12 Best Pubs In Waterford City (Old-School + Traditional Pubs Only)

best pubs in waterford
Photos via Tully's Bar on Facebook

If you’re in search of the best pubs in Waterford City (old school and traditional style pubs, that is!), you’ve landed in the right place.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. We’ve trawled the city (hic!!) to find the best pubs in Waterford, and there’s some tough competition.

From the mighty J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer to Geoff’s, Henry Downes and more, there’s an almost endless number of brilliant bars in Waterford.

In the guide below, you’ll discover the best pubs Waterford has to offer, from bars where you can kick-back with some live music to quiet pubs where you can chill in peace!

Our favourite pubs in Waterford

our favourite bars in Waterford
Photo via Geoff’s

The first section of this guide tackles our favourite Waterford pubs, from the mighty Phil Grimes to the brilliant Uisce Beatha.

It’s here that you’ll also find J. & K. Walsh, which is arguably one of the best pubs in Waterford if you’re looking for a pint in a proper old-school public house.

1. J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer

J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer
Photo left: Google Maps. Right: J. & K. Walsh

For an authentic old world atmosphere, J&K Walsh Victorian Pub and Grocers is a must-see on O’Connell Street. Check out the old wooden cabinets, brass scales and spice drawers, unchanged since 1899 when the place opened.

This is one of Ireland’s finest intact examples, packed with original Victorian features. Nurse a Guinness in the snug, perch on round wooden stools at the bar or order coffee through the hatch in the tea/coffee room.

You can even enjoy a pint pulled from original 1960s beer taps! This is, in our opinion, one of the best pubs in Waterford for good reason!

2. An Uisce Beatha

Photos via An Uisce Beatha on Facebook

Aptly named the “Water of Life” aka Whiskey in Irish, the An Uisce Beatha is a welcoming Coffee Lounge and Bar on Merchant’s Quay.

The Main Bar, Snug and Pool Room have tables named after musicians, rather than numbers. Relax at the Bob Marley table, rest your elbows on Etta James or chat with friends around the Hendrix table.

By day, it’s a great place for fresh coffee and sticky buns. Later it serves beer, wine and cocktails and it’s a top place for live music. 

Related read: Check out our guide to 13 of the best restaurants in Waterford (with something to tickle most tastebuds)

3. The Gingerman

More an old-fashioned tavern than a 21st century pub, The Gingerman is located on traffic-free Arundel Lane just one block from City Square Shopping Centre.

Behind the old shop-front facade it’s a quintessential revival of an old watering hole with low ceilings and a great atmosphere.

The Gingerman has indoor and outdoor tables for watching the world hurry by. It offers a great choice of ales and excellent pies, hot pots and Irish stew.  

If you’re in search of bars in Waterford that make the perfect spot for some cosy Saturday afternoon pints with friends, you can’t go wrong here.

4. Phil Grimes

Photos via Phil Grimes on Facebook

Phil Grimes is a genuine local boozer serving Irish and international craft beers that are not to be hurried. Located in historic Johnstown, it takes its name from the great 20th century Irish hurler who was born in the city and played for the Waterford Senior team.

You can raise a glass and pay homage at this top public house with its cosy bar. Music is all part of the ambience and there’s a pool table, darts and a pull-down screen for big sporting must-sees. 

Related read: Check out our guide to the best things to do in Waterford (from the Greenway to the many historical sites in Waterford City)

5. Geoff’s Cafe Bar

Inside an empty Geoff's bar in Waterford
Photo via Geoff’s

Located on John Street in the heart of Waterford, Geoff’s Cafe Bar is a local landmark. It serves well-priced home-cooked food and drinks in a unique atmosphere.

Old tile floors, wood panelled walls, a stove, Victorian settles and a host of posters marking past musical performances make this a great experience.

Live music bands, Irish cuisine (think homemade cottage pie like Grandma used to make!), the best coffee and a fully stocked bar – what more do you need?

More great old-school Pubs In Waterford

Photos via the Three Shippes & the Brig Bar on Facebook

The second section of our Waterford pubs guide is packed with more fine spots for a sip in Ireland’s oldest city.

Below, you’ll find the oldest of the many bars in Waterford along with some newer public houses that still boast an old-world twist.

1. Henry Downes

Photo via Google Maps

Established in 1759, the walls of Henry Downes & Co. could tell a few tales! This unique pub is one of the few remaining that bottle their own whiskey. It’s a little off-the-beaten-path on Thomas Street (behind Dooley’s Hotel on the Quay).

It’s been in the same family for six generations with several bars each with a distinctive character. There’s the usual billiards and snooker plus a squash court! It opens at 5pm and doesn’t serve food…just go for the experience! 

2. The Tap Room

Photo via Google Maps

Warm, friendly and offering great service, The Tap Room is a charming city pub brimming with character and a sense of history. Located on Ballybricken, it’s a 10-minute walk from the Waterford Visitor Centre but well worth the legwork.

It gets consistent high ratings for its beautiful interior with dark wood bar and cosy fireplace. A lovely place for a pint and a bite to eat with an excellent choice of background music adding to the overall experience. 

3. The Munster Bar

Photos via the Munster Bar on Facebook

It’s believed that The Munster Bar is the oldest of the many bars in Waterford City. The now closed T & H Doolan’s Pub, which was established in the early 1700s, was the oldest pub in the city until it closed in 2014.

Located in the heart of the Viking Triangle, The Munster Bar has been run by the Fitzgerald family for over three generations it’s just the place for liquid refreshment and Irish soul food. Frequently awarded “Best Pub Grub in the City”, The Munster Bar has its attractive exterior oozing Victorian charm.

Located on Baileys New Street, it’s a stone’s throw from all the main Waterford sites. Great for a pint, it serves good food using locally sourced produce, crafted with love. You’ll taste the difference!

4. Tully’s Bar Waterford

Photos via Tully’s Bar on Facebook

Another timeless gem on O’Connell Street, Tully’s Bar has a traditional frontage and outdoor tables for resting your feet while sipping and supping. As well as liquid refreshment it has a fine menu of tasty dishes.

Tully’s Bar does its own special label Growler bottles of beer (that’s around two pints) and whiskey miniatures (great for take-home gifts and souvenirs).

From Whiplash Midnight Dipper to Body Riddle, it serves ridiculously named beers from Irish craft breweries all on tap for real ale aficionados. 

5. The Three Shippes

Photos via the Three Shippes & the Brig Bar on Facebook

The Three Shippes is a traditional Irish pub on William Street in the heart of Waterford City. Darkwood interiors in the aptly named Brig Bar make it an inviting place to chill and relax, make new friends or just enjoy a pint or two.

The Three Shippes is well known in Waterford for its fantastic menu of food – the gourmet burger and chunky fries are legendary! With live music, an open fire and big screen sports, it’s got everything covered.

6. Davy Mac’s Bar

Photo via Davy Mac’s on Facebook

How about a traditional Irish pub with a bit of a modern twist? Located on John’s Avenue, on the outside, Davy Mac’s Bar looks like any traditional Irish cottage but inside it’s a lovely old tavern.

Sit by the old stove, admire the antique beer taps and the memorabilia covering the walls. There’s even an old cash register to ring up your orders! Gin cocktails are the house speciality and they have 70 gins to choose from. 

7. Itty Bittys Bar

Photos via Itty Bittys Bar on Facebook

Itty Bittys is a gorgeous pub and cocktail bar on Bank Lane, off The Mall. Open for dinner and light bites it’s a special place to grab a cocktail and socialise.

There’s an upstairs bar and DJ for disco lovers while diners and drinkers can be found on the famous Roof Terrace – arguably the sunniest spot in the city!

What Waterford pubs have we missed?

I’m sure we’ve unintentionally missed out on some great bars in Waterford in the guide above. Have a place you’d like to recommend? 

Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll check it out! Cheers!

FAQs about the best pubs in Waterford

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best pubs in Waterford for live music to which ones do the best food.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below. 

What are the best pubs in Waterford?

I’d argue that the best pubs in Waterford City are J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer, An Uisce Beatha and Geoff’s. 

What Waterford pubs are good for live music sessions?

An Uisce Beatha and Geoff’s are two of our favourite pubs in Waterford when it comes to live music. Check their Facebook pages for info on events.

What is the oldest pub in Waterford?

The oldest of the many bars in Waterford was, until 2014, T & H Doolan’s Pub, which is now closed. It’s believed that the Munster Bar is now the city’s oldest.

Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.

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