What is a Bar Crawl?

A bar crawl or a pub crawl is an outing where a group of people visits several bars, clubs, or pubs in one night. The concept of bar crawling has been practiced in many countries for a long time.

Most bar crawls happen late evening, primarily when bars and pubs operate in full swing. The idea is to visit local pubs to explore and have fun.

Regardless of the country you live in, there are bar crawl events that you can attend. Especially if you are a new resident, a bar crawl can be a great way to visit the bars in your area. 

The following guide aims to give you everything you need to know about your first bar crawl in terms of how they work, the different types, how to prepare best, and how to plan a bar crawl yourself. But first,

How Does a Bar Crawl Work?

A bar crawl is a night out with friends where you hit many different bars. It’s like a pub crawl but on steroids. You typically buy a wristband or a ticket which gets you access to drink specials or discounts at each bar on the crawl.

Some bar crawls even encourage them and have exclusive drink specials and promotions with them in mind.

Bar crawls generally start at a designated spot, like a specific bar or a park. You usually meet up with the group at a certain time, usually in the evening unless you are hardcore – or part of a stag/hen and kick off drinking in the morning. Very rare.

From there, you and your crew will move to the next bar, usually on foot or by public transportation.

You can grab a drink at each stop, mingle with other crawl-goers, and check out the bar’s vibe. Some crawls have themes, costumes, or games to make it more fun which we will discuss later.

As the night goes on, you’ll hit up more bars, sometimes with a final destination or after-party planned. The crawl usually wraps up in the late hours, and then it’s time to figure out how to return home safely.

In simple words, a bar crawl works like this;

It’s a fun night out with friends where you explore different bars, have a good time, and drink specials at each stop. It’s a great way to discover new places and have a great night out. They are also great ways to meet new people.

The Different Types of Bar Crawls and how they work

There are different types of bar crawl situations. Some bar crawls are private and informal and involve friends or family having fun. While in other cases, planners organize the bar crawls, and you need to buy a ticket. 

Organized Bar Crawls

When you register for an organized bar crawl, the process is pretty simple.

First, you pay for a ticket, which sometimes comes with wristbands. In some cases, they give branded t-shirts to everyone who is bar crawling. Albeit a fun souvenir of the night, these bar crawl t-shirts are meant to identify you as part of the group. That way, the bars you visit will know that you belong with the organizers of the bar crawl. Also, it helps the local guides account for everyone they brought on the trip.

When you get a ticket, the organizers also inform you of the meeting time and venue. So, everyone meets at the designated place, and that is the beginning of a memorable night. From there, the local guide takes you from one bar to the other to drink and have fun with friends.

Most bar crawls start between 6 to 7 pm and can last anywhere between 2 to 4 hours. Ultimately, the organizers have a schedule and decide how long the bar crawl lasts.

Pub Crawl

A pub crawl is the original bar crawl where you hit multiple pubs in one night. It’s like a bar crawl but with more of a traditional feel, like less of a formality to it.

Themed Bar Crawl

A themed bar crawl is based on a specific theme, like Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, or a holiday. It’s like a regular bar crawl but with costumes and festive vibes.

City Bar Crawl

A city bar crawl is when you and your friends hit up multiple bars in one specific city. It’s like a pub crawl but with a wider variety of bars.

College Bar Crawl

A college bar crawl is famous among college students and occurs in a specific town. It’s like a city bar crawl but with a younger crowd.

Charity Bar Crawl

A charity bar crawl is when a portion of proceeds from each bar goes towards a specific cause. It’s like a regular bar crawl but with a good cause.

Virtual Bar Crawl

A virtual bar crawl is organized online via social media or Zoom. Everyone joins a group chat or video call and visits virtual bars or takes turns showing each other their favorite local bars. It’s like a regular bar crawl but in the virtual world.

How to Prepare for an Organised Bar Crawl

Pay attention to certain things if you want the best bar crawl experience. Below are the ways to prepare for a bar crawl.

Get Enough Rest. You Will Need it.

Most bar crawls happen on Saturday nights, so you may want to party or head out on a Friday. Think twice.

Partying the night before is not a good idea because bar crawls may be fun, but they are a drinking marathon. And, of course, you will be consuming and staying out longer than you are used to.

So, you need to get all the rest that you can get. Bar crawls last for hours and sometimes cross into the early morning hours. 

Resting will help you reserve your strength for the bar crawl.

Bar crawls generally include games, drinking, and dancing. If you are not rested, you will miss all the fun.

Get Your Outfit Right

To attend a themed bar crawl, you should prepare your costume. Ensure you get all the clothes you’ll need for the bar crawl, so try them before departure. If there are any issues with the dress, you’ll fix it in time to meet the bar crawl team.

While some bar crawls are themed, others need you to wear comfortable attire. Some bars and clubs may have a dress code, so check in with the organizers to be safe. However, we recommend wearing fairly decent clothing when visiting bars and clubs. Also, wear clothes that you are comfortable in because you may likely do a lot of walking. 

The same thing goes for footwear; wear comfortable ones. The bars are usually crowded so you should wear breathable clothes and shoes. Bar crawls go on for hours, and the last thing you want to spoil your fun is a dress you picked out yourself.

Eat a Good Meal

Some bar crawls plan for food during the event, but you may prefer something other than the food bars serve. So, to avoid feeling hungry when out at night, eat a light meal before leaving your house. That way, you can last the night. Of course, you can also take money to get food, but we don’t advise leaving the group. 

Also, take a bottle of water to keep you hydrated and conscious. Drinking water will keep you alert and hydrated on the journey. Remember, you still have to get home at the close of the event.

And don’t listen to anyone trying to tell you “Eating is Cheating” – be smart, eat a good meal, and make sure you are hydrated. Bar crawls require endurance. Also, it might help you get wasted too early on.

Don’t forget your ID

Since you will be moving from one bar to another, ensure to take your ID.

Your ID helps you prove that you have attained the legal age for drinking in that city. Most bars will check your ID before allowing you inside the club, so ensure to put it in your bag before leaving the house. Also, besides the bar staff, the bar crawl staff may check for your ID to confirm your age before letting you go with them.

One of the easiest excuses bar staff can refuse you entry on the night – especially if you have had a few on you from other bars, is to refuse you based on you not having your ID. Don’t let this be the case, or let them have an easy excuse to refuse you.

Have your ID on you at all times. And be sure not to lose it!

As a mental note, rehearse the following “Phone, Wallet, Keys, ID” every time you leave a bar and head to the next one.

Pack Lightly

When preparing for a bar crawl, ensure that you pack lightly.

Since you will move with people from one place to another, you will likely lose items. Besides, most bars are usually crowded, so personal things may go missing when you constantly bump into people. You should carry only items that are necessary for the bar crawl.

A night of fun can easily be ruined if you lose essential belongings.

Know Where You Are Going

Knowing where you’re going may seem obvious, but if you get lost or the group has gone on to the following location, you will know how to join them afterward. It’s essential to keep track of everyone.

As a tip, don’t lose momentum by staying in one place for too long. Stick to one drink per pub or bar. That way, you will also ensure you don’t lose anyone from the group.

Bar crawls around the world and how they differ

Australian Bar Crawls

In Australia, bar crawls mostly occur in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

Australian bar crawls offer a great party atmosphere and the opportunity to explore different bars and pubs a night. No wonder why they are a popular activity among young adults.

Unlike other more conservative countries – Australian bar culture is a tune to bar crawls. Many bars and pubs in Australian cities offer specials and deals for bar crawl participants.

Irish Bar Crawls

In Ireland, bar crawls are known as pub crawls. They are ingrained into the culture of Ireland, in particular around Christmas time.

Heading out on an organized pub crawl is a popular way to experience the country’s rich culture and famous pubs, particularly those in Dublin. Dublin has some of the oldest pubs.

It’s known that pub culture in Ireland is a big part of the country’s heritage. And as such, it is no surprise that socializing with friends and family over a pint of Guinness will go down well over there.

Japanese Bar Crawls

In Japan, bar crawls are not as common, but izakaya (Japanese pubs) are popular venues for socializing and drinking with friends.

The izakaya culture in Japan is different from a traditional bar crawl. It is more about spending time with friends and colleagues in a casual setting and enjoying a variety of small plates of food and drinks.

Izakaya is usually small and cozy and often has a local and intimate atmosphere.

Belgian Bar Crawls

Belgium is famous for its beer. As a tourist, bar crawls are a popular way to sample the country’s famous beers. Like most bar crawls in other countries, these will generally occur in cities such as Brussels and Bruges.

Belgium is also famous for its beer culture, with hundreds of beer types. A bar crawl in Belgium is an opportunity to try different types of beers, learn about the brewing process, and experience the local pub culture.

US Bar Crawls

In the United States, bar crawls are popular in many cities, particularly those with a large college student population. The party atmosphere and the opportunity to explore different bars and pubs a night make it popular among young adults, especially students. Many American cities have vibrant nightlife, and bar crawls are a popular way to experience it.

UK Bar Pub Crawls

In the United Kingdom, bar crawls are known as pub crawls. Primarily popular in cities such as London and Liverpool, and often take on a more traditional and historical aspect.

Pubs in the UK have a long history and tradition, many of which have been around for centuries. A pub crawl in the UK is an opportunity to experience the country’s rich pub culture, try different types of beers and ciders, and learn about the history of the pubs.

However, Bar crawls in the U.K. are generally informal and primarily catered for friends to find new spaces and explore more options.

Finnish Bar Crawls

The Finns are known for their love of socializing and partying, and bar crawls are a popular way to do this. Many Finnish bars and pubs have a cozy and intimate atmosphere, and it’s a great way to spend time with friends and colleagues.

Finland is known for its strong drinking culture, and alcohol is widely available in bars and shops. Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere are the most popular destinations for Finnish Bar Crawls.

New Zealand Bar Crawls

Bar crawls are a big deal in New Zealand, especially for tourists and young adults. If you’re in cities like Auckland or Queenstown, you’re in for a treat. The nightlife in New Zealand is lit, and bar crawls are a great way to experience it.

You’ll find that many bars and pubs offer deals and specials just for crawl-goers, so it’s a great way to check out different types of bars and pubs all in one night.

What are the most common pub crawl themes?

Want to take your pub crawl to the next level? Enter pub crawl themes.

A pub crawl theme is a concept or idea that organizes a pub crawl around a specific theme, making it more fun and memorable for everyone involved.

Here are some popular themes to help generate bar crawl ideas for you.

Halloween Pub Crawl

Get into the spooky spirit with a Halloween-themed pub crawl. Participants dress up in costumes and visit bars and pubs in a designated area, with specials and deals on Halloween-themed drinks and food. It’s a great way to get into the Halloween spirit and have fun with friends.

Historical Pub Crawl

Experience the history and culture of a city or town with a historical pub crawl. Participants visit bars and pubs that have historical significance or that are located in historic buildings.

Along the way, they learn about the history of the places they visit and the drinks they consume. It’s a great way to learn about the local culture and history while having a good time.

TV Show or Movie Pub Crawl

Become a character from your favorite TV show or movie with a themed pub crawl. Participants dress up as characters from a popular TV show or movie and visit bars and pubs that are themed around the show or movie. It’s a great way to show off your favorite TV show or movie and have fun with friends.

Wine or Beer Tasting Pub Crawl

Learn about different types of wine or beer with a tasting pub crawl. Participants visit different bars and pubs to taste different types of wine or beer and learn about the brewing or winemaking process. It’s a great way to learn about different types of wine and beer and have fun with friends.

Christmas Pub Crawl

Get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas-themed pub crawl. Participants visit bars and pubs decorated for Christmas and enjoy Christmas-themed drinks and food. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and have fun with friends.

Sports Pub Crawl

Show your support for your favorite sports team with a sports-themed pub crawl. Participants dress up in the colors of their favorite sports team and visit different bars and pubs to watch a game. It’s a great way to support your favorite team and have fun with friends.

Pirate Pub Crawl

Set sail on a pirate-themed pub crawl. Participants dress up as pirates and visit different bars and pubs, with specials and deals on pirate-themed drinks and food. It’s a great way to channel your inner pirate and have fun with friends.

Zombie Pub Crawl

Survive the zombie with a zombie-themed pub crawl. Participants dress up as zombies and visit bars and pubs, with specials and deals on zombies-themed drinks and food. It’s a great way to channel your inner zombie and have fun with friends.

These are just a few examples of pub crawl themes, but endless possibilities exist. Themes can be tailored to any interest or occasion, making a pub crawl a fun and memorable night out with friends. So next time you plan a pub crawl, consider incorporating a theme to take it to the next level.

What is the difference between a Bar Crawl, Pub crawl, and Bar Hopping?

Bar Crawl

A bar crawl is a planned event where people visit multiple bars in one night. You typically buy a wristband or a ticket that gets you access to drink specials or discounts at each stop. It’s like a night out with friends but with more structure and deals.

Pub Crawl

A pub crawl is a traditional bar crawl where you hit multiple pubs in one night. These crawls usually have a more traditional vibe, with live music, traditional games, and a sense of community. It’s like a bar crawl but with a “Cheers” feel.

Bar Hopping

Bar hopping is a more casual version of a bar crawl. It’s when you and your friends randomly hop from one bar to another. There’s no specific schedule or route, and it’s usually unplanned and spontaneous. It’s like a bar crawl but more laid back and less organized.

How to Plan A Bar Crawl?

The following four steps will help you ensure your bar crawl is successful.

Choose the Date and Time

First, decide on a date and time. You’ll want to choose a night when most of your friends are free and can make it. Also, consider the type of bars you want to hit up. Are you looking for fancy cocktail bars, dive bars, or a mix? Once you know the type of bars, you want to visit, start researching and make a list of potential stops.

Plan out the Venues in Advance

Next, you’ll want to think about the route. How will you and your friends get from one bar to the next? Walking, public transportation or designated drivers are all options. You’ll want to consider the distance between each stop and plan accordingly.

Also, you will want to phone or e-mail ahead and ensure the venue accepts groups participating in bar crawls. Some places may have strict rules and not let you in. Planning this out in advance will make sure your night runs smoothly.

Drink Promotions

It’s also essential to think about drink specials and discounts. You’ll want to reach out to the bars you’ve picked and see if they will offer your group any food and drink specials. This can make a big difference in the cost of the crawl.

Getting Home Preparation

Finally, make sure you have a plan for getting home safely. Safety should be a top priority whether taking public transportation, having designated drivers, or arranging ride-sharing services. Help your friends plan this out in advance; you don’t want to be stuck trying to help your friend get home, especially when you have had a few drinks on you.

Final Thoughts

A bar crawl is a fun activity that involves a group of people moving from one bar to another. It is a great way to drink, have fun, and enjoy other people’s company. Whether you go with friends or strangers, the bar crawl experience is worth the thrill. Stay with the group until it is time to go home for your safety.

Remember to drink responsibly.

But, as a wise man once said, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Enjoy, Cheers

Dan Smullen Beer is my life profile

Hi, I'm Dan, founder of BeerIsMyLife. I've been an avid homebrewer for over ten years, and beer is my true passion. I've traveled all over the world, visiting breweries, tasting beer, as well as making my own batches. I set up this blog to share that experience with you.