No trip to Dublin is complete without visiting at least one of the iconic pubs. We have 12 of the best for every mood, budget, and occasion.
Visiting a pub in Dublin is just like dropping into a beer garden in Munich or ordering a slice of pizza in Rome–you just can’t leave without doing it at least once. There are historical pubs dating back centuries, hidden speakeasies with the best cocktails in town, and traditional haunts with roaring live music. To get you started with the Irish capital’s watering holes, here are 12 Dublin pubs for every occasion.
Best Gay Bar
WHERE: Panti Bar
Owned by well-known Dublin drag queen Miss Panti Bliss, this bar in the heart of the city is relaxed and rather quiet during weekday evenings albeit still with a cool vibe. On the weekends though, this little watering hole hosts drag nights, bingo, karaoke, and movie nights, thus becoming a favorite hangout for everyone.
Best Live Music
An institution of the Dublin music scene, Whelans has been celebrating live music for nearly 30 years. Household names like the Arctic Monkeys, Kate Nash, Nick Cave, and Peter Buck and Mike Mills from REM have played gigs in this traditional country pub. A life-size statue holding a pint of beer is propped against the stone bar, so no one ever has to drink alone.
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Best Craft Beer
WHERE: J. W. Sweetman
- W. Sweetman is part of a brewing empire that dates back to the 18th century when the Sweetman family built an extensive network of breweries in Ireland’s capital. The site which overlooks O’Connell Bridge is Dublin’s only on-site brewery and offers craft beers including Pale Ale, Red Ale, Porter, Stout, and seasonal brews. If you can’t get enough of it, all craft beers can be purchased in growlers or flip top bottles to take home.
WHERE: Marker Hotel
For a bird’s eye view of Dublin’s docklands, the rooftop bar at the Marker Hotel is the place to be. Less a pub and more a sophisticated lounge, cocktails take center stage here, but of course, you can also order a Guinness or two here while enjoying this high-up outdoor space. Opening hours vary and are subject to weather conditions (which can be a bit nasty in the colder months).
Best Traditional Food
WHERE: O'Neill’s Pub & Kitchen
Attracting a diverse crowd from bankers of the nearby Bank of Ireland to students and academics of the famous Trinity College, O’Neill’s has been on the premises in Suffolk Street since 1927. O’Neill’s is a genuine traditional Old Irish pub with hearty food like Smoked Irish Salmon or Roast of Lamb served in big portions at a great price. Try their “Really Good” Full Irish Breakfast served all day!
Best Whiskey Offering
WHERE: The Palace Bar
If there is one thing the Irish like to drink besides beer, it’s whiskey. The Palace Bar, established in 1823 and beloved by Dubliners, has plenty of it and is famous for being a hangout for former newspaper journalists. Victorian-era décor prevails, and the upstairs is entirely dedicated to Irish whiskey. In fact, the owners love uisce beatha (literally “water of life”) so much, they created their own version.
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Best History/Nostalgic Atmosphere
Once the City Morgue and later converted into a chapel, McDaids is an infamous haunt for the artistic set. While Irish poet Brendan Behan was probably the pub’s most famous patron, entertaining the crowd with his vast repertoire, McDaids was also the favorite bar of folk band The Dubliners. It’s also rumored that Tom Waits wrote Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You while drinking here. This pub is a real boozer: no gimmicks, no music, no frills–just a place to enjoy a pint or two.
Best Beer Garden
WHERE: The Bernard Shaw
“The Shaw,” as it’s commonly known, looks like any other pub from the outside but has a huge beer garden on the inside as well as an open-air market with ever-changing street food, and the Blue Bus serving some of the best wood oven pizza after 5 pm. This place has been hip, with graffiti on the walls and patrons with waxed beards, before “hipsterdom” was even a thing, and the drinks on offer include quality spirits and craft beers.
WHERE: Vintage Cocktail Club
The Vintage Cocktail Club is a hidden speakeasy with no sign indicating that it even exists. But if you know which black door (the “VCC” is a clue) to knock on, you’ll be taken upstairs and pulled back into the golden age of aviators and silent movie stars. The cocktail list is endless, though your euro notes are probably not, and entry is strictly for over 23 only.
Best Cheap Drinks
Located on Phibsboro Road, about a 20 minute walk from Dublin’s city center, McGowans is a sports bar, nightclub (upstairs), and singles spot all in one. The super-cheap drink deals (usually on Sundays and student nights) as well as the really late opening hours aid the constant party atmosphere. This is a local’s favorite hangout and even without any specials, the drinks are affordable.
Best VIP Spotting
WHERE: The Long Hall
Licensed since 1766, the Long Hall, a leading light of 19th-century Dublin pub life, has seen its fair share of politicians, playwrights, and musicians over the centuries. In more recent times, everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Rihanna has stopped in for a pint but usually goes unnoticed thanks to the low-key nature of the place. The interior dates from 1881 and includes gold leaf enhancements and handcrafted wood carvings.
Best Bar Food
WHERE: L. Mulligan. Grocer
Not a grocer but a dark, cozy gastropub in Stoneybatter, L. Mulligan. Grocer has been winning awards for its fresh, seasonal food. One of the few places in Dublin that doesn’t have Guinness on tap, it’s popular for Irish whiskey, gin, and craft brews both from Ireland and other countries like Germany. Main courses like the mouth-watering Wild Boar Braise are matched with a beer or cider, and desserts like Irish Cream Cheese Chocolate Brownie are matched with a whiskey.