Are you looking for things to do in Dublin in winter? This post is here to help you out!
With information about the best attractions, places to eat and drink, what to eat, where to stay and what to pack, this guide is the only one you’ll need for visiting Dublin in the colder months.
Steeped in history and cultural attractions and known for its warm and welcoming character, its vibrant nightlife scene and abundance of restaurants and leisure activities, Dublin has long been a popular choice for tourists of all ages.
But what about visiting the city in the wintertime?
Visiting Dublin during the winter months offers the opportunity to enjoy off-peak rates and fewer crowds.
You can drink in Temple Bar with locals and stroll down the cobbled streets learning about the biggest names in Irish history like Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, without the other hordes of tourists. Plus, the capital has plenty of indoor attractions!
In fact, the dark days and nights of the winter months can really bring the bright lights of Dublin city to life in a whole new way. If you want to see the magical side of Dublin, it’s the perfect time to visit!
Continue reading for everything you need to know about visiting Dublin’s fair city as a winter city break!
What is the weather like in Dublin in winter?
Ireland as a whole is often known for its unpredictable weather.
Of course, this includes Dublin!
Locals will often anecdotally joke about experiencing all four seasons in one day!
What they are really referring to is how the weather can change quite quickly. It is not uncommon for a sunny and clear day to become rainy and cloudy in a matter of minutes and vice versa.
That said, a typical winter’s day in Ireland’s capital tends to be overcast and often chilly, with the winter months also seeing their fair share of rain.
The cool season starts in November and runs through March.
While a warm coat will most definitely be needed, visitors shouldn’t worry about being too cold, as fortunately, the temperatures in Dublin are rarely freezing and snow is very uncommon.
Expect low temperatures averaging at around 2°C to 3°C and highs at around 8°C to 9°C from December to February.
Things to do in Dublin in winter
Your final Dublin itinerary will of course depend on what kind of a trip you’re looking for.
That said, Dublin’s wide range of attractions will make it easy to pack a variety of activities into your trip, so you can experience the diverse city from lots of different angles.
Is it worth getting the Dublin City Pass?
The Dublin City Pass is a handy tourist card that you can buy. It is a one-time purchase that allows you to visit Dublin’s finest museums and popular sites.
If you’re planning on visiting a lot of attractions during your trip, it can be a good budget-friendly way to see the city.
However, it depends on how many places you’re planning on visiting. For some tourists, it isn’t worth the money.
Take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to get to know the city
The most convenient and comfortable way to get your bearings on arriving in Dublin is to take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour!
You’ll visit over 30 stops en route, including many of Dublin’s top attractions, all guided by a local expert and available in multiple languages.
Hop off at any time as you find yourself on the doorstep of attractions such as Trinity College and The Guinness Storehouse, or stay onboard to complete the full 1 hour 45 minute loop around the city.
What’s more, if the winter weather isn’t in your favour, you’ll be warm and dry under the bus’s sheltered roof!
Choose from a 24-hour or 48-hour ticket.
You can purchase tickets with a lowest-price guarantee by following this link.
Visit ‘Christmas at the Castle’ in Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle has long been an iconic building in Dublin city centre. In fact, it’s said to date as far back as the early 13th century when it was built on the site of a Viking settlement.
The castle served as the headquarters of the British administration in Ireland for centuries, before being handed back to the Irish government in 1922.
These days, it serves as an important government complex and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland’s capital.
While the castle is well worth visiting in January and February (and throughout the year!), those visiting in the month of December are in for an extra special experience as ‘Christmas at the Castle’ takes place!
During this time, the castle’s cobblestoned open-air courtyard is filled with light displays and traditional alpine market stalls.
They offer an array of festive food, drink, crafts and gifts, surrounded by the sounds of live music from local Dublin music groups and choirs for a unique festive atmosphere.
Christmas as the Castle is a free ticketed event and further information can be found at dublincastle.ie
Catch a show at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre
What better way to brighten up a dark winter evening in the city than to immerse yourself in the magic of theatre?
You can do just that in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Ireland’s state-of-the-art venue, which is located in the Docklands area of the city.
The Bord Gais Energy Theatre, which opened in 2010, has been the home of an array of international Broadway and West End shows as well as plenty of local productions.
The theatre aims to deliver a diverse programme all year round, so there is something to be found to suit all audiences.
And as well as the spectacular shows inside, the exterior of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre is equally as impressive.
The striking building with its modern, mirrored facade has become a cultural landmark of Dublin City. For the latest programme and to book tickets, visit bordgaisenergytheatre.ie
Discover the magical ‘Wild Lights’ at Dublin Zoo
A city zoo but not as you know it!
Visit Dublin Zoo’s ‘Wild Lights’, a spectacular nighttime experience that runs from October to January each year, located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
As the evening darkness falls in Phoenix Park and the zoo’s animals have sheltered away for the evening, the winding paths are transformed into a light-filled adventure.
‘Wild Lights’ at Dublin Zoo promises to bring visitors on a magical journey ‘around the world’.
You’ll encounter some of the world’s most recognisable monuments and symbols including the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian Pyramids all created through a series of illuminated colorful lanterns.
It’s a truly unique experience for adults and children alike. For opening hours, further information and to book tickets, visit dublinzoo.ie/wildlights
Visit IMMA (The Irish Museum of Modern Art)
Visitors keen to check out Dublin’s art and cultural side can head to one of the city’s many art galleries such as IMMA (The Irish Museum of Modern Art) located in the Kilmainham area of Dublin.
Within the contemporary museum, visitors can browse the diverse range of innovative exhibitions from leading Irish and International artists. There are guided tours, some of which are kid-friendly.
Once you’ve finished exploring the inside, you can also take a stroll around the museum’s beautiful 48 acre grounds, part of a historical sight of The Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
Learn about Ireland’s political history at Kilmainham Gaol
For visitors looking to learn more about Dublin’s political history, Kilmainham Gaol is a must-see.
It was once a working prison where some of Ireland’s most famous political figures were detained. Nowadays, it’s a museum that tells the story of Ireland’s political past and struggle for Independence.
Take a guided tour and discover the stories, the cells and the fate of some of Ireland’s most talked-about political figures, including Irish presidents, Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell and the 1916 Rising Leaders, who once spent time here.
Take a stroll in one of Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green Park
Visiting in wintertime doesn’t mean that outdoor activities need to be ruled out.
In fact, winter can be a beautiful time to explore some of Dublin’s green spaces, particularly if you’re lucky enough to experience them on a brisk morning when the frost-coated grass glistens in the sun.
Discover St Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s most centrally located public park and an oasis of calm in the centre of the bustling city.
Grab a coffee or hot chocolate from one of the many nearby shops or cafes and take a leisurely stroll through the winding tree-lined paths of the park.
En route, a number of important historical statues and monuments can be found as well as plenty of rest and relaxation areas. They’re perfect for taking time out and people watching!
Another popular park in Dublin is Merrion Square Park, where you can see a statue of Oscar Wilde, one of the city’s most famous residents in the 19th century.
Sample a pint in a traditional Dublin pub
There’s nothing cosier on a wet winter’s day than finding shelter with a pint of your choice (Dubliners will recommend Guinness, of course!) in one of Dublin’s many traditional pubs.
And you won’t need to go far to find one – there are traditional pubs filled with unique Irish character and charm dotted all over the city.
Visitors most often head to the Temple Bar area, a particularly tourist-focused area of the city. Prepare to pay tourist prices here!
While this is most definitely worth a visit, some of the more authentic Dublin pubs can be found outside of this area.
Popular options include:
- The Brazen Head (Ireland’s oldest pub)
- O’Donoghues Pub
- The Gingerman (Visit the Gingerman at Christmas time, to see the entire pub decorated in some truly unique festive decor).
If you’re visiting Dublin as a solo traveller – or if you just want to learn a bit more about Dublin and make some friends – you could do a pub crawl. Check out the link below for a fantastic literary pub crawl!
Go shopping on Dublin’s Grafton Street
If shopping is what you’re after, head to Dublin’s Grafton Street, one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets.
This famous street is home to home of an array of world-recognised brands from high street to high-end!
Shopping on Grafton Street in late November and December is particularly special as you’ll find yourself right in the centre of the city’s festive atmosphere and surrounded by some of the city’s most beautiful Christmas lights.
It’s also the perfect place to pick up Christmas gifts!
However, if you decide to shop on Grafton Street in the later winter months of January and February, you’ll benefit from fewer crowds and can be sure to pick up some bargains in the post-Christmas sales!
Warm up with an Irish whiskey from the Jameson distillery
Whiskey enthusiasts should add The Jameson Distillery and Irish Whiskey Museum on Dublin’s Bow Street to their Dublin Itinerary.
After all, whiskey is said to warm up the body if you’ve been out in the cold! (Granted, that may be a myth – although you can always try a hot whiskey!). Plus, Jamesons is one of the most famous distilleries in the world.
This very distillery has been producing world-renowned Irish whiskey for Dubliners and people all over the world since 1780.
Now, visitors can take a trip behind the scenes and learn the heritage and history behind this iconic Irish brand through a 40-minute multi-award-winning guided tour.
Your Jameson whiskey ambassador will share all there is to know about how this unique Irish whiskey blend.
The tour encompasses a series of stories, Irish ‘craic’, a comparative whiskey tasting and, of course, it concludes with a glass of Jameson of your choice.
Tickets to the Irish whiskey museum start from €19 and can be booked on jamesonwhiskey.com. It’s a fun activity for any fans of the beverage!
National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is one of the most popular attractions in Dublin in winter. It delves into the fascinating history of this country.
By walking around this museum, you’ll learn about historical figures in Ireland, Natural History and Archaeology.
You need to book an online ticket, but they are free of charge.
Visit Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral isn’t the largest cathedral in Dublin, but it’s a historical masterpiece that’s been the focus of Dublin life for the last millennium and is an epic example of Medieval architecture.
It was originally a Viking church but now stands as an Anglican Cathedral. Visit the crypt, admire the impressive vaulted ceiling and see a copy of the Magna Carta.
It costs €9 for an adult ticket and €7.50 for a child ticket.
The National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the finest museums in the country.
With a range of galleries including artworks depicting historical events in Ireland, there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Plus, it’s completely free to enter! However, you do need to book a timed ticket in advance.
Go on a wintery day trip from Dublin
As Ireland is such a compact country, it’s easy to go on a day trip from Dublin. You can click on these links to read about them on Viator, where you can take a tour with an expert guide.
- Blarney Castle: a scenic 15th century castle
- Giant’s Causeway: one of the best coastal landscapes in Northern Ireland
- Killarney National Park: this was the first national park in Ireland
- Connemara National Park: a national park encompassing mountains, bogs and heath
- Cliffs of Moher and Galway City: some of the best landscapes in Ireland and the coastal town of Galway
- Belfast: the other Irish capital, home to lots of historic events like the Titanic setting sail.
- The Howth Cliff Walk: this is just outside of the city and is a great way to get some nature!
There’s so much more to Ireland than just Dublin, and it’s worth staying elsewhere in the country for at least a night if your time allows.
In the Irish countryside, you’ll experience a slower pace of life and beautiful scenery. You might even see the northern lights!
Where to stay in Dublin
Where you choose to stay in Dublin will be largely down to your budget and what you intend to get up to during your trip.
Fortunately, the city has plenty of options to suit travellers of all types.
An important factor when choosing your accommodation is the location and how easily accessible the activities on your itinerary will be from where you are staying.
Generally, choosing a centrally-located option will mean you’ll be within easy reach of the city’s top attractions so you can spend less time travelling and more time sightseeing!
Budget Option: Jacob’s Inn Hostel
For budget-conscious travellers or those travelling solo, hostels can be a great cost-saving option. A favourite is the modern Jacob’s Inn Hostel located on the north side of the city which offers both private and dorm-style rooms.
Mid-Range Option: Hyatt Centric Hotel
For those looking for a more mid-range option, the chic 4 star Hyatt Centric Hotel is a great choice. It is located in the Liberties, one of the oldest areas of Dublin City and within walking distance to an array of the city’s top attractions.
Luxury Option: The Shelbourne Hotel
For those looking to splash out and experience Dublin’s most luxurious side, The Shelbourne Hotel is an ideal choice and particularly popular around Christmas time.
A timeless landmark in Dublin city, overlooking Stephen’s Green Park, The Shelbourne Hotel is the epitome of 5 star luxury offering a choice of high-end eateries, an in house spa and is just steps away from Dublin’s Grafton Street.
Rates tend to increase significantly in December so those looking to grab a bargain should consider January and February, when discounted rates will likely be available.
Wherever you choose, you’re guaranteed warm Irish hospitality!
Getting around in Dublin
Getting around is generally quite easy in Dublin, largely due to the city’s compact size.
Those exploring the city centre can easily do so by foot, with most of the city’s top attractions within walking distance of each other.
That said, if you encounter a particularly cold or wet day during your trip to Dublin in winter or you want to venture slightly further, you may want to consider other options such as the city’s bus service ‘Dublin Bus’ or Dublin’s tram service ‘Luas’.
You’ll find stops for both of these dotted throughout the city. Services extend out to the entire county of Dublin.
Another option for visitors wanting to venture further afield and particularly to some of Dublin’s coastal towns is the DART, Dublin’s train service.
How to pay for your transport
You can purchase a ‘Leap Card’ in most supermarkets which can be topped up and used for any of the above.
Alternatively, the ‘DoDublin Freedom Ticket’ is a convenient option for tourists. It includes a hop-on , hop-off bus tour and unlimited access to Dublin’s public transport services for a 72 hour period. You can even use it to get from Dublin Airport!
Taxis in Dublin
Taxis are another convenient option and are widely available in the city although prices can be higher in Dublin than in other European cities.
Apps like ‘Free Now’ and ‘Lynk Taxis’ are widely used in Dublin and are generally the safest and quickest way to get a cab.
If you’re flying into Dublin, you can get a bus from Dublin Airport to the city centre.
Sample some of Dublin’s cuisine
Dublin’s foodie scene has grown rapidly in recent years and it has well and truly earned its place on the European culinary map.
The city’s growing level of cultural diversity can be easily seen through the expanded offerings within the city’s food and drink scene.
New food spots open in the city regularly, adding new flavours to Dublin’s palette from all sides of the world.
Traditional Irish Food
That said, visitors to Dublin are often keen to try out some more traditional Irish food.
For a taste of classic Irish cuisine in winter, opt for a beef & Guinness pie or a hearty Irish stew, the perfect comfort food on a cold winter’s day.
For seafood lovers, fresh Irish smoked salmon and Dublin Bay prawns are a popular choice and often served as a starter during the festive season. (Tip: Try these with freshly baked Irish soda bread!)
Last but not least, Dubliners are always fond of a tipple. A popular choice around the festive season is Baileys, an Irish cream liquor that is usually served on ice.
Or opt for a classic Irish coffee complete with a dash of Irish whiskey of your choice, the perfect winter warmer.
Food tours in Dublin
There are amazing restaurants and food markets all over the city. You can experience them on a food tour. Click on the buttons below for more details and pricing of different food tours in the city!
What to pack for your trip
When packing for a trip to Dublin in winter, there are a number of must-haves that you’ll need.
First up, a warm and rainproof jacket and a hat, scarf and gloves will ensure you’re wrapped up and protected should you encounter the city on one of its colder, wetter winter days.
A handy tip is to pack lots of layers, so you can easily add and remove these as needed depending on the weather (remember, it changes quickly!).
Next, you’ll need a pair of comfortable walking shoes or trainers, to explore the city on foot with ease.
Other handy items to include are a pair of sunglasses (yes really, even in winter!), a portable phone charger (you’ll likely be using your phone a lot while out and about), an umbrella, and GPS watch (you’ll be getting lots of steps in so you may as well track them!) just to name a few.
Depending on your itinerary, you may also want to bring some more dressy clothes for the evening time if you plan to visit some of the many bars and restaurants in the city.
However, dress codes in Dublin are rarely too strict.
Last tips for visiting Dublin in winter
There you have it, all you need to know about visiting Dublin city in winter!
If you do decide to pack your bags and head to Dublin, be sure to do your own further research and planning in advance of your trip, so you can feel relaxed and at ease when you arrive and ensure your time in Dublin is as enjoyable as possible.
Whether you’re drinking at Temple Bar, learning about Irish history at Trinity College and Dublin Castle or reading the works of Oscar Wilde as you sit in a park, you’ll love your trip to Dublin in winter!