When it comes to when people want to visit Ireland, summer gets all the glory, but it’s a great country year-round if you don’t mind a bit of rain. In fact, I think the off-seasons can be even better because you won’t be dealing with crowds of tourists and may have a chance to mingle with the locals more (something I always enjoy when I travel). Dublin in the winter is especially an ideal time to visit, as you won’t have to wait in line at some of the most popular attractions.
As long as you dress a little warmer, you’ll enjoy all the things to do in Dublin in the winter. From seeing the holiday lights at the zoo to exploring Christmas markets, you may even do more activities than you would in the summer. And is there really any better time to have a pint of Guinness at a local pub when it’s cozy inside while you watch the rain outside?
This article gives you a few tips on visiting Dublin in winter as well as suggestions of what to do, so read on!
Tips for Visiting During Winter in Dublin
Here are a few tips to help you plan your Dublin winter trip.
Dublin Winter Temperature
You won’t see much snow in Dublin, but you can plan on more rainy days than not. You may not get rain all day long, as sometimes it just sprinkles during one part of it, so don’t let that discourage you from getting out to explore winter activities in Dublin. The temperature isn’t too bad, though, with it mainly staying in the 30s and 40s.
You can check out my guide on where to stay in Dublin if you prefer to have most of your activities be around the same area your accommodation is. I also have a list of the best bed and breakfasts in Dublin if you prefer that.
What to Pack for Dublin in Winter
Here are a few items I highly recommend you bring during your trip.
- Rain jacket – If you bring anything I suggest, bring a rain jacket to Ireland. This one is both waterproof and thermal reflective, so you’ll stay warm the whole time.
- Rain boots – You’ll also want rain boots so you can easily explore the city without worrying about stepping in puddles or getting your pants wet.
- Scarf – A scarf is an easy way to keep you extra warm and toasty during the winter in Dublin.
Where to Stay in Dublin in the Winter
12 Things to Do in Dublin in the Winter
While winter may bring cooler weather, Dublin offers the same warm hospitality and plenty of exhilarating adventures. There are many magical things to do in Dublin, Ireland, from wandering around museums to marveling at twinkling Christmas lights.
The city is also accessible via public transportation, so you can visit Dublin without a car.
Here are 12 thrilling Dublin winter activities to add to your Ireland bucket list this season.
1. See the Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo
If you’re wondering what to do in Dublin, Ireland, during the wintertime, an evening walk in the zoo is a must-see experience. The Dublin Zoo is an excellent spot for a fun outing with family and friends.
Nestled in Phoenix Park, it is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The zoo supports more than 400 exotic and endangered wildlife species from all around the world. Some of the animals you can expect to see include giraffes, zebras, gorillas, wolves, and the rare scimitar-horned oryx.
There are also a few restaurants and cafes on the premises. Although you can enjoy epic adventures year-round, the Wild Lights exhibition transforms Dublin Zoo into a dreamy destination in winter.
The mesmerizing Wild Lights showcases massive sparkling light displays of iconic landmarks, from Paris’ Eiffel Tower to the Egyptian Pyramids. Here you can follow a scenic one-way trail and view thousands of impressive, illuminated lanterns.
The event takes place from late October to early January in the evenings. It opens from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm during October to November and from 4:00 pm to 9:00 in December and January. The Wild Lights is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Day.
Tip: For more sparkling light displays, check out the Dublin Winter Lights as it transforms the city into a dreamy destination in the wintertime. It features thousands of sparkling lights in 21 locations throughout the city that remain on until January 1st.
2. Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Exploring St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Dublin in the winter. This must-visit building is one of the few structures that remains from medieval times.
Here are a few interesting facts about Dublin and the cathedral. St. Patrick’s was constructed between 1220 and 1260 in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. Today, it serves as a place of worship and a popular tourist attraction. This architectural gem boasts a gothic-like style that leaves visitors gazing in wonder.
Tours take guests on a journey into the past, and what better time to do it than with winter’s magical and slightly gloomy weather. As you stroll through the site, you’ll see breathtaking paintings, sparkling mosaics, and picturesque gardens.
Although the cathedral is around 800 years old, you’ll find a modern Discovery Space in the building. St. Patrick’s Discovery Space features iPads playing melodies from the choir. It also provides intriguing information about the site’s history.
You can tour the grounds on your own with an entrance ticket. Alternatively, you can opt for a skip-the-line guided tour to learn more fascinating facts about this ancient location from a knowledgeable guide. Self-guided visits usually last around 40 minutes.
3. Admire Trinity College Library
Trinity College is one of the best things to do in winter in Dublin for an enchanting experience on a cozy day. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth, this is the oldest university in the country and a must-see in Dublin for history and literature lovers.
The Old Library at Trinity College is home to around 200,000 ancient books displayed on stunning oak bookcases in the Long Room. You’ll come across publications from world-famous literary writers and philosophers as well as the notable Book of Kells.
The ancient Book of Kells is a famous illuminated manuscript with details and illustrations written in 800 AD. At the library, you’ll find an impressive exhibition of this popular attraction.
A guided tour of the Book of Kells is a great way to learn more about this treasured attraction and avoid the crowds at Trinity College Library. You’ll learn about the meanings and symbolism behind the alluring artistry from an expert guide.
In addition to the fascinating history, the library is a popular spot to get those Instagram-worthy pictures. Exploring the captivating Old Library will make you feel as if you’re in Hogwarts, and the impressive book collection is a haven for bookworms.
4. Taste Irish Whiskey at Jameson Distillery Bow St.
One of the best ways to combat the winter weather in Dublin is with a thrilling whiskey tour at Jameson Distillery Bow St. This must-visit destination is just off Smithfield Square in Dublin.
Irish whiskey was one of the earliest distilled drinks in Europe, and Ireland has been manufacturing whiskey for more than 200 years. As such, a trip to the city would be incomplete without visiting the famous distillery where Jameson Irish Whiskey was produced until 1971.
The former distillery serves as a museum and visitor’s center where guests can enjoy interactive exhibits and warm up their senses. A Jameson Distillery tour includes a premium whiskey tasting experience. You’ll discover some of the steps that it takes to blend best-selling whiskey.
You can also get a personalized Jameson Whiskey bottle with your name printed on it. These customized bottles are a great Irish gift idea for the festive season as well. If you’d like to see a working distillery, head to the Teeling Distillery in the heart of Dublin City.
5. Explore the National Museum of Ireland
One of the best things to do in Dublin in winter is taking a trip to The National Museum of Ireland. It consists of three branches: Archaeology, Decorative Arts and History, and Natural History.
The National Museum of Ireland Archaeology branch is situated on Kildare Street in Dublin. At the museum, you’ll find more than two million intriguing artifacts. Among these are remarkable collections of prehistoric gold artifacts and medieval jewelry.
You’ll also come across impressive metalwork displays from the Celtic Iron Age as well as antiques from the Late Middle Ages. The Decorative Arts and History branch is on a former military barracks in the Armor Hill area.
The National Museum of Decorative Arts and History is home to thousands of artifacts, including ceramics, weaponry, and costumes. It is a spectacular site to learn more about the country’s military progress through the ages.
The Natural History branch is located on Merrion Street, just an 8-minute walk from the Archaeology branch. It is also known as the Dead Zoo and boasts over 10,000 different specimens on display.
Whether you choose to visit just one of these spectacular sites, all offer fun adventures for everyone. Admission to the National Museum of Ireland sites are free, but be sure to book online for a time and ticket.
6. Visit the National Gallery of Ireland
If you’re looking to discover magnificent collections of Irish and European art, a trip to the National Gallery of Ireland would be perfect. It is located in Merrion Square Park, just a short stroll from the National Museum of Ireland’s archaeology site.
The gallery was founded in 1854 and opened its door in 1864. It features around 2,500 paintings and 10,000 artworks, including sculptures, prints, and drawings.
Here you can enjoy a free audio tour of the permanent collections. The gallery also offers free public tours on weekends which includes fun family activities on Sundays.
There is also a restaurant and shop on the premises. Admission to view the permanent exhibitions is free, but temporary ones may require payment.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to book your free ticket in advance. The gallery is open daily until 5:30 pm.
Note: The National Gallery of Ireland is closed from December 24th-26th.
7. Browse the Christmas Markets
While St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a fun time to visit, the holidays also are a great time to go. Dublin lights up with thousands of twinkling light displays from the end of November. One of the best ways to soak up the festive atmosphere is walking around one of the city’s Christmas markets.
There are plenty of markets where you can browse unusual artworks, crafts, gifts, and quirky trinkets. One of the most popular ones is the Dublin Castle Christmas Market. It features more than 30 traditional alpine stalls positioned in the castle’s historic courtyard.
Other fun Christmas events to check out include the Mistletown Christmas Festival, Christmas Bazaar Market, and Swords Castle Christmas Market. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Ireland during winter, check out the Dun Laoghaire Christmas Festival.
8. Wander Around Temple Bar
Temple Bar offers plenty of fun activities ideal for those seeking a lively atmosphere during Dublin in the winter. It is considered the Cultural Quarter of Dublin and is a top spot for dining, drinking, and epic nightlife.
You’ll come across plenty of art galleries, vintage clothing stores, and charming cafes. A few of the top-rated restaurants include FX Buckley Steakhouse Temple Bar and Old Mill Restaurant.
Like most places in Dublin, Temple Bar is a superb spot for bar hopping. It is home to some of the best pubs in Dublin, such as Bad Bobs Temple Bar, The Temple Bar Pub, and Porterhouse Temple Bar. You’ll also find Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin, only a 5-minute drive away.
There are plenty of exhilarating adventures that await in this vibrant neighborhood, from enjoying a pint of beer to marveling at medieval architecture. Some of the popular attractions in Temple Bar include the National Wax Museum, Ha’penny Bridge, and the Irish Rock ‘N Roll Museum Experience.
9. Visit the Historic Dublin Castle
If you’re wondering what to see in Dublin during the wintertime, the magnificent Dublin Castle should not go unmissed. Established in 1204, it is one of the most notable buildings in Irish history.
The castle was built on the site of a Viking settlement and served as an administrative headquarters for centuries. Today, it is a major government complex, conference center, and popular tourist attraction.
The original castle was built as a medieval fortress, but it was damaged due to a significant fire in 1648. Following the fire, it was reconstructed into an awe-inspiring Georgian palace.
Although much of the castle was damaged, there are still parts of the Viking and medieval structures that you can explore on the premises. You’ll come across eye-catching medieval curtain walls and steps leading to the original moat.
Castle tours take around 70 minutes, and you can tour the site any day of the week from 9:45 am to 5:45 pm.
Alternatively, a walking tour of the city is a great way to explore the castle and other nearby attractions like the 18th-century St. Mary’s Church and the former House of Parliament. You can also decide to explore more of the area by taking a day trip out of Dublin.
10. Tour the Little Museum of Dublin
If you’re looking for an enjoyable outing in winter, a trip to the Little Museum of Dublin is an excellent option. You’ll find this charming Georgian townhouse on St. Stephens Green.
The museum is a registered charity founded in 2011. It features three floors of exhibition space. Although the museum is small, it is home to more than 5,000 impressive artifacts. Donations and loans from locals created the collection.
You’ll find spectacular displays of notable individuals such as President John F. Kennedy and James Joyce. There are plenty of things to discover at this local gem, from Irish storytelling to exhibits of famous Irish rock legends like Bono.
Touring the Little Museum of Dublin is a superb choice if you’re only spending one day in Dublin. You can explore this community museum with a delightful 30-minute guided tour. The museum is open every day of the week, and tours take place every hour.
If you have more time on your hands, you could easily spend one to two hours marveling at the historical masterpieces. Other nearby attractions to check out include the Museum of Literature Ireland and the Irish Famine Exhibition in Stephen’s Green Shopping Center.
Tip: As the Little Museum of Dublin is filled with wonderful things to discover, most tours sell out quickly. So, it’s best to pre-book your tickets.
11. Dine at a Cosy Restaurant
One of the best things to do in Dublin, Ireland, is dining at a cozy restaurant to escape the outside chill. The city is home to many snug establishments offering hearty meals beside a crackling fire. Here are some of the top places to enjoy a tasty dish in winter.
Circa is an award-winning neighborhood restaurant in Dublin and the ideal place to eat when looking for what to do in Dublin in the winter. The restaurant uses fresh, locally produced products to prepare a menu that best compliments the season. Winter is no different as the restaurant welcomes you to enjoy hearty Irish foods.
It features a contemporary but warm environment. Here you can indulge in an evening three-course menu, which often features goat with artichoke and girolles.
For a romantic dinner, make a trip to this cozy and affordable restaurant. The restaurant’s name, “Etto,” means little. It is more than fitting as this rustic restaurant near Dublin’s National Gallery provides a snug space to enjoy delicious creations and good company.
The Old Spot
The Old Spot is a classic and timeless gastropub. It is one of the best spots in Dublin for hearty pub food, and of course, delicious beer.
Some favorites here include the pies, burgers, and beer-battered fish and chips. The pub also features a roaring fire, offering a cozy spot to enjoy some time with friends or a loved one.
Mr. Fox is a modern European restaurant in Parnell Square. The restaurant offers exquisite creations in a relaxed atmosphere. Here you can enjoy delicious dishes from a set menu that highlights seasonal produce each month.
Whether you’re looking for a quick drink or entertaining a large party, this contemporary spot is a great choice. You can also arrange private dining for a more intimate experience.
Tip: Although Mr. Fox may accommodate walk-ins, reservations are encouraged.
12. Visit Guinness Storehouse
Head to the famed Guinness Storehouse in the heart of St. James’s Gate in Dublin City. This establishment once served as the fermentation plant of a famous brewery. Today, it welcomes over a million people a year to come and explore the history and culture of Guinness and enjoy a complimentary pint. If you’re spending at least three days in Dublin, I recommend taking half a day to stop here.
One of the best ways to experience the Guinness Storehouse is on a guided tour, during which you will discover what goes into the “Black Stuff.” While this nickname is common for Irish beer, it is actually a dark ruby red. You will also get the opportunity to learn about Guinness’s award-winning advertising campaigns, slogans, and more.
The tour of Guinness Storehouse ends with a visit to the Gravity Bar. Here, learn more about Guinness Stout while sipping on a perfectly chilled pint of Irish beer. From the bar, you will also be able to enjoy 360-degree views of Dublin City.
Apart from touring the site, you can also book a table at Arthur’s Bar or the 1837 Bar & Brasseries when looking for what to do in winter in Dublin. Here, you can enjoy delicious local Irish foods prepared by a talented group of Irish chefs. You can enjoy a meal or drink here without a tour ticket, but it is recommended that you book in advance.
No matter what you choose to do, you’ll love all the things to do in Dublin in the winter during your visit!