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The Habit in York
Photograph: The Habit

The 14 best pubs in York

From old-world inns to state-of-the-art taprooms, these are the best pubs in York for all tastes

Huw Oliver
Daniel Dylan Wray
Written by
Huw Oliver
&
Daniel Dylan Wray
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Rumour has it that you could visit a different pub on every day of the year in York. While we’re not quite sure that’s true, there are certainly a lot of vibey places to drink within the ancient city walls.

Clearly, if you like your boozers old-fashioned, you’re in the right place, what with all the old-world inns that line the city’s cobblestone streets. And if your tastes are a little more modern? You’ll also be pleased to know that several others have been revamped in a much more up-to-date style. 

From converted toll booths and gatehouses to marshmallow-flavoured ale and kegs-turned-urinals, original features (and brews) abound at these brilliant pubs in York. Sure, you may not be able to check all of them out, but why not head on a bar crawl and see how far you get?

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in York

Top pubs in York

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 eighteenth-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.

Eagle and Child
Photograph: Eagle and Child

2. Eagle and Child

Built in 1640, this Grade II*-listed, timber-framed pub is a York institution. Spread over three floors, it’s a roomy place to grab an ale or glass of wine, and there’s plenty in the way of fresh, seasonal food. Plus, the pub has plenty of fascinating history: the Rolling Stones hung out in the upstairs bar in the ’60s and their signatures are still in lipstick on the wall.

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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 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 nineteenth 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.

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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?

Walmgate Ale house
Photograph: Walmgate Ale house

6. Walmgate Ale house

Located in a listed seventeenth-century building, this is the place to go to sample some local ales and craft beers. They also go heavy on the bar snacks, but should you fancy something more substantial, then there’s also the Chopping Block, a revered Anglo-French restaurant, just upstairs.

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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.

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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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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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.

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.

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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.

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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