There’s a reason the pubs of Dublin are legendary. With pints of locally made Guinness, lively folk singalongs, and friendly patrons of all ages, pubs are the perfect introduction to Irish culture, even if you aren’t a huge fan of beer! If your Irish itinerary includes Dublin, look no further than this list of the city’s best pubs.
Dubbed Dublin’s “most talked about” bar, O’Donoghue’s is a hop, skip, and a jump from the city’s storied St. Stephen’s Green. While beer and Irish whiskey are the foremost offerings at this famous pub, O’Donoghue’s serves up more than just delicious drinks. As Dublin’s premiere site for live Irish pub music, O’Donoghue’s is often packed, so be sure to arrive early in the evening to get a seat! Traditional tunes supplemented by bodhrans, uilleann pipes, tin whistles, and fiddles make for a magically musical night in the heart of Dublin.
Some visitors travel to Dublin for the beer, while others visit for the city’s rich literary history. But at McDaid’s, you don’t have to choose between the two. Having risen to a position of prominence in the late 1930s, McDaid’s attracted crowds of Ireland’s finest writers — a tradition that holds today.
Though McDaid’s has been a pub for as long as most Doubliners can recall, it’s rumored to have been a morgue during the late 1700s, which could account for the building’s extremely high ceilings. Don’t worry, though — the only folks haunting this famous joint are literary greats like Anthony Cronin, Liam O’Flaherty, Brendan Behan, and Paddy Kavanagh.
The Brazen Head
If you step foot in Dublin, you must visit the Brazen Head. Established in 1198 (no, that’s not a typo), this establishment is the oldest pub in the entire country. Nestled near Dublin’s Christchurch Cathedral and the Guinness Storehouse, the Brazen Head is a perfect place to stop-off for a pint or enjoy an evening of live music (which occurs nearly every night). If their pints whet your appetite, stay a while longer to peruse the pub’s mouthwatering menu offerings, which include traditional Irish favorites like beef and Guinness stew, and steamed local mussels. While revelers flock to this pub, it’s also the site of regular cultural events such as traditional Irish storytelling evenings.
If you’re traveling to Dublin to check out the craft beer scene, we’ve got good news — it’s booming. In addition to an exhaustive list of both local and artisanal brews, 57 The Headline boasts a unique offering of craft whiskey and gin from distilleries across the globe. Hungry? You’ve come to the right place. This pub has an extensive menu of delicious lunch and dinner fare, as well as an exciting variety of cocktails. Tucked away on a quiet street, this pub is a cozy locale for solo drinkers, couples, and larger groups alike.
Step back in time at Dublin’s Palace Bar — one of the best-preserved relics of Victorian architecture in the quaint capital city. Built in 1823, the Palace quickly became the watering-hole for the staff of the Irish Times, which is headquartered nearby. Following their lead, other correspondents and news-people flocked to the Palace, making it one of Dublin’s premiere literary pubs. Today’s visitors should pop-in during a rugby broadcast so as to observe the collision of modern-day revelry and tight-laced tradition. If you happen to stop by during the spring, the pub will be easy to find — its facade is bombarded with baskets upon baskets of brilliant blooms.
A modest establishment situated on quiet Dame Lane, the Stag’s Head has made a big splash in pop culture thanks to its appearance in films and TV shows such as “Educating Rita” and “Penny Dreadful.” Blessed with a ridiculously photogenic exterior, it’s no wonder that this locale has become a figurehead for Irish pubs. Boasting live Irish music sessions twice weekly, an extensive menu of delicious dishes, an impressive list of Irish whiskey, and an event called “Ukulele Tuesdays,” the Stag’s Head is sure to have an activity — and a drink — for everyone.
Header photo by Jocasta Oliveira