Dive Bars and Drag Queen DJs: Dublin's Best Nightlife Spots

Dublins nightlife has something for everyone
Dublin's nightlife has something for everyone | © Madrugada Verde / Alamy Stock Photo

From Japanese restaurants that transform into techno bars after hours to the nation’s premier LGBTQ raves, Dublin’s club scene has something for every nightlife enthusiast.

In Dublin, you’re never too far away from a packed musical hotspot or intimate acoustic session, with excellent music and unique atmospheres acting as the foundation for the city’s nightlife. Discovering where the craic is takes some skill, but these nightclubs and live-music venues always guarantee a great night out in Dublin.

1. The Sugar Club

Nightclub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails

Once home to the Irish Film Theatre, this venue transitioned into a club in 1999, and cinema is still one of its core influences. The plush decor takes inspiration from the Jazz Age, with Burmese teak-panelled walls, red tiered banquette seating and candlelit tables. From Arabic, Brazilian and African culture parties, jazz quartets and rap show afterparties to classical music extravaganzas, the Sugar Club has some of the most musically diverse nightlife in Dublin. The versatile space still screens movies and also hosts art exhibitions, panel discussions and theatre productions as part of its repertoire. One of the club’s most popular themed events is its Motown 60 soul night, with a showing of cult film Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002) playing in one room while the DJ Reverend P blasts everything from rare vinyl edits to house tracks in another. Watch out for their Dirty Dancing nights, too, where you can recreate the moves from the film to an ’80s soundtrack.

2. Lost Lane

Nightclub, Cocktails, Beer, Wine

Lost Lane, Dublin
© Ruth Medjber

This Grafton Street venue may have only opened in 2019, but it occupies the space left in Dublin nightlife history by Lillie’s Bordello, the iconic club that previously stood on this spot. Lillie’s embodied old Hollywood glamour and was a favourite haunt of celebrities visiting the city. Lost Lane has retained this popularity while moving the venue firmly into the future. Reinvented under new management, the club prides itself on putting emerging Irish and international musical talent at the heart of its agenda. Leaving the red plush sofas and vintage theme behind, it now has a more contemporary design, with neon lights and a rotation of respected techno DJs on the decks. For clubbers on a budget, the Monday Club promises free entry every week, and Dublin DJs Nialler9 and Spacer can be found playing Friday and Saturday night DJ residencies here.

3. Silent disco at Whelans

Music Venue

Whelans prides itself on its gigs, showcasing renowned and rising talent alike; Damien Rice and the Arctic Monkeys have graced the stage here, and up-and-coming Irish bands are often on show. While the place is undoubtedly great for live music, its silent discos are a lesser-known but no less enjoyable night out in Dublin. The Camden Street hub turns off the speakers and hosts Ciúnas (which means ‘quiet’ in Irish) in the main upstairs room every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Walk in the door and get the silent treatment from two separate DJs; just flick a switch on the wireless headphones and disappear into your own world to a soundtrack featuring everything from indie music to rock classics and hip-hop gems. Hosted from 11pm until 3am, it’s four brilliant hours of musical bliss, and it’s absolutely free.

4. Wigwam

Nightclub, Cocktails, Beer, Wine

Wigwam, Dublin
Courtesy of Wigwam

In Dublin nightlife tradition, Wigwam makes use of the building that once housed another club, the Twisted Pepper. Reborn under Bodytonic as a new and improved rum emporium, this intimate basement serves up over 100 varieties of the spirit, and is well worth a visit when seeking out a nightlife experience to remember in Dublin. Since opening in 2015, it has gained a large cult following, in part due to the variety of music played here (including Afrobeat, Latin, house music and disco) and in part due to the quirky nature of its events. As well as its music nights, it hosts comedy shows, karaoke and even a ping-pong club that runs seven days a week.

5. The Button Factory

Nightclub, Cocktails, Beer, Wine

Right in the centre of Temple Bar, this nightclub is ideal for anyone who wants to venture out after a day exploring the city, or as a starting point for a bigger night out in Dublin. The space attracts an eclectic array of names within the music world, from electro artists to R&B singers, acoustic performances and rock bands. With an upper balcony bringing you close to the music, this small and welcoming venue creates an intimate atmosphere between audience and band. Don’t miss the Crowbar Presents series of gigs; held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, this free event spotlights the best of rising Irish musical talent.

6. Yamamori Tengu

Restaurant, Nightclub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Asian

© Yamamori North City

By day, guests to this legendary Japanese restaurant can enjoy some incredible tempura, ramen and sushi alongside 1940s Chinese beer advertisements and film posters. By night, descend the basement stairs and you’ll find yourself in a dimly lit bar decorated with red lanterns and a swinging disco ball. The late-night DJ sets bring the chain’s sake bars to life, hosting soul tunes and dance bangers from rising talents such as Distortion DJs, r.Kitt and Jimmy Rouge. The bartenders serve up nine different sake options as well as blended whiskeys like Nikka Coffey Grain and Kirin 50°, a Mount Fuji-distilled drink with an alcohol volume of 50 percent. If you’ve never tried rice wine before, this nightlife spot is the place to start.

7. Pygmalion

Bar, Nightclub, Snacks, Tapas, Spanish, Mediterranean, Cocktails, Beer, Wine

Nestled into the historic Powerscourt townhouse just off Dublin’s cobblestoned South William Street, this venue is always packed with clubbers seeking a great night out. The biggest draw of PYG, as it’s known to the locals, is the ease with which it transforms from a cosy bar where you can enjoy a two-for-one cocktail deal and some delicious Spanish tapas into a darkly lit club playing some of the best electronic music in Dublin. Its most popular night is a Thursday, when the lineup includes an acclaimed secret guest DJ or live act. Distinctive pink lighting contrasts with the dim, intimate corners, with seating available for guests wanting to take a break from the dancing.

8. The Workman's Club

Nightclub, Bar, Beer, Wine

The Workmans Club, Dublin
Courtesy of The Workman's Club

The casual vibe of this quayside club draws in a student crowd, and by far the most popular night is the weekly Wednesday event, ‘Somewhere’. At €5 (£4.30) entry and with €4 (£3.40) cocktails and pints served all evening, this is an affordable option for those on a budget. With an upstairs space that blasts indie music classics like Arctic Monkeys and Foals and a downstairs that plays hip-hop, disco and ’90s R&B, Workman’s is a venue that caters to every crowd. Sunday is always karaoke night – it’s incredibly popular, so getting your name on the list takes dedication, but it pays off once you hit the stage and experience the thrill of being the night’s entertainment.

9. Grace at Arran Quay

Nightclub, LGBTQ Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

Welcome to a techno rave like no other in Dublin. This club is the brainchild of organisers Stevie Nixx and Caio Fabro, who met on the day of the Repeal the 8th referendum on reproductive rights, and shortly after created their vision for an LGBTQ techno party in the capital. Joined by David Healy, they are determined to bring rave culture back to Dublin. Grace gives LGBTQ people a space to be themselves and enjoy the party, free of judgement such as racism, bigotry and transphobia. They work with marginalised artists, especially within the LGBTQ community, to make Grace an environment that respects individuality as well as community. Grace has a no-phones and no-photos policy, meaning you can enjoy a euphoric connection to the music with no distractions.

10. Street 66

Nightclub, LGBTQ Bar, Wine, Beer, Cocktails

Street 66, Dublin
Courtesy of Street 66

You can tell a lot about a bar or club by how much fun the staff are having, and this colourful venue is always full of lively energy. It was formerly known as the Front Lounge (affectionately called ‘Flounge’), and the new management has brought this gay bar to the masses, welcoming all clientele with enthusiasm. The interior is split into two large areas – a dance floor area, and a more relaxed space where clubbers can hang out on mismatched chairs and admire the quirky prints on the wall. Expect drag queens behind the DJ booths, Mariah Carey tributes on a loop and killer themed playlists.

11. Berlin D2

Bar, Restaurant, Nightclub, Caribbean, Jamaican, Beer, Wine

With a late-night licence and DJ decks, this Afro-Caribbean restaurant and bar is an unlikely but exceptional nightlife venue. Throughout the day, chef Ruby Tuesday serves up Jamaican dishes; her speciality is the jerk chicken, made with a secret family recipe, with jollof rice and fried plantains. After dark, you’ll never know quite what you’ll stumble upon when you head into Berlin D2, which is all part of the charm. Be it a trumpet player or regular DJ Siobhan McClean mixing some upbeat funk, the eclectic mix of genres draws in enthusiastic crowds looking for an offbeat night out in Dublin.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article