Best Traditional Irish Pubs in Dublin
Dublin has hundreds of great traditional Irish pubs. But, because there’s so many, putting together a list of the top dozen or so is not easy. But we’ve had a go, leaving aside the more modern Dublin bars and included the real, old, Irish pubs every visitor and local seems to have on their list:
The Bailey Bar
The Bailey on Duke Street is a Dublin institution. Great for lunch and dinner but even better for sitting outside, sipping a cocktail, whiskey or prosecco and watching busy Dublin scurry by. One of the few spots with a super outdoor terrace and some of the friendliest bar staff this very friendly capital has to offer.
O’Donoghues is a great, possibly the greatest, traditional Irish pub in Dublin. Always busy, it was where Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners would come and play, for free, with other local musicians as they sat around the fire with tablefuls of black and white pints.
Today it’s a little bigger as they’ve taken over next door but the old pub is still there and should be at the top of your list.
Doheny & Nesbitts
This is another completely unique pub. You won’t see anything like it anywhere else in the world. Doheny & Nesbitts is in the middle of the older business district (and close to Toners and O’Donogues).
It is one of the oldest family owned pubs in the city and has two snugs, a function room and a great menu of wholesome Irish food.
The Long Hall
This is another beautiful old Victorian pub from the 1860s. The Long Hall is, as you suspect, a long room and it features famous filigree-edged mirrors, polished dark wood and traditional snugs. It also has what used to be the longest bar top in Ireland.
Unusually for an Irish pub, it has a carpet on the floor and that sets the tone here. There’s no food – this is a place just for drinking.
Neary’s is a strange bar because, although it’s just steps from the cosmopolitan Grafton Street and all of those international designer brands you see there, this is an old Irish pub that’s changed very little in 130 years.
It is near the Gaiety Theatre (and this hotel) and is a UNESCO City of Literature Bar. There’s no music and no TV, just chatter and the clink of glasses.
The Temple Bar
The Temple Bar Pub is not to be confused with the wider Temple Bar area, although one sits inside the other. Make no mistake, this is a busy bar because of its location and the fact that it is BIG into traditional Irish music.
In fact, it has won the Irish Music Pub of the Year every year from 2002 to 2012. If you’re looking for one of those bars where you can hardly move, the music is great and the craic is mighty, then head here.
On Poolbeg Street near the river sits Mulligan’s, one of the few un-touched Victorian pubs. It’s a “no-nonsense 18th-century pub with a cast of regulars” and we love it. So does everyone else it seems.
Mulligan’s has a unique and colourful 200-year old history where local workers mix with visitors and the famous, including Judy Garland, Seamus Heaney and even James Joyce and John F. Kennedy.
Just across the road and down a bit is Toners. They tell us that it was established around 1818 and is one of Dublin’s oldest and most famous pubs.
A favourite of Parick Kavenagh and W.B. Yeats, Toners won Best Traditional Pub in the National Hospitality Awards 2014 and Dublin Bar of the Year in 2015. It’s a great place, with the same feel (and décor) it had when it opened in 1818 as a pub and grocers.
A bit like Nearys around the corner, John Kehoe’s is in a time warp: It’s right beside the busy modern shopping thoroughfare of Grafton Street but is an oasis from a bygone era.
It really is remarkable that it is still one of the most unspoilt and atmospheric pubs in Dublin. Nip in and enjoy an excellent pint of Guinness beside the fire upstairs or in one of the snugs and go back in time.
Ok, not quite a traditional old Irish pub, Cassidy’s is more bohemian but has a great sense of history – it was established in 1856. It was once the home of The Freeman’s Journal – the oldest national newspaper in Ireland.
However this pub is most famous for being the bar where Bill Clinton stopped in for a pint in 1995. In fact, Cassidy’s is owned and personally run by Bill’s cousins.
The Stag’s Head
It might be difficult to find but The Stag’s Head is worth looking hard for. A favourite amongst Trinity College students, writers, actors and others it is a beautiful Victorian pub with wrought-iron chandeliers, polished granite, old barrels and ceiling-high mirrors.
On Mondays there’s a comedy night and on Fridays and Saturdays “the best traditional music session in Dublin City”.
The Dawson Lounge is on this list because it is a must-visit. Just around the corner from the hotel, it’s the smallest pub in Dublin. It’s another pub that’s difficult to spot, you go through a door, down the stairs and you are there, under the pavement and into a wee secret.
With 1970s décor and a surly but efficient barman, put this on your list. As long as there isn’t more than, say six of you.
There’s nothing really great about Hogan’s. Except for the fact that it is in the middle of an area packed with trendy bars and clubs and restaurants but Hogan’s still remains true it itself: A traditional old pub.
It’s an escape from all of that faux and a way to ground yourself. Maybe that’s why it’s so incredibly popular and maybe that’s why so many people have it on their lists of the best pubs in Dublin. Judge for yourself.
Here it is: the oldest pub in Dublin. The Brazen Head dates back to 1198. Yes, 800 years! That’s about six years after the third crusade and 300 BEFORE Columbus discovered America – which is something to think about as you sip your pint.
Today, the Brazen Head is famous for live Irish music sessions every night and an award-winning restaurant. Having been around so long, all of Dublin’s most famous residents have been here at some point. Add yourself to that list.
Another bastion of sense off the hectic Grafton Street, McDaids was a favourite of that most knowledgeable of drinkers, Brendan Behan. Actually, it’s always been an “infamous haunt for the literary set”.
It gets very busy at the weekend but if you’re brave enough to attempt a staircase that is more rock-climb than ascension, then head upstairs to a quiet little bar.
L. Mulligan Grocer
This is an old bar in a quirky part of town called Stoneybatter (a short cab ride away). L. Mulligan Grocer is a weird blend of old Irish pub, gastropub, craft beer pub and local pub.
It has extensive whiskey, beer and food menus are seasonal and change regularly. Each of the main courses are matched with a beer or cider and desserts are matched with a whiskey. Told you it was weird.
The Palace Bar
The last great Victorian pub on our list, The Palace Bar on Fleet Street is small but fantastic. Lots of locals, tourists, journalists and other blend perfectly together beneath the stained glass, brass, wood and tile.
Great service and no TV or food, just a wonderful local, busy, city-centre pub. If it’s too busy, there’s a secret bar upstairs that is much quieter.
There is a regular bus service called “Aircoach” departing from Dublin Airport every 15 minutes from 10 past the hour. The nearest stop to The Fitzwilliam Hotel is Grafton Street, near Trinity College which is a 10 minute stroll from the hotel. An adult ticket costs €7.00 per person or €14.00 p.p. return. Alternatively a taxi will cost approximately €30.00. The taxi rank is located outside Terminal 1 on the arrival level. Travel time is approximately 30 minutes.Read More
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The 5 Star Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin offers secure parking for hotel residents. Valet parking is provided on a complimentary basis however, an overnight charge of €20.00 is applicable.Read More