The pub is an essential part of Irish life. And although Irish pubs can now be found all over the world, from Lagos to Ho Chi Minh City, nothing beats the authenticity of a real, honest old Irish pub - the kind of place where to step into is to take a trip back in time.

However, given that Ireland has about 12,000 pubs, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

So, we are proud to present a brief Irish Central guide to some of the country's best pub crawls. Eagle-eyed readers will note that they are in Dublin and Belfast! Suggestions please!

Dublin - Traditional Irish Musical Pub Crawl

This pub crawl is led by two professional musicians who don't reveal their name on their site (http://www.discoverdublin.ie/musicalpubcrawl/mpcvideos.htm)! The group meets in a Temple Bar pub called Oliver St. John Gogarty, and tours the local area. The two un-named musicians perform tunes and songs while telling the story of Irish music and its influences on contemporary world music.

Dublin - The Literary Pub Crawl

One of the best established pub crawls is the Dublin Literary Crawl. There's no shortage of stories at each stop about the indiscretion of some of the great Irish writers. A team of actors recreates the footsteps of Joyce, Behan, Flann O'Brien and Patrick Kavanagh, leading the tour from bar to bar. The Sunday Times in England voted this tour Number 4 on its list of the world's 50 best walks, calling it a "genius amalgam" of "pubs and poetry."

Dublin - The Backpacker Pub Crawl

The Backpacker Pubcrawl (www.backpackerpubcrawl.com) is aimed at backpackers and bills itself as a way to see the "real Dublin." Each crawl features four or five different bars, all within walking distance, and all the bars offer free shots and drink specials. The tour visits pubs such as Bruxelles, The Pavilion Bar (in Trinity College), The Long Stone, Chaplins, Kehoes, and Doyles – all good honest Dublin pubs and not as overpriced as some of the swankier bars in town.


Dublin - Guinness Storehouse

While not quite a pub crawl, you do at least get to drink at Dublin’s Guinness Store House (www.guinness-storehouse.com). This is expensive (adult tickets are €13.50, or almost $19), but no trip to Dublin is complete without a visit. The Gravity Bar, on the top floor, offers a complimentary pint of Guinness and a spectacular view of Dublin.

Belfast - Pub Tours

Belfast's pubs have long been part of the city's social and cultural life - and Belfast pub tours (www.belfastpubtours.com) are a great way to get to know the city and learn about its past.

One of the stops on the tour is the Crown Liquor Saloon. A jewel in Belfast's nightlife, the pub was built in 1849 and features some exquisite tiling, glasswork and ornamental woodwork. The Crown features an almost perfectly preserved Victorian interior and its ornate, 19th century charm is enhanced by its scalloped gas lights, gleaming brasswork and a fine long bar inlaid with coloured glass.

Other pubs on this tour include, White’s Tavern, The Morning Star, McHugh’s, Bittles and Kellys’ Cellars are crammed with character and colorful stories. After a few pints of the black stuff and the unique Belfast “craic,” you’ll slip into an easy, contented sleep back at the hotel.

The Backpacker Pub Crawl in Dublin