Melbourne isn’t just known for its ever-changing weather. It’s also an incredibly good city to live in, or visit, if good-quality nightlife is high on your list of things you love. With several clubs, bars – including those perched on rooftops – Melbourne is both a beer-lovers and a spirit-sippers paradise (especially with a number of breweries in and around the CBD).
But it’s the pubs where the real drinking will be done. They’re the venues where people meet for catch-up drinks, where workers go after a long day, and where you want to go at the weekend for some live music, good times and some decent banter.
The annoying thing is, however, Melbourne is home to an ungodly number of pubs. Clearly its residents really do love a tipple. And while many of them could be considered the ‘best’ in Melbourne, what we really care about is just how cool they are. Cool points are a hard thing to earn, but we think the pubs on this list tick all the boxes.
The Crafty Squire
The Crafty Squire is an absolute must-visit pub for anyone who claims to love beer. Part of the James Squire family, this pub features the only working microbrewery in Melbourne’s CBD, and will gladly serve you a range of beers from pale ales, to pilsners, to stouts. Add some classic pub grub into the mix and some hipster-tastic decor and you have yourself the perfect weekend boozer.
127 Russell Street, Melbourne, 3000
Turf Sports Bar
Pubs and live sport go hand in hand, and if you agree (we can’t imagine you won’t) you’ll want to head to the Turf Sports Bar. With six plasma screens strategically located around the venue, you’re never too far from some top sporting action. If your TV setup at home doesn’t quite cut the mustard, then you’re also able to hire out one of three private screening booths, complete with surround sound, to watch your team in peace. How good.
131 Queen Street, Melbourne, 3000
Rooftop bars may be all well and good, but what if we told you Melbourne was home to a rooftop pub? You’d be asking directions right away, surely. That’s exactly what’s on offer at the Imperial Hotel. The pub in the sky on Melbourne’s Bourke Street not only offers a salacious selection of beers and spirits, but it’s also home to a jumbotron screen for showing live sporting events. As they say themselves, “If they’re playing, we play it”.
2-8 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000
This inner-city pub is owned and run by a family who has decades of experience in hospitality, so have learnt along the way exactly what it is customers want from their local pub. Within the confines of the 164-year old building’s walls is a bar that welcomes anyone and every one no matter their story. Screens dotted around the venue display the latest live sport, and with a predominantly Australian beer list, it adds a dose of local comfort.
282 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, 3000
Young & Jackson
You can’t get a more iconic or landmark location in Melbourne than Young & Jackson. Situated across from Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, this pub should be your first port of call if you catch a train into the city. The building itself dates back to 1861 – who doesn’t love a pub with an old-world feel? – but has since been restored to keep it structurally sound, and with two bars split over two levels, there’s every reason to drink and be many.
Corner Swanston & Flinders Streets, Melbourne, 3000
The Carlton Club
The Carlton Club is definitely a pub you need to add to your must-visit lists, with it being home to not one, but four bars, each one different from the next. The main Carlton Bar on level one could easily be mistaken for a boujee cocktail bar, with its low-light affair. But with a generous selection of tap beers and wine, you’ll struggle to remove yourself from the booths.
The jungle-inspired Hasti Bala bar is where things can get a little more intimate, with a number of velvet booths, or the Palmz Deck rooftop bar which transports you to a tropical paradise under the stars (or the awning, when the inevitable rain showers start).
193 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000
Named after the incredibly rare and valuable British stamp, Penny Blue is found within Melbourne’s historic Money Order Office building. The intimate and cosy space inside has some 150 beers on offer across tap and bottle, so we imagine you’d need a few visits to sample them all (you’ll have to be quick, as they’re on constant rotation) and if you want to risk contracting RSI in your thumb, you can head to the website to scroll through the entire list. If you love beer, you have to visit Penny Blue.
2 Driver Lane, Melbourne, 3000
The Drunken Poet
It’s often said that Guinness in Australia will never compare to what you’d taste in its home country of Ireland. The Drunken Poet aims to put that connotation to bed, with its distinctly Irish charm. Don’t just let the pub speak for itself though, as The Drunken Poet is the only pub in Australia to be voted one of the best Irish pubs in the world (outside Ireland). Naturally, Guinness is poured on tap, but for those who’s tastebuds prefer something different, a small range of local beers and Irish and Scottish whiskeys is on offer too.
65 Peel Street, West Melbourne, 3003
If you fancy being surrounded by a group of University students, there’s nowhere better than The Prince Alfred. Located pretty much next door to The University of Melbourne, this huge pub has an equally huge range of beers on tap for you to swig to your heart’s content. Beer in hand, you’ll easily be able to find some students to debate current affairs or have them school you on their specialist subject.
191 Grattan Street, Carlton, 3053
The Clyde Hotel
The list of tap beers may not be as extensive as some other pubs on this list, but The Clyde Hotel puts a strong emphasis on creating a traditional pub environment. It boasts a number of different drinking spots, including a large main bar, a lounge area and a beer garden. The food menu lists off classic pub fare and with TV screens showing live sport, The Clyde Hotel becomes the perfect all-rounder.
385 Cardigan Street, Carlton, 3053
The Standard Hotel
The Standard Hotel has been serving beer since 1865 and has cemented itself as one of the finest drinking establishments in Fitzroy. Key to that is its welcoming attitude – you won’t have the locals turn and stare at you if you’re from out of town – along with its large (by city standards) beer garden. The Standard serves up a traditional pub atmosphere without any gimmicky tactics, instead, relying on its quality beer and wine selection, matched with delicious grub and live music.
293 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Another Melbourne drinking joint with hundreds of years worth of history, the Rainbow Hotel also has hundreds of beers being served behind the bar. The kitchen dishes out some of the best food in the area and the rotating list of live bands and pool table will be sure to keep everyone entertained.
27 St David Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Some may consider Blackcat to be more of a bar, but with a generous selection of craft beers available for consumption and a huge beer garden in which to drink them, we’d say it’s firmly in pub territory. Blackcat also hosts regular art exhibitions, displaying the art of local residents and a number of resident DJs will keep the tunes pumping long into the night.
252 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Parmas (of the meat, veggie and vegan variety) are the main draw of this Fitzroy watering hole, although we reckon the 24 beer taps come behind in an incredibly close second. The main hall has high-ceilings to create a lively and loud (the good kind) atmosphere, but a mezzanine floor is available if you want to get away from the action.
64 Smith Street, Collingwood, 3066
Stomping Ground Beer & Brewing Co.
Stomping Ground isn’t just a place where you can enjoy delicious brews with friends and families, it’s an independent brewery too. The Collingwood beer hall is the flagship, but Stomping Ground also has a presence at Melbourne Airport. The Collingwood location is where you’ll want to be though, with a vast open-ceiling space that exudes industrial and loft-style décor. A huge, centrally-located fire pit is the focal point and since it doesn’t long for the crowds to gather, we suggest you find yourself a spot early in the day to drink long into the afternoon and evening.
100 Gipps Street, Collingwood, 3066
Prahran/South Yarra/St Kilda
College Lawn Hotel
The College Lawn Hotel is the quintessential Sunday day drinking spot. The sprawling outdoor area is the perfect place to drink away the hours and with 14 beers on tap, we imagine you’d happily find yourself a seating area to sample them all. 18 TV screens placed around the venue show all the latest live sport, and if you find you’ve had one too many and are unable to get home, on-site accommodation will provide you with somewhere to rest your weary head.
36 Greville Street, Prahran, 3181
The Silverlake Social
This Prahran joint brings a taste of Southern California to Melbourne, serving up American craft beers and all the typical Southern and smokehouse foods you can think of: think chicken wings, mac ‘n’ cheese and hot dogs. With regular drinks specials and events being held, it’s Social by name and social by nature.
198 Chapel Street, Prahra, 3181
The Windsor Castle
You quite literally cannot miss The Windsor Castle when walking around the backstreets of Windsor. The lime green facade can be spotted a mile away (maybe not literally) and once you’re inside you’re greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Head out to the tropical-themed beer garden when the weather is particularly pleasant to be served drinks from a bamboo-clad bar, or party the night away at the weekend with in-house DJs.
89 Albert Steet, Windsor, 3181
Jimmy O’Neill’s Whiskey & Ale House
This Irish-influenced pub has a wide range of Irish whiskeys and ales serving at the bar, along with a few others from other countries, it wants to be seen as all-compassing, after all. It’s one of the only places in Australia where you can get your face etched onto a pint of Guinness, if you feel so inclined and sends out an eclectic range of food from the kitchen. It’s all about having a good time at Jimmy O’Neill’s, and with it being positioned close to Melbourne’s tram, you can have a great time and still find your way home.
154-156 Acland Street, St Kilda, 3182
The Local Taphouse
The Local Taphouse was founded in 2008 on an undivided love of beer. Over 400 different beers pass through the taps each year, so it’s highly likely you’ll be able to sample something different upon each visit. The food is just as delectable too, and changes with the seasons, and each dish can be paired with a matching beer so you can easily become the beer conneisieur you’re destined to be.
184 Carlisle Street, East St Kilda, 3183
This 150-space bar occupies the space left by the historic George Hotel. The George was bought by Frederick Wimpole in 1873, and he eventually became director of the Melbourne Co-operative Brewing Company (which you may now know as Carlton & United Breweries) You wouldn’t know it from the inside though, as it has since been turned into a hunter’s lodge-style bar, complete with a feature wall of beer cans.
125 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, 3182
Cool Melbourne Pubs FAQ
What is the oldest pub in Melbourne?
The Duke is often seen as the oldest pub in Melbourne, being built in 1850, however it didn't start serving beer until 1853. This is the same year that Captain Melville started serving beer too, so it could be seen as a tie.
How many pubs are in Melbourne?
The exact number of pubs in Melbourne is unclear since the definition of a pub can have some crossover with hotels and bars. At the last count, however, there were over 1,000 pubs in the state of Victoria.