The best places for a classic Belfast pub crawl

The city of Belfast is on to a revival. Every year more and more people discover what the Northern Irish capital has to offer.  Apart from historical tours about the Troubles, the city is nowadays also popular for its vibrant weekend nightlife. Where Dublin can be a bit too touristy, the bars in Belfast are still mainly visited by locals! From traditional pubs to cocktail bars, from beer gardens to live music: discover all the bars you need for an unforgettable pub crawl in Belfast!

The best traditional pubs in Belfast

When sidling up to the bar, 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.

1. 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 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.
The Crown Liquor Saloon 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. A must for every first-time visitor in Belfast!

Address: 46, Great Victoria Street

2. 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

3. 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 an even better conversation. Keep an eye out for live-music sessions during the weekend. It’s the place to be for a relaxed atmosphere far away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets.

Address: 2-4 Winecellar Entry

4. 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 give the place a lot of character!

Address: 70, Upper Church Lane

5. 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 in Belfast Kelly's Cellars

6. 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

traditional pubs in Belfast Morning Star

7. 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

8. 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 several nights a week, but occasionally musicians will just show up and start jamming. On Wednesday evenings, Maddens is the place to come to if you want to learn some Irish dancing. If you liked Kelly’s, chances are you will like Maddens too!

Address: 74, Berry Street
traditional pubs in Belfast

If you’re looking for a guided pub crawl, I can highly recommend you the following tour:

The best cocktail bars in Belfast

More into cocktails than Guinness? No problem, Belfast has got you covered! A lot of regular pubs will be able to shake something that resembles a cocktail, but some bars just do it better

1. Rita’s

Tucked away down a side street near the City Hall, Rita’s tries to create that classy feel from a 1950’s Hollywood movie. I would suggest you choose a weekday to go to Rita’s. On a Friday or Saturday evening it gets too busy to appreciate the comfy sofas and stylish atmosphere. The staff are very knowledgeable on their cocktails, which are definitely a few notches up from your regular mojito or cosmopolitan!
If you are looking for a classy, romantic cocktail bar,  head for Rita’s!

Address: 44. Franklin Street

Rita's Belfast

2. The Tipsy Bird

The Tipsy Bird used to be one of my favourites. They seem to have gone downhill a bit lately with staff being hit and miss, so hopefully they’ll pick up again. The interior is something else and worth a visit on its own: the beautifully designed and quirky bird theme even extends up to the toilets.
Keep an eye out for the 2 for £10 cocktails!

Address: 90-100, Ann Street

3. Revolución de Cuba

One of the busiest places in town! Revolución de Cuba is a Cuban-themed bar and restaurant, set in a gorgeous Art Nouveau building in the heart of Belfast. Whether it is cocktails you are after, tapas or a more substantial meal, this bar has got you covered. Some of the rum cocktails, like the Zacapa, are the best I’ve ever had! The place is pretty noisy and seems to attract a fair amount of stag and hen parties, so visiting on a weekday might be better if you like things quiet.
On Sunday all cocktails are £4.50!

Address: 25-39, Arthur Street

Revolucion de Cuba Belfast

4. Chez Mal- Malmaison

Head here on a Friday between 5pm-8pm and your cocktail will only set you back £6! Their “Thank God it’s Mal” deal also includes free nibbles like chicken wings and spicy mozzarella balls! Talking about a deal! A perfect start to the weekend!

Address: Malmaison Belfast, 34-38 Victoria Street

Malmaison Belfast

The best beer gardens in Belfast

Shhht, don’t tell anyone, but occasionally the sun makes a guest appearance in Belfast! When that happens, drop everything and rush to the closest beer garden near you! If it happens to be on a Friday, places will be jam packed, so you’re in for some pushing and shoving to actually get a drink! But don’t let that spoil the fun! Follow me to some of the best beer gardens in Belfast City Centre.

1. Kelly’s Cellars

One of the most traditional Irish bars in Belfast is situated on Bank Square and the whole square doubles up as a beer garden in summer. No cars, plenty of space to sit or hang around and occasionally live music concerts outside. Not a bad place to start your pub crawl.

Address: 30-32, Bank Street

Kelly's Cellars Belfast

2. The Bullitt Hotel

Bullit is a boutique hotel, but also one of the most popular places to have a drink in its inner courtyard. In winter they have heaters outside.
Make sure you check out their second rooftop garden, called Babel, it offers nice views over the dome at Victoria Square.

Address: 40a, Church Lane

Bullitt Belfast Babel rooftop bar Belfast

3. Henry’s/ The Jailhouse

Two adjacent pubs in one of the most picturesque lanes of Belfast. Probably the smallest beer garden in Belfast, but it’s a real suntrap and away from the hustle and bustle of the busier Cathedral Quarter pubs.

Address: 4. Joy’s Entry

4. The National Grande Café

One of Belfast’s most popular beer gardens. If you fancy some green between the wooden tables, this is the place to be!

Address: 62, High Street

National Grande Cafe Belfast

5. The Dirty Onion/ The Thirsty Goat

Two separate bars, situated right next to one another and with very similar beer gardens. Both offer regular live music outside.
The Dirty Onion has music 7 nights a week and a rotisserie chicken restaurant upstairs.

Address: 1-3, Hill Street

6. The Sunflower

A local’s favourite! None of the beers they serve are mainstream brands, so if you want a change from Harp or Guinness, this is the place to go to! If you’re feeling peckish, make sure to try one of the stone-baked pizzas served in the beer garden.

Address: 65, Union Street

The Sunflower Belfast

Just in case you thought Belfast was all about the drink, there is of course much more to discover! It doesn’t even have to cost a lot!  Have a look at these 13 FREE things and why not, make a weekend out of it!

Have you been on a pub crawl in Belfast? Or does your city have any traditional pubs? Looking forward to reading your stories!

45 Replies to “The best places for a classic Belfast pub crawl”

  1. Jean-Pierre Outtier

    Het geeft toch “goesting” om te gaan bezoeken ! Ik mag je beschouwen als een “expert” ! Volgend jaar in september misschien op pension en hopelijk tijd zat voor zo’n soort “ontdekkingen ” ! Staat zeker op een goeie plaats op mijn “things to do” lijst ! 😉

    Reply
  2. Rye Santiago

    We don’t have pubs here in Manitoba, Canada (sadly), but I’d love to visit White’s Tavern. It feels like a secret place for people wanting to escape the echoes of the city.

    Reply
    • russell

      you would love it there, I went for the 1st time in 2013 and have been going back since on and off….going this year though to also watch the Ulster grand prix motorcycle road races for a week, the Crown pub did blow me away as it felt you stepped back in time with its old tiles and lamps etc. make a trip of a life time and visit Belfast like I did…and you might end up going back there !!

      Reply
  3. Tara

    I bet there’s hundreds of pubs to choose from in Belfast, so it’s great that you’ve provided lots of recommendations. I wouldn’t be able to pass up White’s Tavern – 1630? That’s pretty crazy!

    Reply
  4. Bernie

    I haven’t been to Belfast in way too long, which is inexcusable as it’s such a short flight from here. You’ve reminded me of the beautiful history of the city as seen through its social spaces. I think we’d be heading to Mc Hugh’s for the music.

    Reply
  5. Amy

    Oh, if those walls could talk! Several centuries of history would hold some pretty amazing (and I’m sure some very tall) tales! I am a huge fan of old style pubs, they just harbor such character, and they always make the best drinks and have such happy go lucky crowds! Love the facade of Kellys!

    Reply
  6. Carol Colborn

    Absolutely right! We went to the Crown Liquor Salon and Kelly’s Cellars with a group from a cruise ship during our day in Belfast in 2014!

    Reply
  7. Kaylene Chadwell

    I really hope to visit Belfast soon and of course have to visit different pubs! All of the ones on this list look lovely, but your description of Kelly’s Cellars definitely makes me want to go there asap!

    Reply
  8. Angela @ Dang Travelers

    I cannot wait to get back to Ireland. I was just having a conversation with someone who said there aren’t many authentic traditional pubs or even music for that matter in Ireland. I had to argue and now I can show him this post! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. amit

    Love this guide to the pubs around Belfast, I have to say the white Tavern immediately looks like an old Irish pub that haunted and if the walls could speak could tell you stories for days 😀

    Reply
  10. Julien Mordret

    Really cool round up of the best pubs in Belfast, I was there a few years back and remember enjoying a few of them, their atmosphere is really unique! Kelly’s Cellars looks really cool – will chek it out next time!

    Reply
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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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