Ireland would have to have one of the best pub scenes in the world, and the best place to explore that scene is from one of the best Dublin pubs and bars.
We had the pleasure of being a frequent visitor to many Irish pubs over the years.
I lived in Dublin in 1999 with my best friend for a few months, working in one of the most popular pub/restaurants in the bustling tourist Temple Bar area. We got to know the area, and the workers, in many of the pubs in Dublin really well.
Then when Craig and I married, I just had to take him back there to live for a year as I knew he would love the craic of Dublin.
This time we had different jobs, lived in a great student area 1km from the city center called Rathmines, and we got to know a lot of local Dublin pubs outside of the Temple Bar tourist area.
Suffice to say we drank many pints of Guinness and got to know this city’s bar scene pretty well. We still travel back to Dublin many times over the years and enjoy visiting all the new and exciting pubs and bars.
But we’re pleased to see some of our old favorites are still going strong. If you’re not sure what’s the best pub in Dublin, then here is our list of the best Dublin pubs and bars that we enjoy!
Dublin’s Best Pubs and Bars
From historical taverns to classy wine bars, you will find a pub or bar for everyone on this list.
1. The Stag’s Head
This historic pub is a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique and authentic Irish pub experience.
With its cozy atmosphere, warm ambiance, and glowing lights, the Stag’s Head provides a welcoming setting for locals and tourists alike.
The Stag’s Head is steeped in history. Dating back to the 19th century, it holds the distinction of being one of the first pubs in Ireland to have electric light and a telephone.
Craig’s Ireland tour with Globus
Walking through its doors feels like stepping back in time, as you soak in the rich heritage and old-world charm.
It’s also renowned for its traditional Irish hospitality. The friendly staff and lively atmosphere create an inviting environment where you can mingle with locals and fellow travelers, engaging in vibrant conversations over pints of beer.
2. Rody Bolands
A local favourite
Located in Rathmines, is the Rody Bolands, a traditional Dublin Irish pub, extremely popular with students and as a meeting place for those living in Dublin who came from the country.
We walked past this pub for weeks before venturing inside. The nondescript red door outside deceived us into thinking it was just a small drinking establishment of interest for an older crowd.
Then the word started to filter to us about the Irish craic that was to be found inside.
We were absolutely stunned when we finally opened the tiny door to discover a gigantic pub that went back about 3 blocks and was completely filled to the brim with lively Guinness drinking Irish lads and laddies.
3. The Quays Bar
Traditional Irish craic at the Quays Bar
The Quays Bar can be found in the touristy Temple Bar District and is an absolute fave of mine.
It was only a couple of pubs down from the Oliver St John Gogartys pub where I worked.
Every break and spare leisure time we had we could be found drinking at the Quays Bar or with the staff and regular locals, who we became great friends with.
Live music with friends
It is a great Dublin pub to go to experience traditional Irish music session and Irish dancing, Guinness, strong Irish whiskey, and a bloody great craic.
It’s touristy, but that doesn’t mean stay away from it – it made our best Dublin pubs list for a reason.
Four stories high overlooking the O’ Connell Bridge and the River Liffey, Meaghers is a fantastic pub to sit and talk with friends.
Messrs is not a historic pub, but it’s set inside an old 19th century building. Inside it looks like time stood still, though with hints of modern decor and warm ambiant lighting setting the mood.
There’s a maze of stairs, quiet rooms and squeaky floors, adding to the overall charm of the place.
Meaghers can get very busy but usually not as rowdy as some of the other Dublin city bars. They have a great selection of home brewed craft beer on tap and a delightful menu serving up hearty pub food – but really, is that what you came to Dublin for?
5. The Brazen Head
The oldest pub in Ireland
Dating back to 1198, The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Ireland and is said to be the former drinking hole of iconic Dublin writers such as Jonathan Swift and James Joyce.
It’s one of the most famous pubs in Ireland, let alone Dublin.
It is a couple of blocks outside the Temple Bar District and just a short walk from the Guinness factory. It is certainly worth visiting for the history and character that lies within its walls.
Traditional Irish music can be heard in any of its cozy rooms or from your seat in the cobble stoned courtyard during the warmer summer months.
The food isn’t bad too! Be sure to sample the famous Beef and Guinness Stew.
A visit to the Brazen Head will give you that traditional Irish pub experience you have been dying to have. And as the oldest pub in Ireland, it’s worth visiting for the architecture of this old coach house in itself.
6. Johnny Fox’s Pub
A rendevoux at Johnny Fox’s Pub
Johnny Fox’s is quite a legendary pub to visit and really not that well known – I discovered it through my brother who would take all his visiting friends there.
This is one of those “off the beaten paths” pub experiences to whisper to your mates about. There is a catch though, you are going to need a car or some money for a cab (I’ve just discovered they now have a booze bus that runs from the city there – bonus).
Johnny Fox’s is famed as being the highest pub in Ireland, sitting on top of the Dublin mountains in Glencullen about a 25 minute drive from the city centre.
Johnny Fox’s is a unique and atmospheric Irish pub, and is well known for its entertainment, and famous visitors such as U2 and the Coors.
7. The Porterhouse
The Porterhouse crowd
This is one of the best pubs in Dublin for live music and musicians – traditional, acoustic, and bands. It is situated on the edge of the Temple Bar district, so it does get quite a tourist stream coming through, although it is a favorite amongst Dubliners as well.
There are four floors of drinking space with unique views over balconies to the live music below.
Beers from around the world are flowing plenty and they also brew their own beers in the drinking pub. Giant copper vats add to the decor of the pub which make for interesting photo opportunities.
8. Cafe en Seine Bar
A touch of Paris in Dublin
Cafe en Seine is a stylish bar on Dawson Street, just one street parallel to the main high end shopping Grafton St. It really is a bar with a difference and it is worth a visit to ogle at the decor alone.
As the name suggests it is quite 19th century Parisian in its design, although the beer tends to flow Irish style. This bar has more of a young professional crowd with older genteel and tourists frequenting the establishment.
A great New Years Eve party can be had here – buy your tickets early.
9. McSorleys Pub
McSorleys Pub is a local Dublin Pub in the student area of Ranelagh village.
Again it was at the bottom of the street I lived on with my best friend. If we weren’t partying in the Temple Bar District we could be found sipping some pints of Kilkenny here with the local crowds.
McSorleys is a great pub to catch some live sporting events, particularly any rugby matches and so for that it makes our Best Dublin Pubs list.
10. Zanzibar Locke
Transport your self to an exotic land at Zanzibar
Zanzibar Locke is one of the very few bars we visited North of the River Liffey and is located near the Ha’penny Bridge.
Plush velvet cushions, gigantic urns, palm trees, high ceilings and a long hall, and eastern paintings decorate the spacious two-story bar, giving an exotic and opulence Indian Ocean appeal.
As it is a really popular bar, arrive early to beat the queues and be prepared to lose vast sums of money to the pricey beer that is sold behind the extremely long bar.
Zanzibar is worth a visit to check out the design and to ogle at the good looking men and women that drink here.
11. John Kavanagh’s (The Gravediggers)
For those looking for historical pubs in Dublin, a visit to John Kavanagh’s is a must.
Known as “The Gravediggers,” this iconic pub has a rich history and unique charm that sets it apart from the rest.
John Kavanagh’s is located in the heart of Dublin’s historic Glasnevin Cemetery, giving it an eerie yet captivating atmosphere. Its proximity to the cemetery adds a touch of mystique to the pub, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
The pub boasts a long-standing tradition of serving excellent pints of Guinness. Savoring a perfectly poured pint while surrounded by the rustic interior and friendly patrons creates an unforgettable experience.
John Kavanagh’s has retained its traditional character throughout the years. The pub’s original features, including its wooden snugs and cozy fireplaces, transport you back in time, allowing you to enjoy a drink in a truly authentic setting.
12. The Palace Bar
Photo Credit: The Palace Bar Dublin
The Palace Bar is another historic establishment has been serving patrons since 1823, making it one of the oldest pubs in the city.
Stepping into The Palace Bar feels like stepping back in time, with its traditional wooden decor, cozy atmosphere, and friendly staff.
One of the main reasons to visit The Palace Bar is its impressive selection of whiskey.
With over 300 different varieties to choose from, it’s a whiskey lover’s paradise. Whether you’re a connoisseur or just starting your whiskey journey, the knowledgeable bartenders are always on hand to guide you through their extensive collection.
The pub is also known for its live traditional music sessions, where talented musicians come together to create a lively and enjoyable atmosphere.
13. The Cobblestone
This lively pub is renowned for its traditional Irish music sessions that attract talented musicians and enthusiastic crowds.
The Cobblestone offers an intimate and cozy atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying live music.
Its rustic interior, complete with wooden beams and exposed brick walls, creates a warm and welcoming ambiance that sets the stage for unforgettable performances.
The pub’s commitment to showcasing the best of Irish music is unparalleled, with something happening every night of the week.
Whether you’re a fan of traditional Irish folk tunes or prefer contemporary interpretations, The Cobblestone provides a platform for both established musicians and emerging talent, ensuring a diverse and captivating lineup.
Photo Credit: O’Donoghue
Located on Merrion Row near St. Stephen’s Green, this historic establishment has been a cornerstone of Dublin’s social scene since 1789.
One of the main draws of O’Donoghue’s is its live Irish music. Renowned for hosting talented musicians, including the famous Irish ballad group, The Dubliners, the pub offers an authentic and lively traditional music experience.
Whether you’re a fan of folk tunes or simply appreciate the rich cultural heritage of Ireland, O’Donoghue’s is the place to be.
Beyond the incredible music, O’Donoghue’s is also known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The friendly staff, comfortable surroundings, and cozy ambiance make it the perfect spot to relax with a pint of Guinness or sample some Irish whiskey.
15. L. Mulligan. Grocer
L. Mulligan Grocer is a must-visit pub in Stoneybatter, which has gained a reputation for its commitment to Irish craft brewing, local distillers, and seasonally-inspired cocktails.
Their menu celebrates the use of Irish ingredients, offering a delightful fusion of flavors.
L. Mulligan Grocer is not your typical grocer; it’s a cozy, dark pub that stands out from the crowd.
Here, you won’t find Guinness on tap, but you will discover an extensive selection of Irish craft beers and whiskeys to satisfy every palate.
Visitors rave about the exceptional food, which is locally sourced and prepared with care. From traditional Irish dishes to inventive modern creations, L. Mulligan Grocer offers a diverse and tantalizing menu.
The ambiance of L. Mulligan Grocer adds to its allure, with its warm and inviting atmosphere complemented by friendly staff who are passionate about their craft.
Final Thoughts on Pubs and Bars in Dublin
I could literally make this the longest guide in history, but for now we will leave you with our regular favorites.
After writing about one pub, I then remembered another and then another.
Three things writing this post has made me realize – Craig and I have lived an extraordinary life, we have partied quite a lot while doing it, and that I am dying to be in Dublin right now for some good old Irish craic.
You just can’t beat it.
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Is there any watering hole that you think should have made the Best Dublin Pubs and Bars List? Let’s hear your thoughts.