Most trips to the Irish capital will probably involve finding a quality drinking hole. Pubs are a way of life in Ireland – a place where you will know the Guinness flows and the atmosphere will be friendly. You’ll also know when you’ve found a great pub when it’s filled with locals. I had the pleasure of living in Dublin for several years and using my experience getting to know this great city, here is my choice of ten of the best pubs in Dublin offering something for everyone:
The Brazen Head
This pub is as traditional as they come, it is believed to be Ireland’s oldest pub and is guaranteed to be full of Guinness drinkers. The Brazen Head has some incredible history, Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift and musician Van Morrison have drank there, as did James Joyce, who even went on to mention it in Ulysees. It makes an excellent stop on a Dublin trip and when visiting make sure you enjoy one of their traditional Irish candlelit dinners where Irish storyteller John Daly relays tales from Irish folklore – an experience not to be missed. Traditional Irish Music is also played every evening.
The Dawson Lounge
This underground bar can be found at the top of Dawson Street and it was previously known as Ron Blacks. I have included this bar as it is said to be Dublin’s smallest, but beware you have to keep your eyes open or you will miss the entrance. This a lovely quaint pub where you can have a quiet drink after a long day of sight seeing or shopping, in the evenings it does tend to get quite busy, especially around 6pm when the workers stop-off for a cheeky after work pint.
Central Hotel Library Bar
This is my personal choice for one of the best pubs in Dublin. It’s a wonderful place that has been kept a secret from the masses. The Library Bar is perfect for enjoying a relaxing pint amongst the regulars. There are bookshelves full of dog-eared old books, which gives the bar a lovely nostalgic feel. Sit back, enjoy the table service and lounge on the comfortable couches or on the beautiful armchairs. Great for meeting up with friends or just sitting on your own with a newspaper or a book.
This is a very popular pub which famous for its musical history. Two of the most famous names in Irish music circles are ‘The Dubliners’ and ‘Christy Moore’ both whom have spent many a night drinking and entertaining locals here. The walls are full of drawings and photos of Irish musicians who have stopped off for the odd pint. When Ireland play rugby or Dublin are involved in a GAA (Gaelic games) match you will struggle to get in due to the crowds, but it’s still worth giving it a go.
Gibney’s of Malahide
This is a famous pub in the beautiful seaside village of Malahide, which can be found in North Dublin just outside the main city. The Gibney family pub first opened in 1937 and the place is still packed with locals, many of whom will be enjoying many pints of the black stuff. As well as being near the sea, Gibney’s is a location that is well worth visiting for its’ authenticity and local charm, especially on a Friday night when it is full of people celebrating the end of the working week.
This is another very popular pub with both locals and tourists. It’s located in Glencullen on top of the Dublin Mountains and is actually the city’s highest pub as well as one of the best pubs in Dublin. The pub is surrounded beautiful scenery and I can personally think of no better way of spending an afternoon than sitting here and drinking Guinness, enjoying the amazing views. They also serve very good food including the chef’s special Seafood Chowder.
Traditional Irish music is played here every night, including Saturday and Sunday afternoons. If you want to try something different, then book a place at their ‘Hooley Night’ where you can enjoy have dinner and watch a show. The show includes some excellent dancing performances – an experience that you will not forget!
Most pubs in Temple Bar (the city’s drinking and shopping hub) are full of tourists. This is fine but when you come to Dublin you will probably want to mix with some locals. Fitzsimons is a great pub that is mostly filled with locals. They show all big sporting events on their numerous screens, which includes rugby and the English Premier League. If you are lucky enough to be in the city when Ireland play England then head to Fitzsimons as the atmosphere is electric.
In the evening you’ll find different types of music on each of the five floors. If you want a break from dancing then head up to the roof terrace for a relaxing drink instead.
Café en Seine
If you are looking for a fun night out, then Dawson Street is a great choice as it’s home to a whole host of bars – they are not cheap, but they are full of locals out enjoying themselves. There are plenty of places to choose from but Café en Seine is well worth visiting for its wonderful décor and elegant layout. It was once a doctor’s surgery, a bicycle shop and even an automobile showroom and you will be amazed at what it has now become!
The Market Bar
This is an excellent bar for a night out, one that is always very busy and filled with young Dubliners. On arrival you walk through an open-air heated courtyard into a huge redecorated warehouse which is now an incredible bar that still boasts its original red-brick walls. A trip to the Market Bar makes for a great night out. There are also a wide range Spanish tapas to choose from including fantastic chicken chorizo skewers available for those who want to eat before a night of drinking and socializing.
This bar provides the best views in the city centre and you will be able to enjoy an excellent pint of Guinness, mainly because it is above the Guinness Storehouse at St. James’ Gate Brewery. The bar is popular with tourists who have traipsed around the museum and are enjoying a hard earned pint. Although locals also come here for the views. The spectacular 360-degree views of Dublin, make fighting the crowds worthwhile. The tour of the brewery is a little expensive, but when you buy your ticket you are rewarded with a complimentary pint in the Gravity Bar at the end.
I wanted to mention this pub, whilst it’s not in Dublin it’s a fantastic place which was once voted best pub on the planet by The Lonely Planet guide. The Harbour Bar can be found in Bray (which neighbours Dublin) and it’s a family owned institution which was founded on the mid 1880’s. It provides something for everyone – the main bar has traditional music, then there is a snug for those who want a quiet pint. There is even a back lounge where indie music is played.
The bar has been a regular drinking hole for many celebrities over the years including Bono from U2, actors Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson. Musicians Sinead O’Connor, Shane MacGowan of the Pogues and Ronnie Drew have also visited. Other famous patrons have included James Joyce who once lived across the road and cinema greats Peter O’Toole, Lawrence Oliver and Katherine Hepburn.
Hopefully you’ll find something to your taste in this list, Dublin is a great city and the pubs here are unlike any other in the world. Enjoy your trip!