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The Habit in York
Photograph: The Habit

The 12 best pubs in York

Looking for a pint of the good stuff? From old-school boozers to ultra-modern taprooms, these are the best pubs in York

By Jacob Phillips
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One rumoured to have more pubs than there are days in the year – yeah right – York’s cobblestone streets brim with old-world inns straight out of a fairytale. Many of this city’s boozers have rivalries dating back centuries, though thankfully the fighting has largely subsided, and even if several of the most famous remain mostly as they were back then, others have been revamped in a much more up-to-date style. From converted toll booths and gatehouses to marshmallow-flavoured ales and kegs-turned-urinals, original features (and brews) abound at these brilliant pubs in York. That’s not to say you won’t feel at home here, though – if you’re looking something a little cosier than a bar or restaurant, perhaps with a fire or darts tournament on the go, our ultimate York pub guide has you covered.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in York

Best pubs in York

The Kings Arms pub in York
Photograph: David Dixon / Geograph

1. The Kings Arms

The ideal spot for a sunny day, The Kings Arms packs out with locals every night of the week. Sit by the river and admire the views, or relax in the cosy brick interior. Decorated as it is with flood markings dating back as far as the 19th century, this place is famous for staying open even during severe flooding. It may seem a bit OTT, but if you’re in the right mood, the pub’s ban on mobile phones and swearing makes this a thoroughly wholesome night out.

Brew York Tap Room and Beer Hall
Photograph: Geoff Cavanagh

2. Brew York Tap Room and Beer Hall

For a flavour of Berlin in the heart of York, try the graffiti-daubed Brew York Tap Room and Beer Hall. The best thing here is the variety. The Tap Room area has seven cask beers on rotation alongside nine keg beers and three ciders, while the Beer Hall boasts 40 taps with a selection of brews from York and the surrounding area. Our advice? Kick back in the riverside yard and team your tipple with a burger from the in-house kitchen.

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The Blue Bell in York
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Malcolmxl5

3. The Blue Bell

Groups are banned from York’s smallest pub – making The Blue Bell the perfect place to catch up with a close pal. Comprising just two small rooms, this spot has a cosy, living room-like feel, and there’s a decent mix of beers behind the bar. Conversation springs easily between neighbouring pub-goers, though if you fancy some alone time, the window area‘s the place to head.

The Hop in York
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Malcolmxl5

4. The Hop

Located on Fossgate in the city centre, the Hop’s range of spaces and open-plan layout mean you can have an incredibly varied night out here. Sit by the window and watch the world go by, hear up-and-coming musicians perform in the large courtyard area, and finally, because we know you’re hungry, retreat to the back and enjoy a wood-fired pizza. Glorioso.

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Lamb & Lion Inn in York
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Malcolmxl5

5. The Lamb & Lion Inn

Right next to the city walls, the Lamb and Lion is best known for its excellent beer garden and photo-worthy Minster views. This Victorian inn boasts a decent selection of local ales and its cosy front room is a fab place to escape the city centre’s thronging cobblestone streets. The Sunday roasts are spot on.

The Habit in York
Photograph: The Habit

6. The Habit

A former stonemason’s and later a priest’s house, The Habit’s nooks and crannies are steeped in fascinating history. But this is also a great spot to swot up on contemporary culture – there’s regular live music, and work by fab local artists adorns the interior walls. Don’t forget to head up to the roof terrace, where you can ogle the peregrine falcons on neighbouring York Minster.

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York Tap
Photograph: Ian S / Geograph

7. York Tap

If you arrive a little early for your train, head to this station pub and choose from the 32 brilliant beers on tap. Perch under the chandelier at The York Tap’s circular bar and you’ll quickly forget you’re actually inside one of Yorkshire’s main transport hubs. Alternatively, sit outside, admire the station architecture and watch as visitors come and go. What better way to pass the time?

House of the Trembling Madness in York
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Malcolmxl5

8. House of the Trembling Madness

For a drink that takes you back in time, come here. The medieval House of the Trembling Madness was the first building the Normans built in York – head inside and soak up the 12th-century vibes with one of Yorkshire’s finest ales. Like what you’ve ordered? Buy a bottle to take home from the ground-floor shop.

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Phoenix Inn in York
Photograph: Flickr / Tim Green

9. The Phoenix Inn

Follow the city walls and you’ll end up in the Phoenix Inn’s beer garden – making it the ideal retreat after a long day exploring the city’s major sights. The pub’s 18th-century interior is candle-lit in winter and covered in flower decorations in summer, and on Sundays, the in-house jazz band rattle through standards and original pieces.

Angel on the Green in York
Photograph: Angel on the Green

10. Angel on the Green

From hearty breakfasts to platters of cured meats to seafood linguine, Angel on the Green has very much smashed pub grub. That’s reason enough to come, but bike nerds will be pleased to know there’s a cycle workshop out the back, and jazz aficionados will dig the live music nights on Sundays.

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Rook and Gaskill in York
Photograph: Rook and Gaskill

11. Rook and Gaskill

Though just metres beyond the city walls, this is far enough to mean the Rook and Gaskill feels like it’s off the beaten track. The pub’s keg wall boasts 19 brews spanning everything from a Barista stout to a Green Power Sour ale. Team your drink with one of their ace burgers or pizzas.

Pivni in York
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons / Peter K Burian

12. Pivni

Just off Shambles Market, this pub makes for the ideal hideaway during peak tourist hours. Pivni has a rotating cast of cask and keg beers for visitors to choose from, as well as a wide selection of draught mainstays. It may look small on the outside, but with three floors of seating upstairs, there’s plenty of space to while away the hours here.

Need more sightseeing inspiration?

York city centre
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 13 best things to do in York

Things to do

Come to York, walk around a bit, and you’ll quickly understand why it’s so often voted one of the best places to live in the UK. From riverside strolls to world-class museums to quirky independent shops, this beautiful city offers something for travellers of all stripes.

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