No trip to Belfast would be complete without sussing out one or two of its pubs. Check out our guide to the 10 most historical pubs where you can soak up the atmosphere, be entertained with traditional music, meet the locals, have a bite to eat, and of course sample a pint of the black stuff!
McHugh’s is one of the oldest bars and buildings in Belfast. Established in 1711, it’s now a Grade A Listed Building. It’s located right in the centre of Belfast on Queen’s Square, just off Donegall Quay.
McHugh’s, as you can imagine, is steeped in history and in its time enjoyed a colourful reputation. During the 2nd World War it was a popular haunt for American service men and was also frequented by women of dubious reputation!
Today McHugh’s Bar boasts a 100-seated restaurant catering for the very best in traditional cuisine. It has been tastefully restored and maintains its original charm in contemporary surroundings.
The main bar is a popular meeting place to enjoy drinks and a great atmosphere. The Basement Bar showcases live bands and DJ’s Thursday to Saturday, and The Lord Lucan Room is a popular venue for private parties catering for up to 30 guests.
Robinson’s Bar is one of Belfast’s oldest establishments dating back to 1895 and offers something to suit all tastes. It’s located in the heart of Belfast on Great Victoria Street, just opposite the bus and rail station. Inside the one building you’ll actually find 5 different venues.
Whites Tavern is truly one of Belfast’s hidden gems. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Belfast, dating back to 1630. Here you’ll find two very different venues under the one roof. Downstairs a traditional bar packed with old artefacts, seating and a welcoming peat-burning fire, an upstairs is a small venue that can cater for private functions and parties but also plays host to traditional sessions and funky house nights!
Here you can also avail of tasty traditional Irish dishes. Whites Tavern is located at Winecellar Entry. It’s pretty difficult to find – directions are as follows: head east on Donegal Square towards Donegal Place, turn left at Donegal Place, turn right at Castle Place, continue on High Street, left onto Bridge Street taking you onto Winecellar Entry.
The Crown Bar:
The Crown Bar was originally opened by Felix O’Hanlon and was called ‘The Railway Tavern’. In later years the pub was bought by Michael Flanagan and it was Michael’s son Patrick who renamed and renovated the pub in 1885.
The Crown Bar is most definitely one of the most popular bars in Belfast City. Everywhere you look you’ll be amazed – features include mosaic tiles, beautiful wood carvings, stunning red, yellow and gold ceiling, and stain-glass windows, these are all thanks to Italian craftsmen!
In 1885 there was a large increase in the building of Catholic churches and as a result many skilled craftsmen from Italy were brought into Northern Ireland. Flanagan persuaded many of them to work after hours on his bar and with skilled hands they made it what it is today.
The Crown Bar is located at Great Victoria Street and a visit comes highly recommended.
The Deer’s Head:
The Deer’s Head was opened by John Donnell in 1885 and today his monogram still remains above the door in sandstone cover plate. This is a lovely traditional pub that has retained its Victorian feel despite a few modern touches. You’ll find it on Lower Garfield Street in the city centre.
The Duke of York:
The Duke of York has an appearance of an old fashioned property and dates back to 1710. When the pub was bombed in 1973 it was rebuilt just three years later.
Features include a stone and tiled floor as well as lots of mirrors and posters from the printing presses that used to be located close by.
The Duke of York is a popular venue where many gigs take place and it is where Snow Patrol played their first gigs. The Duke of York is located at 3-11 Commercial Court which runs between Lower Donegall Street and Hill Street, in what is now known as The Cathedral Quarter of the city.
Hercules Bar is a popular venue for those who enjoy a creamy pint, toe-tapping music and fancy a flutter! Located next door to a bookmakers this is a popular location for those who like to nurse their pint while they study the racing forms. On Saturday night you can bet on wonderful traditional music sessions, this is a popular venue with locals and people who enjoy a good traditional session.
Hercules Bar is located at Castle Street and could not be more central.
Hatfield House is a popular traditional Irish bar located on Ormeau Road in Belfast. It dates back over 138 years and continues to retain its old charm and popularity. It’s one of very few pubs that have escaped modernisation but was recently restored to its former glory. There’s music every night, food, sports screens and much more.
Lavery’s Bar & Gin Palace:
In 1918 the Lavery Family bought what was formally known as ‘Kinahan’s Bar. For generations it was passed on and refurbished throughout the years.
In 1972 Lavery’s Bar was hit by the troubles and was burnt out. Then in 1973 it was rebuilt and over the years the attic was converted, businesses next door were purchased and Lavery’s was extended.
Today Lavery’s continues to thrive and is a popular venue for locals and visitors.
This is a traditional Irish bar located on May Street, adjacent to Saint Georges Market and close to the central station. Magennis’s Bar is one of Belfast’s oldest pubs and is steeped in history.
It has been serving the nearby markets for generations and today is a popular venue with the nearby business community. At Magennis’s Bar you are assured of a great pint and good food, and there’s traditional Irish music here every night too.
Now that you’re familiar with some of Belfast’s popular watering holes all you need to do is plan the rest of your visit! If you need somewhere to stay check out our selection of approved Belfast hotels.
What’s your favourite Belfast pub? We’d love to hear from you.