Top 12 Must-Visit Belfast Pubs for a Memorable Night Out

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Belfast, a city steeped in history and charm, offers an abundance of iconic Belfast pubs, each as unique and diverse as the city itself. Ranging from traditional Irish establishments to modern bars with live music and rooftop views, there’s something for everyone in Belfast’s vibrant pub scene. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a craft beer aficionado, or simply someone seeking a memorable night out, Belfast pubs will undoubtedly leave you captivated.

Key Takeaways

  • Experience Belfast’s iconic pubs, such as The Crown Liquor Saloon and Kelly’s Cellars.

  • Explore the Cathedral Quarter gems for an unforgettable night out with traditional Irish music and atmosphere at The Dirty Onion or Duke of York.

  • Enjoy unique experiences in craft beer bars, rooftop bars & gardens, and quirky pubs like Muriel’s Cafe Bar or Filthy McNasty’s Secret Garden.

Iconic Belfast City Centre Pubs

Exterior of iconic Belfast City Centre Pubs

Belfast’s city centre houses numerous celebrated and historical old Belfast pubs, providing a glimpse into the city’s deep-rooted heritage and tradition. From the ornate Crown Liquor Saloon to the cozy atmosphere of Kelly’s Cellars and the oldest pub in the city, Whites Tavern, these iconic establishments will transport you back in time while providing a warm and welcoming experience.

The Crown Liquor Saloon

Ornate interior of the Crown Liquor Saloon

The Crown Liquor Saloon, located on Great Victoria Street, stands out among Belfast’s pubs, admired for its exquisitely maintained Victorian-era decor. As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by intricate tiles, etched glass, and ornate woodwork, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a bygone era. The pub is divided into several small snugs or private booths, each with its own door and bell, adding to the unique and intimate experience.

Though some might view the Crown Liquor Saloon more as a tourist attraction, this historical pub continues to offer a high-standard assortment of drinks and conventional pub fare. Pair your visit with a pint of Guinness, or try one of the real ales on tap as you soak in the ambiance of this National Trust-owned treasure.

Kelly’s Cellars

Traditional Irish music performance at Kelly's Cellars

Established in 1720, Kelly’s Cellars, being one of Belfast’s oldest pubs, offers visitors a true Irish ambiance. The low arches and open fire create a cozy setting, making it the perfect place to unwind with a pint and some hearty Irish stew.

Kelly’s Cellars’ vibrant ambiance is amplified during traditional music sessions on weekends, as live music in the form of traditional Irish melodies permeate the air, enticing patrons to sway along and participate in the energetic atmosphere.

Make sure to visit this iconic pub, one of the best pubs in Belfast, and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the city while experiencing a traditional Belfast welcome.

Whites Tavern

Whites Tavern, Belfast’s oldest pub, has catered to patrons since 1630. The pub’s historic charm and genuine atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for those looking to experience traditional Belfast. With live music and a focus on fresh seafood, this iconic establishment has something for everyone.

The welcoming ambiance at Whites Tavern is further enhanced by the open fire, creating a cozy setting for patrons to enjoy a pint and some delicious food. Be sure to stop by this storied pub for a truly memorable experience in the heart of Belfast.

Cathedral Quarter Gems

Vibrant atmosphere of Cathedral Quarter Pubs

Buried within Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter are numerous hidden treasures, providing unique experiences and vibrant atmospheres for those desiring to delve into the city’s bustling pub scene. Some of the notable pubs in the area include:

  • The Dirty Onion: Known for its rustic charm

  • The Duke of York: A vibrant pub with a lively atmosphere

  • The Sunflower Public House: A historic pub with a unique ambiance

The Cathedral Quarter is teeming with character and offers unforgettable nights out.

The Dirty Onion

The Dirty Onion offers:

  • An authentic Irish experience

  • Live music and craic seven nights a week

  • Traditional wooden beams and open fire

  • A warm and inviting atmosphere

  • The perfect place to unwind with friends and enjoy a pint

The Dirty Onion, emphasizing traditional Irish music, is a must-visit spot for those yearning an authentic flavor of Belfast’s profound culture. Whether you’re a seasoned traditional music enthusiast or simply looking for a lively night out, this Cathedral Quarter gem will not disappoint.

The Duke of York

Hidden in a narrow cobbled alleyway in the Cathedral Quarter, The Duke of York, a favored pub, offers:

  • An extensive range of spirits and beers

  • Live music

  • Walls adorned with Belfast memorabilia, creating a unique atmosphere that pays homage to the city’s history.

The Duke of York offers:

  • A lively atmosphere

  • Regular traditional Irish music sessions

  • Local musicians sharing their talents

  • Extensive drink selection

With its welcoming ambiance and entertainment, The Duke of York is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Belfast’s pub scene.

The Sunflower

The Sunflower, a historic pub in Belfast, is instantly recognizable by its caged entrance, a remnant from the city’s troubled past. Despite its somber exterior, the pub offers:

  • A lively atmosphere

  • Live music

  • A large beer garden

  • Delicious pizza

The Sunflower offers:

  • A welcoming atmosphere

  • Support for local musicians

  • Live music performances

  • A spacious beer garden

  • A memorable experience for both tourists and locals

Live Music Hotspots

Those yearning for a night resonating with traditional Irish melodies and local talent will surely be impressed by Belfast’s live music hotspots and Belfast’s theatre scene. From the authentic atmosphere of Fibber Magees to the lively John Hewitt and the diverse musical offerings at The Points Bar, these popular pubs showcase the best of Belfast’s thriving live music scene.

Fibber Magees

Fibber Magees, a genuine traditional Irish pub situated in the core of Belfast, features live music sessions with fiddles, pipes, and bodhráns. The pub’s traditional fireplace and selection of freshly poured pints of Guinness create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for enjoying an evening of good music and good company.

Located within Robinsons, one of Belfast’s longest-operating bars, Fibber Magees provides a genuine taste of Irish tradition in a visually striking setting. With live music sessions seven nights a week, this iconic pub is a must-visit destination for music enthusiasts and those seeking an authentic Belfast experience.

John Hewitt

John Hewitt, named after the esteemed poet and socialist, is a bustling pub nestled in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. With live music sessions every week, this popular venue showcases the finest local performers and musicians that Belfast has to offer.

In addition to its commitment to supporting local talent, John Hewitt boasts a charming rustic interior and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Whether you’re a fan of traditional Irish music or simply looking for a friendly pub with a great ambiance, John Hewitt is a must-visit destination in Belfast.

The Points Bar

Housed in one of Belfast’s oldest buildings, The Points Bar offers live music seven nights a week and Irish dancers on weekends. With a focus on whiskeys and ales, this lively pub provides an authentic Irish experience for locals and visitors alike.

From the traditional tunes of local musicians to the diverse selection of whiskeys, The Points Bar offers a unique and memorable night out in Belfast. Be sure to stop by this iconic pub and sample a taste of Belfast’s vibrant live music scene.

Rooftop Bars and Beer Gardens

Rooftop bars and beer gardens in Belfast provide a distinctive chance to savor a beverage while appreciating the city’s scenic beauty or unwinding in a serene outdoor environment. Some popular options include:

  • The Perch: Known for its enchanting views

  • Filthy McNasty’s Secret Garden: Quirky charm and unique atmosphere

  • The Treehouse Belfast: A fairytale ambiance

These elevated drinking spots provide a one-of-a-kind experience for both locals and visitors.

The Perch

Located in a transformed Victorian warehouse, The Perch, a rooftop bar, provides striking city vistas and an extensive assortment of drinks. With its stylish and comfortable seating, The Perch provides the perfect setting for enjoying a cocktail while taking in the sights of Belfast.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic drink or a creative concoction like the Frozen Peach Largarita, The Perch has something for everyone. Make sure to visit this unique rooftop bar for an unforgettable experience in the heart of Belfast.

Filthy McNasty’s Secret Garden

Filthy McNasty’s Secret Garden, part of the popular Dirty Onion complex, offers a quirky and lively atmosphere for patrons looking to enjoy a drink in an outdoor setting. The two-tiered beer garden features an eclectic mix of seating options, making it the perfect spot for sipping a chilled pint while basking in the sun.

During the winter months, Filthy McNasty’s provides blankets, heaters, and warm drinks to help patrons stay cozy and comfortable. No matter the season, this unique beer garden is a must-visit destination for those seeking a memorable night out in Belfast.

The Treehouse Belfast

Located on Upper Arthur Street, The Treehouse Belfast offers a rooftop bar and restaurant experience unlike any other in the city. With its whimsical décor and fairytale-like ambiance, The Treehouse provides an enchanting setting for enjoying a drink or a meal with friends.

The Treehouse’s menu features a range of dishes, from brunch options to small plates and Korean BBQ wings. Pair your meal with a refreshing cocktail or a postprandial drink from their extensive list, and take in the enchanting atmosphere of this unique rooftop bar in Belfast.

Craft Beer and Whiskey Destinations

Those favoring local brews and spirits will find Belfast’s craft beer and whiskey spots displaying the finest the city has to offer. Some notable venues include:

  • Bittles Bar: Known for its eclectic selection of niche Irish whiskeys

  • Lavery’s Belfast: Offers award-winning food and a lively atmosphere

  • The Woodworkers: Known for its rustic charm

These oyster rooms venues are sure to impress even the most discerning palates.

Bittles Bar

Bittles Bar, a historic pub in Belfast distinctively shaped like a flatiron, provides a varied and intimate environment for patrons to relish a broad range of niche Irish whiskeys and modern craft beers. With its distinctive shape and inviting atmosphere, Bittles Bar is a must-visit destination for whiskey enthusiasts and craft beer aficionados alike.

Originally named ‘The Shakespeare’ and dating back to the 1860s, Bittles Bar has a rich history, providing a genuine taste of Belfast’s past. Step inside this iconic establishment, and immerse yourself in a memorable experience that combines history, ambiance, and an exceptional selection of drinks.

Lavery’s Belfast

Lavery’s, the oldest family-owned pub in Belfast, has catered to patrons since 1876. With its lively atmosphere, live music, and award-winning food, Lavery’s is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the best of Belfast’s pub scene.

In addition to its wide selection of beers, Lavery’s offers a range of events and activities, including comedy nights, music performances, and Northern Ireland’s largest pool room. Whether you’re in the mood for a great cocktail, a hearty meal, or a night of entertainment, Lavery’s Belfast has something for everyone.

The Woodworkers

The Woodworkers, a craft beer pub in Belfast with a rustic charm, provides a distinct and welcoming environment for patrons to relish a broad assortment of local brews. With its small back garden and snooker tables on the top floor, The Woodworkers provides a relaxed setting for a night out with friends.

As a brewpub, The Woodworkers is dedicated to showcasing the best of Belfast’s craft beer scene, offering a rotating tap room with a diverse array of options. Whether you’re a seasoned craft beer enthusiast or simply looking for a cozy pub with a friendly atmosphere, The Woodworkers is a must-visit destination in Belfast.

Unique and Quirky Pubs

Belfast’s unique and quirky pubs, offering unforgettable nights out, cater to those seeking a singular experience. Some notable examples of pubs in Belfast include:

  • Muriel’s Cafe Bar: Known for its eccentric décor

  • The Deer’s Head: Offers cozy booths and live music sessions

  • Filthy McNasty’s: Features a remarkable beer garden

These establishments provide a memorable and unconventional take on the city’s vibrant and most famous pubs scene, showcasing some of the best pubs around.

Muriel’s Cafe Bar

Muriel’s Cafe Bar, an eccentric pub in Belfast, provides a truly singular experience with its unconventional interior design and cozy atmosphere. Velvet chairs, dark walls, and chandeliers create an inviting and eclectic environment, perfect for enjoying a drink or a meal with friends.

In addition to its distinctive ambiance, Muriel’s Cafe Bar hosts live music sessions, featuring swing music and live bands. With its enchanting décor and lively entertainment, Muriel’s Cafe Bar is a must-visit destination for those seeking a one-of-a-kind experience in Belfast.

The Deer’s Head

The Deer’s Head, a distinctive pub in Belfast, delivers a unique environment and feel, presenting an impressive selection of cocktails, comfortable booths, and live music sessions. This popular establishment caters to those looking for a memorable night out with a touch of eccentric charm.

Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing cocktail or a lively live music session, The Deer’s Head provides an inviting atmosphere for patrons to enjoy a truly unique experience in Belfast’s vibrant pub scene.

Filthy McNasty’s

Filthy McNasty’s, a well-liked bar in Belfast, is recognized for its eccentric décor and animated atmosphere. The two-tiered beer garden, referred to as the secret garden, offers a unique outdoor space for patrons to enjoy a drink in a relaxed setting.

With its multi-faceted space, coexisting with Filthy Chic, The Gypsy Lounge, and The Secret Garden, Filthy McNasty’s offers a one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking a memorable night out in Belfast.


From traditional Irish pubs steeped in history to modern bars with live music and rooftop views, Belfast’s vibrant pub scene offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a craft beer aficionado, or simply someone seeking a memorable night out, Belfast’s pubs will undoubtedly leave you captivated and yearning for more. So, why not embark on a journey through Belfast’s enchanting pub scene and discover the city’s rich heritage, one pint at a time?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most well known pub in Belfast?

The Crown Bar is the most well known pub in Belfast, renowned for its timeless charm and classic Victorian architecture.

What is the oldest pub in Belfast?

White’s Tavern, located in Winecellar Entry, is the oldest pub in Belfast, with a tavern license granted in 1630.

What is the drink of choice in Belfast?

For an authentic experience in Belfast, choose a pint of Guinness! The famous Irish stout has a unique dark and velvety texture and can be enjoyed at the bustling bars and cosy pubs of Cathedral Quarter.

Does Belfast have nightlife?

Yes, Belfast has an exciting nightlife offering with its popular nightclubs. You can find the best in dance, RnB, funk, disco and electro music to dance to in the early hours.

What are some iconic pubs located in Belfast City Centre?

Famous pubs located in Belfast City Centre include The Crown Liquor Saloon, Kelly’s Cellars, Whites Tavern, The Dirty Onion, The Duke of York, and The Sunflower.

About the author

Originally from Scotland, Colin now resides near the beautiful seaside town of Portstewart on the Causeway Coastal Route. By day he works in IT and by day off he spends much of his time travelling around the Island with his young family, writing about his experiences for many sites both locally and nationally.