Dublin in summer? Sure, it’s lovely. But Dublin in winter? That’s something special, and I’m speaking from experience here. I went a few years back, and let me tell you, it’s worth bundling up for. I was surprised at how many things to do in Dublin in the winter I was able to find, and I almost didn’t mind the weather that came with it.
You might be thinking, “Winter? Really?” I get it. Cold weather isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But Dublin’s different. Throw on a scarf and some gloves, and you’ll soon find out why this city doesn’t hibernate.
Forget those long lines at tourist spots because when visiting Dulin in the winter, you can just waltz into museums and even those packed pubs. You’ll have more time to chat with the locals, enjoy the craic, and feel like a part of the community. There’s nothing more I love than cozying up to a bar stool at a Dublin pub and making new friends for the night, and this time of year proved perfect for it.
Also, don’t think that the winter gloom puts a damper on the fun. Dublin lights up in the chill, and not just because of the holiday decorations that happen around Christmas in Dublin. Picture yourself in a warm pub, enjoying a Guinness, or wandering around Christmas markets. It’s a unique vibe that you won’t get in the summer months.
If you’re thinking about a winter getaway, don’t rule out Dublin. Whether you’re new to the city or you’ve been before, there’s always something more to discover. From historic tours to a night out with the locals, Dublin in winter is full of surprises.
17 Best 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. While it may rain a bit more than in Ireland in the fall, there are still plenty of dry days.
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 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. from October to November and from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 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, which transform 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.
Check out what to do during January in Ireland if you’re looking for more ideas.
Dates: October 2023 – January 2024
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 remain 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, such as in Ireland in February? 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. This is one of the things you’ll want to do on a 7 day trip to Ireland.
You can see this as part of the hop-on, hop-off bus tour around the city.
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 Book of Kells tour 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.
Save up to 50% off attractions with the Go City Pass! It’s a great way to save money if you plan on visiting multiple sights in Dublin.
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 the 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.
You’ll want to brush up on the Irish etiquette do’s and don’ts before you go.
5. Explore the National Museum of Ireland
One of the best things to do in Dublin in winter is take 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, they all offer fun adventures for everyone. Admission to the National Museum of Ireland sites is free, but be sure to book online for a time and ticket. If you’re doing a 10 day trip around Ireland, you’ll like stopping here during this cold time of year.
Make sure to book your car rental in advance! I love using Discover Cars when I travel.
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 doors 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 include 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 p.m.
Dates: The National Gallery of Ireland is closed from December 24th–26th and Good Friday.
7. Browse the Christmas Markets
While St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a fun time to visit, December in Ireland is a great time to go. Dublin lights up with thousands of twinkling light displays at the end of November (perfect if you visit Ireland in November). One of the best ways to soak up the festive atmosphere is by walking around one of the city’s Christmas markets.
There are plenty of Christmas markets where you can browse unusual artwork, 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 when walking around Dublin City Center.
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, a conference center, and a popular tourist attraction.
The original castle was built as a medieval fortress, but it was damaged by 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 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Book your Dublin Castle tour in advance.
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 (such as a Belfast trip from Dublin).
10. Tour the Little Museum of Dublin
If you’re looking for an enjoyable outing during winter time in Dublin, a trip to the Little Museum of Dublin is an excellent option. You’ll find this charming Georgian townhouse on St. Stephen’s 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. Visit the 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.
I’ll be honest: I used to think Guinness was disgusting, but by the end of my first trip around the country, I was hooked. They say Guinness doesn’t travel well, and this is 100% true; it tastes so much better on tap in Ireland, so give it a try at least once.
The tour of the 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. You can savor delectable regional traditional Irish food here that a talented group of Irish chefs have prepared. You can enjoy a meal or drink here without a tour ticket, but it is recommended that you book in advance.
Book your guided Guinness tour in advance.
12. Take a Viking Splash Tour
Winter in Dublin sets the perfect stage for an adventurous Viking Splash Tour. Picture yourself donning a Viking helmet, boarding an eye-catching amphibious vehicle, and embarking on a thrilling journey that takes you both on land and water. The winter chill in the air adds to the exciting ambiance, making you feel like a true Viking exploring new territories.
Your Viking-themed guides, armed with humor and enthusiasm, will lead the way, ensuring laughter and excitement at every turn. They’ll roar and cheer, encouraging you to join in, making for a lively and interactive experience.
On land, you’ll traverse the city’s historic streets, visiting iconic sites like Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Georgian Quarter. Your guides will share fascinating tidbits about Dublin’s Viking history and other intriguing tales.
But the adventure doesn’t stop there! The amphibious vehicle splashes into the water, providing a unique perspective of the Grand Canal Dock. The transition from land to water is a thrilling moment that’s bound to bring out smiles and astonishment.
As you glide on the water, the city takes on a different character, allowing you to appreciate Dublin’s maritime heritage and modern architecture. The reflections of the city lights on the water during the winter evenings can be particularly enchanting.
13. Enjoy a Traditional Irish Music Session
Winter nights in Dublin are the perfect time to indulge in traditional Irish music. Cozy up in one of the city’s lively pubs, where spirited musicians perform and experience the authentic taste of Irish culture. Whether you enjoy the lively fiddle or soulful vocals, joining a music session will be the perfect addition to your Irish drink.
Here are some popular Dublin pubs known for live traditional Irish music that are perfect for when you’re visiting Dublin in the winter:
- The Cobblestone: Located in Smithfield, this pub is famous for its nightly traditional music sessions.
- O’Donoghue’s: A legendary spot for music lovers with a vibrant and traditional atmosphere.
- The Temple Bar: Located in the heart of the Temple Bar area, renowned for its daily live music performances and is probably the most popular bar for tourists.
- Gogarty’s: Another Temple Bar favorite, featuring live music daily and attracting both locals and tourists.
- Whelan’s: A beloved venue for those looking for a more contemporary twist on traditional tunes.
Each pub has its own unique charm and atmosphere, promising an unforgettable musical experience that defines the sounds of Ireland, making it a must-do winter activity in Dublin.
You may also enjoy this Traditional Irish Music Show in Dublin.
14. Experience a Literary Pub Crawl
Dublin’s literary history is as rich as its stout, and what better way to explore it than with a Literary Pub Crawl during the brisk winter months? You’ll tour the actual pubs that inspired legends like James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde under the guidance of engaging actors who perform works by renowned Irish writers during one of the best things to do in the winter in Dublin.
The crawl kicks off with a warm introduction and a reading or two, setting the literary tone. Then, you’ll meander through cobbled streets, stopping at historic pubs that have played host to literary giants. At each stop, you can expect entertaining performances, captivating stories, and historical insights that transport you to Dublin’s literary past.
As the temperature drops and the night sets in, the glow of the pubs’ windows becomes a welcome sight. Inside, the inviting warmth, coupled with local brews, enhances the whole experience. Each pub has its own unique character, and you’ll feel the connection to the writers who once debated, wrote, and relaxed within these very walls.
Book your literary pub crawl in advance.
15. Visit the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and Famine Museum
Stepping onto the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship in Dublin’s winter coolness is like stepping back in time. The ship itself is a meticulously crafted replica of the original, which made 16 voyages to North America during the Great Famine. As you walk its decks and explore below, guides dressed in period attire share stirring tales of those who embarked on this perilous journey, seeking hope in a new land.
The chilly winter adds an authentic touch to the narration of life on board during the famine, enhancing the experience on one of the more educational things to do in December in Dublin. You can almost feel the courage and despair of those passengers as you touch the wood and ropes, see the narrow bunks, and hear the creaking sounds of the ship.
Adjacent to the ship, the Famine Museum dives deeper into this tragic period of Irish history. Exhibits and artifacts reveal personal stories, the broader social impact, and the forces that drove so many to leave their homeland.
16. Explore Howth Cliff Walk and Harbor
Howth is just a short train ride from Dublin, and it’s a real treat, especially when visiting Dublin in December. You’ll find some great views of Dublin Bay, cliffs, and that famous lighthouse, and with fewer people around, you can really take it all in. If you’re up for a walk, the Cliff Walk is a must-do, winding along the coastline and giving you some snap-worthy sights.
When you’re done exploring, the harbor has some cozy spots to dig into fresh seafood. Think of places like Aqua or Crabby Jo’s. Spending a winter day in Howth is like taking a breather from city life, and it’s totally worth it when looking for places to visit in Dublin in winter.
17. Skate at the Dundrum On Ice Skating Rink
Winter’s here, so why not hit the ice at Dundrum On Ice when looking for things to do in Dublin in December? It’s in Dundrum Town Centre, decked out with twinkling lights and all the holiday feels. Whether you’re an ice pro or just lacing up for the first time, you’ll have a blast.
Need a hand? There are skating instructors around to help you out. And when you’re done skating, you can warm up with a hot chocolate or browse the nearby shops. It’s a classic winter day in Dublin, and it’s all kinds of fun, so grab those skates and get ready to glide!
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.
What to Pack for Dublin in Winter
- Rain jacket: If you bring anything I suggest, I recommend bringing a rain jacket to Ireland. This one is both waterproof and thermally 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
- Avoca House Bed & Breakfast provides comfortable, recently renovated rooms with en suite bathrooms and an Irish breakfast. All rooms have TVs, free Wi-Fi, video players, and tea/coffee-making facilities. (Rates start at $179 per night)
- Gardiner Lodge is a B&B in the heart of Dublin. It is a charming gem that has a modern flair in its decor. The B&B offers a buffet or à la carte breakfast. (Rates start at $283 per night)
- The recently renovated Castle Hotel is an elegant Georgian hotel featuring original, sweeping staircases, crystal chandeliers, antique mirrors, and marble fireplaces. All rooms are individually designed to reflect the elegance of the building. (Rates start at $267 per night)
Want to have a luxurious stay? Check out these hotels with a balcony in Dublin.
No matter what you choose to do, you’ll love all the things to do in Dublin in the winter during your visit!