The best Minecraft servers to play and explore

Minecraft best server Mineplex survival games
(Image credit: Mojang)

The best Minecraft servers we've laid out here offer up a great variety of competitive and fun games and stunning worlds that players can explore. Whether you want to explore a superb recreation of a fantasy world, battle your friends in chaotic minigames or competitive modes, or play in a completely different game within Minecraft thanks to mods. These servers - most of which are for Java Edition - are notable due to their popularity, scale, or unique offerings that you won't find in any other server, so be sure to check them out! Here are a few of the best Minecraft servers out there, as well as how you can join them.

How to access the best Minecraft servers

Minecraft

(Image credit: Mojang)

If you've found a server that you like the look of, you'll need to grab the IP address for it - for all the servers listed below, we've included the relevant addresses to help you out! Boot up Minecraft, open the Multiplayer menu, and then click "Add Server". Just paste the address of the server you want add into that bar, name the server, and hit done. You'll now find the server you added in your server list, so you can select it and join in to play whenever.

If you want to host your own server, there are lots of tutorials elsewhere online that will sort you out. You can easily create LAN servers for free, pay for a private third-party server, or subscribe to Minecraft Realms to get private online worlds for you and some friends. A Realms subscription is a great alterative to custom servers for console players but it is also available on PC and mobile - you get access to a whole host of Minecraft Marketplace content too, including texture packs, skins, and customized worlds.

Due to the highly modded nature and age of some of these servers, most are only available on Minecraft Java Edition.

Hypixel

Best Minecraft servers

(Image credit: Mojang)

Host name: mc.hypixel.net
Java Edition only

There's a reason why Hypixel is so popular. This custom server is absolutely packed with minigames and is one of the biggest Minecraft servers out there. With thousands of active players at any one time, there's a plethora of things to do, from PvP matches like Ultra Hardcore and Bed Wars, to more peaceful variants such as Build Wars and Skyblock - Hypixel (opens in new tab) certainly has something for everyone.

Pixelmon Reforged

Best Minecraft servers

Minecraft Forge

Minecraft forge

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you want to try certain mods and servers, you may need Minecraft Forge

Host name: sm.mc-complex.com
Java Edition only

The Pixelmon mod has grown into a huge phenomenon for Minecraft players, so naturally there are loads of dedicated Pixelmon servers and servers that host Pixelmon worlds as well as lots of others. The above address will take you to just one server that runs it's own Pixelmon Reforged world, but there are plenty of others out there too, so it might be worth have a peek at a few to see which one is best for you. You can even install Pixelmon Reforged (opens in new tab). As you'd expect from a Pokemon mod, there are Gym Leaders to fight, PokeMarts to shop in, and, most importantly, lots of Pokemon to catch! It's probably as close to a Pokemon MMO we'll get and definitely worth checking out if you want to be the very best.

Grand Theft Minecart 

Best Minecraft servers

Host name: org.gtm.network
Java Edition only

If one video-game behemoth modded into Minecraft wasn't enough, you can also try a Grand Theft Auto-inspired server called called Grand Theft Minecart. Don't let the fact that this Minecraft fool you into thinking GTM (opens in new tab) hasn't got (gold-plated) teeth though. You can roam the blocky streets of MineSantos and use 48 custom weapons, pilot an array of vehicles, and even join gangs to up your criminal reputation. There's plenty to make sure Grand Theft Minecart feels like a lawless jaunt down to Los Santos.

Mineplex

Minecraft best servers mineplex arcade mode

(Image credit: Mojang)

Host name: us.mineplex.com/pe.mineplex.com
Java and Bedrock Edition

If you're after more minigame action, Mineplex (opens in new tab) has you covered with a whole suite of classic Minecraft modes and more advanced creations. If you're after something creative and not too competitive, you can try games such as Master Builder and Draw My Thing. Alternatively, if you want a mode that's a bit more adrenaline-fueled, check out the battle royale-like Survival Games, or even the Counter Strike recreation called Minestrike. Great game variety means you can keep coming back to the Mineplex Minecraft server to try new modes with friends.

Minecraft Middle-earth

Minecraft server middle-earth recreation

(Image credit: Mojang)

Host name: build.mcmiddleearth.com
Java Edition only

If you're looking for a painstaking recreation of Tolkien's fantasy world masterwork, then this is definitely the Minecraft server for you. Minecraft Middle-Earth (opens in new tab) has been running since 2010 and still isn't finished, but you'll be able to explore some key locations from the world of Middle-Earth that were realized in Percy Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films. Think of it as a nice sightseeing trip as you wander the Shire, venture to Isengard, or delve into the depths of Moria. While exploration is perfectly fine, you can even aid with construction if you follow the rules and can prove you've got the skills. Do note that this is a build server and the map cannot be downloaded and is exclusive to this server. 

The Archon

Minecraft best servers the archon

(Image credit: Mojang)

Host name: pvp.TheArchon.net
Java Edition only

While 'The Archon' might sound like a vaguely intimidating name for a Minecraft server, it's actually a big, PvP-focused server with several different game modes. This long-running server will allow you to join other players in matches of consisting of a few multiplayer game modes including Skyblock, base-building team games like Factions and Outlands, and a unique mode called Robbery which, unsurprisingly, tasks you with robbing items and avoiding the eyes of patrolling guards. Hop in and see what fun The Archon (opens in new tab) offers.

WesterosCraft

Best Minecraft servers

Host name: mc.westeroscraft.com
Java Edition only

Game of Thrones x Minecraft, anyone? If you're more of a GRR fan than a JRR one, you'll definitely want to look at the Minecraft-ified continent of Westeros as it's presented in the Game of Thrones show. WesterosCraft (opens in new tab) is another massive community construction project, much like Minecraft Middle-Earth, and features hundreds of recreations of major locations from the TV series, from the Red Keep at King's Landing to the Wall. While it's been going for over a decade, this server is still being built, but there are lots of completed and in-progress projects that are still breath-taking. You can marvel at the blocky Westeros recreation, and you can even get involved with the ongoing construction!

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Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.

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