Dublin and Belfast: 5 ways to spend an evening in each city

Belfast city

Food hubs to pubs with a pedigree, an evening in these two cities is quite the experience...

1. Creative Central
1. Creative Central

Cathedral Quarter, Belfast

The oldest part of the city, Cathedral Quarter was once home to Belfast’s old trade and warehousing district. Now, it has blossomed into a bustling hub of dynamic culture and arts, complemented by stunning architecture. Its narrow cobbled streets and alleyways are home to cosy pubs, contemporary restaurants and some underground music venues.

Cathedral Quarter, Belfast

The oldest part of the city, Cathedral Quarter was once home to Belfast’s old trade and warehousing district. Now, it has blossomed into a bustling hub of dynamic culture and arts, complemented by stunning architecture. Its narrow cobbled streets and alleyways are home to cosy pubs, contemporary restaurants and some underground music venues.

Creative Quarter, Dublin

Stretching from South William Street to George's Street and from Stephen Street Lower to Exchequer Street. The chilled atmosphere spilling out from the cafés and bars reflects the free-flowing creative culture of this area, which was once home to Dublin's clothing trade, Now, a whole host of creative designers and artists have made it their own and their finely decorated boutique stores and galleries are filled with treasures for curious shoppers.

Creative Quarter, Dublin

Stretching from South William Street to George's Street and from Stephen Street Lower to Exchequer Street. The chilled atmosphere spilling out from the cafés and bars reflects the free-flowing creative culture of this area, which was once home to Dublin's clothing trade, Now, a whole host of creative designers and artists have made it their own and their finely decorated boutique stores and galleries are filled with treasures for curious shoppers.

2. Pubs
2. Pubs

Dublin

The Brazen Head lays claim as the city’s oldest pub, open since way back in 1198! It’s such a Dublin institution that it even got an honorary mention in James Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses.  

Dublin

The Brazen Head lays claim as the city’s oldest pub, open since way back in 1198! It’s such a Dublin institution that it even got an honorary mention in James Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses.  

The Stag's Head
The Stag's Head
The Stag's Head
The Stag's Head

Traditional music fans will love James Toner’s, combing a lively atmosphere with nightly music sessions. The Long Hall’s Victorian splendour (think ornate carvings and elegant chandeliers) is one of the city’s most beautiful pubs, and a local favourite. If you're looking for somewhere laidback with a touch of chic, the secret No Name Bar will serve you up just that – and a signature cocktail too! At cosy Cassidy's you can have a chat over a drink while you break out the board games, and for a pub with pedigree, try The Stag's Head: built in 1770, this is a pub so pretty it’s starred in films such as Educating Rita and A Man of No Importance.

Traditional music fans will love James Toner’s, combing a lively atmosphere with nightly music sessions. The Long Hall’s Victorian splendour (think ornate carvings and elegant chandeliers) is one of the city’s most beautiful pubs, and a local favourite. If you're looking for somewhere laidback with a touch of chic, the secret No Name Bar will serve you up just that – and a signature cocktail too! At cosy Cassidy's you can have a chat over a drink while you break out the board games, and for a pub with pedigree, try The Stag's Head: built in 1770, this is a pub so pretty it’s starred in films such as Educating Rita and A Man of No Importance.

Belfast

Built in 1826, the Crown Liquor Saloon oozes Victorian elegance. Sip in style here beneath a mosaic ceiling and surrounded by original gas lamps – the most decadent of looks! Stop in for a wee dram at the Duke of York, and while you're there check out the amazing public art in the outdoor area and the artefacts, posters and advertising signs indoors that give the place a vintage charm. For a more modern setting, the Dirty Onion may be based in one of Belfast's oldest buildings but it gives the authentic Irish pub a modern twist. And if you're in the mood for something quirky, head to Cuckoo – a chic bar and self-proclaimed 'geekeasy', this place has everything you need for a great evening, with ping pong, board games, and even an arcade!

Belfast

Built in 1826, the Crown Liquor Saloon oozes Victorian elegance. Sip in style here beneath a mosaic ceiling and surrounded by original gas lamps – the most decadent of looks! Stop in for a wee dram at the Duke of York, and while you're there check out the amazing public art in the outdoor area and the artefacts, posters and advertising signs indoors that give the place a vintage charm. For a more modern setting, the Dirty Onion may be based in one of Belfast's oldest buildings but it gives the authentic Irish pub a modern twist. And if you're in the mood for something quirky, head to Cuckoo – a chic bar and self-proclaimed 'geekeasy', this place has everything you need for a great evening, with ping pong, board games, and even an arcade!

3. Restaurants
3. Restaurants

Belfast

The Victorian-style Rayanne House offers a five-star, nine-course meal that was served to first-class passengers on the Titanic. Imagine Filet Mignon topped with Foie Gras for starters. For a pre-theatre bite, try James Street South. With a seasonal menu and local produce, food is as fresh as it gets. Meanwhile, the Mourne Seafood Bar is tucked behind a fishmonger’s shop so you’re guaranteed the catch of the day (just be sure to book ahead). If you're looking for casual dining, Yardbird above The Dirty Onion is famous for its chicken, or you can break the rules at Maggie Mays, where they serve breakfast and dinner all day!

Belfast

The Victorian-style Rayanne House offers a five-star, nine-course meal that was served to first-class passengers on the Titanic. Imagine Filet Mignon topped with Foie Gras for starters. For a pre-theatre bite, try James Street South. With a seasonal menu and local produce, food is as fresh as it gets. Meanwhile, the Mourne Seafood Bar is tucked behind a fishmonger’s shop so you’re guaranteed the catch of the day (just be sure to book ahead). If you're looking for casual dining, Yardbird above The Dirty Onion is famous for its chicken, or you can break the rules at Maggie Mays, where they serve breakfast and dinner all day!

James Street South Restaurant
James Street South Restaurant
James Street South Restaurant
James Street South Restaurant

Dublin

Once a bookshop, the elegant Georgian setting of the Winding Stair is packed with vintage charm, a creative menu and a bookshop on the ground floor. For hearty, honest food it has to be Hatch and Sons, where the rustic kitchen setting makes you feel right at home with a delicious beef and Guinness stew. Meanwhile, haute cuisine meets chilled atmosphere at the Michelin-starred Chapter One. It’s French-inspired cooking with a contemporary Irish twist. If it's casual dining you're after, try Mexican-meets-Irish at the urban 777, or head to Catch 22 where they are all about freshly prepared seafood.

Dublin

Once a bookshop, the elegant Georgian setting of the Winding Stair is packed with vintage charm, a creative menu and a bookshop on the ground floor. For hearty, honest food it has to be Hatch and Sons, where the rustic kitchen setting makes you feel right at home with a delicious beef and Guinness stew. Meanwhile, haute cuisine meets chilled atmosphere at the Michelin-starred Chapter One. It’s French-inspired cooking with a contemporary Irish twist. If it's casual dining you're after, try Mexican-meets-Irish at the urban 777, or head to Catch 22 where they are all about freshly prepared seafood.

4. Music
4. Music

Dublin

The 3Arena is a state-of the-art-venue with an intimate atmosphere, and has hosted some of the biggest names in music (Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Beyoncé), while Whelan’s is a Dublin institution: part traditional pub, part live music venue, it mixes trad, indie and rock over two levels (look out for the Stone Man propped against the bar). Vicar Street is a cosy setting for smaller performances, with a strong emphasis on soul, folk, jazz and foreign music. Meanwhile, The Grand Social’s three differently themed floors hosts live music, DJs and even pop up flea markets.

Dublin

The 3Arena is a state-of the-art-venue with an intimate atmosphere, and has hosted some of the biggest names in music (Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Beyoncé), while Whelan’s is a Dublin institution: part traditional pub, part live music venue, it mixes trad, indie and rock over two levels (look out for the Stone Man propped against the bar). Vicar Street is a cosy setting for smaller performances, with a strong emphasis on soul, folk, jazz and foreign music. Meanwhile, The Grand Social’s three differently themed floors hosts live music, DJs and even pop up flea markets.

The Grand Social
The Grand Social
The Grand Social
The Grand Social

Belfast

Once a Victorian church, The Belfast Empire Music Hall is now home to some of the finest rock, jazz and traditional music acts in the country. Meanwhile, The Grand Opera Hall is the oldest theatre in Belfast (1895) and has been honoured by performances from a galaxy of stars, including Pavorotti and Van Morrison. For something eclectic, the Oh Yeah Music Centre is a non-for-profit that supports young and upcoming acts. Looking for a bit of edge? Try The Limelight, a pub/nightclub renowned for its live rock and indie music. Oasis, Manic Street Preachers and Kaiser Chiefs have all graced the stage.

Belfast

Once a Victorian church, The Belfast Empire Music Hall is now home to some of the finest rock, jazz and traditional music acts in the country. Meanwhile, The Grand Opera Hall is the oldest theatre in Belfast (1895) and has been honoured by performances from a galaxy of stars, including Pavorotti and Van Morrison. For something eclectic, the Oh Yeah Music Centre is a non-for-profit that supports young and upcoming acts. Looking for a bit of edge? Try The Limelight, a pub/nightclub renowned for its live rock and indie music. Oasis, Manic Street Preachers and Kaiser Chiefs have all graced the stage.

5. Theatre
5. Theatre

Belfast

Northern Ireland movie legends Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds got their start in the world-class Lyric Theatre. Recently refurbished, the building hosts a state-of-the-art theatre in a cosy setting, with spacious bars overlooking the river. The Black Box is renowned for its eclectic atmosphere and it is a home for Belfast’s emerging local acts. Expect everything from film to cabaret. Looking for alternative cinema? The Queen’s Film Theatre is a small independent theatre at the prestigious Queen's University Belfast, showcasing new and classic films, while the award-winning MAC is Belfast’s newest arts venue, putting on world class theatre, along with art, photography and sculpture.

Belfast

Northern Ireland movie legends Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds got their start in the world-class Lyric Theatre. Recently refurbished, the building hosts a state-of-the-art theatre in a cosy setting, with spacious bars overlooking the river. The Black Box is renowned for its eclectic atmosphere and it is a home for Belfast’s emerging local acts. Expect everything from film to cabaret. Looking for alternative cinema? The Queen’s Film Theatre is a small independent theatre at the prestigious Queen's University Belfast, showcasing new and classic films, while the award-winning MAC is Belfast’s newest arts venue, putting on world class theatre, along with art, photography and sculpture.

Queen's University, Belfast
Queen's University, Belfast
Queen's University, Belfast
Queen's University, Belfast

Dublin

The Abbey Theatre, founded by WB Yeats and Lady Gregory, is Ireland’s national theatre, putting on everything from classics to cutting-edge. The Gate Theatre, where Orson Welles, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Michael Gambon began their acting careers, offers audiences shows from overseas as well as home-grown plays in an intimate venue. Smock Alley, the first Theatre Royal built in Dublin, opened in 1662 and is now Ireland’s ‘oldest newest theatre’, hosting drama, comedy and more. The Gaiety Theatre is buzzing with musicals, west end hits, pantomimes and plays, while the boutique Theatre Upstairs celebrates new plays and rising talent. The beautiful gallery space by the theatre boasts views overlooking the Liffey.

Dublin

The Abbey Theatre, founded by WB Yeats and Lady Gregory, is Ireland’s national theatre, putting on everything from classics to cutting-edge. The Gate Theatre, where Orson Welles, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Michael Gambon began their acting careers, offers audiences shows from overseas as well as home-grown plays in an intimate venue. Smock Alley, the first Theatre Royal built in Dublin, opened in 1662 and is now Ireland’s ‘oldest newest theatre’, hosting drama, comedy and more. The Gaiety Theatre is buzzing with musicals, west end hits, pantomimes and plays, while the boutique Theatre Upstairs celebrates new plays and rising talent. The beautiful gallery space by the theatre boasts views overlooking the Liffey.

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