Northern Ireland’s Capital offers an eclectic range of alternatives for a night out. Whether you’re looking for an authentic and traditional experience, a glamorous high-end soirée, a cool place to watch sports and taste craft beers or a quirky spot with an unusual character, Belfast has a bar for you. We compiled a list of our ten favourite bars in Belfast -a difficult task given the amount of worthy candidates- and no matter their style or vibe; good service, excellent drinks and great craic are the constants.
This pub’s traditional atmosphere is perfect for the traditional music sessions it often hosts, as well as for those that wish to sip on a pint of perfectly poured Guinness. The Duke of York features one impressive whiskey collection with some unique bottles, some so rare that they are not for sale but just to be admired, including a few that are said to be the only known remaining bottles in existence.
Among those that customers can enjoy there are over 150 whiskeys, from all the big names to rare especial editions and decades-old relics.
Ideal For: Whiskey lovers.
Don’t miss: Their rare whiskeys collection and their bar antique memorabilia exhibited through the bar.
Where is it: 7-11 Commercial Court.
More information: dukeofyorkbelfast.com
Belfast oldest traditional Irish pub -built in 1720- still has many of its original features like their open fire and low arches. The place is known for its outstanding customer service and both tourists and locals can be seen cozying up and enjoying live music, from traditional to jazzy to more modern gigs. It also has a lovely and recently upgraded outdoors area that’s full of life on summer days.
Ideal For: Those looking for an authentic traditional pub.
Don’t miss: Their pint of Guinness, known as one of the best in Belfast.
Where is it: 30 -32 Bank St.
More information: kellyscellars.com
One of the famous bars in Belfast, it’s been standing in its current form since 1885 when it was renovated and became one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful bars. Its stunning Victorian architecture and decor features baroque wood panels carved by hand, stained-glass snugs (private seating areas) and a famous mosaic of the Crown on the floor of the entrance.
They offer a selection of award winning ales from British breweries which are frequently changed to match the season, and their food is a pleasant combination of classic gastropub offers and some international favourites.
Ideal For: Enjoying beers and good food in a history-rich stunning surroundings.
Don’t miss: The snugs, beautiful and private areas (arrive early to find one available!).
Where is it: 46 Great Victoria Street.
More information: nicholsonspubs.co.uk
Just next to and run by the same team behind Michelin Star winner OX, this wine bar is up to a very high standard. Their elegant yet relaxed surroundings match the feeling of OX, and it is a wine oasis in a city where whiskey and craft beer are usually the main acts.
They feature a selection of fine European wines with a generous proportion of French bottles. Their staff is very knowledgeable and approachable so it’s a great sport for both connoisseurs and beginners. Their cheeses are beautifully paired with the wines and they offer a few other tasty nibbles to complement your sipping.
Ideal For: Wine lovers.
Don’t miss: The section of “artisan wines from interesting places” on their wine list.
Where is it: 3 Oxford St.
More information: oxbelfast.com/cave
A large and lively beer garden welcomes you to one of Belfast’s oldest buildings, once a warehouse, now refurbished as a bar. The place stands just between modernity and tradition, with folk music sessions and workshops in a very trendy surrounding where you will encounter a very cool selection of craft beers and spirits. On their top floor you’ll find Yarbird, a free range chicken rotisserie restaurant with perfectly cooked chicken and BBQ ribs and convenient sharing combos.
Ideal For: Craft Beer and spirits.
Don’t miss: Their Boilmaker Pairing Experience, a twist on the traditional Bourbon and beer drink made with carefully paired whiskeys and craft beers.
Where is it: 3 Hill Street.
More information: thedirtyonion.com
A dapper bar with an appealing bistro-style food menu. It’s a versatile location that will play the big sporting events in the afternoons and then glam up at night with live swing music on Fridays and their resident DJ playing on Saturdays.
Wine lovers will enjoy a diverse list with a nice mix of New World and European bottles, and those looking for a cocktail will be able to choose from many classics as well as some trendy mixes like their Espresso Martini or the Chelsea Garden, made with gin, elderflower and Prosecco.
Ideal For: Dates or an elegant night out.
Don’t miss: Their “Sparkling Staurdays” with live entertainment and bubbles for all.
Where is it: 346 Lisburn Road.
More information: thechelseabar.com
A mix of vintage and exotic themes merge on the style of this sleek cocktail bar. The friendliness of their staff is as outstanding as the level of attention to detail that goes into their cocktails.
They also feature a more than decent selection of beers and ciders, including a mix of imported and local, craft and mainstream; however, their cocktails steal the show, from their tasty and refreshing hard teas and their selection of classics to their ten different renditions of the trendy Gin and Tonic. For those in the mood to indulge, check Rita’s Vintage Cabinet, which is full of premium spirits.
Ideal For: Gin lovers and cocktail enthusiasts.
Don’t miss: Their selection of gins, with 40 different bottles to choose from.
Where is it: 44 Franklin St.
More information: ritasbelfast.com
An award-winning cocktail bar in which the quality of the drinks is only comparable to the beauty of its surroundings: Baccarat chandeliers, and antique fire place and luxurious seating set the tone for enjoying vintage Champagnes and rare spirits, as well as their lengthy cocktail book -book, not menu, nor list- which they rightfully describe as “encyclopedic”.
Don’t be intimidated by the choices, as their super helpful and expert staff will be delighted to suggest the perfect cocktail for you (or you can also cheat and opt for one of the twelve best-sellers that act as an introduction to the book. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful bars in Belfast!
Ideal For: A glamorous evening of fine mixology.
Don’t miss: The opportunity to take your time, browse to their beautiful book and discover a new favourite.
Where is it: 16 Skipper Street
More information: themerchanthotel.com/bars-restaurants/the-cocktail-bar
One of Belfast’s most popular gay night clubs -which prides itself on being “Europe’s Hottest Gay Venue”, it’s part cocktail bar, part dance floor, with Soviet-themed decor and industrial style furniture. Everyone’s welcome to dance the night away with the help of the club’s resident DJs. Following on the Soviet theme, they feature a vodka lounge, where the clear spirit stars in several cocktails.
Ideal For: A gay friendly night out with drinks and dancing.
Don’t miss: Their themed nights.
Where is it: 96 Donegall St.
More information: kremlin-belfast.com
Its quirky and tropical inspired decoration might easily belong to a bar in the heart of the Caribbean, the region from which their wide selection of rum comes from. With over 52 different bottles of the golden molases spirit, this is the place to be if you want to discover real rum or are looking for a hard to find or premium rum. Rum cocktails are also superb, and if you are in the mood for other sips, they have a decent selection of beers and a varied tequila and spirits menu.
Ideal For: Rum lovers and those looking to try something different.
Don’t miss: The rum club, and the opportunity to pick a card and chose a drink based on it.
Where is it: 3 Skipper St.
More information: thespaniardbar.com
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.