Before I first went to Dublin, the only thing everyone said to me was, “Guinness tastes different there.” There seemed to be a consensus that Guinness in Dublin is better than Guinness anywhere else.
This seems to come down to the fact that the stout doesn’t need to travel. Unlike me, Guinness doesn’t travel well. So it seems fair enough that I should be the one to travel to Guinness, where it awaits in its homeland, creamier, smoother and, yes, definitely better than anywhere else. But apart 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 is perhaps no better place to enjoy a pint of Guinness than in the brewery where it is 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. Through them you can learn about the history of Guinness and immerse yourself in how its unique taste and texture is achieved; you can dine in one of the bars and restaurants and shop for Guinness souvenirs in the gift shop. But the only thing you have to do while you’re here is go all the way to the top of the building, to the Gravity Bar on the roof, 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 top of the pint. It’s a bit like those patterns on the foam of a cappuccino, but instead it’s your face on the pint!
2. The hairy lemon
This traditional old Irish pub is a favorite with locals and visitors alike. It’s quirky, it’s authentic and it serves a good pint of Guinness. The Hairy Lemon was made famous by the movie The obligations when scenes were filmed in the pub’s cosy, or private drinking room, but this pub was popular before the film put it on the map.
This is a busy bar where you can enjoy good food as well as a good pint of Guinness. But what makes The Hairy Lemon so good is the atmosphere. Call in for a Sunday lunch and relax as the world goes by, or have 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 mainly a music pub doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s 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 traditional sessions feel spontaneous and improvised because they are not meant to be a show. Musicians simply gather 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’re not playing and just want to watch, it’s a great atmosphere to enjoy a pint of Guinness in.
Pro tip: As this is known for being a music bar, it gets busy, with people coming specifically for the music. It’s quite small inside, so if you want to enjoy the music with a pint of Guinness, get there early in the evening. Later, there is standing room only at the back, and it is difficult to see or hear the musicians.
4. Kehoe’s 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 first opened in 1803, and the interior you see today – with wood paneling and plenty of coziness for those who want to sit and drink in private – is a Victorian renovation from the late 1800s. The original features throughout the pub make this a historic bar and a cozy place for a quiet pint of Guinness. Even the toilets here have original details and deserve a good look around. The old mahogany piano is scratched and marked, as are many of the small tables, but that just adds character to this traditional Irish pub.
Pro tip: The bar gets very busy, especially in the evenings, but visit at lunchtime – it’s lovely to sit outside and watch people go by.
5. Palace Bar
The Palace Bar is another traditional Irish bar from another era. The interior is heavy in mahogany, and many Victorian features remain. It’s cozy inside, and on an overcast Irish evening, the globe lights and stained glass windows in the doors and windows welcome you in with a feeling of warmth. The Palace Bar is mainly a whiskey bar, but it also serves a good pint of Guinness.
One of the most interesting features of this old pub is the row of original partitions in the bar. These wood and glass dividers, which allow two to four people to congregate without invading other people’s space, may look like COVID-prevention measures, but they’re 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 the pint.
6. The deer’s head
First established in the 18th century, The Stag’s Head is a beautifully preserved Victorian pub that is truly a hidden gem. Yes, many locals and some visitors know about it and it has many customers, but it is only accessible through George Street and Exchequer Street and is hidden down a hidden passage.
This “secret” pub looks very grand, both inside and out, and feels like you’re drinking in an old, opulent hall. The pub retains its original wood paneling and stained glass, but there is nothing shabby about any of the furniture or fittings here. It feels a bit like an old railway pub with its Tiffany lamps and chandeliers and is a wonderful old pub to enjoy a pint of Guinness in. Live music is played downstairs so you can choose to enjoy your pint with a traditional session or you can sit upstairs in the bar and watch the world go by.
Pro tip: Order the steak stew to go with your pint of Guinness. It is the perfect combination of food and drink, and the perfect comfort experience. You can sit at the bar to eat and drink, or take a table and stools in the lounge.
7. The blue light
Head 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 the ones down town. It feels mountainous. It burns properly in the grate and old stone floors everywhere you go. It almost feels as if it has 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 a pint with incredible views of the city below. They also have a great bar menu, including vegan options. Burgers are particularly good and pair well with your pint.
8. Toners Pub
Established in 1734, Toners Pub boasts that it is one of the oldest pubs in Dublin and has many original features, such as wood paneling and original stone walls and floors. It feels a bit like you’re underground when you walk into Toners. The ceiling is low, and the stone walls and floors make it feel almost cave-like. The bar is traditional and serves a good pint of Guinness.
What really sets this pub apart from some of the other traditional pubs in Dublin is the courtyard. Toners Yard, accessible at the rear of the pub, is a lovely roof area with tables, chairs and an open summer roof ready for when it rains. It acts as an overplay to the pub, but in good weather it’s also where drinkers prefer to congregate. You can enjoy a pint of Guinness in the authentic old bar, or outside with the sun on the roof.