From a pirates’ haunt to a cider house close to the shipyards, some of the city’s best pubs are tucked away but worth the detour
Bristol is well known as a city with a thriving food and drink scene, whether it’s posh restaurants, trendy bars or cosy local pubs.
Although many of these venues are located centrally and easy to find, there are plenty of ‘hidden gems’ dotted around the city.
Whether it’s a Redcliffe boozer that was once frequented by sailors or pirates, or a cider house squirrelled away among the shipyards of Spike Island, there are plenty of traditional pubs with a timeless look.
Here are eight of the best tucked away Bristol pubs, to be enjoyed individually or, perhaps, as the ultimate pub crawl.
1. The Green Man, Kingsdown
Squirrelled away in the backstreets of Kingsdown, close to the hospitals, The Green Man is a real find. A one-room pub with a small outdoor area, it’s owned by Bristol brewery Dawkins Ales and a number of their beers are served alongside those of other local breweries including Moor, Left Handed Giant and Lost and Grounded. There’s a pub quiz every Wednesday and live music at weekends and folk sessions on the last Thursday of the month. On Mondays, it’s free curry and £3 for a pint of cask beer.
21 Alfred Place, BS2 8HD. Photo: The Green Man
2. The Swan with Two Necks, St Jude’s
A short walk from Cabot Circus and Old Market, this red-brick Victorian free house is arguably one of Bristol’s best kept backstreet pub secrets. Cosy, friendly and offering a huge range of beers from local breweries, it’s run by Elmer Anderson, who also has the Elmers Arms in Old Market. Elmer is as well known for his extensive vinyl collection as his beers so expect some choice tunes on the decks as you enjoy a pint and, perhaps, a game of darts. Every Sunday, from 2pm-late is ‘Toons ’n’ Taters’ with open record decks set up in bar alongside free roast potatoes and gravy.
Little Ann Street, BS2 9EB. Photo: The Swan with Two Necks
3. The Hillgrove, Kingsdown
Originally The Dublin Porter Stores when it first opened in the 1850s, ‘The Hillgrove’ as regulars know it, has more than ten beers on tap at any time. Redbrick and horseshoe-shaped, the pub is hidden between the grand Georgian houses of Kingsdown and the tower blocks where Stephen Merchant filmed many scenes from The Outlaws. There’s a ‘secret’ beer garden at the back which is a real suntrap in summer.
53 Hillgrove Street North, BS2 8LT. Photo: Bristol World
4. Kings Head, Victoria Street
Reopened in November 2022, the Kings Head is Grade II listed and the only Bristol pub on the Campaign for Real Ale’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. Built in the mid-17th century, it was refurbished around 1865 and has a plethora of original features including a cosy wood-panelled ‘tramcar’ bar at the back. New owners Bob Cary and Kelly Sidgwick also run the St Philips brewery Good Chemistry Brewing so expect plenty of their award-winning beers on tap.
60 Victoria Street, BS1 6DE. Photo: Kings Head