The Crown Bar in Belfast (the Crown Liquor Saloon) is arguably one of the city’s most unique pubs.
Dating back to 1826, the Crown Bar was once regarded as one of the mightiest Victorian gin palaces in the British Isles.
And while you’ll hear some refer to it as a bit of a tourist trap, its gorgeous interior (and it’s 10 snugs!) make it one of several touristy pubs in Belfast well worth nipping into.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from the history of the The Crown Liquor Saloon to what to expect from a visit.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Crown Bar in Belfast
Although a visit to the Crown Bar in Belfast is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find the Crown Bar in Belfast on Great Victoria Street, a 5-minute walk from St George’s Market, a 15-minute walk from the Belfast Cathedral Quarter and a 20-minute walk from the Botanic Gardens.
2. Where it all began
Dating back to 1826, the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast was opened by Felix O’Hanlon as The Railway Tavern, and was then later bought by a bloke named Michael Flanagan, who renamed and renovated the pub in 1885.
3. A museum-like interior
The elaborate tiling, beautiful stained glass and woodwork were a creation of an Italian craftsman whom Flanagan, one of the original owners, persuaded to work on the pub after hours. Much of the original interior of the Crown Bar remains beautifully preserved.
The history of the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast
Formerly known as ‘The Liquor Saloon in Great Victoria Street’, this pub was once regarded as one of the mightiest Victorian gin palaces in the British Isles.
The early days
Dating back to 1826, The Crown Bar in Belfast started off its life as The Railway Tavern, when it was opened by Felix O’Hanlon.
Many years later, in 1885, it was bought by a Michael Flanagan, who’s son Patrick took it over, renovated the building and renamed the pub.
Enter the Italian craftsmen
To this day, The Crown Liquor Saloon is known for it’s beautiful tiling, spectacular stained glass and beautiful, hand-crafter wooden features.
These features are all credited to a group of Italian craftsmen that were brought in by Flanagan to work on The Crown Bar ‘after hours’.
These talented worked were in Ireland at the time working on the numerous churches that were being constructed in Belfast during this time.
One of the finest Victorian gin palaces of its time
It was the beautiful interior of the Crown Bar that earned it its reputation as one of the finest Victorian gin palaces in the British Isles.
For those of you planning a visit, The Crown has ten cosy snugs, which were built to accommodate some of the pub’s more reserved locals during the Victorian period.
To this day the snugs still feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an old antique alarm bell system for alerting staff.
The Crown pub in later years
Many years later, in 1978, the Crown Bar in Belfast was purchased by Sir John Betjeman and given a £400,000 renovation.
This investment saw the pub restored to its former Victorian glory. Then, in 2007, further restoration costing £500,000 was conduced by the National Trust.
Other great Belfast pubs
There’s plenty of other great spots for a pint in Belfast… although few of them look like a Harry Potter filming location, like the Crown Bar. Here are some guides to nip into:
- 11 of the best old-school pubs in Belfast
- 9 of our favourite pubs in Belfast with live Irish music
- 13 of the best cocktail bars in Belfast
- 9 of the liveliest nightclubs in Belfast
FAQs about the Crown pub in Belfast
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from when did the Crown Liquor Saloon open to is it a tourist trap.
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.
When was the Crown Bar built?
The Crown Bar in Belfast was built in 1826. It has been renovated many times over the years, but managed to retain its old-world charm.
Is the Crown Liquor Saloon a tourist trap?
You’ll hear people say it is often enough, but it’s a unique pub with a gorgeous interior. It’s worth visiting for just the one, anyway.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.