Ah, to be sure to be sure, Ireland would have to have one of the best pub scenes in the world.
We had the pleasure of being a frequent visitor to many Irish pubs. 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 Dublin pubs really well.
Then when Craig and I married I just had to take him back there in 2002 for us 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 a lot of Guinness and created our list of 10 of the Best Dublin Pubs and Bars.
1. The Toast Bar
The Toast Bar would have to be our favorite local bar. This Dublin pub opened at the bottom of our street not too long before we moved in. It is an extremely modern and trendy bar, and with its comfy couches, low tables, student atmosphere, and short stumble home, it easily made our best Dublin pubs list.
The Toast Bar is on the main road of Rathmines about 1km from the city centre.
Just a short walk up from the Toast bar in Rathmines, is this 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.
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, who we became great friends with.
It is a great Dublin pub to go to experience traditional Irish music and Irish dancing, Guinness, 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, Messrs Maguire is a fantastic pub to sit and talk with friends.
Messrs is a micro brewery pub inside an old 19th century building. It can get confusing to navigate through its maze of stairs, rooms and floors, so be sure to know what floor you are meeting your friends on.
Messrs 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 beer and a coffee can also be had in their cafe – but really, is that what you came to Dublin for?
The Brazen Head
Dating back to 1198, the Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Ireland and where Craig celebrated his 30th birthday.
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.
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 just had to make our Best Dublin Pubs list!
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.
This is one of the best pubs in Dublin for live music – 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 pub. Giant copper vats add to the decor of the pub which make for interesting photo opportunities.
Cafe en Seine Bar
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.
McSorleys Pub is a local Dublin Pub in the student area of Ranalegh 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.
Zanzibar is one of the very few bars we visited North of the River Liffey. Plush velvet cushions, gigantic urns, palm trees,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.
I could literally make this the longest post in history.
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.
More Posts about Ireland
- Things to do in Dublin, Ireland Through A Once Local’s Eyes
- Things to Do in Northern Ireland
- Ireland Travel Tips
- 10 Places to Visit in Ireland with Kids
Plan Your Trip to Dublin
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
Accommodation in Dublin
- Booking.com has 281 properties in Dublin from hotels to apartments and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
Flights to Dublin
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
Car Rental in Dublin
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.