of a legendary interview between John Peel and Ian Curtis in 1979, and today pays heed to its musical heritage with several weekly gigs at its own charming music hall.

10
The Knott Bar, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Gastropubs

The Knott

icon-location-pin Greater Manchester

You can tell by just looking at the place that Knott is a higher breed of bar. Jutting from the side of a railway arch, it seems to have grown organically from its surroundings. There are beer adverts and gig posters in lieu of wallpaper and it’s also handily close to the ring road and Deansgate station, for those who like to work out escape plans.

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11
The Molly House, Manchester, Bar
Bars and pubs

The Molly House

icon-location-pin City Centre

The eighteenth-century equivalent of a gay bar, a Molly House was once a place where men could meet others like themselves without fear of prosecution and public hanging. These days, the only worry is finding a space at the bar.

12
Mother Mac's, Manchester, Sign
Bars and pubs, Pubs

Mother Mac's

icon-location-pin Northern Quarter

Mother Mac's is supposedly one of the most haunted pubs in Manchester, which is one of the many reasons a lot of punters are afraid to go in. That's a shame: brave the hostile entrance and realize this is a damn good pub and, once you’ve consumed a couple of pints in there, you’ll be treated like family by those that dwell within.

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13
The Old Nag's Head, Manchester, Sign
Bars and pubs, Pubs

The Old Nags Head

icon-location-pin Greater Manchester

There’s nothing particularly original about this pub – no gimmicks, no heavy branding. It’s just a good pub. It serves beer. It serves fish and chips, and bangers and mash. On Friday and Saturday nights, it has karaoke and the jukebox also plays videos.

14
The Wharf, Manchester
Bars and pubs, Pubs

The Wharf

icon-location-pin Castlefield

Let’s get things straight: The Wharf is a chain pub. But it’s a chain pub run by the Good Pub Guide’s pub group of the year, Brunning & Price. Which isn’t exactly a watertight seal of approval but it’s at least some indicator of what you’ll get.

Still thirsty?

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

The 11 best bars in Manchester

They say that Manchester is a city that thinks a table is for dancing on and, well, after a few drinks at the best bars in Manchester, you’ll not only agree, but probably be actively encouraged to hop on the nearest stable surface. 

More to explore

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