(1) The Botanic Inn
More popularly known as "The Bot," The Botanic Inn is probably the most famous bar in Belfast, a favourite of young and old alike, whether locals or visitors. Not only is this the biggest bar in Northern Ireland, it is also the busiest. Located at 23-27 Malone Road (Tel: 9050 9740), The Bot is a fitting reminder of Malone Road's grungy student past. The mood is wild and dancing in the recently-refurbished Record Club on the second floor is non-stop, bolstered no doubt by the allure of Northern Ireland's first video wall, which also shows major sports events. Try to check in on Wednesdays for their "Pinch of Stuff" night, when craic and good music fill the air. The Bot offers traditional, fresh food at excellent value and nightly entertainment throughout the week.
(2) The Northern Whig
Want to immerse yourself in a place that is stylishly European? The place to visit in Belfast is The Northern Whig, an elegant bar set in magnificent Georgian printing works. Its most striking feature is a group of three huge granite statues of Communist workers, said to have been purchased by the owners in Prague after the fall of Communism. Located at 2-10 Bridge Street (Tel: 9050 9880), The Northern Whig has soothing interiors, with sofas and armchairs in chocolate and café au lait colours setting the tone for a laid-back atmosphere. The Northern Whig is an excellent venue for lunch, brunch, dinner or drinks. When night falls, some of the best DJs in town turn this smart and cosmopolitan venue into a premiere party place where hot music and house cocktails flow. Things heat up considerably by several degrees on Fridays and Saturdays.
(3) Auntie Annie's Porterhouse
Located on 44 Dublin Road, Auntie Annie's Porterhouse features live music downstairs and swinging disco music upstairs on most nights of the week, especially during weekends.
(4) Limelight/Katy Dalys/Spring and Airbrake
Located at 17 Ormeau Avenue, Limelight/Katy Dalys/Spring and Airbrake combine to create a fantastic haven for alternative music lovers. These three swinging places are adjacent venues that open up into one another to provide wall-to-wall live alternative music.
(5) The Rotterdam Bar
The Rotterdam Bar is one of the oldest bars in Belfast yet it's a favourite hangout for the younger set and for the young at heart. Located at 52-54 Pilot Street (Tel: 9074 6021), this is an exquisite place oozing with character and great personality.
(6) Cathedral Quarter Quartet
There are four bars lined up at the Cathedral quarter that count among the best in Belfast, specially among the so-called alternative crowd. The first is The Spaniard on 3 Skipper Street (Tel: 9023 2448), a small bar that boasts a fantastic and friendly group of regulars. Then there's The John Hewitt on 51 Donegall Street (Tel: 9023 3768) where live music is the standard fare every night, including jazz music on Fridays. There's also the popular Duke of York on 7-11 Commercial Court (Tel: 9024 1062), which is packed with people every night, especially on Thursdays when they offer traditional music. Finally, there's Whites Tavern on 2-4 Wincellar Entry, one of the oldest and most storied bars in Belfast, founded in 1630. Whites Tavern has a cosy enclave for drinking downstairs and a jumping alternative disco upstairs, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when the place is filled to the rafters.
(7) The Menagerie Bar
Although The Menagerie Bar is hidden away on 130 University St (Tel: 9023 5678), it is a fun place with a fantastic atmosphere. Tucked away near the Holiday Inn Express, The Menagerie Bar looks dilapidated on the outside and clearly has seen a decline in its popularity, but all this is part of its current allure and, most importantly, its funky reputation still remains.
(8) The Fly
The Fly is one of the premiere party places in Belfast and its staff are wholly dedicated to having fun, fun, fun all night long. Located just off Botanic Avenue at 5-6 Lower Crescent (Tel: 9050 9750), The Fly spans three floors of non-stop partying. It more than lives up to its reputation as a fabulous place to dance the night away. The Fly is open six nights a week and is absolutely packed by 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, so guests are advised to come early so they are not disappointed.
(9) The Globe
The Globe is one of the most popular bars in the university area, with great food and drinks at reasonable prices. Located at 36 University Road (Tel: 9050 9840), The Globe also features one of Belfast's best karaoke in town as well as a lot of big-screen sports and well-loved DJs.
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