Norwich is truly a pub-lover’s paradise, with a rich history of watering holes dating back centuries. Did you know that there used to be a pub (or more) for every day of the year? That’s how much we love our pubs here!
If you’re in the mood for a refreshing pint with a scenic river view, you’re in luck. Whether you’re a resident seeking a new watering hole or a tourist just discovering the city, we’ve got you covered.
Get comfortable and get ready to discover the top riverside pubs in Norwich!
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Riverside Pubs in Norwich City Centre
The River Wensum meanders through the heart of Norwich and there are several pubs lining its banks. If you want to visit a riverside pub in Norwich city centre, I’ll give you all the information you need to choose the perfect riverside pub in Norwich city centre. And when I say “city centre,” I’m using the term broadly to include pubs within the ring road.
Red Lion Bishopsgate
Located by the iconic Bishops bridge on the riverside path, you’ll find the charming Red Lion Bishopsgate – a historic pub that’s been a beloved watering hole since the 1700s!
With a delightful conservatory and a sprawling garden right by the River Wensum, it’s the perfect spot for soaking up the sun and enjoying a refreshing pint. Plus, parts of the building date back to the 16th century, adding to the pub’s unique charm and character.
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, Norfolk Paddle Boards operates at the Red Lion Bishopsgate and offers lessons, hire, and more for all your paddle boarding needs. And once you’ve worked up a thirst, the freehouse has a range of beers and real ales, carefully selected wines, refreshing soft drinks, and coffees to quench it.
You can also enjoy a delicious meal at the Red Lion Bishopsgate any day of the week including a mouth-watering brunch every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you’re after the ultimate roast dinner experience, look no further – many locals claim it to be one of the best Sunday roasts in all of Norwich.
The pub is now owned by the Great Hospital Charity and was recently reopened in May 2021 after a complete refurbishment. It is now operated by Nick & Briony De’Ath, who also run several other popular pubs in Norwich: The Unthank Arms, The Trafford Arms, Chambers Cocktail Company, and the William & Florence.
Unlike other pubs in Norwich city centre, the Red Lion Bishopsgate has its own small car park that is free for customers. One less thing to worry about if you are driving to the pub.
Ribs of Beef
The Ribs of Beef, a historic pub located on the banks of the River Wensum has been owned by Roger and Anthea Cawdron for over 30 years. This friendly Free House is a must-visit for anyone looking for a warm and welcoming pub experience.
On sunny days, the riverside terrace and triangle garden are the perfect places to relax and soak up the afternoon sun, while in the winter, the cozy main bar is the ideal spot to enjoy a pint or two. They have plenty of windows so you can still enjoy the views.
The pub’s Cask Marque status means that they offer up to 9 real ales and craft beers on cask, including 5 frequently changing guest ales. And if you’re not sure which one to choose, the staff are always happy to offer a taster or recommend something new.
The Ribs of Beef serves food seven days a week. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Sundays, they dish up some delicious pizza from La Repubblica Della Pizza. If you can’t make it on those days, the rest of the week they’ve got burgers, wings, and more from The Recipe Kitchen. Plus, with regular live music, a pub quiz, and sports on multiple screens (including BT Sport), there’s always something going on here.
If you’re a dog owner, you’ll be pleased to know that The Ribs is dog-friendly (as long as your furry friend is friendly too!) And if you’re visiting with children, they are welcome between 11:00 and 18:00 when accompanied by an adult.
The building’s medieval walls have been rediscovered during repair work and now add to the pub’s historic charm. According to local historians, the pub was first registered as an Ale House by Thomas Holland and his wife Mary in 1743 and named “The Ribs of Beef.” It has been through many changes since then, but Roger and Anthea have done an excellent job of restoring it to its former glory.
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Named after the famous 17th-century book by Izaak Walton, the Compleat Angler is situated right on the River Wensum, making it the perfect spot for some al fresco drinking and dining. With plenty of seating available, you can take in the beautiful views while enjoying a cold pint or a delicious meal.
While they do offer some classic pub dishes, they also have a kids menu and serve up a delicious Sunday roast that’s not to be missed. And the best part? Good value food is served all day until 20:00.
Interestingly, the pub has a rich history dating back to its founding as the Toll House and later the Railway Tavern. It was known as the Norfolk Railway House until the late 1970s when it reopened as the Compleat Angler on March 1st, 1974. Despite being a Greene King-owned pub, they offer beers from several other breweries, including local and regional options.
The Playhouse Bar
Founded in 1988 by Doc Rob Howe (who now runs the Bicycle Shop) and the Rt Hon Jacqui MacKay (who currently works for BananaLink), this bar located inside the Norwich Playhouse Theatre is a popular spot for creatives, theatre enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys a good drink. The decor is artsy and eclectic, giving it a cool and trendy vibe that’s perfect for a night out. If you’re lucky enough to snag a spot on the terrace, you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the River Wensum.
But the best part? You don’t need tickets to a show to enjoy the Playhouse bar! Whether you’re grabbing a drink during intermission or just looking for a place to unwind with friends, this bar is open to everyone.
With a selection of real ales from local breweries, German lagers on tap, delicious wines, exotic tea and coffee, and splendid small snacks, there’s something for every taste bud. If that’s not enough to tempt you, they also occasionally host DJs, live music, or even poetry readings. They also have two exhibition spaces.
TIP: If you want more than a small snack, book in at XO Kitchen across the street from the Playhouse. It’s one of our favourite places to eat in Norwich because of its creative menu.
If you’re looking for a historic pub with plenty of character and charm, you won’t want to miss the Mischief in Norwich. This Grade II listed building is located close to the River Wensum and Fye Bridge, making it a prime spot for a drink or two.
The Mischief is known for its younger clientele, particularly students, and is always buzzing with activity. There are several drinking areas to choose from, and you can challenge your friends to a game of football on the table. If you’re feeling competitive, you’ll be disappointed to hear that the pool tables in the basement have been removed, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Sport fans will appreciate that the Mischief shows matches on their six TV screens. And the staff is always friendly and welcoming, making you feel right at home.
When it comes to drinks, the Mischief is hard to beat. They offer a range of good, cheap options, so you can indulge without breaking the bank. And if you’re in the mood for some tunes, their jukebox has got you covered.
One thing that sets the Mischief apart from other pubs is its unique decor. The furnishings and decorations are all mismatched, giving it a quirky, eclectic vibe that you won’t find anywhere else.
Queen of Iceni
This Wetherspoon establishment boasts not one, but two floors of entertainment, and a large licensed outdoor area right next to the River Wensum. Since it’s the closest pub to Carrow Road, Norwich City Football fans love to hang out here on match days.
When it comes to drinks and food, the Queen of Iceni has lots of options. They offer budget-friendly real ales and a range of tasty eats to satisfy any craving.
It’s worth noting that the Queen of Iceni is a popular spot, so you may have to wait in line to get in. At night, the music gets loud, making it the perfect spot for a night out with friends. And while the Queen of Iceni welcomes children during the day, they unfortunately cannot allow anyone under 18 in the pub after 18:00.
Riverside Pubs Outside Norwich City Centre
If you’re up for exploring the area outside the city centre, you’ll find some wonderful riverside pubs along the River Wensum and River Yare. The tranquil riverside setting is perfect for a relaxing day out with friends and family, or even a romantic evening for two. You should venture beyond the city centre and check out these pubs by the river.
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Gibraltar Gardens is a family-friendly spot just a stone’s throw away from the city centre with something for everyone. In 2023, the pub welcomed new owners Tony Dibbens and his stepdad, who took over running the pub in honour of Tony’s late mother’s love for the place.
It’s the perfect place for a quick pint while catching your favourite sport on one of their TV screens or for a leisurely Sunday roast with the family. You can join in on their free pool nights every Tuesday, enjoy weekly live music and entertainment, karaoke nights, pub quizzes, and special events. They also serve delectable bar snacks like sausage rolls and pastries from Little Pie Patisserie.
If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Norwich Paddleboard Hire’s base at Gibraltar Gardens for lessons and board hires. And for those who are driving, you’ll be pleased to know that the pub has onsite parking available.
With a large garden area right next to the River Yare, The Rivergarden is the perfect spot to relax with a drink and watch the boats. Inside, the RG Fireside Arena in the bar is the place to be for all the big games (including Norwich City matches!), with a real log fire and a massive screen to give you the ultimate pub viewing experience.
If you’re feeling active you could hire a paddleboard or book a lesson with Norfolk Paddleboards, which has a base at the Rivergarden. Alternatively, on Wednesday evenings, they offer a Vinyasa yoga class with Waveney Flow Yoga for just £10, which includes a complimentary tea, wine, coffee, or beer.
The food menu at the Rivergarden is extensive, with options ranging from burgers and sausages to fish and chips and jacket potatoes. There’s even a children’s menu, so the whole family can enjoy a meal together.
On Sundays they serve a traditional roast dinner (from 12:00 to 18:00) featuring roast potatoes, homemade Yorkshire pudding, three vegetables, and a jug of gravy. They even have a vegan nut roast available if that’s more your style.
Additionally, the Rivergarden offers a function room for hire at no cost, and also has a small car park for guests.
Situated on the banks of the River Yare, the Rushcutters Arms is a charming 16th-century inn-on-the-river in a Grade II listed building. It is a family-friendly and dog-friendly pub that boasts its own boat moorings.
While you enjoy a delicious meal from their extensive pub menu, you can watch the boats and barges float by in the summer in their riverside gardens and terrace. On Sundays, don’t miss the chance to indulge in their mouth-watering roast dinner with unlimited gravy and a huge Yorkshire pudding.
They also offer an excellent selection of real ales and fine wines. If you’re planning a special event or celebration, The Rushcutters has a function room available for hire. They also offer a car park for the convenience of their guests.
What is the best riverside pub in Norwich?
It’s hard to choose just one, but we think The Red Lion Bishopsgate is the best riverside pub in Norwich. It has a scenic garden by the River Wensum, historic building dating back to the 16th century, free customer car park, paddle board hire, excellent selection of drinks, and tasty brunch and Sunday roast.
Top Norwich Pubs by the River
There you have it, the best riverside pubs in Norwich! Whether you’re after a refreshing pint with a view or a delicious meal, these pubs on our list have got you covered.
Do you agree with our choices or have any other pubs to add to the list? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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