10 Best Dublin Pubs To Soak Up Irish Culture

It would be extremely difficult to cross Ireland's capital city without passing a pub. Or, many of them, in fact. Dublin has around 1,000 neighborhood watering holes. You'll find everything from old traditional pubs with live Irish music sessions to funky city cocktail bars to superpubs with different levels. However, the city's best pubs are those that still have their traditional character, with ornate bars, mirrors, marble and stained glass. And, many of the best ones are hundreds of years old.

If you haven't tasted a Guinness in Ireland, these are the places to try the real thing. And, you can go all in with an Irish whiskey chaser. Most places also offer a selection of Irish craft beers and some have food and live music. Get in early and grab a high stool at the bar for some people-watching or eavesdropping on locals. Or, if the pub has a snug – a tiny private section – set yourself up for a cozy evening of conversation while being served drinks through a sneaky direct hatch into the bar. Here are 10 of the best places to do all of this and more:

1. The Brazen Head

Dating back to the year 1198, the Brazen Head is Ireland's oldest pub and it's still a lively spot, with live music every night. The building was originally a coach house (it's not known how much of the original remains) and walls are lined with old pictures, papers and ads from the past. Famous names that supped a pint or two in the pub include James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Jonathan Swift. For food, tuck into beef and Guinness stew or a big bowl of steamed Irish mussels. 20 Bridge Street Lower, Dublin 8, +353 1 677 9549, brazenhead.com

2. O'Donoghue's

Even if you're in the city for just one night, don't miss a live traditional Irish music session in the front bar of this cozy pub just off St. Stephen's Green – that's if you can get in the packed front door, as the place might be jammed. A selection of traditional musicians get together for a "session" each night, playing fiddles, tin whistles, bodhrans and uilleann pipes. This is where famous Irish traditional band The Dubliners got its start and the members have come back to play here many times. 15 Merrion Row, Dublin 2, +353 1 6607194, odonoghues.ie

3. The Long Hall

This original Dublin pub with its striking red and white exterior thankfully survived the complete reconstruction of the buildings around it during the Celtic Tiger boom. It gets busy on weekends, so drop in for a quiet mid-week pint of Guinness to fully appreciate the classic wooden interior, mirrors and cozy décor. 51 South Great George's St, Dublin 2, +353 1 475 1590

4. McDaid's

With a great city centre location just off Grafton Street, McDaid's ornate high ceiling is one of the first things you'll notice as you walk in here (the more observant might notice the trapdoor behind the bar with a steep stairs leading down into the cellars). If you're settling in for the evening, head up the narrow stairs to one of the upper levels. Harry Street, Dublin 2, +353 1 679 4395

5. L Mulligan Grocer

This is the place to go if you're looking for a Mountain Man, a Crafty Hen or a Belgian Blonde. Don't even think of trying to order a Guinness or a Budweiser here – it's craft beer all the way, and these are some of the labels. As the name suggests, L Mulligan Grocer pub in Stoneybatter once had a grocery shop in it and the rear section of the pub is now a superb restaurant serving Irish produce with a clever creative twist. Try the spiced potted crab or slow roasted pork belly. 18 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7, +353 1 670 9889, lmulligangrocer.com

6. Toner's

Another traditional pub, Toner's on Baggot Street dates back to around 1818 and has an old wooden bar full of memorabilia and drawers which date back to its time as a grocery store. One of the nicest features in the pub is the large 'snug' just inside the front window which has wooden benches and its own door. The poet WB Yeats is said to have liked drinking here. 139 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2, +353 1 676 3090, tonerspub.ie

7. The Cobblestone

If you're in the Smithfield direction, drop in to The Cobblestone for a lively traditional music session and a song or two. Be prepared for lots of foot tapping and some thigh slapping. 77 King St North, Smithfield, Dublin 7, +353 1 872 1799, cobblestonepub.ie

8. The Stag's Head

Hidden away in Dame Lane behind Dame Street, the Stag's Head has an ornate Victorian wooden bar and lots of stained glass and wooden finishings, all watched over by a large stag's head. The long narrow bar can get busy on weekends. Get in early to get a tall stool at the bar to be at the center of the action, or head to the large back snug for a cosy tete-a-tete. 1 Dame Court, Dublin 2, + 353 1 679 3687

9. Farrington's

A lively pub in the heart of party-central Temple Bar, we've chosen Farrington's for its excellent selection of craft beers. The staff regularly rotates the tasty brews on draught here and invite different breweries to do "tap takeovers," where large sections of taps are devoted to one brewery. So, always ask the barman for recommendations of what to drink on the night (craft beer tasting selections are available). There is usually live music on the ground floor, so don't rule dancing out. 28 Eustace St, Dublin 2, +353 1 671 5135 farringtonshoteltemplebar.com

10. Palace Bar

Another true Dublin pub just at the edge of the Temple Bar area, this is the sort of pub where you might meet a small selection of close friends, take a comfy chair in the back room and enjoy a night of craic (the Irish word for "fun") and witty conversation. Or, drop in for a starter drink on your way into Temple Bar. 21 Fleet Street, Dublin 2, +353 1 671 7388, thepalacebardublin.com

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