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Most pubs open from 11 AM to 11.30 PM (Mon-Sat) and 12 noon to 10.30 PM (Sun), but the hours vary from business to business. Some pubs stay open later if they have the right license – especially the ones in the tourist hotspots. Some of them even stay open for the whole 24 hours. Nightclubs usually open from 10 PM to 3 AM (Mon-Sat) and 8 PM to midnight (Sun).
Last orders will normally be called 30 minutes before closing time, which means you have an extra half-an-hour to drink up and leave from when the bell rings.
You have to be over-18 to buy and drink alcohol in England, but a lot of pubs ask for ID if you look under 21 – so being 19 is no guarantee that you’ll get a drink. If you do get turned away then try and take it as a compliment – you don’t stay young forever.
You will find that a lot of pubs in central London have bouncers on the door once it starts getting late. Large groups of men are more likely to get turned away than a pair (especially if they don’t have any women with them), so you might want to try splitting up into little groups to increase your chances.
Children under-18 might be allowed to enter a pub during the daytime if accompanied by an adult, but this isn’t always the case. It all depends on their licensing conditions.
Children under-14 won’t be allowed in the bar area. The only places that you can sit as a little kid are the beer garden and any specially designated family rooms (but not all pubs have these).
Most pubs will not allow children inside during the evening, regardless of their age.
It is illegal to smoke inside a pub. It’s illegal to smoke inside any public building, enclosed workplace, or on public transport (which includes train platforms).
It is also illegal to smoke inside a vehicle if there are under-18s present.
It is generally okay to drink on the street (as long as you’re not drunk and causing mischief, of course, because you can still get arrested for that). But there are laws against drinking on public transport, even whilst sober – so don’t take any open containers on the buses, trams or trains, because you’ll get it confiscated.
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