Dublin has some of the best pubs in the world, and a ‘crawl’ – a journey from pub to pub sampling the wares and atmosphere of each – is a must-do activity when visiting. We select the ten best.
The pub is the heart of Dublin life: more so than schools, community centers, even than churches. A popular thing to ask when meeting someone for the first time is “Where do you drink?” Of course not everyone drinks alcohol there, and getting drunk is not the point of a Dublin pub: it’s a place to meet friends old and new, exchange views and stories, and if you’re lucky hear some of Ireland’s traditional music.
Because of this Dublin has more than 770 pubs! You have your work cut out for you when mapping a Dublin pub crawl route.
To save you time, we’ve produced an epic guide to the best pubs in Dublin for a crawl. Feel free to adapt this list to your time, willingness to walk, and capacity for drinking! Of course given that there are ten of them, we suggest that you alternate beer with water – or if you really do want to drink in each pub, order ‘a glass’ (half an imperial pint) not a pint.
1. The Cobblestone
Address: 77 North King Street
We start our journey slightly out of the city center at an unprepossessing but highly significant pub. On the corner of Smithfield square, this highly traditional city pub has played host to a hall of fame of Irish musicians, and many visiting greats.
Not only is The Cobblestone one of the best pubs in Dublin for a crawl, but it also offers a very different vibe from the tourist traps. Throughout the week, the pub invites Irish musicians to perform and every genre is welcome. Some well-known local and international talents to grace the stage are Baby Gramps, the Foghorn Stringband, Niall Toner Band, Christy Moore, and Gavin Gass. For an intimate musical experience, book the Backroom Venue.
Visit quick as this wonderful part of the city’s culture is now threatened with closure.
See Billy Connolly perform with Irish trad musicians at the Cobblestone:
From here we’re going to step aboard a Luas tram towards Connolly Station until we get to the Busaras stop, and then we’re going to stroll down Talbot Street to:
2. The Celt
Address: 82 Talbot Street
Another music venue, The Celt plays live music – but not even your usual ‘trad’ pub music.
At the pub, locals put on a traditional performance, singing in the authentic Irish language. To hear what it sounds like, put The Celt on your pub crawl route.
3. Mulligans Pub of Poolbeg Street
Address: 8 Poolbeg St, Dublin
Crossing the river, we arrive in a back street at Mulligans of Poolbeg Street. This very old, very traditional place is in a class of its own for two reasons. The first because it’s renowned for pouring one of the best pints of Guinness in Dublin, the second because of its history.
Although people openly cherish the pub today, before 1782, the pub was the locals’ best-kept secret. Back in the day, the pub wasn’t licensed to serve alcohol – it was an early form of speakeasy!
It was in the back room in the early part of the 20th century that Michael Collins plotted rebellion, and later that century Irish novelist James Joyce, and the then-journalist John F. Kennedy became two of the pub’s most prominent customers.
Today, it’s one of the best pubs in Dublin for a crawl. Visit the pub to appreciate its old-fashioned allure, see the literary shrine and the macabre grandfather clock holding the ashes of the late Mulligan’s fan Billy Brooks Carr from Texas, who loved the pub so much that when he died in 2011 he asked that his mortal remains be interred there.
4. The Stag’s Head
Address: 1 Dame Court, Dublin 2
A short stroll through College Green and the lane parallel to Dame Street brings us to The Stag’s Head, another blast from the past. Known as one of Dublin’s hidden treasures because of its obscure location, this centuries-old pub has an incredible origin story. George Tyson, a Westmoreland merchant, came to Ireland with a dream in the 1870s.
Although he undertook several ventures, it’s the pub that keeps his memory alive. He created the first Victorian pub featuring modern advancements such as the electric light. When the pub opened in 1894, it attracted the Lord Lieutenant and the most elite group of Victorian society.
To this day, its authentic Victorian design elements continue to impress. The pub’s exterior displays a large clock with Tyson’s name. Go inside to admire its mahogany and marble color theme, stained glass mirrors and windows, and iron chandeliers.
Staying true to its name, a stag head hangs over the bar. Lastly, the pub has two floors. The first floor is for events whereas the second floor (The Stag’s Tail) plays Irish music.
Here’s ‘The Ramparts’ performing an impossibly good a capella rendition of the traditional song “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, upstairs at the Stag’s Head:
Address: 15 South William Street, Dublin 2
Round the corner and down South William Street you’ll find Grogan’s (AKA the Castle Lounge: like many Dublin pubs it has more than one name!). Here we find some interesting contradictions: since the pub is a popular hotspot, finding a seat is not always possible. Therefore, we recommend visiting this pub early into your pub crawl. You can choose to drink your pint of Guinness either indoors or outdoors.
But is there a difference between the two seating options? The exterior is surrounded by tables (and smokers), shoppers, and noisy revellers, but inside, you’ll find an oasis of tranquility in an otherwise hectic part of town. Grogans has a no music and no TV policy, so instead you’ll find just the gentle sound of laughter and flowing conversations, a diverse crowd, and a tranquil atmosphere.
Not just that but in this dark space the walls are covered in modern art, some of it dating back to Grogan’s heyday in the 1950s, sharing wall-space with contemporary pieces, much of which is for sale.
Outside it’s still pleasant to watch the world go by, but it’s somewhat less unique of an experience.
6. The Long Hall
Address: 51 South Great George’s Street, Dublin
Just a few steps down South Great George’s Street is The Long Hall which with its opulent red and white original Victorian décor transports you to another era. As one of Dublin’s most un-retouched pubs, it holds a special place in the locals’ hearts. Established in 1766, its exquisite interior exudes an otherworldly charm.
From the engravings on the wall, art nouveau glass panels, ornate gold leaf designs, and handcrafted woodwork interior, your eyes are in for a treat! The iconic pub’s famous clientele includes playwrights and politicians.
Another reason the Long Hall has repeatedly made the list of the best pubs in Dublin for a crawl is due to its cameo in Phil Lynott’s music video. The Irish rock legend used the pub to shoot his hit 1982 song “Old Town.” Also, its pint of Guinness is top-notch.
7. Peter’s Pub
Address: 39-40 South William Street, Dublin 2
Further down South William Street is Peter’s Pub, a corner bar that stands out for its understated elegance. This street is teeming with bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, and then there’s Peter’s Pub. Unlike its hip and happening neighbors, the pub chooses not to conform to the modern and accepted standards of today.
Instead, it believes in the old is gold philosophy. It hasn’t undergone any drastic changes in decades, and maintains a quiet and idyllic ambiance. Since its exterior doesn’t compel people to enter, most tend to give it a pass, opting for a “cooler” pub.
That doesn’t mean that it gets no foot traffic. It has its share of loyal customers, and visitors who experience its spotless interior and superior wines are likely to revisit. Give Peter’s Pub a second glance.
Address: 25 Wexford St, Portobello
Whelan’s just may be the pub that started the whole contemporary music culture in Dublin. It certainly gestated many famous acts.
Recognized as the city’s original live music pub, it continues to live up to its reputation. Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper, Damien Gray, Bell X1, In fact, a young Ed Sheeran decided to become a singer when he saw the legendary Irish musician Damien Rice perform at Whelan’s. And Ed came back to play once his own career was in the stratosphere.
The pub has three floors with a different venue on each floor. It also hosts events such as silent discos. It’s noisy and rowdy and tends to cater to a younger crowd in their 20s and 30s, so keep that in mind before you include it in your pub crawl.
Address: 139 Lower Baggot Street
By now, it should come as no surprise that most of the pubs in Dublin have been around for decades. With Toner’s, it’s no different. Founded in 1734, the pub gives you a glimpse into the Victorian period with its old stock drawers and flagged flooring.
Offering both outdoor and indoor seating, the pub is an ideal hangout spot all year-round. In the back, they have a spacious beer garden. For all the Mumford & Sons fans, they played in the beer garden in 2012 for Arthur’s Day. Moreover, you can book a room for a private party.
But wait…we haven’t gotten to the good part yet! Rory Guinness has publically praised Toners for serving the best pint of Guinness in all of Dublin.” Pair it with the 16th best pizza in Europe from Cirillo’s, and get the party started!
9. O’ Donoghue’s
Address: 15 Merrion Road
O’Donoghue’s is where like-minded people with a love for music and beer meet. Every day, find a new band playing. Just namedrop the band “The Dubliners” to any local in the pub and sit tight for a story, as they have played several shows there. Here are two more zingers for you: Rihanna hosted her Christmas party there, while P!NK visited to down a few beers.
10. If you’re still able, now go to the pub with the best Guinness in Dublin
Our tenth pub on the list is out of the city center, so hop on a bus or grab a cab and head off to Glasnevin for the best pint of Guinness in Dublin – read on…
So come on, let’s get this pub crawl on the road! Plan your route consisting of three to five or more of the best pubs in Dublin for a crawl.