The Best Pubs of Dublin

Palace Bar
••• Palace Bar. Bernd Biege

Dublin's best pubs...where are they? Well, they are all over the city. And they are all over the place, in more sense than one. Finding the best pub in Dublin is easy to some, had for others. Because "the best" is always a very subjective thing, even with an Irish pub, let alone with "The Best Sights of Dublin." Some think all are great, others are more discerning, and yet another school of thought posits that those off the beaten tourist track are definitely worth making tracks for. So, trying to make a list of the best pubs in Dublin is kind of like trying to train cats...you do not know where to start (there are simply too many pubs in Dublin), you will run into disagreements (because one person's local favorite is another person's smelly old boozer), and you'll ultimately give up (and silently weep into a pint of Guinness).

When people come to Ireland, even for a quick two-day weekend in Dublin, one thing on the to-do-list (and usually high up on that...MORE list) is visiting a real Irish pub (which might be a very elusive concept). And then the sheer mass of pubs (and they all are Irish, as we are in Ireland) overwhelms many a visitor. So they settle for Temple Bar. Or the nearest pub that looks halfway decent.

And the sheer variety is mind-boggling. There are "traditional" pubs, gastro-pubs, music pubs, pubs with a history, pubs that have been built two years ago (but look vintage Victorian), pubs where the locals look at you and you feel like you're in an old cowboy movie (stranger in the saloon situation), pubs where even the Polish barmaid utters a "faith and begorrah" when another Guinness is ordered with a US accent, pubs, pubs, pubs.

So here is a choice selection.

  • 01 of 04
    Mulligan's sign over the entrance
    ••• Bernd Biege

    These are the pubs that are popular with the crowds, have good reviews, and ones that people tend to come out of with a smile. They are worth a visit when you're in Dublin and looking for a decent night out. A starter guide, not to be treated as gospel.

  • 02 of 04
    Entrance to the Long Stone
    ••• The Long Stone, Dublin's Viking pub. Bernd Biege

    Want to party in Dublin? Well, for a slightly off-the-beaten-track experience, follow this list. With it, you avoid the thick of it in Temple Bar and get into the hustle and bustle at some of the lesser obvious, yet immensely popular pubs. Some cosmopolitan, some very much down to earth, but all recommended.

  • 03 of 04

    Drink in Pubs Where Dublin's Thinkers Found Inspiration

    Entrance to the Palace Bar
    ••• Bernd Biege

    Ever wanted to drink with Ireland's finest writers? At least in spirit? For the literary set, Dublin should surely be the place to go, and some pubs are legend. Because a substantial number of establishments have literary connections. Some more direct than others. You may even meet some writers having a pint.

  • 04 of 04

    Heading for Dublin's Temple Bar After All?

    Temple Bar sign
    ••• Bernd Biege

    Okay, Temple Bar . It's the big tourist magnet, so we can't leave it out even if many feel that it is way overrated. To be honest, if I had guests who wanted a real Irish pub experience, I'd stay clear of Temple Bar with them. But seeing Dublin would not be complete without a glance at Temple Bar, so everybody heads there anyway.

And Finally, the Best Pubs of Dublin...Who Decides?

Here's the thing...there is no agreed scale on which you measure a pub. Apart from the basics, like actually serving drinks, not endangering the lives of patrons with unhygienic practices, and bidding a welcome to all. But beyond that? Who decides what would be "Dublin's Best Pub"? True, there are a number of awards given out each year. But they often represent a narrow focus. And do occasionally not reflect the public perception. For me, personally, a good pub would be where I feel welcome, where my arms do not stick to bar and/or table, where you cannot find the way to the toilets by following your nose, where a good pint is poured, where the bar personnel serves you in a friendly manner (without resorting to pure paddywhackery), where your change is correct, where you can sit in peace and quiet if you like, or on other days enjoy a conversation with other patrons. Add some pub grub and I am happy. And maybe some live music, at a natural level, of decent quality and variety (there is only so many times you can listen to the "Fields of Athenry" or the slower U2 songs). So take the recommendations above with a pinch of salt. The pubs might not suit you, but they were okay for me. Not all of them all the time. But there is a time and place for everything...even for Temple Bar.