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Written by Luke Bull - 09 October 2023

Bristol's 11 best pubs

Few places in Bristol welcome you more to the city than one of the many amazing pubs that serve the South West's bustling hub. Getting a pint away from the buzz of Bristol is a welcome end (or beginning) to any Bristolian day, and we've got a low-down on the best boozers to sink a few in.

From cosy Bristol pubs where you can get on first name terms with the locals, to the big and brash city-centre pubs that serve pints by the hundred, there's something for everyone. And, Bristol being Bristol, there's an amazing array of live music pubs that will have you dancing askew to Massive Attack, droning along with Portishead, and snarling incoherently with Idles in no time at all. Cheers.

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The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer Pub
The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer Pub

1. A classic pub in Bristol Temple Meads: The Famous Navy Volunteer

Bristol Temple Meads

The Famous Navy Volunteer is a pub that has a welcoming aura for those who sail in for a drink.

With natural lighting, great artwork and outdoor seating, this spot is a comfortable place to be. You can use its TV and audio system to watch and listen to exciting events live while enjoying a beer or cocktail.

Its main bar offers a standing capacity for 350 people so make your way from Bristol Temple Meads station for a drink fit for a captain.

The cadbury bristol pub 1
The cadbury bristol pub 3

2. An old but gold Bristol pub: The Cadbury


Hidden in the narrow back streets of Montpellier, just north of the city centre, The Cadbury is a relaxed pub with a warm, inviting atmosphere, accommodating staff, and a large, suntrap beer garden.

The Cadbury is a 300-year-old timber-framed pub serving up a selection of local real ales from regional breweries, as well as fine wines, and top shelf spirits.

In addition to their fantastic selection of drinks, The Cadbury also offers a range of home-cooked meals, including Sunday roasts and vegan options, so there is something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a casual boozer to have a few drinks or to have delicious pub grub with family, The Cadbury is a brilliant pub to visit this weekend.

The ostrich bristol 1
The ostrich bristol pub

3. Bristol’s brilliant Harbourside pub: The Ostrich


Perched on the edge of Bristol’s historic Harbourside, The Ostrich is a brilliant riverside pub where you can enjoy a quiet drink and a bite to eat in the sunshine while watching the harbour from their large outdoor seating area.

Drinks-wise, The Ostrich offers award-winning Butcombe beer, curated cocktails, and an extensive rum menu which plays homage to the pub’s roots as a dockside inn where sailors and dock-workers once drank.

The recently refurbished Top Deck is a spacious dining space and bar available for private hire, boasting brilliant views over the harbour.

The pipe and slippers pub bristol chairs
The pipe and slippers pub bristol

4. Bristol’s hidden gem: The Pipe & Slippers Pub


The Pipe & Slippers have been serving the Stokes Croft area and beyond since 2004. Upon entering this friendly Bristol pub, you are met with high ceilings, dark wood, and warm lighting creating a cosy, homely vibe.

The Pipe & Slippers have a fantastic selection of drinks from draught and bottled beers and ciders to carefully constructed cocktails, and everything in between. As well as great drinks, this pub also serves delicious food all week - including their renowned Sunday roast.

Whether your vibe is a sit down meal and drinks, a cosy date, or a dance to local DJs The Pipe & Slippers ticks all the boxes. Also, that's a great name.

the spotted cow bristol
The Spotted Cow bristol pub interior

5. Blending the best of a traditional Bristol pub with contemporary style: The Spotted Cow


Located on North Street in Bedminster, The Spotted Cow is a spacious gastropub with contemporary decor, plenty of booth seating, and a large pub garden providing the perfect oasis to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

As the name may suggest, The Spotted Cow has a rich history, dating back over 200 years to Bristol’s agricultural days. Today, however, this pub serves a tasty selection of reinvented pub grub classics using the best of West Country produce, great drinks, and regular entertainment in the form of live music, DJ sets, pub quizzes, and bingo.

The Duke of York bristol pub
The Duke of York bristol pint

6. A quirky pub tucked away in Bristol: The Duke of York


A blend of contemporary and classic, the Duke of York is a popular Bristol pub tucked away in the residential area of St Werburghs.

The wooden floors, fairy lights, and intriguing collections of memorabilia spotted around the venue create a welcoming and cosy atmosphere that is loved by a clientele who are as eclectic as the decor.

Serving four changing beers, mostly from Bristol breweries, friendly service, and a selection of traditional pub games - including a refurbished skittle alley and boardgames - the Duke of York is a brilliant spot to grab a pint with mates, particularly on a sunny day when you can make the most of their vibrant beer garden.

The old fish market bristol pub
The old fish market bristol pub exterior

7. A classic old-school boozer in the heart of Bristol: The Old Fish Market


At the centre of Bristol’s old town, The Old Fish Market is a welcoming, lively pub offering a menu of refined pub classics, as well as a well-stocked bar with craft beers and a wide range of whiskies and gins.

This oak-furnished pub creates a relaxed, friendly atmosphere - the perfect place to catch up with friends over a cold pint. They also have a selection of board games and regular live music for you to enjoy.

Whether you’re looking for a venue for business meetings, birthdays, or weddings, The Old Fish Market can cater to your needs. Their 20-30 people capacity function rooms and spacious yard can be reserved free of charge for private hire.

The Mall bristol pub 1
The Mall bristol pub 2

8. Grab a relaxed drink in a Bristol Pub: The Mall


Looking for a stylish, yet laid-back pub in Bristol? We’ve got you covered. With a secluded and leafy three-tiered patio, The Mall Clifton is the perfect pub for warm summer evenings.

The Mall Clifton is a charismatic pub loved by locals and visitors alike. They offer an exceptional selection of drinks – including premium draught lagers and cider, sophisticated wines, artisan spirits and cocktails – worthy of any occasion, whether it’s post-work catch-ups or extravagant celebrations. Located in the heart of Clifton Village, The Mall also makes a great pit-stop while visiting the shops and boutiques the village has to offer.

The cider press bristol 1
The cider press bristol 2

9. A welcoming pub in the heart of Bristol's Gloucester Road: The Cider Press


If you’re searching for a brilliant pub that offers great live music in Bristol, then The Cider Press is well worth a visit. Every Saturday, The Cider Press hosts live music from great local artists. But if you’re more comfortable in the spotlight, this pub also offers open mic nights every Thursday.

The Cider Press is a lively pub with a menu of modern comfort food served daily - including burgers, nachos, sourdough pizzas, and plenty of vegetarian options.

As the name suggests, The Cider Press is famous for its 32 draught ciders. But if you’re not a cider lover, they also offer a range of craft beers, three hand-pulled cask ales, and much more to keep you well-watered.

The jersey lily bristol pub 1

10. Relax and refresh with friends at a Bristol Pub: The Jersey Lily


Named after the flamboyant Jersey-born Victorian actress and racehorse breeder Lily Langtry, The Jersey Lily is an easygoing pub, located on the popular Whiteladies Road in Bristol, serving a great selection of lagers, ales, wines, and spirits as well as classic pub grub.

Alongside the hearty food and craft beers, The Jersey Lily also hosts fantastic live music every Thursday evening which can be enjoyed with a drink from one of the many comfy nooks around the pub. This is a great pub to relax and refresh with friends and also catch the talents of Bristol’s best local musicians.

The Jersey Lily also has flexible and exclusive events spaces available to hire for any occasion, whether you’re celebrating or commemorating

The canteen bristol pub 1
The canteen bristol pub 2

11. Catch great live music daily in a Bristol pub: The Canteen


Located in bustling Stokes Croft, The Canteen is a fun, trendy, and artsy pub with plenty of outdoor seating for chilled drinks and a large inside bar area. The Canteen offers a wide selection of drinks alongside a 100% vegetarian, seasonally sourced, locally produced, and tasty food menu.

With a line-up of free live music - including local bands and DJs - every night of the week, The Canteen has got your evening entertainment covered. Monday through to Saturday, catch lively, vibrant beats which are great for dancing, while Sundays are reserved for more chilled performances.

Known for its buzzing beer garden, great selection of beers and ciders, and great atmosphere, The Canteen really has it all. Whether you’re in the mood for drinking with friends or want to catch live music, it’s a top-tier venue.

More of the best live music pubs in Bristol

Everyone loves a Bristol pub, and booking your own exclusive space in a pub or hiring out the entire venue is a great idea for an event. With so many great pubs near you to choose from, it can be hard to find a boozer to accommodate your private booking. We've rounded up the best in Bristol, from gastro-pubs for a Sunday roast and cask ale to pubs with beautiful gardens for a few pints of beer in the sun. Have a look at all our top pubs, with private hire options near you. Alternatively, tell us exactly what you need and we'll make sure the very best {[location}} pubs respond to your enquiry.

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How to hire a live music pub in Bristol

We know that finding a venue the old-fashioned way (where you trawl the internet, contact 10 venues or set your heart on one, only to find that they're out of your price range and not even available on your dates) is a pain, and there are a few pitfalls between you and booking your perfect live music pub. Getting the venue finding process down to a professional art is what we’ve made our mission ever since we took on the events industry. We often get asked the same questions, so here's what we recommend to quickly and easily hire a space in Bristol.

Frequently asked questions

For live music pubs in Bristol, you're spoilt for choice. Here's an extra special one that we vouch for:

The Canteen – With a beer garden, a delicious food and drinks menu (with veggie options) and free live music, this Bristol pub is one to head to.

There really is no one answer to this question: so many variables come into play when understanding the cost of exclusive hire of a pub or a private space in a pub. How many guests are you planning for? Is the venue for the day, an afternoon, or the night? The good news is that you can find a venue for pretty much any budget (okay, almost any budget). Instead of letting the venue dictate the price, our advice is to be proactive and set a budget that you feel comfortable with – this way the right venues can reach out to you through HeadBox.

There are lots of ways to book a Bristol live music pub. You can do the old-fashioned thing and pick up the phone, or email the venue directly. Unfortunately, lots of venues are busy and may not get back to you in time. That's where we come in. Give us your enquiry and we'll reach out to the best live music pubs in Bristol and let you enjoy your free time. Easy.

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