Pubs are the heartbeat of Ireland.

Locals meet to chat. Families dine together. Irish pubs are still where most traditional gigs happen.

Communities retreat to pubs to celebrate — or mourn — together.

As a visitor to Ireland, how do you navigate this most Irish of institutions?

Read on, intrepid Vagabond, to learn how make the most out of Irish pubs...

How To Buy Rounds In An Irish Pub 🍻

Have you heard the phrase 'buying rounds' but are unsure how it works?

In Ireland, it's standard pub or bar practice to buy drinks in 'rounds' if you're drinking in a group.

Lunch time pints of Murphy's on tour in Cork, Ireland for these Vagabond guests

Rounds simply mean that each person will pay for all of the group's drinks in turn.

The first 'round' of drinks is bought by person number 1.

The second round by person number 2.

And so on, until people stop drinking.

Or pass out.

...So how do I know I'm in a round?

Rounds start when, upon entering a drinking establishment, someone in your group says something like: I'll get the first round, what are you having?

⚠️ IMPORTANT - If you accept an offer of a drink in this manner, you are 'in the round'.

There will now be an expectation that you will buy a round of drinks at some point before the first person has to buy again.

In Ireland, it's considered a little tactless to accept a drink without buying a round for your fellow drinker(s) at a later point.

If you don't plan on drinking much or don't want to get into buying rounds, it's perfectly acceptable to decline and not get into a round in the first place.

Simply make it clear from the outset that you're not going to buy rounds.

All clear? Good!

Here's the confusing bit...

Irish people will often buy you a drink spontaneously, outside a round.

Being offered a drink like this does not mean that your Irish pal expects one in return. We're friendly like that!

If you're with a large group, don't worry about having to buy 23 pints! Buying rounds in larger groups is usually only done during special occasions.

Generally speaking, smaller groups will break off into their rounds.

Pint of stout (probably Guinness or Murphy's) in front of a roaring fire in an Irish pub

Irish Pub Dress Code 💃

Irish pubgoers dress quite casually when compared to in the USA or Canada.

Unless youre going for a big night 'out on the town', dressing in a relaxed and informal manner is the norm in Irish pubs.

You may want to put on a fancy shirt, blouse or trousers.

But a T-shirt and jeans also works great!

You're unlikely to be refused entry to an Irish pub wearing casual footwear such sneakers etc.

With the exception of a few very expensive restaurants, nightclubs and wine bars in large cities — think Michelin-starred venues in Dublin, Belfast or Cork — you will be absolutely fine with casual clothes.

It makes packing so much easier too.

Man drinking Guinness

Tipping in Irish Pubs 💶

Tipping works a little differently in Ireland to what you may be used to.

Tipping in Ireland isn't expected, but is always appreciated.

You don't tip the barman per drink; only when buying a large-ish round, for complicated cocktails, or at the end of the night.

Or if the barman just has a cute accent.

If you order a round of drinks at your table, it's acceptable — but not expected — that a spare euro or two is left for the waiter's service.

If you're being served food at your table, 10-15% of the total bill is the normal tipping amount.

Find out more about tipping in Ireland

Group having fun with a barman in an Irish pub, saying cheers


Who Is Allowed in Irish Pubs?

18 years old is the legal drinking age in Ireland.

Anyone under the age of 18 is allowed in most pubs, but must leave after 9pm (10pm from May to September).

Some pubs may have their own restriction regarding admitting under 18s, though these are usually in the bigger cities like Dublin.

If in doubt, just ask the bar staff.

The extensive whiskey selection behind the bar at Dick Mack's in Dingle, Ireland

What To Drink In An Irish Pub? 🍹

  • Guinness/Murphy's: Irish stout is iconic. It's an must-try if you've never tasted it before. Remember, if you find the taste of stout a bit too stout, ask for a dash of blackcurrant. Just make sure to let the head settle before you start sipping!
  • Craft Beer: The Irish craft beer scene has exploded in recent years. Most bars stock local craft beers. Just ask the barperson for more information. If you like your IPA, you've come to the right place!
  • Irish Whiskey: You can't beat the smooth taste of Irish whiskey. To achieve that unique taste, Irish whiskeys are triple distilled. Irish whiskey has become the fastest growing whiskey in the world (budge over Scotch!). Try a Jameson, a Midleton, a Bushmills or one of the newer whiskey labels such as Teelings or Connemara.
  • Hard Cider: Bulmers is the most famous cider brand in Ireland. There is also Orchard Thieves and Magners. These refreshing hard ciders are perfect for warm summer evenings, served with ice in a pint glass.
  • Baileys: A smooth, sweet whiskey cream that's best suited as an after dinner drink. Served over ice normally.
  • Irish Gin: Another craze that has taken over Ireland in recent years is craft gin (served in 'fish bowl' glasses). Just like craft beer, craft gin distilleries dot the landscape! Look out for the Gunpowder, Dingle and Glendalough brands. Try mixing your Irish craft gin with an Irish craft tonic.
  • Smithwicks: Pronounced smith-icks (the W is silent). Another Irish classic; this Kilkenny red ale has been brewed in Ireland since 1710. It's best described as a balanced taste, somewhere between a lager and an IPA, with mild hops, sweet malt and roasted barley. Yum.

Tip: If you're struggling with the size of Irish beer servings (which tend to be bigger than the USA, try ordering 'a glass' instead. For example, a 'glass of Guinness', not a 'pint of Guinness'. This is essentially half a pint, and makes it a lot easier to keep up with the locals!

Find out more about some of our favourite local pubs in Dingle.


A traditional Irish pub exterior painted red with antique bikes leaning against the windows

Zero Alcohol Options To Try In Ireland 🥳

It is perfectly acceptable to not drink in an Irish pub.

People don't just imbibe alcohol in these wonderous establishments — they gossip, eat, play music, watch sports, celebrate birthdays or hold community events.

If you're not drinking alcohol, there are plenty of delicious Irish non-alcoholic drinks you can try.

  • 🚰 Water: It's crystal clear and hydrating. Even better, tap water is perfectly drinkable in Ireland. Best of all, tap water is 100% FREE! Ballygowan and Tipperary are two sparkling Irish water brands to try if fizzy is your thing.
  • 🍍 Cordial: A sugary syrup, mixed with water and served with ice. Sweet, fruity and very refreshing. Usually orange-, blackcurrant- or tropical-flavoured. Elderflower-flavoured cordial is also available in some places and is a uniquely Irish flavour.
  • 🍺 Beer (Again!): Popular zero alcohol beers include Guinness 0.0 and Heineken Zero. Most local breweries make zero beers too. If beer isn't your cup of tea, ask about non-alcoholic wines, whiskies and gins which are sometimes available too.

Irish Sodas 🥤

Now, let's talk soda.

International brands like Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and Fanta are all available in Irish pubs. Dr Pepper is generally not available in Ireland; you can occasionally find it in larger stores.

Here are some Irish sodas to try:

  • 🍊🍋 Rock Shandy: An Irish invention, this sparkling mix of orange and lemon juice is delightfully refreshing.
  • 🍏 Cidona: A sparkling and sweet apple drink that tastes similar to hard cider, just without the alcohol
  • 🔴 Red Lemonade: This soda is uniquely Irish. The ingredients are a closely-guarded state secret. Red lemonade has a cola-esque flavour, but is different to cola. Somehow. We're not sure exactly. It's red though!
  • Lucozade: Glucose energy drink whose flavour is hard to describe. Good pick-me-up.

Irish Pub Snacks To Try 🥓

You don't need to visit Spain to taste sophisticated tapas.

  • 🥓 Bacon Fries: Not bacon. Also, not fried. Bacon-flavoured corn snacks.
  • 🐟 Scampi Fries: See above, except substitute prawn flavour for bacon. Taste improves with age (i.e. the longer you stay in the pub).
  • 🥜 Dry Roasted Peanuts: Salty, nutty, dry (yet satisfying), extremely more-ish. Once you open pack, they're as good as gone.
  • 🧀 Toasties/Toasted Special: Take two slices of bread. Insert butter, cheddar cheese, roast ham, onion and tomato. Grill it all until melted together into one, crispy-on-the-outside-gooey-on-the-inside mess.
  • 🥔 Crisps: Potato chips. Just better.
  • 🐔 Chicken Wings: Ireland may have borrowed the concept from America — but we've perfected them. Just sayin'.
  • 🍔 Chipper: This usually happens after the pub, not during it. Go classic by ordering a burger and chips. Or ask a local for advice. Or simply close your eyes and pick something off the large, glowing, flourescent menu.

Have you visited an Irish pub? Tell us what you thought!

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