The best traditional pubs of Belfast

When sidling up to the bar to order, have you ever wondered what the story is behind the pub you’re in? In Belfast, you should! The city is home to several pubs that date back a few centuries and have plenty of original artefacts or interesting stories to tell. Welcome to the traditional pubs of Belfast!

The Crown Liquor Saloon

The Crown Liquor Saloon is Belfast’s most famous pub! It’s in every tourist guide and you owe it to yourself to at least go in to have a look at the gorgeous Victorian interior!  The Crown is situated right in front of the Europa Bus Station, which means that you can enjoy your first pint as soon as you arrive! Why wait, right?
Take some time to admire the tiles and notice the mosaic of a crown on the entrance floor.
It is mainly known for its “snugs”: private booths that still feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an antique bell system for alerting the staff. The only light coming in is from the ancient ceiling gas lamps and from rays of sun peeping through the windows. A must for every first-time visitor in Belfast!

Address: 46, Great Victoria Street

traditional pubs of Belfast

Duke of York

The Duke of York is located in one of Belfast’s atmospheric alleys of the Cathedral Quarter. It is always busy in here and on warm evenings the crowds spill out onto the alleyway, creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere. The Duke of York pays homage to Belfast’s industrial past and centuries-old newspaper trade. The interior is decorated with beautiful antique mirrors and artefacts from some of the city’s most famous buildings from bygone times.
Music lovers: Snow Patrol played one of their first gigs here in the late 90’s when they were still a little-known indie-band.

Address: 7-11, Commercial Court

White’s Tavern

Well hidden in a small alleyway, White’s Tavern claims to be the oldest tavern of Belfast, established in 1630 as a wine and spirit shop! The rustic and cosy candle-lit setting is ideal for a great pint and even better conversation. There’s a piano downstairs and  live-music sessions during the weekend. This is the place to be for a relaxed atmosphere far away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets.

Address: 2-4 Winecellar Entry

Bittles Bar

A great example of an old Victorian bar, Bittles is flat-iron shaped and has been around since 1868! It is famous for its extensive whiskey collection. The triangular lounge is adorned with portraits of Ireland’s most famous literary and sport legends and some famous Northern Irish politicians, which gives the place a lot of character!

Address: 70, Upper Church Lane

Kelly’s Cellars

Established in 1720, Kelly’s has managed to preserve a lot of its original features: uneven concrete floors, low arches and an open fire. If you picture the typical example of an Irish pub, Kelly’s would be it! It has a rich musical heritage and features traditional music sessions several nights a week. Kelly’s is also known for its history; the United Irish Men used Kelly’s Cellars as a meeting place to plot the 1798 rebellion against the English Rule.

Address: 30-32, Bank Street

traditional pubs of Belfast

The Morning Star

Another pub situated in one of Belfast’s narrow alleys and easily identified by its beautiful green exterior.The building that houses “The Morning Star” has been historically listed and dates back to 1810. It used to be one of the terminals for the Belfast to Dublin mail coach. Inside, you can admire the original mahogany counter and huge mirrors. Lots of locals, the staff is very friendly and they do a great lunch buffet!

Address: Pottingers Entry

Mc Hugh’s

Established in 1711, Mc Hugh’s houses several bars. In the main bar, you’ll encounter a homely feel with open fires and comfortable seating – the perfect place to relax with a well-poured pint. The basement bar plays host to live bands during the week from traditional music to the local rock music scene. The restaurant upstairs provides traditional Irish food with a modern twist. Speaking of which, in between your drinks, you should definitely take some time to check out the food scene in Belfast!

Address: 29-31, Queen’s Square

traditional pubs of Belfast

Maddens

A mix of locals and tourists flock together in this small pub for good craic and lots of atmosphere! There are planned music sessions on some nights, but occasionally musicians will just show up and start jamming. This is also the place for some Irish dancing. If you liked Kelly’s, chances are you will like Maddens too!

Address: 74, Berry Street
traditional pubs of Belfast

Have you visited any of the traditional pubs of Belfast? Or does your city have any traditional pubs? Looking forward to read your stories!

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32 Replies to “The best traditional pubs of Belfast”

  1. Jonny Blair

    Nice article. Belfast is one of my favourite cities. My favourite pubs are the Crown Bar, Robinson’s and the Eastender (in East Belfast). It’s a city I always try to visit when I’m back in Northern Ireland. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Jonny

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Don’t know the Eastender, but yep, Robinson and the Crown are good ones! Whenever you’re back in N.Ireland, you should try a new one: “The Dirty Onion” in the Cathedral Quarter, really nice!

      Reply
  2. Angela Travels

    Great post. I feel like most people focus on going out to the pubs in Dublin. I met a guy at the B&B I was staying at and he took us out to a few. However, I was traveling with my parents, so I did not see too many pubs in Belfast. Looks like there are great options!

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Angela! Yes, Belfast is still relatively “unknown” for a city-trip destination, but it has quite a lot to offer indeed!

      Reply
  3. Jessica (Barcelona Blonde)

    A pint at the Morning Star for me! I love pub culture, it’s so nice. I haven’t been to Belfast yet, but when I do this will definitely come in handy. You can never have too many pub recommendations! 😀

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks Alexandra! If you make it over here one day, you’ll be well prepared, I hope 🙂

      Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks Marielle for you comment! Yes, I really like the old artefacts and history of those old-timers!

      Reply
  4. Paul

    Great article! I love old pubs like this much more than modern nightclubs and wine bars, for me the more grungy, dingy and old looking it is the better!

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Looks like we have that in common, Paul! Don’t like modern clubs without character either, the quirkier and grungy, the better! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Jen Seligmann

    They certainly look and sound like great pubs. Visiting the pubs in the UK was one of the best parts of my stay there. Each one has it’s own character and I loved chatting to the locals from time to time.

    Reply
  6. Amy

    I’ve never made it to Northern Ireland but I just loved all the pubs of Ireland. So quaint and so much fun! I’ll keep these in mind for when I visit Belfast (hopefully someday soon!)

    Reply
  7. Brianna

    I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg of interesting pubs in Belfast. I like the look of the Morning Star and would love to enjoy a pint there.

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      True! There are lots of other interesting ones to discover. If you ever make it over here, we’ll go and have a pint together, ok?

      Reply
  8. Hannah

    I went to Kelly’s while in Belfast in 2011- we had a great time! Would love to have checked out The Crown, I remember walking by it but for some reason never went it- next time!

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Yes, Kelly’s always good craic! Well,the Crown seems like a perfect excuse to come back! 🙂

      Reply
  9. Alli

    Pour me a beer! This post has really gotten me in the mood to head down to the pub. It’s only Monday though 🙁 Fun idea for a post – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Ashley

    I loved this article, so if I ever make it to Belfast I will be checking these bars out especially White’s Tavern. I love old pubs, and places with an interesting history.

    Reply

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