Camden, known for its eclectic vibe and bustling market, also plays host to some of London’s most atmospheric pubs. As you meander through its vibrant streets, rich with the scent of street food and the sounds of live music, you’ll discover watering holes that tell tales of eras gone by, rock legends, and the city’s love for a good pint.
Broadly speaking, London’s pubs are not just places to quench your thirst; they’re soulful establishments where history, culture, and community intertwine. The best pubs in Camden, with their unique blend of bohemian flair and traditional British charm, encapsulate this beautifully.
Whether you’re looking for a cozy nook to settle into or a lively spot echoing with the past gigs of rock icons, Camden’s got a pint with your name on it. So, during your London jaunt, don’t just pass by on your way to the market or elsewhere in the city; step into a Camden pub and toast to the very essence of the city.
Editor’s Note: While I’ve never lived in Camden, I have called other parts of North London home – and there’s something unique about this region of the city – especially Camden. As I do on many of my trips, I hope you’ll at least spend a bit of time in this lively and distinctive neighborhood. –Valerie
The Best Pubs in Camden – Ranked
There are a lot of lists of the “best” pubs in Camden out there, and most of them have some sort of black box way of deciding what to include and in what order. I prefer to be transparent in how I rank the things I recommend on this site, so below you’ll find a table with scores for each pub; here’s how I came up with those numbers:
- I selected only those pubs that are located within the generally agreed bounds of the Camden area (35 in all!)
- I ranked all of the pubs by rating and number of reviews on Google reviews
- I then combined those scores with the proportion of reviews each pub received to come up with a score (out of 5) for each pub
- I ranked the pubs by score, and broke ties by the number of reviews (at the time of reviewing the data)
Also, I included only pubs with a rating of 4.0 or higher, to ensure I was only including those pubs which are truly good. Given all that, here are the best pubs near Camden:
|1||The World’s End||6600+||5.23|
|2||The Elephants Head||3500+||4.62|
|3||The Hawley Arms||3000+||4.58|
|4||The Black Heart||2100+||4.42|
Below, you’ll find more about each of these top 5 Camden pubs, plus shorter descriptions of the other 13 that I reviewed for this post.
1. The World’s End
Photos courtesy of The World’s End via Instagram
This traditional pub, with a fireplace, is located near Camden Market and just opposite Camden Town Tube station. It is deceptively small from the outside, but much bigger than it looks. This is good as it’s one of the most popular, highly-rated, and all-around best pubs in Camden.
It has a great atmosphere, plays good rock/ metal music, and boasts a terrific sound system. (No surprise as housed below the World’s End is Underworld, a famous live music venue in Camden, where you can dance the night away.) The food, drinks, and service are all of good standard, and the pizza is one of their most popular dishes. (They do a vegan one too!)
Fun fact: if you particularly enjoy your trip to The World’s End, you can buy their merchandise too, from T-shirts to patches and hoodies.
2. The Elephants Head
Photos courtesy of The Elephant’s Head
The Elephant’s Head is a lovely traditional Victorian-ra pub that still retains some of that charm while embracing the last century’s influence on the area too.
Camden is famous in the London music scene and, in true Camden fashion, this pub has a great DJ who plays vinyl records. (They play a lot of music from the 60s to 90s and it’s a great place for dancing on weekend evenings!) If you’re there earlier in the day, The Elephant’s Head also does a terrific English breakfast.
Unfortunately, in the last few months, there seems to be a new security manager who rubs some guests the wrong way – just so you’re aware when it comes to getting in the door.
3. The Hawley Arms
Photos courtesy of The Hawley Arms via Instagram
Originally founded in 1851 as the Hawley Arms Tavern, this building has a fascinating – and tumultuous – history. It operated as a biker bar (without live music) in the 80s and 90s before being revitalized between 2002-2008. The famous singer, Amy Winehouse, was a frequent customer till she passed on in 2011. (Her drink du jour was said to be the “Rickstasy.”)
In 2008, it was unfortunately wrecked by a fire and faced such issues reopening, supporters had to go to Glastonbury Festival 2008 to advocate for it before it finally reopened.
Today, the second floor often showcases musicians, both famous and rookies. You can also order a selection of British traditional pub food, such as Scotch Eggs, Burgers, and Sausage and Mash, and will be served by the very warm and friendly staff.
4. The Black Heart
Photos courtesy of The Black Heart via Instagram
You’re probably going to notice a theme to the best pubs in Camden, London, but The Black Heart is another place that has fantastic live music. If you can’t make it all the way to Camden, you can also catch the music on the pub’s livestream.
The atmosphere, service, and selection of beers are all very good too. The vegan food, including a vegan Sunday roast, is also very highly spoken of!
Keep in mind that The Black Heart opens late and closes late. It opens from 3pm Mondays to Fridays, and at noon over the weekend. It closes between midnight to 2am, depending on the day.
5. Bucks Head
This corner pub is well known for its friendly staff and bartenders – so much so that “Viola” (the name of one of the bartenders) is one of the most mentioned words in the Google reviews!
While it’s not common for pubs to have them, the rooftop bar of the Bucks Head is particularly nice, when the weather is good. If you’re looking for a bite to eat before catching a gig, don’t forget to order the wings!
Other Great Pubs in Camden
Photos courtesy of The Lock Tavern via Flickr
As mentioned at the top, I also reviewed a number of other pubs in Camden – and by golly, there are a lot to choose from! If these five top pubs in Camden are full up when you try to visit, here are others you might want to pop into.
- The Dublin Castle – Another of the best pubs in Camden, London for live music, The Dublin Castle also has a jukebox with a good playlist and organizes events such as “Rock N Roll Book Club.” Stop by before 6 p.m. for discounted drinks!
- The Lock Tavern – The Lock Tavern is one of the best Camden, London pubs for a great outdoor experience in all weather conditions: it has a beer garden, firepit, and roof terrace! Drop in for their famous Sunday roast or a British favorite: the pub quiz (hosted weekly.)
- The Devonshire Arms – Another metal pub, The Devonshire Arms also does Karaoke and themed evenings. It’s a must for rock music lovers. However, you may not enjoy it if you’re not a fan of alternative music!
- The Engineer – The Engineer is a little further from Camden Market compared to the other entries on this list. It’s just off the canal in Primrose Hill and is well-known for its beautiful garden and Sunday Roast!
- The Colonel Fawcett – Home to its very own darts and poo club, The Colonel Fawcett is one of the best Camden, London pubs for those who enjoy traditional pub games. It also offers over 30 types of gin!
- The Sheephaven Bay – The Sheephaven Bay is a traditional Irish pub made for sport-lovers- it has FOURTEEN TV screens showing sports!
- Spread Eagle, Camden – Dating back to 1858, Spread Eagle is located near Regents Park and Camden Market. A traditional pub with wood paneling, it has a terrific atmosphere but unfortunately, the food can be a little hit-or-miss.
- Camden Road Arms – The Camden Road Arms is a Victorian pub close to Camden Road station that serves the famous Brew Dog Beers. If you have a group of 6 or more dining there, the first round of house stout will be free! (They also serve good vegan food.)
- The Good Mixer – The Good Mixer is another place on this list of best Camden, London pubs with live music (but no stage), great music, and friendly staff.
- The Princess of Wales – The Princess of Wales is a gastropub near Primrose Hill with a lovely garden, terrific food, and even offers cocktail masterclasses! It’s a great place for a Sunday roast or pizza.
- The Queens – Another pub in the Primrose Hill vicinity, The Queens is a stylish pub that serves seasonal British food. You can even dine on the terrace, where you can enjoy great views of Primrose Hill. Plus, it’s dog-friendly so lots of cute pooches to admire!
- Old Eagle Pub – One little-known fact about London is that you can get some of the best Thai food in the city in its pubs. Old Eagle Pub is one such place! There is also a pub cat, live music, and a great atmosphere at this cat and dog-friendly cozy corner.
- The Farrier Pub, Restaurant & Wine Store – The Farrier Pub is located in a beautifully restored historic Grade II listed building that used to be a horse stable (and hospital.) It serves locally sourced food, with a great craft beer selection. The Farrier also houses a wine shop, at which you get 30% off if you buy wine for takeaway.
- Brondes Age Camden – Previously the Cobden Arms, Brondes Age Camden has several TV screens showing major sporting events. It’s also a nice place for late-night dancing on the weekends.
- Camden Enterprise Hotel & Pub – Started in 1871, The Enterprise has recently been refurbished. It’s located close to Chalk Farm tube station and shows major football and rugby games.
- The Golden Lion – This old-school bar is remarkable for its very reasonable prices: the Sunday Roast at The Golden Lion is only £13.95 – one of the best prices I’ve seen in the city.
- The Albert – The Albert is a gastropub with live music on Fridays, comedy nights, life drawing on Tuesdays, and a weekly quiz on Wednesdays. Ingredients are sustainably sourced toot!
- Slatterys – Slatterlys is an independent pub – a rare thing in London these days! Don’t expect anything too fancy here but it is very popular with locals.
If you have any questions about the best pubs in Camden, London, let me know in the comments!