Along with discovering the Book of Kells and spotting deer in the Phoenix Park, finding the best Guinness ranks top of tourists’ to-do lists when visiting Dublin. But, in a city with over 750 pubs vying for business, sourcing the finest pint of the “black stuff” is no easy feat.
That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide to the best pubs and bars in which to sup Ireland’s beloved dry stout—it may come as a surprise that not all pours of Guinness are created equally. There’s an art to draft, and though this dark beer is exported all over the world, beer drinkers can attest that it’s best experienced in the city where it is locally sourced.
From James Joyce’s local favorite to the birthplace of Guinness, the establishments below not only pull a good pint, they’re also some of Dublin’s most storied watering holes. As the Dubliners say, Sláinte.
Located on Poolbeg Street, just a stone’s throw from Trinity College, there’s no better place than Mulligan’s for a first sip of Guinness. One of Dublin’s oldest pubs, it’s steeped in history. Since opening under the management of the Mulligan family in 1854 (the site itself has been home to pubs since 1782), Mulligan’s has hosted such esteemed guests as John F. Kennedy, Judy Garland, and even James Joyce, who, as well as having frequented the pub when he wasn’t at Davy Byrne’s on Duke Street, immortalized it in his Dubliners short story, Counterparts.
Despite the image of weather-beaten, flat-capped men Guinness might conjure abroad, at home it’s still as fashionable a drink as any other. Join Dublin’s creative set–from stylists to filmmakers, photographers to graphic designers–at Grogan’s, whose outdoor seating area in the middle of Dublin’s historic garment district is the perfect place to people-watch while savoring a pint. Not to mention one of the pub’s legendary toasties.
Located a short bus ride from the city center, this pub is affectionately known as “The Gravediggers,” having earned its name for the droves of diggers who have, over the years, stopped in to quench their thirst after finishing shifts at the nearby Glasnevin Cemetery. The Gravediggers is also one of just two pubs to be awarded a staggering 9/10 by the Guinness Advisor, the cult Instagram account that rates Dublin pubs on their pints of Guinness. So you can rest assured a jar here is, er, to die for.
For a truly authentic Irish experience, pair your pint with a traditional music session. Nestled in the heart of Smithfield on Dublin’s north side, The Cobblestone is the place to experience the breadth of Ireland’s musical heritage, a calendar packed with everything from daily trad sessions to set dancing and sean nós singing. There are classes too, if, a few pints in, you fancy yourself as the country’s next champion tin whistler.
Few Dublin drinking establishments boast as Insta-worthy an interior as The Long Hall. Dating from the Victorian era, this pub, as the name suggests, has a distinctively long and narrow interior decorated with dark wood, stained glass, vintage light fixtures, and beautifully patterned (if well-trodden) carpets. Located at the top of George’s Street, it’s the perfect place to start a crawl southwards along Aungier, Wexford, and Camden Streets, otherwise known as the stretch where locals go to let their hair down.
Not a quaint Dublin pub, but a worthwhile pitstop all the same, the Guinness Storehouse offers a rare insight into not only the history of Ireland’s renowned stout, but also how it’s made. From sampling the distinctive aromas of each ingredient used to make Guinness to browsing the brand’s iconic ad campaigns, the Storehouse tour is a Dublin must. The best bit? Ending the tour at the seventh-floor Gravity Bar, where you are invited to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Dublin, along with, naturally, a complimentary pint of Guinness.