Welcome to the ultimate central London pub crawl!
Feeling thirsty whilst sightseeing?
Then you’re in the right place. London has no shortage of pubs – but how do you make sure you visit the right ones if you’ve only got a few hours to spare, and want to see the main tourist sights as well?
I’ve done the hard work for you – this London pub crawl (or London bar-tour, London bar-hopping etc) round 6 cracking pubs will give you:
- The chance to see Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, 10 Downing Street, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Leicester Square on one pub crawl!
- Wonderful views of the river
- Historic pubs with amazing interiors
- Quirky pubs you’ll never find anywhere else
- A guaranteed selection of good British beers to sample
Click on the map below to see the route in your app, or keep scrolling for a pub by pub guide. Rest assured these are my personal choices based on what I’ve enjoyed, and this isn’t an advert or promotion!
Feeling Hungry? Please note my recommendations are based on the atmosphere and selection of drinks. Many online ratings you’ll see are based on food experience, and that’s not the purpose of this tour!
Starting Point: The Westminster Arms
Right at the seat of power lies the Westminster Arms, just a stones throw from Parliament. If it’s a weekday you may well find politicians there supping on a pint, and in the evening it’s a favourite haunt of nearby office workers. It’s a Shepeard Neame pub, which means there’s always a good selection of their ales.
I recommend: A pint of Spitfire
Stop 2: The Tattershall Castle
This is not strictly speaking a “pub” – it is in fact an historic paddle steamer built in 1934 for service between Grimsby and Hull on the Humber River in Northern England. It now sits on the Thames bang opposite the London Eye! If it’s a day for a pint outside this is just the perfect location – up on the deck you have an unobstructed view of the London Eye, Westminster and Waterloo Bridges and also all the river traffic. NB – If the weather’s bad you can skip this stop
I recommend: a pint on deck, and maybe fish & chips if you’re hungry!
What to see in the vicinity: Walk along the Thames or check out the London Eye. Avoid the County Hall tourist trap…
Stop 3: Gordon’s Wine Bar
This is a legendary wine bar (no beer, here), that is like a timewarp inside. There are tables on the passageway next to a small park upstairs, but the real magic is to be found in the cramped brick vaulted cellar downstairs. Here you can sample from a hand-picked and changing selection of wines in candlelight, and enjoy the unchanging music free atmosphere
I recommend: a good red and maybe some cheese to nibble on
Stop 4: The Ship & Shovell
This is the first of our “proper” pubs. It’s also unusual in that it is a pub of two halves – it operates two bars on opposite sides of a passageway under Charing Cross Station. Both rooms are a little different, although my preferred one is on the Northern side (the mirrored bar). It’s great for an outside pint since there’s no cars and it’s quite sheltered, and you’ll find interesting beers here from Hall & Woodhouse (a Dorset brewery). Enjoy this hidden gem!
I recommend: in summer a bottle of Golden Champion (elderflower beer), and in winter a pint of Fursty Ferret
Stop 5: The Harp
Across the road from Charing Cross Station you’ll find this wonderful pub. Although it’s right in the heart of a tourist mecca (in the triangle between Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross and Covent Garden) it feels like a locals pub since it’s not on one of the main routes between these places. The main draw here is the wonderful selection of cask ales they have on about ten pumps. The bar is decorated with previously used pump clips. Ask the barman for advice if you’re not sure what suits your tastes
I recommend: a good pint of British real ale
What to see in the vicinity: You can check out Trafalgar Square easily from here
Stop 6: The Salisbury
This pub is in the heart of Theatreland, between Covent Garden and Leicester Square. It’s the most touristy of this tour due to the location, but it’s worth it. The interior of this pub is astounding. Vast etched glass screens, mirror walls and rich velvet colours take you back to the Victorian era. It’s a real bolt-hole in what’s normally a very busy area of London. There’s always a selection of Ales alongside a range of craft beers from London breweries to sample
I recommend: a bag of crisps or pork scratchings, and a pint of Deuchars IPA to wind down the crawl..!
If you’re still thirsty……
There are many other great pubs in London, and I recommend exploring the outer districts and finding your own favourites if you have the time. Bermondsey, Shoreditch and Chelsea all have their own pub scenes well worth exploring.
I hope you enjoy this short tour, and go home with good memories of British Pubs and Beer!