Your days of cluelessly typing ‘pubs near me’ in Google are over; this list is all you’re ever going to need. Melbourne has an incredible amount of historic and award-winning pubs, so much so that pulling together a round-up of the city’s best pubs was an exercise in absolute restraint. We wanted to include them all, but then you wouldn’t be able to zone in on the very best pubs in Melbourne would you?
Below you’ll find some of the greatest venues that make the city what it is, from North Melbourne to South Melbourne, Fitzroy to Collingwood, Brunswick to Richmond to Melbourne CBD and… you get the point.
Strap up, you’ve got some drinking to do. This local pub crawl itinerary, should you choose to accept it, will take you everywhere from the legendary Garden State Hotel to The Duke, The Espy, Grosvenor Hotel, and beyond.
Our Favourite Pubs In Melbourne
Garden State Hotel
Let’s kick this list off with a stone-cold classic pub. Garden State is one of the strongest contenders out there if you’re trying to decide on the best pub in the city.
The classic four-storey space stands in what was once a textile mill, transforming a slice of Flinders Lane history into one of Melbourne’s very best indoor-outdoor spaces, perfect for those who appreciate an old school venue that’s managed to stick it straight to heart of the city’s drinking culture.
That beer garden is prime position to pull up on any day, usually flanked by several food vans so you have some food to pair with all that craft beer.
Hint, it’s also one of the finest pubs to watch the footy in Melbourne, with an atmosphere that’s as addictive as the beers on tap.
Address: 101 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Contact: (03) 8396 5777
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday (12pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 3pm)
The Duke of Wellington
No list on Melbourne’s greatest pubs would be compete without The Duke. It is, after all, the oldest and most loved pub in the city, standing proudly since it was first built in 1850 (although it didn’t start serving beer until 1853 – the same year as Captain Melville, also included in our pub guide).
The Duke of Wellington is another trusty venue when it comes to catching a game, seeing as they usually screen it across all three levels, with the rooftop being the most sought after spot.
Pull up a seat for the NBA or State of Origin here, before or after checking out some of the best new restaurants in Melbourne.
After all, the location couldn’t be any more ideal to anchor any day or night out, seeing as The Duke is smack bang in the heart of Melbourne CBD, directly opposite The Forum and a stone’s throw from the MGC, Federation Square, and restaurant-packed Flinders Street.
Address: 146 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9810 0066
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday (12pm – 12am); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
The Tote isn’t just one of the finest pubs on Johnston Street in Collingwood, it’s also an extremely popular live music venue for up and coming bands, both from the city and interstate.
You’d be hard-pressed finding a local who hasn’t flicked their sweat all over the makeshift dance floor, moshing away to hungry start-ups looking to pierce the surface of the Australian music industry.
This Collingwood hotspot is also just a really neat place to hunker down with the boys, grab some cheap burgers, and sink a few cold ones, whether that’s a beer on tap or some craft beer by the bottle.
Although The Tote Hotel’s nickname is “Home of Rock” for a reason, so don’t expect to have a quiet one – whether that means someone has commandeered the absolutely stacked jukebox near the front bar, or there’s some live music throwing shapes your way.
Address: 71 Johnston Street, Collingwood
Contact: (03) 9419 5320
Opening Hours: Wednesday (4pm – 1am); Thursday – Saturday (4pm – 3am); Sunday (4pm – 11pm)
The Railway Hotel South Melbourne
Whenever you find yourself in South Melbourne asking around for a pub, locals are going to be pointing you right in the direction of The Railway.
The vibrant, eternally busy venue has all the hallmarks that make for a great pub – cheap and cheerful pub food in the dining room, trivia nights that aren’t boring as batshit, and weekly specials like Thursday pie night and Sunday roast.
Standing since the 1930s, the pub holds a special place in VIC history and is still one of the most highly regarded pubs in the city.
Address: 280 Ferrars Street, South Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9650 5092
Opening Hours: Monday (5pm – 10pm); Tuesday – Sunday (12pm – 10pm)
The Lincoln has been a Carlton favourite since 1854, and is one of the best examples of how to modernise a pub while still retaining its historical charm.
It takes a fine balance to achieve the perfect blend of contemporary and nostalgia, but the award-winning art deco bar has done just, with 12 rotating beer taps, a wine menu that doesn’t look like an afterthought, and elevated pub food in the dining room, offering quality without a ridiculous hike in price. It’s a VIC favourite for good reason.
Address: 91 Cardigan Street, Carlton
Contact: (03) 9347 4666
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday (12pm – 10pm)
Marquis Of Lorne
Known for having some of the best pub meals in the country, Marquis of Lorne in Fitzroy might as well be considered a really big, really charming restaurant, as much as it is one of the greatest pubs Melbourne has to offer.
This Fitzroy classic has changed hands over the years, but its charms have remained despite a series of modern splashes updating the décor and turning it from a hardy beer tavern into an upmarket gastropub. It’s not exactly hard to hold onto popularity when you’ve got one of the best rooftop bars in the area either, offering up prime position for a juicy steak session.
Address: 411 George Street Fitzroy
Contact: (03) 9417 5001
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (4pm – 11pm); Thursday – Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
Builders Arms Hotel
Builders Arms in Fitzroy is often one of the first venues that comes to mind when people think about a Melbourne pub with some serious culinary chops. That’s thanks to Andrew McConnell, one of Melbourne’s premier chefs who has steered the modernisation of Builders Arms with a great sense of nostalgia and respect.
The character of this historic pub remains untouched, but the pub grub menu has benefitted considerably, giving you an exciting menu alongside a huge list of beers and an impressive wine menu.
Address: 211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Contact: (03) 9417 7700
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
The Local Taphouse
Of course The Local Taphouse in St Kilda was going to make this list of the best drinking establishments in the city. It’s won too many awards not to be considered amongst the top beer taverns in all of VIC.
It’s all about both quantity and quality here, with 400 beers on tap at any given time, rotating frequently to perfectly showcase the depth and breadth of the local and international beer scenes. Throw in a primo menu of classic pub grub and you’ve got yourself a strong contender for the best pub in all of St Kilda – although The Espy and The Grosvenor put up some stiff competition.
Address: 184 Carlisle Street, East St Kilda
Contact: (03) 9537 2633
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday (12pm – late)
If you want to see live music in a pub that isn’t The Espy, you go to the Retreat. No questions. Much like The Tote, Retreat Hotel’s identity is hinged on rocking hard until the early hours of the morning – a raucous end to a night that probably started with a modest, hearty pub meal and a few craft beers at the front bar.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the place is open until 3am and attracts some of the best up and coming bands in VIC. Look out for their own speakeasy cocktail bar, Amelia Shaw, if you want something a bit quieter, but no less exciting.
Address: 280 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Contact: (03) 9380 4090
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday (12pm – 1am); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 3am)
Another no-brainer when thinking of Melbourne’s best venues. This historic St Kilda East favourite has some of the best pub steaks in the area, alongside a prime selection of craft beers for when that Carlton just ain’t cutting it. On Sundays, this may be the place for Melbourne’s best Yorkshire pudding as well, with those weekend roasts going down extra well with schooners all around the beer garden.
Address: 10 Brighton Road, St Kilda East
Contact: (03) 9531 1542
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (12pm – 11pm); Thursday (12pm – 12am); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 1am)
The Esplanade (AKA The Espy)
No list of Melbourne’s finest pubs is complete without the Miami bayside vibes of The Espy. A session here is typically an all-day type of deal, with the addictive atmosphere smacking across 3 live music stages, 2 restaurants, and 12 bars. Consider it to the ultimate VIC pub, from the refined, almost palatial front bar to the table service cocktail bar, named the Ghost of Alfred Felton, serving great drinks and some food at the top. The classic pub has a lot going on, to the point where you might as well consider it a suburb unto itself.
Address: 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda
Contact: (03) 9534 0211
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday (12pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 2am)
The Drunken Poet
The Drunken Poet in West Melbourne just may be one of the best Irish pubs in the world. The cosy pub is teeming with fresh pints of Guinness and Kilkenny, many of which have sunken into the sticky floors and serve as a constant reminder that you’re here for one thing and one thing only, beer. There’s no kitchen here, but there are small pops of bar bites to help you soak up during a long, boozy session. You’ll find it opposite Queen Victoria Market anyway, so the best way to play is to grab a feed over there and then head to this Peel Street pub to wrap up the night the right way, especially if there’s some live Irish music or poetry on.
Address: 65 Peel Street, West Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9348 9797
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday (3pm – 1am); Friday (2pm – 1am); Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
The Fox Hotel
If you’re more in the market for a family friendly pub, head on over to Collingwood where you’ll find The Fox. Live music here favours the smoother licks of jazz and soul, while the sun-soaked courtyard is the best place to park up for the day and sink a few cold ones. It’s dog-friendly, so expect a lot of furry drinking companions happily sharing the atmosphere. If you’re looking for bars where you can take just about anyone and have a good time, The Fox is your jam.
Address: 351 Wellington Street, Collingwood
Contact: (03) 9416 4957
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday (4pm – 11pm); Friday (3pm – 1am); Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
The Royston on River Street in Richmond is a pioneer as far as the craft beer movement goes, given it was the first pub in VIC to dedicate all their taps to showcasing what local craft breweries were pushing out. The horseshoe-shaped bar is the best spot on any given day, where just about every spot on the bar is covered with cheap, half-eaten burgers or elevated pub food, and schooners of the most on-trend Aussie craft beers available. If you find yourself in Richmond, you’d be a fool not to spend at least a few hours parked up with other Richmond punters at The Royston – particularly the rowdy front room.
Address: 12 River Street, Richmond
Contact: (03) 9421 5000
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday (4pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 12am); Sunday (12pm – 10pm)
The Palace Hotel
Much like The Fox in Collingwood, The Palace is best known for its dog-friendly courtyard and hearty pub grub served in a cosy dining room. The kitchen here is one of the best in the area, with many locals foregoing restaurants and just heading here for some simple bangers and mash that’ll hit the spot with some craft beers, every single time. Don’t go expecting a rowdy atmosphere here and you’ll do just fine.
Address: 505-507 City Road, South Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9682 3177
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday (12pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 1am)
The Woodlands Hotel
With a slick, European styled interior, cosy The Woodlands in Coburg has what is easily one of the most unique atmospheres of any pub in the area. You could be anywhere sitting in that lush, leafy atrium – Germany, London, Poland, Vilnius… but the tap list and restaurant quality menu should leave no question as to where you actually are. Local breweries get a huge showing here, making it one of the best pubs in Melbourne for when you need to pair whatever new experiment craft your favourite has got going on, with some truly delicious, produce-driven pub food. Plus, the beer garden is just one of the nicest places to hang out on Coburg.
Address: 84-88 Sydney Road, Coburg
Contact: (03) 9384 1122
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday (4pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 12am); Sunday (12pm – 10pm)
The Great Northern
The Great Northern in Carlton North is built on its rowdy (yet strangely cosy) atmosphere, dialled up to 11 whenever some live sports beam from enormous screens around the spacious courtyard. International games have just as much a presence here as the locals, so on any given day you’ll see all types of colourful jerseys clashing as punters get amongst the mega-sportsbar vibe. It’s hard to escape footy fever here, so if you’re in for something a bit quieter you’ll definitely want to give this a miss. Even if those primo pub parmas are calling your name.
Address: 644 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North
Contact (03) 9380 9569
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (11am – 12am); Thursday – Saturday (11am – 1am); Sunday (11am – 11pm)
The Rose Fitzroy
Not many pubs can muscle out The Rose Fitzroy, which despite the area’s strong competition has remained one of the most beloved and approachable old school venues in the eternally trendy area. It’s all dark brickwork and vintage sports posters at this bar, with daily specials scribbled on a chalkboard and a bar staff that know the ins and outs of everything they offer. You don’t last for over 130 years and still maintain that glow without firmly establishing yourself as one of the finest pubs in all of VIC and an absolute credit to the atmosphere of Napier Street Fitzroy.
Address: 406 Napier Street Fitzroy
Contact: (03) 9417 3626
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday (3pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
Not to be mistaken with the identically named venue on Sydney Road (although of course having the same name will do that to you), the Retreat in Abbotsford is an equally viable, just-as-good pub just off Johnston Street and hinged on the classic, old school Victorian pub design. Many of the original features remain at this historic pub, worked gently by the same team behind South Melbourne’s The Palace with a sense of fun, alongside a top quality beer menu, equally impressive wine list, and some incredibly moreish food best enjoyed in the beer garden.
Address: 226 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford
Contact: (03) 9417 0110
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday (12pm – 11pm); Monday – Tuesday (3pm – 11pm)
As one of the oldest drinking establishments in all of VIC, right alongside The Duke, Captain Melville in in Melbourne CBD is a top choice for a quick drink and a generous pub feed. The dining experience here is a nice showcase as to why eating at a pub in Melbourne is just as wise – if not wiser – than dining out at one the many restaurants and bars dotted around Melbourne CBD. The food here really is that good, even if it’s kept simple with a sharp focus on serving pub classics in space that’s brimming with history. Many locals have made it their go-to house for decades, so you’ll spot plenty of regulars if you end up making visits to Captain Melville part of your weekly schedule.
Address: 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9663 6855
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (12pm – 11pm); Saturday (12pm – 12am); Sunday (12pm – 10pm)
Labour In Vain
If you’re on a pub crawl down the main drag in Fitzroy and you’re set on ending the night at a local favourite (in other words, you’re doing what pretty much everyone in the city does every weekend), then park yourself up at Labour In Vain. While the area is known for hosting the best pubs in Melbourne, the unapologetically unadorned Labour In Vain isn’t one to settle for anything but the top spot, contending with neighbours like The Rose, Marquis of Lorne, and Builders Arm with an offering that’s just as comprehensive. From the sunny rooftop beer garden, where outdoor BBQs aren’t uncommon, to the front bar with regular free live music – your drinking session is in very good hands.
Address: 197A Brunswick Street Fitzroy
Contact: (03) 9417 5955
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (3pm – 1am); Thursday – Saturday (2pm – 1am); Sunday (2pm – 11pm)
Town Hall Hotel
A North Melbourne favourite, and a sure-shot favourite for anyone who prefers their drinking establishments to show their age proudly. There are no obvious attempts at modernity at Town Hall Hotel, rather highlighting the patina that has grown across decades while locals enjoy some of the best classic pub food they can possibly find. Nostalgia is heavy in this house, so the beer list is stubborn and head-strong, with all the usual brews taking precedence over the more contemporary crafts – although there are a few of those too. Town Hall just might be the most charmingly stubborn bar in the city.
Address: 33 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Contact: (03) 9328 1983
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday (4pm – 1am); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
The Lord Newry Hotel
If Fitzroy North is more your vibe then the top choice for you would be The Lord Newry. Located next to the Fitzroy Bowls club, the classic local is so quaint and low-key it could be considered a hidden gem for the city. Those pool tables and mini arcade games should be more than enough to break up rounds of drinking in the main space, and eating in the outdoor seating area on a sunny day. Fitzroy North locals have been flocking here for years, and would probably prefer to keep it secret…. but The Lord Newry is just too good to be kept under wraps.
Address: 543 Brunswick Street Fitzroy North
Contact: (03) 9481 3931
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Thursday (3pm – 11pm); Friday – Saturday (12pm – 1am); Sunday (12pm – 11pm)
In the mood for something more regional? Check out the best country pubs in Victoria for your next road trip.
Best Pubs In Melbourne – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the oldest pub in Melbourne?
The Duke would be the oldest pub, having been built in 1850. However, it didn’t start serving beer until a few years later, in 1853, which is the same year as Captain Melville.
What is the best pub in Melbourne CBD?
You’ve got a lot of choices in the CBD, but you should stick with the old classics like The Duke and Captain Melville.
What is the best pub in Melbourne for food?
The Royston, Garden State Hotel, Marquis of Lorne, and The Espy have some of the best pub food around.
What is the biggest pub in Melbourne?
The Espy, is without a doubt the biggest pub around with multiple bars, restaurants, and live music rooms.