The best pubs and bars in Belfast
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Whether you’re looking for live entertainment or just somewhere with a lively atmosphere, Belfast can deliver a memorable night out and here is some of the best nightlife. Hell Cat Maggies is a cool place with a trad Irish vibe to kick off the evening. It has great views of the City Hall and environs, and the crowd is youngish. For house and techno fans, the Night Institute at the Marcus Ward & Foundry in Bankmore Square provides a speedy beat from 10 to 3am on Saturdays. People-watching makes for a good night out and if you fancy some casual celeb-spotting, The Crown Bar is as good a place as any. One pub that is always full is the Duke of York in Commercial Court. They have some live music, decent Guinness and in summer the crowd spills into the alley outside where Snow Patrol staged their first ever gig.
Belfast’s gay scene is flourishing, with a significant annual Pride parade and festival in August. In the recently-christened gay village area in the town centre, bars that encourage the pink pound include the Union Street Bar. The Kremlin in Donegall Street is the original gay club, boasting a Soviet-themed cocktail bar, disco bar and dance floor.
1 Hill Street, Belfast BT1 2LA
21 Social offers three floors of exquisite libations, delectable eats and carefully-curated sounds. An inspiring space to kick back and watch the world go by, meet friends and celebrate, or drink in the aroma, sounds and atmosphere. 21 Social is open every day for lunch and dinner. Expect whole and healthy soul food, organic and locally-sourced where possible. Visit website
34 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7FF
Eclectic antique décor sets the atmosphere for indulging in sumptuous, lovingly-crafted local fare. Harlem is nestled next to the historic Ulster Hall in the heart of Belfast city centre. At the weekend you can relax and drink in the life of the city with a cocktail and a treat from the bistro menu whilst enjoying live music late into the night. Visit website
3 Pattersons Place, Belfast BT1 4HW
Thompsons Garage in Patterson Place near the City Hall has been going since the 90s and is a bit of a clubbing institution. Boasting the best DJs in town, this is the place to go to work up a dance floor sweat to house and techno but be nice to the bouncers. Visit website
12-14 Church Lane, Belfast BT1 4QN
One of Belfast’s most bohemian bars, Muriel’s Cafe Bar, is a recommended stop-off point for LGBTQ+ and straight visitors alike. Its decor is individual, and has included lingerie on a washing line, the drink and food class – there are good cocktails – and the ambiance is well, ambient. Its sister bar, the Spaniard, is equally boho, permanently full of people keen on good conversation (it’s quite an arty crowd), good wine, olives and food.
29-31 Queen’s Square, Belfast BT1 3FG
Another Belfast institution is McHugh’s Bar and Restaurant opposite the city’s leaning Albert Clock. The handsome Georgian building was built between 1710 and 1720, making it officially the oldest building in the city of Belfast, enjoying a long history and a sometimes colourful reputation. It has four big rooms with a traditional Irish pub, a bar in the basement, a popular restaurant (try the potato boxty) and a private dining venue. The basement bar plays host to live bands during the week from traditional music to the local rock music scene and sounds to suit alternative tastes at the weekend. The 100-seater restaurant provides home-cooked, traditional Irish food with a modern twist. They also source local ingredients and are famous for their steaks. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a pint of the dark stuff. Visit website
Belfast restaurants and cafes
Belfast cultural attractions
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