Where to Eat, Drink, and Sleep in Ireland and Northern Ireland

If you love whiskey, food, and good company, Ireland is the perfect place to enjoy yourself. From the gentle humor of vintage Guinness murals to lilting accents that seduce the listener’s ear, there is no shortage of good craic to be had in the authentic pubs that are, literally and figuratively, colorful. Position yourself in a dark recess by a backbar crammed with whiskeys, and sip away while the fiddles, accordion, and bodhran of the traditional musicians keep your toes tapping. Relish the best Irish ingredients transformed into plates of the most delicious creations in the country’s top restaurants. At the end of the night, collapse into a welcoming bed in a traditional country house or a modern, chic city hotel. You really can’t go far wrong, and these recommendations are a great place to start.

Dublin

Eat

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

Renowned as Ireland’s only two-star Michelin establishment, start salivating for the Mellow Spiced Wicklow Lamb and colorful arrangements of Annagassan Blue Lobster. restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie

L. Mulligan Grocer

Ahoy hoy! With a dedication to top-quality Irish produce, this brilliant Dublin pub has a knack for creating perfect food-and-whiskey pairings from its judicious selection of over 120 drams. lmulligangrocer.com

Bison Bar & BBQ

Overlooking the cocktail they’ve inexcusably named ‘Bailey The Kid,’ this is the place to go if you’re looking for tender beef, slow roasted in the smoker for 14 hours by the pit boss. The American, Scotch, and Irish whiskeys surpass 140 selections. bisonbar.ie

The Shelbourne offers historic grandeur in Dublin.

Drink

The Palace Bar

Within sight of its bicentenary, this well-preserved Victorian pub offers hundreds of Irish whiskeys to choose from in the upstairs bar. Whiskey knowledge here is second to none; take a whiskey flight, sample their Palace Bar bottlings, or pick out the pour of your dreams. thepalacebardublin.com

The Dingle Whiskey Bar

Disappearing into the roof of this welcoming hangout are stamped barrel staves recognizing the founding fathers of Dingle Distillery. A wall of over 100 Irish whiskeys, single malt scotch, and a tempting list of Dingle gin cocktails await. Make mine a Ginito! theporterhouse.ie/bars-dingle-whiskey.php

Against The Grain

You say you want a revolution? With an ever-changing tap list of Irish and global brews, this place is dead serious about beer, but never takes itself too seriously. Whiskey prices chalked up on the back bar range from ¤5 to ¤50. galwaybaybrewery.com/againstthegrain/

Sleep

The Shelbourne

If you’ve read James Joyce, this place needs little introduction. Embrace the historic grandeur of the 246 rooms and 19 suites in this elegant five-star hotel overlooking St. Stephen’s Green. Fancy a whiskey tasting? The staff in the Horseshoe Bar will line them up. marriott.com

Brooks Hotel

As if the 130 whiskeys in the hotel’s Jasmine Bar are not enough reason to book a reservation, the central location, the modern décor of the agreeable rooms, and the pretty damned cool private cinema make the whole place a great bet. brookshotel.ie

The Clarence

If your room requirements include a baby grand piano, then you’ll need the Penthouse Suite at the Clarence, a boutique hotel owned by U2 rock gods Bono and the Edge. Head down to the Liquor Rooms, a drinking den serving up whiskeys, craft beers, and mixing up 40 different cocktails. theclarence.ie

Belfast

Eat

OX

Just three years after opening its doors, chef Stephen Toman’s smart approach to seasonal ingredients and relaxed dining has just won OX its first Michelin star. Prime your fork and knife, ready to devour the most delectable creations prepared in this sensationally good restaurant beside the River Lagan. oxbelfast.com

McHugh’s Bar and Restaurant

This corner building has been around for more than 300 years, so head upstairs to the restaurant for some tasty, filling Irish stew or a rib eye served on a volcanic rock. Coincidentally, you’ve just spotted the massive whiskey selection in the bar, haven’t you? Well done, you! mchughsbar.com

St. George’s Market

Soda bread sandwiches, fiery curries and fine coffee. This pulsing gourmet market, built c. 1890, has it all. Bring cash. belfastcity.gov.uk

St. George’s Market in Belfast

Drink

The Duke of York

When a bar is pouring Black Bowmore 1964 1st edition by the dram, you just know you’re in for a treat. They have 160 Irish whiskeys, including a vertical of Midleton Very Rare and enough scarce Bushmills to make you weak at the knees. Don’t miss the breathtaking display of vintage whiskeys. dukeofyorkbelfast.com

Crown Liquor Saloon

Park yourself in the gaslit snug of the most famous bar in Belfast, with its mosaic tiles and stained glass windows. Slowly soak up 190 years of history as you idle your way through a few pints and classic pub food over an afternoon. Bliss! nicholsonspubs.co.uk

Hudson Bar

Anywhere that styles itself as an Imbibing Emporium is worth checking out in my book. Highlights include a huge range of cold beers, local brews from Dungannon’s Clearsky Brewing County among them, and moreish chicken wings as hot as you like. Head upstairs to the Loft for cocktails, whiskey galore, and dark leather sofas. hudsonbelfast.com

Sleep

The Merchant Hotel

Deep roll-top baths, Art Deco styling, and a haven of marble bathrooms, silk voile, and velvet throws epitomize the luxury and comfort of this Italianate-style five-star hotel. Before opening the Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in lower Manhattan, the owners held court in the cocktail bar here. themerchanthotel.com

Ten Square Hotel

The city is on your doorstep in this central downtown hotel with 22 well-appointed, contemporary guest rooms, staff that is only too happy to please, and a decent local whiskey selection in the Linen Bar. tensquare.co.uk

Fitzwilliam Hotel

Sink into the crisp, white Egyptian linen in the king-size beds in this chic, modern hotel that offers a well-presented bar serving up classic cocktails and more than 30 whiskies from around the world. If you love your stay here, then check out their sister hotel in Dublin. fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com

Aherne’s Townhouse & Seafood bar near Midleton

Cork/Midleton

Eat

Orchids

Crystal chandeliers, white orchids, and flickering candlelight enhance the experience of chef Mark Staples’s exquisitely prepared food in this sumptuous fine dining restaurant. Once replete, 60 whiskeys will lure you to the Manor Bar for a nightcap. hayfieldmanor.ie

Aherne’s Townhouse & Seafood Bar

For a taste of the sea at this restaurant with rooms, head east from Midleton to Youghal on the river Blackwater estuary, where Sir Walter Raleigh set off for South America. If there’s time, book for chef patron David Fitzgibbon’s eight-course tasting menu paired with wines. ahernes.net

Sage Restaurant

You have to applaud the twelve-mile ethos here; the majority of ingredients are sourced from passionate local growers, fishermen, butchers, cheese makers, and foragers within a twelve-mile radius of this Midleton establishment. A great find! sagerestaurant.ie

Drink

The Shelbourne Bar

The top whiskey bar in Cork, with more than 100 whiskeys to try around their marvelous island bar, but the real reason to step inside is the welcome, friendly atmosphere. You will feel right at home. Phone: 21 450 9615.

The Frisky Whiskey Bar in The Oliver Plunkett

How many bars do you know where Irish dancing is part of the draw? This popular whiskey bar in Cork is inside a lively venue known for its good food and traditional music. After a few Jemmies, you might be up there dancing as well. theoliverplunkett.com

J.J. Coppinger’s

Named after Cork’s hometown hero who fought in the fiercest battles of the American Civil War, Midleton’s latest addition to the bar scene offers whiskey homage to their local distillers against a solid soundtrack of blues, electro swing, and jazz. jjcoppingers.ie

Sleep

Castlemartyr Resort

Palatial splendor abounds in this 18th century manor house resort set in 220 acres of parkland, encompassing an 800 year old castle built by the Knights Templar. If your Irish ambitions include playing an 18-hole links-style golf course, fly fishing for salmon, gourmet dining, and fine whiskeys in the Knights Bar, you’ve found your destination. castlemartyrresort.ie

Ballymaloe House Hotel

Push a forkful of pork sausage into a dollop of Ballymaloe original country relish over breakfast and you’ll be ever so glad you stayed at this pioneer of sustainable food. The home of the Allen dynasty, this country residence has peaceful, airy rooms, a heated outdoor pool, croquet on the lawn, and a bar full of Redbreast and Midleton. ballymaloe.ie

The River Lee

With its sleek glass exterior and modern interior punctuated with clever design features, this urban Cork hotel sets you at the heart of the action. Try the Cork dry gin in a cocktail before settling into the terrace of the Weir Room for dinner overlooking the river. doylecollection.com

More From Travel