A Local’s Guide to the Best Pubs to Grab a Guinness in Dublin
It could be argued that no Irish export is as famous as the humble pub. Cozy and welcoming, these establishments form the fabric that stitches Irish society together – a meeting point for friends, a refuge for the tired, hungry and thirsty, and a place where you can kick up your heels and forget about life’s troubles.
It’s little wonder that a trip to a traditional Irish pub sits at the top of many to-do lists. But without much local knowledge, it’s hard for a visitor to the Irish capital to know where to go for a genuine experience. Which is the best Dublin Irish pub? Where do you get the best pub food in Dublin? Which are the best Irish music pubs in Dublin? Or the best craft beer in Dublin?
To answer all these questions and more, we’ve put together a list of the 10 finest pubs to visit in Dublin – the ones that will give you a fun, unique and authentic look at this most famous of Irish traditions.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the 10 establishments that capture the essence of the Irish pub.
Open Midday – 11:30pm Mon – Thurs, Midday – 12:30am Fri – Sat, 12:30pm – 11pm Sun.
For a sense of what a Dublin pub might’ve been like in years gone by, there’s no place better than the Long Hall. This Victorian-era pub is one of the city’s most esteemed establishments, and has all the furnishings and décor that you’d expect from a historically significant place. Timber and red leather play a starring role in the interior, as do stained glass and vintage wall hangings. The setting is so authentic that you half expect a monocled earl or a 19th century peasant to wander through the doors! If you’re looking for a classy drinking hole, look no further.
Open 10:30am – 11:30pm Mon – Thurs, 10:30am – 12:30am Fri – Sat, 12:30pm – 11:30pm Sun.
Even older than the Long Hall, the Palace Bar was established way back in 1823, and the somewhat cramped surroundings reflect the age of the place. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Found on Fleet Street, just off Temple Bar, here you’ll find many a local sports fan watching rugby, football, or a traditional Irish sport like hurling or Gaelic football. With the offices of The Irish Times located just a short walk away, this pub has also been the haunt of journalists for much of the last century, with secretive sources meeting in the dark back room to tell tales. A piece of Dublin history, this is a centrally located pub that offers a real local experience.
Open 10:30am – 11:30pm Mon – Thurs, 10:30am – 12:30am Fri – Sat, 11:30am – 11:30pm Sun.
Announced by Rory Guinness (yes, of that Guinness family) as serving the best pint of the black stuff in Dublin, Toners is a local institution. The pub has many features that date back to its establishment over 200 years ago, including a gorgeous set of stock drawers that sit behind the counter (when it opened Toners doubled as a grocers). It is said that Toners was the only place that famed Irish poet, and erstwhile teetotaler, W.B. Yeats would enjoy a very occasional drink. Today the most famous feature of the establishment is its beer garden, which, thanks to a healthy heating system, is as delightful on a winter evening as it is on one of those rare Dublin sunny days.
Open 9:30am – 5pm Mon – Sun.
What would a list of the best drinking holes be without the Irish capital’s most famous tourist attraction? The Guinness Brewery tour in Dublin is held at the St. James’s Gate Dublin Brewery, and leads visitors through the celebrated storehouse. The end point is the Gravity Bar, where you can pour yourself the freshest and most delicious pint of Guinness in Dublin. Perched high above the brewery and looking over the surrounding area, the view from the bar is stunning. But there’s one thing that’ll make it even better – a pint of the black stuff in your hand.
Open 11:30am – Midnight Mon – Wed, 11:30am – 1am Thurs, 11:30am – 2am Fri – Sat, Midday – Midnight Sun.
Opened in 1996, the Porterhouse might not be as old as most other Dublin pubs, but it still claimed a first. This was the city’s original pub brewery (some people might use the word ‘craft’), a trend that has taken off in the subsequent years. When it opened, bets were made by other publicans about how long a pub without mainstream beers would last. Happily, the Porterhouse has done well – so well, in fact, that the brewery has since opened up establishments in London and New York! Serving their own beer and Ireland’s largest range of international beers, all with a healthy dollop of live music, if you’re looking for a good time and a craft beer in Dublin, this is where you need to aim.
Open 10:30am – 1:30am Mon – Wed, 10am – 2:30am Thurs – Sat, 11:30am – 1am Sun.
Which came first – the pub or the district? The Temple Bar is located at the epicenter of Dublin’s most famous pub and party district, Temple Bar. And perhaps because of the fortuitous (and somewhat confusing) name, it has become one of the most popular pubs in the city. Traditional music constantly emanates from the doors, with acts like Paulo Ntini and Aloe Black popping in from time to time to add a bit of international flair (as a side note, the world record for the longest time playing guitar was set here in 2011: 114 hours). If you want to do nothing more than drink, dance and party, particularly amongst other internationals, the Temple Bar is your best bet.
Open 4:30pm – 11:30pm Mon – Thurs, 2pm – 12:30am Fri – Sat, 1:30pm – 11pm Sun.
It might be a little unfair to call this Dublin staple ‘rough around the edges,’ but that can be the sense you get when you wander in the Cobblestone. In truth it’s a laid back local haunt, and one that describes itself as ‘a drinking pub with a music problem’. They take music seriously here – the owners and their family and friends fill the pub with traditional tunes every night, with fiddles, pipes and vocal cords used in perfect harmony. There’s also a ticketed hall out the back which is used for the bigger names that float through the place. If you’re on the hunt for a night of clapping and toe tapping, the Cobblestone is where it’s at.
Open 11:30am – 11:30pm Mon – Wed, 11:30am – 12:30am Thurs, 11am – 12:30am Fri – Sat, Midday – 11pm Sun.
In centuries past many Dublin pubs would make ends meet by offering a second service – they’d double as the local grocer, butcher or book store. While the tradition has waned over the years, it’s still on full display at Mary’s Bar & Hardware, an establishment that does exactly what it says on the tin. While the hardware has taken second billing in recent times, you can still make the excuse to pop in whenever you need to fix a door, a window or a cupboard, and enjoy what has become one of Dublin’s best pubs to eat simple, traditional fare (‘soakage’ in local lingo).
Open 10:30am – 11:30pm Mon – Thurs, 10:30am – 12:30am Fri – Sat, Midday – 11pm Sun.
Like Mary’s, this is another place that’ll deliver exactly what you’re expecting. The Stag’s Head is quite literally full of stuffed stags’ heads, meaning that vegetarians and PETA members will likely find this the least enticing of the real Irish pubs in Dublin. Dead animals aside, this is an exquisitely maintained pub, featuring truckloads of timber, leather and polished granite, as well as wrought iron chandeliers and ceiling-high mirrors. The current iteration of the Stags Head was established in 1870, meaning that the mahogany and marble have now lasted 150 years!
Open 9am – Midnight Mon – Wed, 9am – 2am Thurs – Sat, Midday – Midnight Sun.
Beer, music and endless amounts of craic (Irish for a good time) – the sales pitch of the Merchant’s Arch is a tempting one. Housed in a gorgeous building dating back to 1821, this Dubliner Irish pub is firmly focused on delivering its patrons a good time – and happily it does exactly that! With live music sessions on almost every night of the week, sweet sounds can be constantly heard coming from the Arch, making it a favourite amongst tourists. The food doesn’t hurt either – rustic Irish fare is given a modern makeover, resulting in meals that are as beautiful as they are delicious. And then, of course, there’s the delicious Dublin beer poured fresh from glistening taps.