Before I first traveled to Dublin, the one thing everyone said to me was, “The Guinness tastes different there.” It seemed to be universally agreed upon that Guinness in Dublin is better than Guinness anywhere else.
This seems to come down to the fact that the stout doesn’t have to travel. Unlike me, Guinness doesn’t travel well. So it seems fair enough that I should be the one who travels to the Guinness, where it waits in its homeland, creamier, smoother, and, yes, definitely better tasting than anywhere else. But aside from the difference in taste, there’s something special about enjoying a pint of the good stuff in Dublin. The home of Guinness is a beautiful city, and there are some interesting and special places in Dublin to relax and enjoy a pint.
Here are my favorite places in Dublin to enjoy a pint of Guinness.
1. Guinness Storehouse
There’s perhaps no better place to enjoy a pint of Guinness than in the brewery where it’s made. The Guinness Storehouse is more than just a brewery and more than a bar — it’s an experience in Guinness.
The Guinness Storehouse has seven floors. Throughout them, you can learn about the history of Guinness and delve into how its unique flavor and texture are achieved; you can dine in one of the bars and restaurants and shop for Guinness souvenirs in the gift shop. But the one must-do thing while you’re here is to go all the way up to the top of the building, to the rooftop Gravity Bar, where you can enjoy a pint while looking out over the city and all the way to the Wicklow Mountains. It’s the highest point in Dublin and an incredible place to enjoy a pint.
Pro Tip: To make your pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse truly unique, order a Stoutie. The Stoutie is your regular pint of Guinness with a delightful difference. With a Stoutie, you get the image of your own face printed on the head of the pint. It’s a bit like those patterns on the froth of a cappuccino, but instead, it’s your face on your pint!
2. The Hairy Lemon
This traditional old Irish pub is a favorite amongst locals and visitors. It’s quirky, it’s authentic, and it serves a great pint of Guinness. The Hairy Lemon was made famous by the film The Commitments when scenes were filmed in the pub’s snug, or private drinking room, but this pub was popular way before the film put it on the map.
This is a busy bar where you can enjoy great food as well as a great pint of Guinness. But what makes The Hairy Lemon so good is the atmosphere. Call in on a Sunday lunchtime and relax while the world goes by, or grab a pint in the evening while a live band plays in these traditional surroundings.
3. The Cobblestone
The Cobblestone describes itself as “a drinking pub with a music problem,” and after just one visit, you’ll understand why.
The fact that this is predominantly a music pub doesn’t take anything away from it being a great place to enjoy a pint of Guinness. In fact, it adds to it. There’s live music here every night of the week, and it’s mostly “trad sessions,” meaning informal gatherings filled with traditional Irish music. These trad sessions feel spontaneous and impromptu because they aren’t meant to be a show. Musicians simply gather together to play Irish music because they love it. In The Backroom, you can have a music lesson, or, if you’re confident and know what you’re doing, you can simply sit down and join the session. If you don’t play and only want to spectate, it’s a great atmosphere to enjoy a pint of Guinness in.
Pro Tip: As this is known for being a music bar, it does get busy, with people arriving especially for the music. It’s quite small inside, so if you want to enjoy the music with your pint of Guinness, get there early in the evening. Later on, there’s only standing room at the back, and it’s difficult to see or hear the musicians.
4. Kehoes Pub
As soon as you walk through the door at Kehoes Pub, you can see and feel that this is an authentic Irish pub. It was first opened in 1803, and the interior you see today — with wood paneling and lots of snugs for those who want to sit and drink privately — is a late 19th-century Victorian renovation. The original features throughout the pub make this a historic bar and a cozy place for a quiet pint of Guinness. Even the restrooms here have original features and deserve a good look around. The old mahogany piano is scratched and marked, as are many of the small tables, but that only adds character to this traditional Irish pub.
Pro Tip: It does get very busy in the bar, especially in the evenings, but visit at lunchtime — it’s lovely to sit outside and watch the people go by.
5. The Palace Bar
The Palace Bar is another traditional Irish bar that’s from another time. The interior is heavy in mahogany, and many Victorian features remain. It’s cozy inside, and on a cloudy Irish evening, the globe lights and stained glass in the doors and windows welcome you in with a feeling of warmth. The Palace Bar is mainly a whisky bar, but it also serves a great pint of Guinness.
One of the most interesting features of this old pub is the row of original partitions at the bar. These wood and glass separators, which allow two to four people to gather without invading anyone else’s space, might look like COVID prevention measures, but they are actually Victorian. The Victorians were ahead of their time — or at least they had a similar solution to the spread of viruses! Either way, these unique partitions provide an unusual way to enjoy your pint.
6. The Stag’s Head
First established in the 1700s, The Stag’s Head is a beautifully preserved Victorian pub that really is a hidden gem. Yes, many locals and some visitors do know about it, and it has plenty of customers, but it’s only accessible through George Street and Exchequer Street and is concealed down a hidden passageway.
This “secret” pub is very grand looking, both inside and out, and it feels like you’re drinking in an old, opulent hall. The pub retains its original wood paneling and stained glass windows, but there’s nothing shabby about any of the furnishings or fittings in here. It feels a bit like an old railway pub with its Tiffany lamps and chandeliers, and it’s a stunning old pub to enjoy a pint of Guinness in. Live music is played downstairs, so you can choose to enjoy your pint with a trad session or you can sit upstairs in the bar and watch the world go by.
Pro Tips: Order the beef stew to go with your pint of Guinness. It’s the perfect pairing of food and drink, and the perfect comfort experience. You can sit at the bar to eat and drink, or grab a table and stools in the lounge.
7. The Blue Light
Venture a little way out of the city, to the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, and you’ll find The Blue Light. This pub has a very different feel to it from the ones down in the city. It feels mountainous. There’s a real fire burning in the grate and old stone floors everywhere you walk. It almost feels like it’s been carved out of the mountainside itself.
Sit by the fire and enjoy a pint of Guinness with the locals in the cozy atmosphere, or sit out on the terrace and sip your pint with incredible views over the city below. They also have a great bar menu, including vegan options. The burgers are especially good and pair great with your pint.
8. Toners Pub
Established in 1734, Toners Pub boasts that it’s one of the oldest pubs in Dublin and has many original features, like wood paneling and original stone walls and floors. It feels a bit like you’re underground when you enter Toners. The ceilings are low, and the stone walls and floors make it feel almost cave-like. The bar is traditional and serves a great pint of Guinness.
What really sets this pub apart from some of the other traditional pubs in Dublin is its yard. Toners Yard, accessed at the rear of the pub, is a lovely rooftop area with tables, chairs, and an open summer roof ready for when it rains. It acts as an overspill to the pub, but in good weather, it’s also where drinkers prefer to gather. You can enjoy your pint of Guinness in the authentic old bar, or out with the sun on the roof.