Brits love a good night out, and those from both sides of the North/South divide tend to argue about where the best city is to enjoy a pint. As a major part of British culture, whether you’re a student or retiree, we want to finally settle the argument and crown the best city in the UK for its nightlife.
By updating our original research with refreshed data for 2023, we will rank UK cities on several factors, including; safety levels, the number of bars and clubs, the cost of a pint and residents’ safety concerns.
It should be noted that not all of the towns and cities that were ranked offer the same quality of nightlife, as some larger cities have a plethora of bars which pub drinkers can choose from. Others were smaller with a more scarce selection of venues.
Some British towns also varied when it came to their safety levels. While all of the best nightlife venues have ample staff and door supervisors with the appropriate training and SIA licences, safety remains an important factor that many consider when planning a night out.
So, which UK areas are the best, not only for bars and pubs but for safety as well? By analysing the most populated towns and cities, the experts at Get Licensed will reveal the overall best cities for a night out and the best purely for drinking and safety.
Newcastle is the Best UK City for a Night Out
Newcastle has officially been crowned the number one city for a night out in the UK, among two other cities in the North of England making it to the top three.
- Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
Best Night Out Score: 8.19 out of 10
The city of Newcastle, often referred to by locals as ‘The Toon’ is one of the most iconic in the country, thanks to its industrial heritage, local landmarks and iconic Geordie accent. The Newcastle-set reality TV show Geordie Shore showcases the local nightlife scene and its boozy bars and clubs.
The North East city of Newcastle has a vast array of bars and nightclubs to dance the night away (66 per 100,000 people) and also had one of the highest scores for its number of prestigious CAMRA pubs (211 per 100,000). The Campaign for Real Ale is an independent organisation which promotes real ale, cider and Perry and traditional British pubs and clubs. The average price of a beer cost in Newcastle averages at around £4.20 a pint, which is fairly cheap compared to other big cities in the North.
- York, North Yorkshire
Best Night Out Score: 7.89 out of 10
The walled city of York in North Yorkshire is well known for its vibrant nightlife and historic old pubs and scored an impressive 7.89 out of 10 in the ranking for the best night out cities. The city has a choice of commercial chain bars and quirky independent pubs which pull in the punters.
Considering York’s small population of just over 153,000, the city hosts many traditional real ale and cider pubs (161 per 100,000) and is also known for its safe streets, with a safety index score of 73.09. There were also impressive scores provided by resident surveys for its high street safety, where just 19% of locals reported feeling worried about being mugged or robbed, and 14% reported worries about being assaulted due to hate crime.
- Warrington, Cheshire
Best Night Out Score: 8.01 out of 10
Warrington is a town between Manchester and Liverpool and boasts lots of pubs and bars in its vibrant centre. Warrington scored 8.01 out of 10 in the ranking as another northern area in the top five.
Warrington has a total of 279 CAMRA pubs (169 per 100,000) and also had among the lowest scores for its resident safety concerns, with just 11% of locals worried about being assaulted due to hate crimes. Pubgoers in the area generally feel safer about walking home alone at night than in other towns, with 52% of residents feeling safe doing so.
London Dubbed Worst Night Out in the UK
The cost of living crisis hits London hard as the price of a pint soars up to £7 in the city.
Best Night Out Score: 1.73 out of 10
London fell to the bottom of the ranking as it scored poorly for a number of nightlife factors. Everyone knows that nights out in London are a pricey affair and are likely to break the bank, but the city hosts various prestigious bars and clubs. London’s West End is world-famous and is home to plenty of bars and clubs.
London scored most poorly for its teeth-clenching price of a pint, where the average beer costs £6.82, although this figure can rise even higher in some of the more expensive neighbourhoods like Kensington and Chelsea. Although, the safety index score in London was higher than others in the top three (46.29). London also lost points for its number of real ale pubs (30 per 100,000) and scored higher for its bars and clubs.
- Coventry, West Midlands
Best Night Out Score: 1.86 out of 10
Coventry came close second to London scoring 1.86 out of 10 in the ranking. Coventry is known for its student nightlife with over 30,000 students calling the town home.
Coventry scored poorly for its number of bars and clubs (9 per 100,000) which were among the lowest out of all towns. The West Midlands town also lost points for its safety index score (35.87) and 63% of residents reported worries about being mugged or robbed in the area. Only 27% of people felt safe walking home alone at night so it’s worth being vigilant going home after a night out here.
- Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Best Night Out Score: 1.91 out of 10
Southend-on-Sea is known for its fish and chip shops along its busy promenade, its amusement parks and pubs. Scoring 1.91 in the ranking for the best night outs, Southend is not exactly a night out you’d write home about.
The seaside town in Essex scored rather poorly for its safety index score (36.55) and unfortunately had high safety concerns reported by residents, where 68% reported worries about being mugged or robbed, and 39% were worried about being assaulted due to hate crime. Southend also had among the lowest numbers for safety at night, with just 20% feeling safe to walk home alone.
Wigan is the Best City For Drinking in the UK
By looking at the number of local bars and clubs in the area, as well as CAMRA-rated British pubs and the price of a pint, we revealed the best cities for drinking in the UK.
- Wigan, Greater Manchester
Best for Drinking City Score: 8.87 out of 10
Wigan scored first place in the ranking for the best towns and cities to enjoy a pint, scoring 8.87 out of 10. Wigan, in Greater Manchester, has 418 real ale pubs (238 per 100,000) and 53 bars and clubs collectively (30 per 100,000). The average price of a pint is the cheapest out of all 54 UK cities at just £2.56 a stout.
- Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
Best for Drinking City Score: 8.49 out of 10
Newcastle came out in the top three once again for one of the best cities to enjoy drinking, this time with a score of 8.49 out of 10. Newcastle has an excellent choice of nightlife with 127 clubs and bars (66 per 100,000) and 405 real ale pubs. The price for a pint is slightly higher than other cities in our top three at £4.20 a piece, but it is reasonable considering the number of tourists visiting the city.
- Plymouth, Devon
Best for Drinking City Score: 7.92 out of 10
The port city of Plymouth in Devon is well known for its maritime heritage and vibrant nightlife. Portsmouth has an array of bars and clubs along its harbour as well as real ale pubs along Union Street, which was laid out in the nineteenth century.
Plymouth has 186 bars and clubs in its city (71 per 100,000) and 270 CAMRA-approved real ale pubs (104 per 100,000). Ordering a pint of beer in Plymouth won’t break the bank for your night out either, at £3.98 a pop.
Telford is the Safest City for a Night Out
Out of 54 of the most populated cities in England, Telford in Shropshire was crowned the safest city in the UK to enjoy a night out on the town.
- Telford, Shropshire
Safe City Score: 9.86 out of 10
Telford is a large town in Shropshire which is loved for its Southwater shopping district and its stunning 450-acre Town Park. Telford scored highly for its safety levels with a safety index score of 75.4 out of 100. Resident surveys revealed that just 3% worried about being assaulted due to hate crime, and 23% worried about being robbed or mugged. Those local to the area felt safe walking home alone at night (68% of residents), indicating that the town is a safe and peaceful place to enjoy a night out.
- York, North Yorkshire
Safe City Score: 9.81 out of 10
The city of York in North Yorkshire also topped our list of the safest places to enjoy a night out, with a score of 9.81. York is a city that is always busy with tourists and residents alike and is also known as one of the North’s most affluent cities. The safety index score in York is 73.09 out of 100, among the highest on our list, and is also safe at night, as 71% of residents felt safe walking home alone at night. It was also reported that just 14% of residents worried about getting assaulted due to hate crimes.
- Norwich, Norfolk
Safe City Score: 9.53 out of 10
Norwich is a city in Norfolk known for its medieval Norwich Cathedral and peaceful country parks, and it also scored third place for the safest cities to enjoy a night out, with a score of 9.53 out of 10.
Norwich had the highest safety index score out of all cities analysed, with a score of 74.03 out of 100. The city also scored comparatively low for its resident’s worries about being mugged (20%) and worries about being assaulted due to hate crimes (16%).
The data we used for the number of bars and clubs were taken from Tripadvisor, while the number of pubs close to each location was taken from CAMRA’s whatpub.com. We compared this data to the populations of each town and city using data from World Population Review. This data is correct as of 11/04/2023.
Additionally, we sourced the price of a pint from Numbeo. This figure was given as a price per 500ml, which we used to calculate what a pint measure would cost proportionally. We also used Numbeo safety data to track a range of safety-related factors for each town and city. This data is correct as of 11/04/2023.
We combined all of these factors into a single overall score, where each was given equal weight. We also created separate scores for each town and city-based purely on drinking factors and safety factors.
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