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