Dublin best pubs

Get arty at the barnard shaw

Home to one of Dublin’s most popular beer gardens, the Bernard Shawalso houses an Italian cafe and a big blue bus, which whips up freshly-made pizza out back. If it looks thrown together, it acts like it too, hosting everything from a flea market every Saturday afternoon to regular pub quizzes, gigs, paint jams (to refresh the colourful graffiti) and even the world’s first coffee-throwing championship. If you want to explore further, head south across the bridge and you’ll find yourself in the trendy Rathmines neighbourhood.

Pet spaniels and eat spuds at MVP

With a wonderful combination of strong, original cocktails – ever heard of a Poitin Colada? –  and fresh baked potatoes to protect you from said cocktails, MVP (mvpdublin.com) is in vibrant Portobello, a stone’s throw away from the beautiful, tree-lined Grand Canal (and the childhood home of Leopold Bloom). It’s one of the few dog-friendly watering holes in Dublin, so you might meet some furry friends up until 10pm. Beat the barman at chess on Tuesday for a free pint and keep an eye out for regular Sing Along Socials where you can screech your heart out to your favourite songs without being judged.

Make yourself at home in House

Located across two former upper-class residences, House (housedublin.ie) is decorated in an eclectic Georgian style yet still manages to be both elegant and welcoming. Choose to hide beside the fire in the library, enjoy the sunlight through the bright windows of the conservatory or perch on a stool in the pantry. Surrounded by historical townhouses on charming, residential Leeson St, it has one of the nicest beer gardens in the city, with a cover that can withstand the temperamental weather. Open late Monday to Saturday and attracting an older, upscale crowd,  it’s a peaceful place to have a gin and tonic in the evening while enjoying the boppy swing soundtrack and sampling a cheese board.

Sing along in the Cobblestone

Simply the best place to catch some Irish traditional music in Dublin city centre, the Cobblestone describes itself as a ‘drinking pub with a music problem’. It’s popular with Dubliners and tourists in equal measure, and everyone is welcome to join the free nightly music sessions. If you want to sit near the musicians, you’ll have to be quiet and respectful – head to the back of the bar for a chat. Use your visit as an excuse to explore the revitalised Smithfield area, complete with restaurants, cafes and the Old Jameson Distillery.

Get inspired at Toners

Popular with Dublin’s after-work crowd, Toners (tonerspub.ie) is the perfect place for a Guinness after visiting the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology or taking a stroll around Merrion Sq. A deceptively snug interior lined with dark wood leads out to Toners Yard, an incredibly spacious outside area where you can enjoy relaxed table service. Personally recommended by literary giants Patrick Kavanagh and WB Yeats, it doesn’t get more Dublin than this.

Challenge your friends in the Square Ball

Tucked away down the street from the Grand Canal Quay, the Square Ball (the-square-ball.com) is in one of those curious Dublin neighbourhoods full of council housing and the world’s biggest tech companies. Chill with a craft beer in the front lounge or watch every major sports fixture in a back room kitted out with fake turf. When you’re ready to compete yourself, head to the vintage arcade upstairs to challenge your drinking buddies.

Brush up on your history at Confession Box

Stuffed full of memorabilia, the Confession Box (facebook.com/confessionbox.dublin) flaunts its historical connections. In a previous incarnation, this was one of the favourite haunts of Michael Collins, one of the most prominent leaders in Ireland’s fight for independence, who used it as a safe haven. The name comes from the rumour he would call in to get communion and confession from local priests sympathetic to the cause. Despite being a minute’s walk from O’Connell St’s Spire, it’s always packed with regulars and was voted best Guinness in Dublin for two years in a row.