I’ve tested all 202 Hugo themes from the catalogue plus three missing from it for basic functionality and picked the best blog-oriented ones. By that, I mean all of them have blog posts shown on the main page, and most of them support posts tags.

All themes below have active developers, and I didn’t include 3-years-old themes without newer commits. I’ll present them in alphabetical order. They’re all fine quality and couldn’t be compared or ranked in any unified way I can think of.


ananke

Main page

ananke main page

I love themes that cut straight to the content, and this is not one of them – when someone comes to your site by URL, they should scroll or click to see posts.

ananke posts page

For posts, it’s the same as with the main page, a lot of space eaten by the banner. I couldn’t get working tags navigation.

Single page

ananke single post page

Nothing extra on the single post page. But a lot of space unused, all posts list on the right, and related articles list at the end of the article, with no Disqus support.

beg

Main page and navigation

beg main page

Cut anything that distracts you from reading, add a little navigation to your posts, and you’ll get beg theme. Everything in its place, nothing you don’t want to be there, is present. Navigation looks the same as the main page, only the title changes — you get what you expect, that’s nice.

Single page

beg single post page

Casper

Main page

Casper main page

A hybrid between having nothing extra apart from the text but navigation and huge banner in ananke. Black and white text, summaries of the posts are present and rendered nicely. The posts page is the same, only the title changes.

Single page

Casper single post page

That’s the best text handling I’ve seen so far. Post title, description, tags and time, and then content – nothing special, but then comes the magic: images have a slightly more significant weight than the text. So simple and yet genial. Of course, the theme supports Disqus.

Casper related articles

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to show you the friendliest approach to the “next article” and “related articles” presentation on the market: one of both in separate boxes, same information but present in such a tasty way you couldn’t stop the desire to click.

Classic

Main page

Classic main page

The main page is pretty neat, with no preview for posts: just post names, custom text, and navigation. I almost missed it but couldn’t exclude it from this post when I saw how cool my blog looked like in it.

Classic posts page

Classic tag page

Just text – nothing extra. Hell with the posts' summaries, that’s classy.

Single page

Classic single post page

Text with a fixed width, a sign of good taste. However, minimalism means there is no Disqus support out of the box. Formatting is what you could name “plain”, nothing special, but everything in its place – well-balanced and excellent.

coder

Main page

coder main page

Simplicity at largest. Everything in its place, right font – and here comes your first impression.

coder posts page

coder tag page

Posts page lacks both tags and summaries, but either one of them is better to be present. Tags lack frequency information but instead have a date of the last post, rare and remarkable.

Single page

coder single post page

The widest post content out there with deep spacing between the lines, there is room for improvement for better readability and higher density, but it’s unique for sure, and someone might find this style appealing. No Disqus comments and no related articles list present yet.

Fabric

Main page

Fabric main page

Simple yet unique and functional, and also includes working search field. On the cons side – posts are shown completely, not only summaries.

Fabric posts page

Fabric tags page

Fabric’s posts page is the best navigation without summaries I’ve seen out there, all possible information present and rendered nicely. Tags page is small and leaves something to be desired (like sort by a number of posts in the tag), but functional.

Single page

Fabric single post page

Jane

Main page

Jane main page

Classy simplicity, a pure text of the highest quality – that’s what Jane theme is about.

Jane tags page

Tags look like you expect them to look but slightly better.

Single page

Jane single post page

I’ve chosen another post to take the screenshot from because that’s something worth seeing: that colours choice is the best you could find. Posts that use a lot of formatting, quotes, images and code blocks shine in this theme. The author has good taste, which we might benefit from. Disqus comments supported but hidden by the “Show Disqus Comments” button not to distract you from the content itself. No related articles block, but it would be redundant on this text celebration.

Journal

Main page

Journal main page

Simplicity and nice fonts, what else do you need? No tags, no categories.

Single page

Journal single post page

One of the most admirable fonts out there, with neat render with great attention to details. However, nothing else but post content is present, not comments nor related articles list.

Liquorice

Main page

Liquorice main page

Pure minimalism looks very solid.

Liquorice posts page

Liquorice tags page

The same minimalism, but a little overwhelming this time — what is enough for the main page, is not enough for the tags page (e.g. information about how “big” the tag is missing). Posts list missing tags, which is pretty essential when you don’t show post summary.

Single page

Liquorice single post page

Manis

Main page

Manis main page

Another minimalism approach at its best.

Manis posts page

Manis tags page

Fixed width text even on navigation pages, which is sweeter than candy. Tags won’t tell which one is most used, and posts don’t show tags which is important because of the absence of a summary.

Single page

Manis single post page

In line with main and navigational pages, post content and nothing extra. The text is rendered in an elegant way, quotation and source code blocks adjusted to be in style with the theme, and it’s done nicely. Only next\previous posts shown below, no related posts. Disqus comments support is present.

NOW-UI

Main page

NOW-UI main page

By the main page, you could say it’s not only a blog theme. The actual content is hidden somewhere where you should scroll and click, same with the posts page. It has a lot of features that are not related to blogging itself.

NOW-UI tags page

Like all other pages, the tags page has a ridiculous red banner on top, but under it is a pretty tags list sorted by how many posts with each tag the blog has, which is the best possible sort.

Single page

NOW-UI single post page

It’s better to see once for yourself. That big banner doesn’t seem to be doing anything useful, but magically it adds importance to whatever written on it and draws attention to the post title and description. The text is light and pleasant and utilizes a black, white and red palette: no related articles list or links to the previous article. However, Disqus comments are present.

Nofancy

Main page

Nofancy main page

That’s the only theme that chooses to show a single post instead of the main page. Everything is not fancy, in a good term.

Nofancy posts page

Nofancy tags page

Navigation reminds me of Reddit. I like it a lot. It’s the best representation of the information you could get with staying that simple.

Single page

Nofancy single post page

Refined

Main page

Refined main page

Underdog, which is yet not included in the catalogue. Nothing distracting, straight to the business, red on a grey palette. Posts descriptions instead of summaries, in between nothing and summaries, seems one of the best possible variants.

Refined tags page

The posts page looks exactly like the main page. Tags have all the needed information and sorted alphabetically.

Single page

Refined single post page

Retroful Hugo

Main page

Retroful Hugo main page

“Cool” is the last thing you could say when you see this theme. I guess you could either love or hate it, but nothing in between. Sadly I wasn’t able to set up navigation correctly.

Single page

Retroful Hugo single post page

It looks like I imagine 80’s terminals, but in a way, there were redefined in Alien (1979), and also it refers to Tokyo neon lights from Bladerunner (1982). No related articles (but previous\next post link present), but Disqus comments are supported.

Whiteplain

Main page

whiteplain main page

Black, white and blue palette, everything is self-explanatory and assembled with great care. Also, you could notice that’s one of the themes with the table of content-enabled by default.

whiteplain posts page

whiteplain tag page

The posts page is the same as the main page and tags page, only the title changes. Posts are listed with summaries and all the metadata. Tags are the best out there; they have maximum metadata presence plus alphabetical sort – my heart is with these tags.

Single page

whiteplain single post page

The text is not fancy but very solid and readable and has no distracting elements, which some themes tend to use (like quotation boxes). Disqus support is in place, next\previous post navigation but no related articles (which could look alien there).