Lewes has always fascinated us. It’s steeped in history and every direction you turn there’s seems to be a story to learn or something to explore. The historic buildings and castle are always worth visiting, but so are the many beautiful walks in and around the town, as well as Pells Pool which is the oldest documented freshwater outdoor public swimming pool in Britain.
But it doesn’t matter if we’ve been swimming or out hunting history, there’s always one thing we end up doing when in town – and that’s enjoying the pubs in Lewes! After all, there’s nothing better than some good food and a drink after a day out.
As we know this place well, we’ve put together a list of our favourite pubs in Lewes.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere quirky to enjoy some real ale or are hoping to find some of the best pub food in the region, something on this list will suit you perfectly.
Most pubs in Lewes are dog friendly too, and many have plenty of live music to enjoy. So sit back, relax and let us guide you through the pub culture in this historic town.
The Eight Best Pubs in Lewes for Food, Drink & Fun
1. The Lewes Arms
We love a place that considers itself a bit weird or odd. And based on appearance alone you wouldn’t think that of The Lewes Arms which looks just like a typical pub.
However this place is anything but typical. It’s probably the most fun pub in Lewes.
Not only are they home to the World Pea Throwing Championships, but a few times a year they also host a game of Dwile Flonking which is an ancient pub sport that involves lots of silliness and dancing.
Alongside these unusual events, there is regular life drawing, book clubs, quiz nights, a chess league and folk music!
When it comes to pubs in Lewes, The Lewes Arms has the most diverse selection of events and entertainment on offer of them all!
It’s also a very social place that really feels at the heart of the community.
Inside there’s a fantastic curved bar that helps get people chatting while sampling some of the many ales available. Dark Star Hophead, Fuller’s London Pride and Gales Seafarers Ale to name a few of the seven that are typically on tap.
If you’re feeling peckish be sure to grab a sandwich or wings, and if looking for something a bit more filling there are burgers, steaks and jerk chicken. Of course, there’s some vegan and vegetarian options too so everyone is catered for. And on top of that, there’s a little beer garden to enjoy as well.
Address: 1 Mount Place, Lewes, BN7 1YH
2. The Pelham Arms
It’s no secret we love beams and a fireplace – they add so much character and warmth to a pub after all. So you’ll be glad to hear The Pelham Arms has both!
Making things even better is their glorious courtyard which gives this place a real country pub feel. And as dogs are allowed, why not pop in after a countryside walk?
You will often find Abyss Ale sold here and it’s well worth a try. Not only is it delicious, it was first brewed in the pub’s cellar before that brewing hobby turned into a full-time job and somewhere larger was needed for the brewing process.
Occasionally Abyss will send new beers to The Pelham Arms to see what people think before realising them to the wider public. So if you visit you may get the chance to be one of the first to taste a new Abyss invention!
Need another reason to visit? Well not only is the food here exceptionally good, but The Pelham Arms are also the only pub in Lewes to have their own smokehouse!
Their menu takes advantage of that of course, but the theme throughout is flavour packed dishes. There’s mouth watering Brisket Burger and Korean Fried Burger, both of which goes well with the Fu Fighters Tohu Loaded Fries. Or enjoy some Steak or warm your soul with the Chickpea Dal.
Great food and ale in a beautiful setting with a family friendly vibe. What more could you want?
Address: High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XL
3. The Brewers Arms
Bang on the high street of Lewes you’ll find a gorgeous Tudor building that is home to the multi-award winning pub and locals’ favourite, The Brewers Arms.
The pub is split into two bars. At the front of the building there is a comfortable snug bar with plenty of seating and an open fire to add to that cosy atmosphere. The other bar is more spacious and has plenty of room for larger groups or families wishing to dine.
But if it’s a nice day then head out to their small beer garden that’s ideal for enjoying a pint in the sunshine.
Drinks wise there’s a great varied selection. But it’s the eight handpumps and delicious ales on offer which has helped rake in the awards over the years, and you’ll find the likes of Burning Sky, Tring and Gun ales all available.
As for food, there’s a fair range on offer from the classic British All Day Breakfast to Spanish Chicken. There are of course lighter options such as soup or sandwiches and if visiting on a Sunday it’ll be hard to resist The Brewers Arms’ own Sunday Roast with all the trimmings!
Can it get any better? Well dogs are welcome and they show live sport on TVs throughout.
As Lewes pubs go, this is an all-round great choice with lots on offer, including separate snug, beer garden and other areas for you to choose depending on the atmosphere you want.
Address: 91 High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XN
4. The Black Horse
The Black Horse is a very traditional looking pub in the west end of Lewes with lovely bay windows and two bars. There’s a very family friendly feel here and dogs are also welcome.
The main larger bar has an open fire, TV that plays sports, and has plenty of drinks and ales on offer. There’s also a smaller, quieter bar towards the back for those who want a more relaxing atmosphere.
On top of that they have a fantastic walled beer garden, and frequently host live music and quiz nights!
If you are wanting to grab some food, the menu is traditional British, with some European classics thrown in for good measure. So you’ll find plenty of meat and seafood options as well as vegetarian and vegan dishes all prepared using locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re eating with a friend you can’t go wrong with sharing the Beastie Bites board – chicken wings, thighs, drumsticks and pulled pork along with a few more extras.
As many as eight ales will be on offer at most times so there’s a good variety for real ale fans. Burning Sky Plateau, Greene King Abbot, Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and Old Speckled Hen are usual mainstays.
Address: 55 Western Road, Lewes, BN7 1RS
5. The Swan Inn
If you’ve spent the afternoon visiting the Anne Of Cleves House Museum, then The Swan Inn is the perfect place nearby to rest your feet and recharge your batteries.
This traditional pub is split into two distinctive areas, the Private Bar and the Saloon Bar, and both are open to the public.
The Private Bar has access to a wonderful beer garden (maybe the best in Lewes) which is walled and covered in flowers, providing a lovely relaxation spot in the summer. In the colder months simply retreat inside and have your drink by the pub’s roaring open fire.
There’s plenty of ale on offer along with delicious food! The menu isn’t tied down to one region so you’ll find a range of international dishes. Be that Roast Ham or a taste of the Mediterranean with their Spiced Halloumi Salad or a bit of Central America with the Mexican Burgers.
As an added bonus not only are dogs welcome here, but so are babies and children. It’s a very family orientated place. But the real star of the show has to be that beer garden.
Address: 30a Southover High Street, Lewes, BN7 1HU
6. The Lansdown Arms
Lewes has a football club so if you happen to make it along to one of their games, then win or lose you’ll need somewhere nearby to celebrate with the locals or drown your sorrows.
Luckily The Lansdown Arms is nearby and is popular before and after games. Wooden beams dominate the ceiling inside and there’s a lovely stone floor – a nice feature considering those aren’t so common in pubs anymore. There isn’t a beer garden but there is seating available at the front of the building to soak up some sun.
Three regular ales take up five of the handpumps, and when we last visited those were Gun Base Ejection Smoked Rye, Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and Timothy Taylor Boltmaker. All great choices as far as we’re concerned.
And if you’re needing some food after an enthralling match, pasta dishes are served up until 6pm. So why not grab some Beef Ragu or their tasty Mac n’ Cheese. If you’ve got a sweet tooth there is cheesecake and brownies available too.
Why food till 6? Well because in the evenings there is usually entertainment ranging from popular jam sessions to gigs by up and coming local bands.
This friendly community hub is one of those pubs where you pop in for a pint after a match, get side-tracked by good conversation and entertainment, then suddenly find it’s midnight! But we say just roll with it.
As with most pubs in Lewes, The Lansdown Arms is also dog friendly.
Address: 36 Lansdown Place, Lewes, BN7 2JU
7. The Royal Oak
On the topic of Lewes FC, the football club was actually formed back in 1885 at this very pub – The Royal Oak!
This pub is steeped in local history, often has live music at the weekend, and is also known as being one of the best pubs in Lewes for food thanks to the inventive and delicious dishes on their diverse menu.
If you just want something light to go with your pint, then be sure to try the Jackfruit Wings or Veggie Spring Rolls. For a more filling meal there’s a range of classic British pub dishes such as the Beer Battered Cod or the 28 day, Dry Aged Sussex Short Horn Sirloin Steak.
And if you really want to make sure you can’t move from your seat for a while be sure to ask for their Sticky Toffee Pudding or Belgian Chocolate Brownie. If you manage all of that while drinking the great selection of ale they have on offer then we salute you!
There’s five handpumps offering ale with the likes of Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and St Austell Tribute usually available.
Wine may be better suited to a big meal of course, and thankfully there’s a carefully selected wine list with something to accompany any of the dishes.
There is a spacious upstairs to The Royal Oak too, which is sometimes used for private bookings. However on weekends it is regularly used to showcase live bands. Be sure to check out their Facebook page in advance to see which bands are playing if you’re visiting.
Address: 3 Station Street, Lewes, BN7 2DA
8. Snowdrop Inn
If you are looking for somewhere a bit quirky and fun, look no further than the popular Snowdrop Inn.
This place has won awards for both food and its selection of ale, so it’s easy to see why this is a must visit for both locals and visitors.
Dark wood dominates the bar area, but with enough light coming in through the windows this place remains airy while still keeping that traditional pub atmosphere.
Food wise, the menu is that of a traditional gastropub, but we thought the pizzas were especially good, as well as the Veggie Chilli – which is always a winner on a cold day.
Hopefully when you visit it’s warm as you can then take advantage of their fantastic beer garden which has some exceptional views as it sits directly under Cliffe Hill. That hill is the site of Britain’s deadliest avalanche which happened in 1836, an event that sadly saw eight people lose their lives.
The Snowdrop Inn, built close to where the accident happened, was actually named in honour of the victims.
If you visit, have a drink in their honour. There’s several ales to choose from if doing so, as they often rotate to give many local brewers a chance to shine.
However if you’re in luck they’ll have Aurora by Burning Sky on tap – this must-try strong pale ale has a big flavour but remains well balanced.
There’s more to the Snowdrop Inn too. Make your way up the painted stairs to play darts or enjoy the occasional live music they have on. It’s not just any music – it’s often jazz! So grab a classy drink and enjoy some of the best musicianship in Lewes.
Address: 119 South St, Lewes BN7 2BU
Pubs in Lewes: A Couple of Special Mentions
Although Lewes has been a haunt for many years, we still have some self-respect for our liver so we haven’t been to every pub yet!
However we’ve heard good things about these two Lewes pubs below, and hope to visit each soon.
1. The Gardener’s Arms
We know this place is popular with both Brighton and Lewes FC fans on matchday, and canine friends are apparently welcomed with water and treats!
On tap there should be five ever changing ales from small brewers around the country and CAMRA members receive a discount.
Address: 46 Cliffe High Street, Lewes, BN7 2AN, 01273474808
2. John Harvey Tavern
This looks like a family friendly pub serving classic pub food – burgers, pies, and mac n’ cheese. You can’t go wrong with that!
There’s a main bar area along with a quieter area that’s mainly for eating. Monday nights are reserved for live folk music while there’s jazz every couple of weeks falling on a Wednesday. We hope to head there soon for some toe-tapping fun!
Address: 1 Bear Yard, Cliffe High Street, Lewes