Cork’s Best Pubs: A 10-Step Guide

Cork is a good city to visit when it comes to going out for a drink or two – it’s got a compact city centre that leaves you free to try lots of different bars without worrying about taxis or night buses to get you back to your hostel or hotel. To that end, here’s IrishJaunt’s ten-step guide to the best bars in Cork City – everything from old man pubs to gastropubs to nightclubs.

1. The Best Sports Bar

Reardens, Washington Street

If you’re looking for a place to watch the match on the big screen, then Reardens is definitely the place to go. They show all the big GAA, soccer and rugby games, plus there’s a nice traditional feel to the place that never hurts a pub’s atmosphere.

More options: The Rob Roy, Cook Street; the Mardyke, Sheares Street.

2. The Best Old Man Bar

The Welcome Inn, Parnell Place

This bar has everything you would expect in an old-style pub: it’s tiny, full of wood, hosts plenty of regular barstool characters and and is decked out in old photos of the city.

More options: Cissie Young’s, Bandon Road; Dennehys, Cornmarket Street; the Hi-B Bar, Oliver Plunkett Street.

3. The Best Bar For Foodies

Bodega, Coal Quay

Nestled in a former market building that dates back to 1843, the Bodega styles itself as the city’s most elegant venue for drinking, eating and dancing. It’s got lots of great menu options you won’t find in too many places in the city such as Spanish tapas, gourmet salads, a few dozen wines and even a cheese plate. There’s also a nice selection of open sandwiches and a design-your-own burger.

More options: Clancy’s Bar, Princes Street; Newport, Paul Street.

4. The Best Bar For Trad Music

An Spailpin Fanac, South Main Street

Located opposite the former Beamish brewery, this very old pub is one of the best spots in the city for Irish traditional music. Dating back as far as 1779, ‘the Spailpin’ has got live music from Sunday to Thursday in cosy surroundings with a simple wooden bar, exposed brick walls and open fireplaces.

More options: An Brog, Oliver Plunkett Street; Counihans, Pembroke Street.

5. The Best Bar For Live Music

Cyprus Avenue, Caroline Street

This venue regularly hosts the best of the Irish music scene plus the occasional international artist. Ticket prices are reasonable, ranging anywhere from free to about €20. Locals usually warm up for the gig at the Old Oak pub next door.

More options: An Cruiscin Lan, Douglas Street; the Pavilion, Careys Lane.

6. The Best Beer Pub

The Bierhaus, Popes Quay

This brew pub has more than 70 different world beers to choose from, including Staropramen, Hoegaarden, Krombacher and regular monthly specials.

More options: Franciscan Well Brewery, North Mall.

7. The Best Cocktail Bar

Suas, South Main Street

If want stylish drinks in a classy setting, then this rooftop bar with views of the city and ultra-modern décor is the place for you. Mojitos and Caiprinhas are around €8.

More options: The Long Island bar, Washington Street; SoHo, Grand Parade.

8. The Best Bar For Dancing

The Savoy Theatre, Patrick Street

This is probably the city’s biggest club, with the main area holding up to 1,000 clubgoers. Resident DJs and themed clubnights regularly draw crowds to the three-roomed venue, which also hosts live music and other performances.

More options: Scotts, Caroline Street; Havana Browns, Hanover Quay.

9. The Best Hotel Bar

The Weir Bar, Jurys Cork Hotel, Western Road

The recently-revamped Jurys Cork Hotel is now a modern four-star hotel boasting a classy riverside bar, complete with outdoor seating on decking right by the Lee. If you’re after late late drinks, you will probably get them if you’re a guest here.

More options: Kudos Bar at the Clarion Hotel, Lapps Quay; Gresham Metropole, MacCurtain Street.

10. The Best Dive Bar

The Quad, Tuckey Street

This dingey pub has all the top characteristics of a great dive bar: low lighting, loud music, dodgy drunks in leather jackets and more patrons smoking outside than sitting inside.

More options: Fred Zeppelins, Parliament Street; the Pitz, Marlboro Street.

By Bill Lehane



  1. Did I leave out your favourite bar? Add your suggestions or comments here.

  2. What about Sin é? It had some good trad when I was there; plus the local Couchsurfers often have their weekly meetings there.

  3. Hi Edna! Yes I’ve heard Sin é is good. I picked the most famous ones with the most trad music first – I think they have other kinds of gigs in Sin é too. Still, definitely one to add to the list, cheers! It’s at Coburg Street if anyone’s wondering, no website but there’s some info here:

  4. shane

    what about soho?
    Doesnt even get a mention in the sports bar/food or cocktail?
    Long island by far is the best cocktail bar in the city if not the country and to stick it next to le cheile is just a disgrace.
    Same with putting the newport on the list for food?
    also Dennehys is the best old man bar but it is ran close by an “unmentioned” castle bar?
    Are these just the bars that gave you freebies that made the list??
    Cant say I can work out how you came up with these results.

  5. Brian T

    Crane Lane … best for FREE music and dancing. Check out the swing dancers there at least twice a week.

    Sin E … fantastic Irish music

    Soho … great food at a reasonable price

  6. Er, while The Bierhaus is a fine pub, it’s not a brew pub. Best beer pub, perhaps.

  7. Hi The Crane Lane is not mentioned that’s a pity as we supply free live music 7 nights a week.Professional bands playing anything from Jazz, Blues, Rock, electro, country , Balkan, etc.. any style of music you can think of we have had it and it’s free..from 12- 2am . Lots of international bands have also passed our doors with (Free) gigs and a few ticketed also. We pride ourselves in giving our customers the highest possible standard of live music for the price of a pint! and if you are not interested in music we have two other bars to choose from and a large smoking area.We have also hosted Theatre performances.

  8. Daisy

    Unfortunately the doormen at Crane Lane are complete wankers and VERY unfriendly…maybe that’s why it didn’t make the list.

  9. Claire Lynch

    Paddy the farmers reopened last year and its quickly become the best local its got it all, great food, live music at the weekends really nice decor cool smoking room they even give out free grub during matches

  10. Thanks very much for all the responses so far – your suggestions are much appreciated!

    @Shane There were a few good bars I had to leave out because they could fit into more than one category – I stuck to the bars that were the best examples of the different kinds mentioned. For example, I thought visitors to the city in particular would appreciate Suas’s rooftop bar! Similarly I thought Reardens would be a better spot than Soho for sport if you had to pick one, just a matter of opinion I guess!

    @Brian @Crane Lane Crane Lane is another great Cork music venue, I just didn’t have room for them all!

    @Cormac Well spotted! That’s exactly what I meant.

    @Daisy I haven’t been there since it reopened – for anyone interested it’s on the Old Blackrock Road opposite South Infirmary Hospital.

  11. Sarah

    Hi Daisy,
    Your choice of words does not leave much to the imagination as to why you you have a problem with the door staff at The Crane Lane. I don’t blame them for not wanting to be spoken or referred to as such.It’s a tough job at the best of times and meeting people that are so hostile everyday can be hard but the other 90% of lovely, friendly people who are just out to have a good night makes it all worthwhile.Luckily because they are so professional there is very rarely any trouble within the crane lane, just ask any of the 1000’s of people who pass through it’s doors everyday of the week.
    : Bill: I hope that the next time you visit cork you make it to the Crane Lane and enjoy all it has to offer!

  12. Daisy

    Hi Sarah,

    I am sorry if you were offended by my choice of words, however, don’t make assumptions about me because of my own experiences with staff who were very unpleasant to not only myself but my friends as well on more than one occasion — sober or not I might point out. I don’t appreciate staff who make in/out decisions based on whether they like the look of someone which seemed to be the case. It felt very discriminatory, hence the language used to describe them. Maybe I have been unlucky and have encountered doormen in bad form but I feel that calling them “professional staff” is a laughable choice of words but to each their own. Maybe since it reopened things have changed–I hope for any other patrons like myself who have been put off wanting to ever go there again that is the case.

  13. Hi Bill

    I thought Le Cheile close down? Great list though I’d include The Pav and best underground bar The Vineyard, we’ve started putting some of these on the map if anyone’s looking

  14. Thanks for the tips, Steve. The latest I’m hearing is that Le Cheile has reopened as the Wild Goose Steakhouse. I guess these places come and go! Your map looks like a colourful and helpful resource, I have no problem recommending it to our readers!

  15. michelle

    I agree with u daisy whaen it comes to the bouncers in the crane lane…i drink there as little as i can,actually only when im with one particular group friends as they do enjoy the place. However the numerous times ive been in there ive seen the bouncers push and grab a lot of ppl….i was also there a night where a girl and a guy were badly hurt by these bouncers with many witnesses!!! I beleive this went to court but im unsure of how it ended. I for one would not be a great fan of the bar because of this any im sure many others would agree.

  16. glastocat

    You are right about the bouncers at the Crabe Lane, its a great venue but the bouncers are dreadful.

    Le Cheile is closed, its now the Wild Goose Steakhouse. I had lunch in there on Paddy’s day and it was basic to say the least.

    I’m surprised no-one has mentionned the Mutton, its one of my favourites, very atmospheric and claims to be the oldest pub in town. The Sine e is great too.

    I’d also put the Hi-B as a must see, its a mad place altogether.

    Reardens is an awful kip altogether, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

  17. hi
    cool article. just a little disappointed sober lane didnt get a mention, particularly in the sport and food sections. give us a look next time your out and about and hopefully you’ll like the place.

  18. Billy

    No mention of the Oval either. Great bar, but not sure what category it would fit into, and that’s probably why I like it.

  19. Clio

    hi, i was just wondering if there were any bars in cork that put on plays?

  20. Gavin

    Sober lane is great bar for food,atmosphere and coverage of sport.And always have something going on to entice you to drink there,flip a coin for a free drink,rock paper sissors etc.Staff are very friendly.

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