Belfast has with out doubt one of the best nightlife cultures in the UK, with a great mix of bars, clubs, hotels and illegal drinking dens. The latter are probably best avoided as you are inclined to end up slightly dead, unless you are a member of the relevant crime gang. You will find it difficult not to relax and enjoy a night out in the town
Due to this relaxed atmosphere many celebrities are frequent visitors to Belfast’s hostelries. Like all cities, it’s just a question of knowing where to look.
Dress Code: Obviously this depends where you go. But as a general rule 'labels' work. Dress to impress would be the rule of thumb. Like many cities we are a 'label concious' society
This liquor saloon dates back to the 1880s, and is the only pub owned by the National Trust.
The outside is decorated with multi-colored tiles, and the interior features stained and painted glass, marbling and mosaics.
In addition to the counter and the tables, there are small rooms where you can drink and chat privately.
Dress Code: Casual
Whites Tavern is Belfast’s oldest pub dating back to 1630, as it proudly proclaims on it’s outside wall. It has a rather more modern exterior but whilst it might not look like Belfast’s oldest tavern I found it one of the friendliest with the famous Irish “craic“ well in evidence. An impromptu guitar session was going on outside on my first visit and a young lady insisted, despite my protestations, on buying my pint because she had jumped in front of me at the bar (I could drink all night for free in London on that basis). On my second visit it was quieter as it was during the afternoon but I got chatting to a guy about local pubs and Belfast in general and we could easily have ended up sharing a few beers if I hadn’t had other plans.
Bittles is a traditional laid back Irish bar and on reflection one of my favourites in Belfast. It’s very small being at the tip of an iron shaped building but there’s plenty of character packed in. The landlord John was always buzzing around chatting to customers recommending beers and making sure everyone, locals and visitors alike, were OK. There is no cask ale but they do have a range of bottled beers including many from local breweries - try Molly’s Chocolate Stout or Headless Dog from the College Green Brewery. They also serve an excellent Irish Stew that is good value for money. The split level bar has an arty theme with paintings and drawings of famous Irishmen by local artists.
An unremarkable exterior but I highly recommend a visit. During the day it’s a place that prompts quiet contemplation and I made many notes for my Belfast VT page here over a couple of pints. Check out the small room to the right and have a look at the literary displays, some by the eponymous Belfast poet. There was an art exhibition on when I was there and they also have music and poetry readings. I heard it is owned and staffed by the Belfast Unemployment Office next door, not sure how true that is but it would certainly fit with Hewitt’s socialist ideals.
It was one of the few pubs in Belfast where I found real ale, there were two pumps, one with Hilden Ale and the other a nice Plain Stout from Dublin’s Maguire brewery. They also have an impressive bottled range and I spotted Sierra Nevada, St. Peters, Innis & Gunn and Fransiskaner. If I had to choose just one Belfast bar to spend an afternoon in it would be this one.
The Duke of York wins hands down in the “how much brewing memorabilia you can display in a pub” competition. There are old photos, beer trays, mirrors, adverts and a plethora of old Guinness and Watney Red Barrel promotional material. There is so much that items are even fixed flat to the ceiling to make more room. It looks like the interior has had some recent work done although it still has an aged look with lots of wooden fixtures, exposed brickwork and flagstone floors. There’s a nice four person snug with closable doors at the back and they have a side room that is open at busy times plus an upstairs function room. The pub has a very attractive old looking exterior and is tucked away down one of Belfast’s oldest streets in the heart of what was once the newspaper district - now the Cathedral Quarter.
White's Tavern is said to be the oldest pub in Belfast, was founded in 1630 as a wine and spirit shop. Inside (the ground floor) looks like a very old pub with low ceiling, fire place, and thick wooden furniture. They serve pub meals during the day, too. As I ordered my first pint of Guinness and waiting for it to settle, local musicians started to play the traditional music in a corner.
Upstairs is however a bit different atmosphere with rock and pop music playing.
Dress Code: Casual
The Garrick is one of Belfasts most famous bars and when you have a pint here you never know who you might meet. Popular with local celebrities and bricklayers alike its a traditional pub with an unrivalled spirits menu and friendly staff. They have cool DJs on Thursday to Sunday and its a great place to chill out. they do food 12 - 9 everyday. Tell them Matty.C sent you and you will welcomed with open arms.
Dress Code: Whatever you want, just dont look like a tramp, oh and no football tops.
The Empire is a top class venue, traditional interior and live music 5 nights a week. You have a stand up comedy night on a Tuesday, blues on a Thursday and rock and roll on other evenings. It has a great selection of drinks and has a very diverse clientel. The Empire also holds concerts in the hall upstairs, which can be house, D&B, rock, anything, just look out for the Empire Monthly Guide in shops, restaurants and hairdressers. Its a belfast landmark and for good reason, if your visiting its a must.
Dress Code: Casual - whatever -
The Crown Bar is opposite the Europa Hotel and is owned by the National Trust due to the numerous period features. If you're after a chunk of history then you cannot beat this but maybe not the best spot for a weekend pub crawl. This however is a bar to see if you like the taditional barman who can serve several people at the same time, baffling to me as I can get confused serving one person.
Dress Code: None
Robinsons is a few doors down from the Crown but is notably bigger. The main bar is good for sports with several plasma screens then there is a more traditional 'irish' bar at the rear known as Fibber Magees where folk bands routinely play. Downstairs is BT1 which has unisex toilets and upstairs is Mezza nightclub.
Never made it to Mezza but others all have their good points depending on what you are after.
This seems to be a converted bank and has a good layout with a small mezanine area above the main bar/restuarant.
The food in here is good and they have a projector screen for large sporting events (saw Czechs beat the Dutch in 04... great night)
Had an absolutely mental night at this event. I've been informed that it is run by a group of 6 student lads and started as a series of house parties, which escalated massively to the point where they are now able to pack out the 57th best club in the world (according to DJ Mag), Stiff Kitten, on a monthly basis. It has a really good blend of house music and more familiar charty tracks, with some old classics thrown in for good measure. There seemed to be a great atmosphere in the place and everyone appeared to be having a good time, myself and my friends included. As far as I know they are running an event in a massive marquee at the Elk, Toomebridge on Wednesday 13th of June and I would definitely recommend to anyone to go if the last night was anything to go by. Hopefully I'll drop by myself! Definite must if you happen to be in the general area.
Dress Code: Typical young/trendy nightclub event so standard casual nightclub clothing is fine.
ten squre is a hotel, bar and restaurant located in the heart of the city. It is popular with a more middle aged crowd and yuppies who think thyre important, but it has excellent decor and a brilliant selection of beers, wines and spirits. The staff are generally femal, generally attractive, generally foreign and generally up for it.
Dress Code: Smart.
Benedicts has a huge old central bar that is always popular. If Belfast seems quiet then everyone is likely in here.
There is live music on Wednesday nights and occasionally free nibbles.
They also operate a beat the clock poilcy starting at 5-30 pm (?5.50) then getting progressively dearer as the clock rolls on. There is a dining room on the upper level and several small booths on the ground floor.
This is also a hotel but haven't had the pleasure of using the facilities.
Dress Code: Casual with no nonsense bouncers
If we would ever visit Belfast again, we would stay there again, though keep in mind many rooms do...more
Some travelguides says that this is a hostel and others says it´s bed&breakfast. Anyway I found it...more
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