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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
Updated Oct 16, 2005
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
Written Sep 16, 2005
Address: Great Victoria Street, Belfast
Phone: +44 28 9024 9476
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.
Written Jun 15, 2008
Address: 2-4 Winecellar Entry, Belfast, BT1 1QN
Phone: 028 9024 3080
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.
Written Jun 15, 2008
Address: 103, Victoria St, Belfast, BT1 4PB
Phone: 028 9031 1088
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.
Written Jun 1, 2008
Address: 51 Donegall Street Belfast BT1 2FH
Phone: 028 9023 3768
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.
Written Jun 15, 2008
Address: Commercial Court, Belfast, BT1 2NB
Phone: 028 9024 1062
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
Written Jun 8, 2006
Address: 1-4 Winecellar Entry, Belfast, BT1 1QN
Phone: 028 9033 0988
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.
Written Dec 19, 2006
Address: Chichester street
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 -
Written Jan 19, 2007
Address: 40 - 42, Botanic Avenue, Belfast
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
Updated Dec 11, 2005
Address: 46 Great Victoria St , Belfast, BT2 7BA
Phone: 0044 28 9024 9476
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