With so many pubs to visit in York, how do you know which ones to prioritize? You can’t really go wrong with any pub in York, they’re all fantastic (there’s so much competition, they have to be), but these are the very best pubs that you should really go and see:
Sounds like… a bath? Nope. This is a pub. They are also a live music venue. Built on top of an original Roman bath. The columns are still visible and there’s a glass floor where you can see the remains. Incredible. And often busy. But still an essential visit on any York trip.
House of the Trembling Madness (Stonegate)
This is a traditional medieval building where you can go and drink. If it’s a quiet day, you can also get a seat and eat a meal here. Don’t want to pay to look around the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall? Go here instead and buy a drink. Absolutely incredible setting. They are open all day and late into the night. Famously, they don’t take reservations and if you go at peak times, you will probably need to drink standing up. But the sheer amount of people who do this is testament to the fact it’s worth it. There is a second House of the Trembling Madness on Lendal, now. I haven’t been there so don’t know what they’ve done with the place but the original is top notch.
The Golden Fleece
This pub has quite a decent capacity compared to some of the others inside the walls. This place is dripping with history (and a ghost…) but it’s still retained its character as a normal pub where you can hang out with your friends or family. It’s also highly rated as York’s most haunted pub, although I’ve been in there about a dozen times and I’ve never seen anything spooky. In fact, I suspect a lot of the bad reviews for this place are people who think ghosts are there to perform for them on cue (weird). Still, well worth a gander.
The Duke of York
This oak-beamed medieval pub is on the end of the Shambles in King’s Square, so if you go on a Monday around 7:30pm it’s the absolute best place to have a pint and catch a glimpse of the Ebor Morris, who dance traditional English folk dance in the square once a week. You can’t find much better than that for entertainment. It’s a Leeds Brewery pub, so you’ll be supporting local Yorkshire brewing when you visit, too.
The Black Swan
This one dates back to the 15th Century, and it’s a pub with rooms. They serve a range of real ale and have food available, too. Situated inside the walls on Stonebow, it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the most historic parts of York and they often have live music from local bands. What I really like about The Black Swan is you get to eat and drink like a local, as very few tourists make the short walk over to this part of the city, so you can soak up the real Yorkshire ambience in this true hidden gem.
Of course, with the number of pubs in York, I’m sure lots of people will be wondering why Pub X or Pub Y didn’t make this list. It’s true that you can’t really go wrong with any pub in York, but if you’re here as a visitor with limited time, these are the five pubs you really need to experience.