5 Of The Best Bars In Belfast, Ireland
Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city is looking beyond its troubled political past to become a tourist hot spot. A city which thrives on its friendly people and lively drinking culture, locals here demand pubs of quality. Luckily for Belfast, it has them in droves…
A city rich in history, Belfast may best be known as the city that built the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Increasing interest in those who wish to witness the birthplace of the doomed passenger liner or because they just love the bubblegum-coated movie has brought many a tourist to this quaint city. If you add to that, many of Northern Ireland’s iconic landscape were featured as key locations in the popular TV-series Game of Thrones and you can begin to see why tourists have recently began flocking to Belfast.
This influx in tourism is much-needed for a city that for over 800-years has seen its fair share of conflict. Although massive improvements have been made in recent years to assure peace between the Unionists and Nationalists, evidence of its troubled past still remain. Murals depicting the region’s past and present political and religious divisions can still be found on houses throughout the city. Many portions of Belfast still contain what is known to locals as “peace walls”, barriers which were used to separate and subdue tensions between the two communities.
To see the peace walls and other remnants of Belfest’s history you can book the city’s Black Taxi Tour. The Titanic Museum and Game of Thrones Tours are also quite popular, but be sure to find time to take in the neo-baroque architecture of Belfast’s city hall, as well as visiting the bustling St. George’s Market and many of the local pubs which dot the many hidden alleyways throughout the city.
Which brings you to the topic of this here article. With so much history etched into the walls of its taverns, here are the top spots for you to have a pint, or a keg in Belfast. I don’t judge…
Kelly’s Cellars (30-32 Bank Street)
A hidden gem, this small pub, hidden away in a back street is frequented by locals, but also gathers many a weary traveller. On arrival, you are likely to hear the lively sounds of at least one Celtic instrument as you work your way to the bar.
Built in 1720, Kelly’s Cellars holds a place in Irish history as the meeting place of the United Irishmen Rebellion in 1798. The hot whiskey and Guinness here never disappoint and is best enjoyed relaxing beside the pub’s charming fireplace on a cold night. With that being said, I know from personal experience that accidentally falling asleep here isn’t frowned upon.
The Dirty Onion (3 Hill Street)
Established in 1780, The Dirty Onion is a bar that magically fuses the traditional and contemporary. Rustic and relaxed in the day time, lively and drunken at night, The Dirty Onion offers variety to those wishing to visit.
Free entertainment is provided seven nights a week in varying styles. The craft beers flow all night and Tuesday evenings offer free Bodhran lesson (a traditional Irish drum).
The Empire (42 Botanic Avenue)
Once a Victorian Era church, The Empire is now a well-known live music and comedy venue. Hosting frequent events including almost all major sporting occasion, you are likely to find something of interest here.
Being a revamped Victorian church, the acoustics in The Empire are superb, making it a very popular watering hole for fans of live music. If The Empire is not open during your stay in Belfast, then The Limelight/Katy’s Bar or The Pavillion will prove a good substitute if you are in a singing mood.
White’s Tavern (2-4 Winecellar Entry)
Situated down a small alleyway White’s offers wooden beams, fireplaces and a general 17th century feel. A welcomed spot for an afternoon drink. Dating back to 1630, this is Belfast’s oldest running bar.
This venue has a reputation for its variety of live music, and an outdoor cinema in their courtyard, where they show movies once every fortnight. The only problem you may have is finding White’s, but it’s well worth the search.
The Crown Bar (46 Great Victoria Street)
OK, admittedly this is a bit of a tourist trap and you will likely be surrounded by other tourists while drinking here, but don’t let that put you off.
Famed for its Victorian and somewhat gothic aesthetic, The Crown Bar is a landmark in Belfast.
Its extravagant decor offers a superb chance to view a Victorian-era gin house in modern times.
Offering stained glass windows, mosaics made from tile, carved wooden ceilings and really cool snugs, The Crown Bar is a pub which should not be missed.
Belfast is a very safe city overall, so don’t be worried. If you are looking to avoid the areas still overcoming a troubled past, it is good to know that all of these bars are located within Belfast’s city centre and are very safe options.